Friday 29 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th / 29th October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th / 28th / 29th October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 8,979,236 (+43,467)
In Hospital on Thursday 28th: 8,983 (UP from 8,238 a week earlier/ 7,086 two weeks earlier - still an increase, but it's slowed a bit)
Using A Ventilator on Thursday 28th: 946 (UP from 892 a week earlier/ 783 two weeks earlier. Again, an increase, but a less steep curve upwards)
Losses of Life: 140,392 (+186)
Tests: 875,931 (low - possibly due to school holidays?)
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 49,882,904 (86.7% of UK aged 12+)
Vaccinations 2 Doses: 45,651,222 (79.4%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 440,665 (+2,541) cases and 5,436 losses of life.

World: 246,561,955 reported cases in total and a very grim milestone, as over 5 million people have now officially been reported as dying from COVID.  5,000,844 people have lost their lives.

Over 99% of people registered with a GP in England live within 10 miles of a vaccination site

"I am upset that so many people have lost their lives, and still our governments fail to protect the healthcare workers that they need most.
There is something seriously wrong, and we all have responsibility."
Annette Kennedy, President of ICN (the International Council of Nurses), for the World Health Organisation. Around 40 countries have not yet been able to vaccinate all of their frontline healthcare workers.

Our World In Data:
"49.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
6.97 billion doses have been administered globally, and 23.6 million are now administered each day.
Only 3.3% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose."

"More than seven million people have now had COVID19 booster vaccines and third doses in the UK.
The booster dose is important for longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from the virus."
(3rd doses are for people who are severely immunosuppressed, as 2 doses doesn't always give them adequate protection.)

And just now the UK Gov have updated the guidance on boosters:
"COVID-19 booster vaccines can now be given sooner than six months after their second dose to certain vulnerable people where this makes operational sense, as the UKHSA’s Green Book has been updated.
It will for example allow care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times to be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it’s been five months since their second dose. It may also help with other vulnerable groups, such as housebound patients, so that they can have their flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time."
Common sense... nice. 

The UK's latest SPIM-O COVID trajectory modelling has been summed up nicely by statistician Oliver Johnson of Bristol University as "broadly encouraging but can't assume we are out of the woods yet".
They already show a bit of an underestimate regarding hospitalisations, and have very broad confidence ranges, but there's possibility of hope to be seen. 

Latest R range for England is1.1 to 1.3
Latest growth rate range for England is +1% to +3%
I often don't bother to report these because even though it's 'today's' published figure, it is based on what was happening 2-3 weeks ago, and we can see that from case numbers anyway.

291021 total boosters and 3rd doses uk

The European Commission now recognise the UK NHS COVID Pass as valid proof of immunity for travel. UK travellers can now travel restriction-free to all countries that are part of the EUDCC (EU plus 'travel gateway' countries) as long as they prove that they have been fully vaccinated, recovered from the disease, or hold a negative test result.

Masks are now mandatory for all staff in the House of Commons except for MPs, who will be allowed to make the decision for themselves. (Presumably "Am I capable of catching a human disease?")

The UK HSA (Health Security Agency) are in trouble from watchdogs for publishing some misleading data. They basically took the total number of people registered with a GP, subtracted the number of vaccinated people and worked out chances of becoming ill if vaccinated or not. The problem is that regularly people don't de-register with a doctor when they move house, so tons of people are double-counted. Because the vast majority of double-counted people are vaccinated, it made it seem as if way more vaccinated people got ill. It explains how the numbers are calculated in the small print at the end, but who reads all of that? Tragically some antivaxxers are using this officially published Government data to try and prove vaccinations don't work. Use your own eyes. You only have to look at how many people in the UK currently have COVID, and how many aren't dying, to see for yourself that vaccines work. 

A report for MP's has found the UK (England and Wales) Test&Trace failed it's main objective in a variety of ways.
- 60% of people with symptoms report they've not been tested
- older people, men, and certain ethnic minorities are less likely to engage with the service
- most of the testing and contact tracing capacity has not been used
- "despite previous commitments to reduce dependency on consultants, it employed more in April 2021 than in December 2020. If NHST&T is to control spending on consultants it must produce a plan with targets."
In summary:
"NHS Test and Trace has been one of the most expensive health programmes delivered in the pandemic with an allocated an eye watering £37bn over two years, although it underspent by £8.7 billion in its first year. It has focused on delivering programmes but its outcomes have been muddled and a number of its professed aims have been overstated or not achieved. For the vast sums of money set aside for the programme, equal to nearly 20% of the 2020–21 NHS England budget, we need to see a proper long-term strategy and legacy as it moves into the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA.)"
I think that whole fiasco could make just about anyone cry. They do note it is improving, and working far better with local authorities. Fingers crossed eh...

