Sunday 3 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 2nd / 3rd October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Weekend Update 2nd / 3rd October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 7,900,680 (+30,439)
Losses of Life: 136,953 (+43)
Tests: 1,040,967
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 48,928,952
Vaccinations Fully Vaxxed: 44,969,396

Rep. Of Ireland: 392,575 cases and 5,249 losses of life.

World: 235,607,128 reported cases and 4,814,231 losses of life.

011021 weekly vaccination by age UK

Daily first vaccine doses in the UK are around the 27,000 mark, which really is quite low, and the UK Government are keen to get more people to come forward. School vaccinations begin in earnest next week, which should make a big difference to those numbers - and hopefully give us the percentage protection we need to start reducing cases among the general population.

We have a really important retraction today. A pre-print study has been withdrawn after peer-review pointed out they had massively messed up the figures.
The University of Ottawa Heart Institute study had mis-calculated how many children developed myocarditis (inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall) after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
US CDC figures show that as of July 16th, 8.9 million children ages 12-17 had received the Pfizer vaccine. Of those, 9,246 self-reported cases of side effects, and 4% of those were for myocarditis - 397 cases. This is 1 in every 22,418 (and not 1 in 1,000 as reported in the study), and no fatalities have occurred. Most cases of myocarditis are mild, and go away on their own. It is a commonly reported symptom of catching actual COVID - by some figures possibly as high as 1 in every 10 symptomatic patients.

Australia is going to reopen its border in November (all being well), to fully vaccinated citizens and their families. Once a state's vaccination rate reaches 80%, people will be eligible to travel. They haven't been able to leave the country for inessential reasons since early 2020. 

Portugal reopened completely on Friday, including bars and nightclubs. They really have done a fabulous job of bringing down cases over the last 6 weeks. They have fully vaccinated over 85% of their eligible population, the highest rate in the world - and a very hopeful sign. 

011021 variants of concern detected in the UK

In a hospital outbreak in Israel, 38 of 42 people who tested positive were 2-dose Pfizer vaccinated.
23 were patients, 16 staff and 3 family members. On the day of diagnosis, 24 had mild symptoms, and 14 were asymptomatic, meaning any one of them couldn't really have known they had COVID.
All staff remained asymptomatic or mild, but sadly that wasn't true for the infected patients, most of whom were over 70 and had several comorbidities. 8 people became very ill and 5 of them died.
In total 228 out of 248 people exposed during the outbreak were double vaccinated, only 20 weren't.
The study authors warn that we really can't rely on vaccinations alone to prevent outbreaks - they may well still happen, and when they get to a vulnerable population, you'll really see that 86% effective means 14% aren't protected. 

The New York Times has looked at deaths in the USA in August and September, as they pass the milestone of 700,000 people lost to COVID. It makes grim reading.
40% of the last 100,000 people lost were under 60 years old. All age groups under 55 had their largest losses of the pandemic during August.
States with the lowest vaccination rates are the states with most people who don't even believe COVID exists, and usually the least restrictions imposed by Governors. And they are the states losing most people - Florida,  Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Thankfully the USA as a whole seems to have passed the peak of this wave, and both cases and losses of life are on the way down. Yesterday the USA reported a total of 46,482 new cases, and 690 losses of life - this figure was around 1/3 of the totals reported on Friday, reflecting the fact that only around 1/3 of US states even report at weekends. 

You now need a Green Pass COVID certification to enter The Vatican.

Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted preliminary data in Canada, for their vaccine to be used in children 5-11. We haven't seen all the figures yet, but it passed all safety measures and they say offers a "robust" antibody response. The final data is expected in a couple more weeks. 

Jenny Harries is leading the UK Health Security Agency

Online news magazine The Conversation has an excellent article about the COVID response of my favourite country - Bhutan.
It explores how they were able to vaccinate almost every eligible adult in a single week, using donated vaccines and the "Guardians Of The Peace" - a 4,500 strong group of people who are semi-volunteers, semi-national service and basically orchestrated the whole vaccine-delivery logistics over a country the size of Switzerland, with a population who live far more remotely.
Everyone is actively involved in working together to protect each other. The King quarantines whenever he goes home, and trekked for 5 days to thank healthcare workers. He might be my new favourite COVID world leader.

Russia isn't doing so well. They are losing a lot of people. From the beginning of July they've lost around 750 people a day, and recently that's gone up, and is rising.
They have vaccinated just around 29% of the eligible population (partly vaccinated 33%) with their Sputnik V vaccine.
Sputnik V has had a rough press, the same as all of the 'old-fashioned' vaccines, but it has done incredibly well by some measures (97.8% efficacy against symptomatic disease according to the UAE). Recently the World Health Organisation suspended approval while they addressed 'manufacturing concerns', so I suspect vaccine-hesitancy is probably playing a large part.
Complacency could also be to blame. If you feel you are protected, and don't understand asymptomatic transmission, or think "everyone's getting vaccinated, I'm pretty safe", you might let your guard down.

Jacinda Ardern held a last minute press conference yesterday, and put parts of New Zealand’s Waikato area into a snap 5 day lockdown, after 2 cases emerged that were linked together, but not connected to any other known cases.
Their main outbreak is in Auckland, and yesterday there were 33 new community cases in total - 15 of which have no known route of transmission.
Don't slip now... come on New Zealand...

011021 indiesage cases by age uk

Apparently around 1/3 of the UK's premier league football players are not yet vaccinated, including at least 5 of the England squad - 3 of whom refuse. There have been some calls for games to go ahead if COVID outbreaks occur, meaning the team who can't play forfeit.
Sajid Javid, UK Health Minister says he's "disappointed". So am I. 

In England right now, if you test positive, in most cases your household is expected to book a test and carry on as normal. It isn't without risk, and is one of the things the UK Government are likely to change first if hospitalisations go up again. (School classes, workplaces etc may get sent home if there are too many cases, and Test&Trace can also tell you to stay home, for example if there are many cases in your area, or variants of concern.)
We really don't know just how big a difference Summer will make, and all of that germ-killing UV light and fresh air. Some scientists are starting to twitch a bit, because we are heading into Winter and the unknown, and we aren't being very cautious about it.
I think if we have any more lockdowns (and it doesn't seem entirely likely) or other restrictions reimposed (much more likely), it'll be mostly in an effort to preserve Christmas.
Fingers remain crossed.  

Some numbers. All with people who think they are important:

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 7,900,680 (+30,439) 136,953 (+43)

Russia 7,586,536 (+25,769) 209,918 (+890)

India 33,833,997 (+21,438) 449,028 (+182)

Philippines 2,593,399 (+13,273) 38,768 (+112)

Iran 5,624,128 (+12,428) 121,109 (+229)

Thailand 1,637,432 (+10,828) 17,014 (+77)

Romania 1,265,827 (+8,682) 37,544 (+150)

USA 44,499,305 (+8,408) 719,709 (+35)

Ukraine 2,455,189 (+7,967) 56,775 (+126)

Mexico 3,678,980 (+7,369) 278,590 (+614)

Vietnam 808,578 (+5,376) 19,715 (+114)

Serbia 961,006 (+5,334) 8,380 (+49)

Cuba 891,447 (+4,097) 7,580 (+46)

France 7,027,059 (+3,744) 116,798 (+9)

Italy 4,682,034 (+2,968) 131,031 (+33)



Kids Heart Myocarditis.

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