Sunday 31 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th / 31st October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 30th / 31st October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 9,057,629 (+38,009)
Losses of Life: 140,632 (+74)
Tests: 875,931
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 49,955,853 (86.9% UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 45,697,856 (79.5%)

Area: Cases total last 7 days / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 19,018 / 600 (1 in 166)
Scotland: 17,992 / 329.2 (1 in 304)
Northern Ireland; 8,545 / 450.8 (1 in 222)
England: 246,472 / 435.8 (1 in 229)

Rep. Of Ireland: 445,594 (+1,963) cases and 5,436 losses of life.

World: 247,352,866 reported cases and 5,013,900 losses of life.

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

Mark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister, has made some big announcements and suggestions over the past few days. I didn't cover him on Friday because there was so much to read through, he really took the brakes off and has been all over the telly and radio.
- He says he has been urging the English Government to initiate Plan B for some time
- Measures such as working from home could be reintroduced
- 2,000 cases of a suspected-to-be more transmissible Delta Variant have been detected in Wales
- The self-isolation rules if someone tests positive in your household have been tightened up. IN WALES:
*Fully vaccinated or age 5-17 - self-isolate and take a PCR test. If your test is negative you can stop isolating.
*Not fully vaccinated - self-isolate for 10 days. Take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8. You should self-isolate for 10 days even if your tests are negative.
(Children aged under 5 do not have to self-isolate or take a test.)
- From Monday 11 October IN WALES people will be required to show the NHS COVID Pass to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have a recent negative Lateral Flow Test to attend nightclubs, indoor non-seated events where over 500 people are mixing closely for prolonged periods, outdoor non-seated events where over 4,000 people are mixing closely for prolonged periods, and any event of more than 10,000 people

The Mail On Sunday has had to remove one of today's headline articles from their online edition and issue an apology. An article entitled "Will the Covid doom-mongers NEVER admit they’re wrong?" contained a number of 'inaccurate and misleading claims', including comparing early worst case scenarios with what happened instead after the UK locked down, and comparing UK and Chinese figures without stating they weren't even from the same country.

Latest genome sampling of COVID19 cases shows Delta Variant is now responsible for 99-100% of infections everywhere in the world, except Latin America - where it's 93%. 

311021 Self isolation changes in Wales in Welsh

Mitchell Tsai, a retired Virus Researcher from Harvard, has been looking into the safety aspects of vaccinating healthy kids, especially boy children aged 5-17. The chance of serious reaction is tiny, and chance of permanent harm is 1 in several million, but each one is someone's child. Younger males have highest risk of myopericarditis - heart inflammation - after vaccination. To really minimise risks, he suggests:
"(1) J&J has fewer myopericarditis cases for boys age 5-17. Use one J&J shot rather than Pfizer or Moderna.
(2) Pfizer 10 ug (1/3 dose) is 5x smaller than Moderna 50 ug (1/2 dose). We don’t know if dosage is related to myopericarditis frequency. Could be a reason to prefer Pfizer to Moderna. Some European countries have paused Moderna shots for kids.
(3) Perhaps only one shot of Pfizer/Moderna, since 80–90% of the side effects are from the second shot of Pfizer/Moderna.
(4) Or do first shot Pfizer/Moderna, second shot J&J, since 80–90% of the side effects are from the second shot of Pfizer/Moderna.
(5) Perhaps do two shots Pfizer/Moderna four months apart, not three weeks.
(6) Only give shots to at-risk kids.
(7) The ethics of harming kids to help older adults is dicey." (We need to consider if it's worth vaccinating younger kids in countries where their risk of catching COVID is very low.)
He is from the USA where they don't use AstraZeneca, and there's very little trial data on young children being given the AZ jab, which is why it isn't mentioned. The UK have currently authorised 1 x Pfizer shot for children aged 12 and over.
Risk of developing heart inflammation after actually catching COVID is far greater than after vaccination, in some studies higher than 1 in 10 for symptomatic illness in younger males. Vaccinations should reduce incidence considerably. The vast majority of cases heal by themselves within weeks. 

A study by the UK Infection Survey team has been published in Nature, and it has good news/bad news about naturally acquired antibodies from infection.
Bad news first. They found that:
'Seroconversion to viral spike and nucleocapsid antigens (creation of antibodies) usually happens within 1–3 weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection, with peak antibody levels achieved in 4–5 weeks. However, 5–22% of individuals remain seronegative following infection (never make measurable amounts of antibodies). The absence of seroconversion is more common following mild vs. severe disease (e.g. 22.2% vs. 2.6% out of 23,612 participants) and in asymptomatic vs. symptomatic individuals (11.0% vs. 5.6%, respectively, out of  2,547 participants).
So basically they had different groups of people. In one group around 1in4 people with mild illness didn't develop antibodies. In another group, just over 1in10 asymptomatic people didn't develop antibodies. In one group only 1in50 severely ill patients failed to produce antibodies, and in another 1in20.
What it tells us that the more severe your illness, the more likely you'll develop healthy antibodies, but quite a substantial amount of people don't. Vaccination is a much more certain bet.
Now the good news - and it is good news. We don't know how long naturally acquired antibodies will last until we get there, but we can try and guess based on how quickly they start to disappear.
"The estimated anti-spike IgG half-life (the point at which half are dead) was 184 days, being longer in females and those of white ethnicity. We estimated antibody levels associated with protection against reinfection likely last 1.5-2 years on average, with levels associated with protection from severe infection present for several years. These estimates could inform planning for vaccination booster strategies."
If that proves true (and protection by vaccination should be at least as long lasting) once we all have an adequate level of protection, and cases worldwide drop to a sensible and manageable level, COVID vaccination could definitely go to annual or less often (in order to allow for any variants). 