Pregnant women who turn up at vaccine clinics in the UK are reportedly being turned away in some cases due to a complete lack of understanding on the part of the people running the clinics. We actually really want pregnant women to get vaccinated as they are more at risk of serious illness if they contract COVID, so this is a bit of disaster. 

The US FDA has authorised Pfizer's vaccine for 5-12 year olds, and are expected to recommend it for rollout later tonight.

Australia hope to approve Pfizer's vaccine for kids 5-12 next month.

The US FDA has also authorised a 4th vaccine dose for severely immunocompromised people. This is 2 original doses, plus a booster because time has elapsed, plus an additional 3rd dose because they're immunosuppressed.
COVID has been around a long time now, and people who were vaccinated early on are creeping towards a year since they got their first dose. This isn't unexpected. 

UKHSA daily stats 20 10 21

Fantastic news from Merck, I take back anything negative I ever said (although I don't think I did). They have announced they will be sharing the formula for their antibody pill Molnupiravir with poorer countries. It is INCREDIBLY expensive, so this isn't like sharing the recipe for paracetamol, but the only way poorer nations could ever afford it is if they make their own.
In trials, Merck's treatment reduced the need for hospitalisations and the losses of life by half. It works really well, but costs around £500 per patient and has to be given before someone becomes severely ill, so it won't be used with everyone in the UK. It will be really helpful in protecting vulnerable people who have been exposed or only just tested positive, and in situations such as care home outbreaks etc.

More fantastic news, and this time it's incredibly affordable! Yeeeay. A joint research study between Canada, the US and Brazil has been repurposing drugs and discovered that £3 a patient commonly used anti-depressant and OCD treatment Fluvoxamine actually reduced chance of hospitalisation by 1/3 overall. Doses need to be looked at because a lot of patients didn't like it and didn't complete the course. (When you begin to take drugs such as this it can make you feel spaced out, sleepy, not normal, nauseous or anxious, and it's unsettling if it happens - it wears off, but not immediately). In patients who completed the 10 day course, the chances of hospitalisation or needing extended care were reduced by 2/3. 

Thomas Saunders of INews has done a great Twitter thread into how the 43,000 wrongly negative PCR tests have affected where we are right now. The South West of England is definitely seeing a massive spike in cases, which isn't happening in other areas with similar COVID history of low cases.
If you tell 43,000 people with COVID that they are negative and okay to play out, you'd need a miracle to get away with it.
On 12th September 7 day average in the South West was 1,597 new cases, by 12th October that had risen to 4,709. On 19th October it was 5,886, and thankfully may have peaked, because on 25th October it was 4,987.  

England is removing the remaining 10 countries from the travel Red List, meaning no-one currently will have to use hotel quarantine. The Red List itself will remain for future use. In addition:
"Inbound vaccination policy now covers over 135 countries and territories, and eligible fully vaccinated passengers and under 18s resident in those countries will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK. Eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the 10 days before their arrival into the UK will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before their departure, a post-arrival test on day 8 or self-isolate upon their arrival."
Obviously the danger is it could leave us open to more dangerous variants arriving before we spot them, but they could emerge anywhere, so barring specific countries is very much like throwing darts with your eyes shut.

Russia is struggling with more daily new cases and losses of life than they have ever had before, due to the pesky Delta Variant. In response workers across Russia will have nine days off from Saturday.
Moscow is in partial lockdown, with only essential shops and pharmacies allowed to open, hospitality is takeaway only.
Russians are still a little sceptical about the Sputnik V vaccine, and uptake has been slow. Only 32% of the population are fully vaccinated, with another 5% having had a single dose. 

Since October 21st Moroccan citizens have needed a Vaccine Passport in order to enter a workplace or any public venue. This is incredibly strict, and not universally popular. Yesterday protests became violent.
Morocco is Africa's most vaccinated nation, with 57% of people fully vaccinated and 6% partly vaccinated, and they have already started administering booster jabs. 

