Tuesday 5 October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 4th / 5th October 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 4th / 5th October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 7,967,985 (+33,869)
In Hospital yesterday 4th Oct: 6,747 (DOWN from 7,000 a week earlier)
Using A Ventilator yesterday 4th Oct: 769 (DOWN from 831 a week earlier)
Losses of Life: 137,152 (+166)
Tests: 940,981
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 48,994,530 (+37,671)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 45,021,381 (+29,337)
Up until Friday 24th September, 160,824 people have had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate.

Rep. Of Ireland: 394,519 cases and 5,249 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 236,364,710 reported cases and 4,826,202 losses of life.

Beware of COVID Pass fraud

"The health advice has been that to date, we've managed to largely control the outbreak, but as you can see, with this outbreak - and with Delta - the return to zero is incredibly difficult. And our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve it quickly.
In fact, for this outbreak, it's clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases. But that is okay.
Elimination was important because we didn't have vaccines.
Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things.
We have more options, and there's good cause for us to feel optimistic about the future, but we cannot rush.
That's why we need to continue to contain and control the virus as much as possible while we make our transition from a place where we only use heavy restrictions, to a place where we use vaccines and everyday public health measures.
We need to keep using the tools we have.
We need to vaccinate. We need to test. We need to find cases.
We need to isolate them and actively control any outbreak now and in the future."
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister. 

That is the vary sad news that New Zealand has abandoned hopes for "Zero COVID". They can't stop Delta Variant, it has spread outside Auckland despite really strict 7 week long lockdowns.
It has been looking inevitable for a while - Vietnam, Australia and other countries who almost escaped COVID in 2020 have not been able to stop Delta. New Zealand has at least, so far, managed to prevent it from running riot. It is nonetheless a sad day.
The good news is that they bought themselves over 18 months. During that time 4,826,000 people have officially died from COVID, only 27 of them in New Zealand.
Well done to Jacinda, and the entire New Zealand population, you really did a sterling job. Fingers crossed for the next chapter, because we have seen how fast Delta can spread through a fresh COVID-free population if you let your guard down, and it's not pretty. Only 41% of eligible people in New Zealand have been vaccinated, and only 4,408 out of a population of 4,870,000 have previously had COVID. They will have to remain cautious. 

In the past 18 months wild COVID has evolved into the twice as catchy and possibly twice as dangerous Delta Variant, but we have reduced the number of seriously ill people who die to around 1/3, by learning about better treatments and developing therapeutic drugs. We have reduced the number of people who become seriously ill by up to 90% with vaccinations. We are winning.

A HUGE study of the Pfizer vaccine in the USA has found it protects against hospitalisation by 93% over the first 6 months. Frankly that's excellent, and the headline US media are going with.
UK papers are focussing on the fact that protection against catching COVID does wane, and it's by quite a lot. At 1 month it was 88%, but by 6 months it dropped to 47%, meaning around half of vaccinated people will still be able to catch COVID. (We did realise this was likely to be the case.)
The study looked at 3,436,957 Southern Californians (1,799,395 female and 1,637,394 male), with an average age 45 years, and a variety of mainly Alpha and Delta variants.
As Delta now accounts for almost all cases, they also looked at that specifically.
'Vaccine effectiveness against infections of the delta variant was high during the first month after full vaccination (93%) but declined to 53% after 4 months. Effectiveness against other (non-delta) variants the first month after full vaccination was also high at 97%, but waned to 67% at 4–5 months. Vaccine effectiveness against hospital admissions for infections with the delta variant for all ages was high overall 93% up to 6 months."
The results are very much what we can see with our own eyes in the real life UK. If you can't get rid of it, you render it harmless. We're getting there... 

051021 pupil attendance chart for England up to 30th September 21

UK school reporting is back, and between 16th and 30th September attendance has dropped a little:
Primary: 93.5% - 92.6%
Secondary: 90.2% - 86.3%
All state schools (including special schools): 91.9% - 89.5%
Pupils absent due specifically to COVID: 1.4% - 2.5%

The UK's NHS 111 helpline is overstretched. Almost a 1/4 of callers give up before they get an answer, and many of those go on to phone 999, which is also overstretched.
The BBC point out:
"The picture varies heavily by region. In July, calls in London were answered after three minutes on average, with a 15% abandonment rate. This compares to average waits of nearly 25 minutes in the north-east of England, with half of callers giving up."
Ah! Another part of the plan to cull the North. Awesome. (You want an example of geographical disparity - there it is.)
Thankfully August's figures are a little better, with average wait times down to 7 minutes from 8, and the holiday season is over now.
Once again, in capitals so you notice it - IF YOU NEED HELP, IT IS THERE FOR YOU. DIAL 111 for advice, it may be very much worth the wait. If a life is in danger, always ring 999 immediately.

A&E in Newcastle saw it's busiest ever day last Monday - more than 800 patients arrived at the Royal Victoria Infirmary alone. The hospital is currently treating around 60 COVID patients, and completely unable to try and clear any of their increasing backlog - they are simply too busy, and have been for months. Unlike most of England, the North East hasn't ever had a break from a relentless influx of COVID patients.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) medicines committee has recommended a Pfizer vaccine booster for all adults, 6 months after the 2nd dose.
For severely immunosuppressed people they recommend a Pfizer or Moderna booster, and that can be any time at least 28 days after the 2nd dose. 