US Private care versus UK NHS care

The TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion) has given all non-executive employees five shares of the bank’s stock to say thank you for their efforts during the pandemic. It's worth about $90 (Canadian) per share (£53/US $72), and most of the 89,000 employees worldwide will receive the bonus. 

Celebrities including David Tennant, Michael Rosen, Brian Eno, Vicky McClure, Lemn Sissay, Ben Smith, Adam Kay and Rosie Jones, media including The New Statesman, workers unions including Unite and CWU, and a whole host of charities and organisations for disabled people, doctors and citizens have all come together to create YourNHSNeedsYou dot com.
Every Friday I end my post with Save The NHS, and that's because for the last couple of decades I've been painfully aware that the NHS is increasingly being 'streamlined' - and then services no longer exist, or are rented from private sources for a much larger overall sum in the end.
After the Naylor Report published in March 2017 suggested it was a good idea, NHS Trusts had to start even larger-scale selling off of assets.
It has left the UK NHS struggling. The more it struggles, the more there is 'reason' to pay privately. The more we pay to private companies to cover NHS work, the more money is removed from the public purse and the UK economy, and goes into someone's offshore bank account. Put it simply, that profit could be paying for more nurses.
The pandemic allowed even more money to go to private providers - Test & Trace didn't build on the NHS Test & Trace we already had, the bulk of the "eye-watering" £36b in funding went to private companies. Smaller UK suppliers were desperate to offer at-cost PPE, ventilators and hand sanitisers, and UK labs and Universities offered extra testing facilities, but they were ignored in favour of coming to other arrangements - many of which failed spectacularly.
We can clearly see right now that universal free healthcare is one of the best ways to contain, test, treat, study, and to ultimately win, against any pandemic or epidemic threat.
The recent UK Health & Care Bill opens the way for US style insurance-based healthcare. If you do not want that to happen, make your voice heard. Contact your MP, or visit YourNHSNeedsYou dot com to find out more ways you can have your say - because if we don't even try, we'll definitely fail.

COP26 official opening ceremony has taken place, as have lots of meetings. This is officially called the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and it is taking place in Glasgow, with the support of Italy.
COP26 (26th Conference Of Parties) will make lots of headlines over the next 2 weeks - as the leaders and representatives from 197 countries worldwide discuss how to keep life on Earth going over as much of the planet as possible, for the next few decades at least.
Russia's President Putin and China's President Xi Jinping have declined to attend in person, and will join by video-link.
Yesterday the G20 (group of 20 of the world's richest economies) participants backed a global minimum tax (so that big business can't hide profits in tax havens), and to give more COVID vaccines to poorer nations - and vaccinate 70% of the world's population against COVID by mid 2022.
While that is great, and I really hope that target is met, the World Health Organisation had asked for 40% of every country by the end of 2021, and we are well behind target.

We have had 3 negative PCR tests and several negative lateral flow tests, so at least for now, the grown ups have escaped the COVID. Yeeay! The kids have eaten half the Halloween sweets, and are bickering just like normal, so they're definitely 'recovered'. Give us another 2 or 3 days and I think we'll all relax. Several of you have got COVID in your homes at the moment (Jen, Claire etc), and I wish you and your families all well, and suitable TV to watch from under a blanket while you recover.

Don't forget to open a window...

Some numbers. They're all people:

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):

USA 46,804,013 (+4,043) 766,157 (+40)

India 34,285,272 (+12,595) 458,468 (+249)

Brazil 21,804,094 not yet reported today 607,764

UK 9,057,629 (+38,009) 140,632 (+74)

Russia 8,513,790 (+40,993) 238,538 (+1,158)

Turkey 8,009,040 not yet reported today 70,410

France 7,160,548 not yet reported today 117,671

Iran 5,924,638 (+8,427) 126,303 (+177)

Spain 5,011,148 not yet reported today 87,368

Italy 4,771,964 (+4,526) 132,100 (+26)

Germany 4,598,760 (+4,714) 96,243 (+9)

Indonesia 4,244,358 (+523) 143,405 (+17)

Mexico 3,805,765 (+3,478) 288,276 (+325)

Poland 3,025,247 (+7,145) 76,999 (+9)

Ukraine 2,922,302 (+17,430) 67,729 (+336) 





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