Boost your immunity this Winter with a double helping of COVID and flu vaccines

Famous People With COVID:
UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. He will be unavailable for in-person appearances, Prime Minister's Questions, Budgets, Weddings and Christenings.

Anti-maskers in New York City filmed themselves complaining that the high school students they were shouting at through megaphones were giving them the middle finger.
Obviously that's very rude and no young people should react with finger swears to anyone, however much they're harassing you.
As Dr Eric Feigl-Ding of John's Hopkins and the Federation of American Scientists said "Those darn kids and their darn science knowledge. Why do these kids have to be so educated and care about saving lives?"

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said before Wednesdays Budget that it would be declaring "the age of optimism". Whatever you make of the financial decisions, Boris was wearing a face mask in Parliament for the first time in months. If you recall, 1 of the 3 key scientific advice for Plan B was to give clear messaging to the public about the severity of the situation (stop telling us it's bad while behaving as if it isn't). Any clear message is a good thing, and wearing face coverings when you are in a room with lots of people for a long time is common sense. 

Facebook is changing its name to Meta. Apparently they believe the new name works better as a brand that isn't just a social media platform. I think it's probably an expensive load of tosh. I guess I'll always be The Brick Castle. 

Since Tuesday the COVID rate in my house has doubled to 40%, and 100% of those are male children aged 11-13. 50% asymptomatic (single jabbed Pfizer 17 days before his positive test), 50% mild illness (recovered). The 3 remaining adults are waiting on PCR results, and anticipating another hour or 2 on the phone to Test & Trace (who were absolutely lovely! Special mention to Gavin for making me laugh during what is such a boring and repetitive task).

If you have young people or students in your household, the Government are urging you to PLEASE do a lateral flow test before they return after half term. I'd advise you also check younger children's hair for guests.

291021 7 million booster doses and 3rd doses given uk

Halloween will be a quiet indoor affair this year for us, although at 11 and 13 I think it's probably time we swapped out Trick Or Treat for scary movies... Remember kids - only knock on doors where the house is decorated for Halloween, and be home by 7pm to have time to eat your own bodyweight in sweets and pass out by bedtime.

Grown ups don't forget your treat too - you've probably more than earned it this half term week (I certainly feel I have!). It is the weekend, be kind to yourself. If you have COVID look after yourself - you haven't got the energy you think (Ms Dixon I'm looking especially at you!). 

I should be back Sunday, all being well (pahaha). I do have the feeling of impending doom and an annoying scratchy throat, but hey, it's tree pollen season and some people still think COVID is a hoax, so it'll be fine. Luckily I've had anosmia since I was 13, so even if I get that, I won't care. (I won't actually know.)
I am, without any doubt, incredibly relieved I'm fully vaccinated right now. Back in February 2020 my partner and I sat with the Chinese press releases and worked out mortality rates for ourselves. Despite COVID evolving and becoming possibly more than twice as deadly, we are losing not even a tenth of the people we lost before. We are really very privileged, and we are winning...

Witches Keep Distances, Ghosts Play Outdoors, Save The NHS...

Some numbers. Every number is a unique and special human being:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries,  such as the USA and India, some states /provinces have yet to report today):

UK 8,979,236 (+43,467) 140,392 (+186)

Russia 8,432,546 (+39,849) 236,220 (+1,163)

Ukraine 2,878,674 (+26,870) 66,852 (+648)

India 34,259,690 (+14,160) 457,772 (+551)

Romania 1,628,501 (+12,474) 46,911 (+480)

Iran 5,909,402 (+9,893) 125,998 (+123)

Poland 3,008,294 (+9,387) 76,875 (+102)

Germany 4,563,039 (+9,309) 96,107 (+45)

Belgium 1,351,913 (+9,195) 25,976 (+30)

Thailand 1,893,941 (+8,968) 19,070 (+64)

USA 46,693,879 (+8,734) 763,894 (+110)

Netherlands 2,115,938 (+7,389) 18,384 (+13)

Serbia 1,131,819 (+6,217) 9,826 (+65)

Malaysia 2,460,809 (+6,060) 28,832 (+63)

Austria 819,195 (+5,861) 11,333 (+17)

Italy 4,762,563 (+5,335) 132,037 (+33)





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