051021 UK HSA daily stats

People in the UK (and elsewhere) are being warned about fake COVID passes. The Dept. of Health & Social Care:
"Beware of scams where criminals are sending text messages and emails, and making phone calls pretending to be from the NHS.
The NHS will NEVER ask for payment or financial details."

Press are reporting that China's Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, bought almost double the amount of PCR testing equipment in 2019 as it did in 2018.
While that might indicate something fishy was happening, and they were doing a lot of PCR tests, in fact it had pretty much doubled each year since 2014, so it's plausible they were simply doing PCR testing at an increasing rate?
A PCR test can be used to detect all kinds of pathogens, biothreats and infections, and they are also used to check for antimicrobial resistance. I'd be interested to see how much PCR test gear other countries had been buying before the pandemic, and I think you'll find China's purchases aren't so unusual...

Tracy Taylor, the Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals, has stepped down due to the long term effects of contracting COVID. She is not expected to be able to return to work for some months. 

051021 Tracy Taylor Chief Executive Nottingham University Hospitals steps down due to COVID

Canadian hockey professional, Josh Archibald (age 29), a forward for the Edmonton Oilers, has announced that he is out of the game indefinitely due to myocarditis. He developed the heart condition after catching COVID over Summer.
The team's 'goaltender' Alex Stalock is also out for the entire 2021-22 season because of myocarditis caused by COVID.
Professional athletes, divers, joggers, gym bunnies and people who stretch their physical capabilities will be among those who really suffer the after-effects of COVID. We have no real idea how many people develop myocarditis, because everyone isn't screened, and for most people it will make a very small, possibly unnoticed, difference. For an athlete or other person who relies on good physical fitness, it might be devastating.
Myocarditis does usually heal completely by itself, but it takes time - you can't just not use your heart for a few weeks while it recovers.

New York's largest health care provider, Northwell Health, has fired 1,400 unvaccinated employees. They employ a total of over 76,000 workers, and say service won't be affected.
They aren't the only New York healthcare provider affected. The state-imposed October 1st deadline had arrived. According to figures, on 1st October, only 87% of healthcare workers within New York state had been vaccinated. 

Nurse Bethann Kierczak, who was in charge of vaccination programmes for veterans in Michigan, USA, has been arrested after spending the last 4 months stealing immunisation cards & selling them for up to $200 each to anyone who didn't want to get vaccinated. 

PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), who are a humungous accountancy firm, have said all 40,000 U.S. client services employees can choose to work virtually, from anywhere they like, forever. Most non-public-facing staff already have that option.
They are one of the biggest employers so far to have publicly offered so many of their staff a home-working option. I hope they won't be the last. Some people thrive in a shared office, some people thrive without one. 

UK HM GOV Children will be vaccinated in school

The 2021 Noel Prize for Physics has been awarded jointly to Syukuro Manabe (age 90, Japan) and Klaus Hasselmann (age 89, Germany), for their work on “the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”, and Giorgio Parisi (age 73, Italy) for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales."
(I don't really understand that second one either, but it does prove to anyone that just because you reached an age where you are at much higher risk from COVID, you still have as much value as anyone else.)
The 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine has been won by American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, for their work on the discovery of temperature and touch receptors in the skin, which could be useful for (among other things) developing new pain-killers, including for chronic pain.

Tom Daly, Dad, UK Diving Team member, Olympic gold medallist and knitter, has revealed he had COVID at the beginning of 2021, and was pretty poorly. He had to be given oxygen in hospital, and says he was terrified he'd need to go a ventilator. He didn't tell people before the Olympics because he didn't want his competitors to feel they had an advantage.... bless him. 

It's Teachers Day today - and the world is saying thank you. I'm saying thank you too. Crikey you guys have had a hard 18 months. Thank you. Thank you for keeping going, for keeping our kids educated and keeping an eye on their mental and physical health. Thank you for every time you worried or cried. Thank you for the wiping, washing, smiling and keeping laughter alive. And thank you for the work you'll do to try and ensure these kids all get the same opportunities their older siblings had. Thank you. 

The COVID news is getting a bit quieter these days, as we have reached a bit of a plateau, so I'm going to drop to 3 times a week, and eat tea with my family on Thursdays at a decent hour. I'll still be here Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays - and UK briefings or massive developments.... frankly I can't believe any of us are still here. Thanks for having me, and keeping ME going...

Some numbers. Each number is a person...

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY - full 24hrs reports until midnight GMT last night:

USA 44,682,835 (+73,729) 722,268 (+677)

UK 7,934,116 (+34,803) 136,986 (+33)

Turkey 7,267,077 (+28,810) 64,909 (+248)

Russia 7,612,317 (+25,781) 210,801 (+883)

India 33,851,005 (+16,762) 449,283 (+254)

Iran 5,638,735 (+14,607) 121,347 (+238)

Philippines 2,604,015 (+10,723) 38,828 (+61)

Brazil 21,478,546 (+10,425) 598,185 (+199)

Thailand 1,647,362 (+9,930) 17,111 (+97)

Romania 1,274,119 (+8,292) 37,677 (+133)

Malaysia 2,285,640 (+8,075) 26,759 (+76)

Serbia 966,989 (+5,983) 8,430 (+50)

Vietnam 813,961 (+5,383) 19,845 (+130)

Ukraine 2,460,010 (+4,821) 56,889 (+114)

Germany 4,264,982 (+4,488) 94,342 (+46)

Cuba 895,719 (+4,272) 7,618 (+38)





















Tom Daly








COVID spread early 2019:


Nobel Prizes: 






Pfizer efficacy:



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