Wednesday 20 October 2021

COVID UK Briefing with Sajid 20th October 2021

COVID UK Briefing with Sajid 20th October 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 8,589,737 (+49,139)
In Hospital Tuesday 19th: 7,891 (up from 7,749 the day before)
Using A Ventilator Tuesday 19th: 850 (up from 823 the day before)

Losses of Life says 139,031 (+179), but it also says "Because of a delay to the update of figures for deaths within 28 days in England, today's update will be delayed. Data will be released no earlier than 6:00pm"
I'm not sure where the +179 comes from, but I think it's the total. Scotland report 26 losses of life today, Wales 13 and Northern Ireland 6.

201021 UK Government briefing slides cases

No surprises the figures in the UK are almost entirely NOT going the correct way. Leaping in maskless and cuddling while all shouting "wheeeeee" has left most of the world staring with their mouths open. It is beginning to crack at the edges. In simple terms, more people are dying than they predicted.

I've tried to keep it in frame that the NHS is under a lot of pressure, and I'm not the only one. Last night it was ambulance drivers warning us that 6 hour delays may become commonplace - mainly because they are spending hours waiting outside A&E to offload patients. The West Midlands is currently (and for a while now) the worst affected - with waits of up to 8 hours 'not uncommon' according to the Metro.
By this morning Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, was in the papers warning that we really are at genuine risk of overwhelming services this Winter if the Government don't bring out Plan B (masks in busy places/ less indoor mixing/ work from home if you can/ vaccine passports for nightclubs etc).
Downing Street responded by saying Boris has “absolutely no plan to introduce Plan B".
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK Business Secretary, backed that up on the telly this morning, by ensuring viewers the UK is not considering another lockdown. 

I may be mentioning the screamingly obvious here, but the UK COVID inquiry has, just a week or so ago, found that in 2020 measures were introduced much later than scientific advice recommended, and that delay cost thousands of lives. I'd hate for any Government to repeat an error such as that. 

Morocco have just put the UK on their Red list for travel. Don't feel singled out, they've also banned arrivals from The Netherlands and Germany. 

201021 UK Government briefing slides hospitalisations

So... today's UK COVID Briefing is the first since July, and was hosted by our shiny new(ish) Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Alongside were Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, and Dr Jenny Harries, who is now an OBE and the Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.

Sajid started by talking about Winter and all of the seasonal viruses, and says we are starting to see this impact. COVID cases are up 16% on last week. We are approaching 1,000 hospitalisations per day. He says we'll do what we can to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed, but the pandemic is not yet over. We have weakened, but not broken the link between cases and deaths. We will have to live with the virus, but with caution.
"We have looked at the data, and won't be applying our Plan B contingency measures at this point."

Sajid talks about new treatments for COVID, and how they're especially helpful to immunocompromised people and those who can't be vaccinated.
The UK was vital in trialling Dexamethasone, and are now using Ronapreve in limited cases.

The UK has signed 2 new Anti-Viral deals - with Pfizer and Merck. They have potential to speed up recovery time and to spot infections from progressing (although neither are as yet approved by the MHRA for use in the UK, because they are new). He says he wants to deploy them as fast as possible "this Summer".
Sajid reminds us it's great news, but although we're ahead in the race, the gap is close. We need to maintain our lead.
We are strengthening our vaccine programme.
- Almost 5m people over 16 remain unvaccinated - please book it or go to a walk in appointment
- The national booking service is opening up to everyone aged 12+
- The Booster Programme is rolling out. If you are over 50 or in a priority group, you will get a Booster appointment 6 months after your 2nd jab. If it goes more than a week over that, please go online and book on the NHS website, or ring 119
Sajid mentions the new Delta Variant, AY4.2, or Delta+. He says there's no evidence it's anything to worry about, but new variants will come along, and we are keeping on top of it.

Jenny with the slides. The most recent 7 day average is 45,799 cases per day. Cases are almost as high as in July, and not far off the worst of last Winter, but they aren't dropping down, it's a 17% increase on last week. They've been high for a while.
Hospital in-patients is up over 10%, 7,891 people were in hospital yesterday.
Latest 7 day average for deaths is 136 per day. She confirms +179 today in the UK.
86.1% of age 12+ have had at least 1 vaccination dose (that's about 69% of the total population).  Over 4m people have already had a Booster Dose.

201021 UK Government briefing slides deaths

Public asked if it wouldn't be sensible to ask people wear face coverings in public buildings again?
Sajid stutters a lot. He is really struggling to get the wording to match the Government line. Obviously the answer is yes - doh. He can't say that.
Public asked about children having 'proof of recovery' for half term travel. Sajid has a random answer for this too. Some countries treat kids as fully vaccinated anyway. (I imagine they'll sort this, as it'll actually affect half of parliament personally.)

Press asked about NHS bodies saying they are at the edge of capabilities, and says "is that not unsustainable pressures?"
Sajid says "We don't believe they are unsustainable".
(That is NOT going to be a popular answer.)

Steve Powys with a ladder. He says the NHS is under considerable pressure. In September patients went down below 5,000, but that is rising again, and is expected to rise as cases are rising. Cases could reach 100,000 a day. He mentions flu, 'we don't know what will happen with that', and says the NHS is also trying to recover some backlog. He says "the public can help us here". He says guidance is to wear a face mask in crowded places, go for vaccination as soon as you're invited, get your booster jab. "Be cautious where appropriate."
Sajid just lists things. Isolate, test, vaccines, contingency measures. He's useless for good quotes.
Steve reminds us we also have to get our flu vaccines "be cautious". 

Press ask if it isn't "complacent" that the UK Government don't see anything worrying in the data, especially when NHS heads are saying they're worried. He asks if there's a 'number' at which point Plan B will be initiated.
Sajid reminds him the vaccines are clearly working "we've saved an estimated 140,000 lives". Then he asks us to 'point people in the right direction' if they've been fed vaccine misinformation. (I'd recommend WHO, NHS or US CDC, EU CDC etc... ).
He reiterates about the 480,000 Merck and 280,000 Pfizer antiviral doses we've just bought.
He did not deny complacency.
Steve says we have measures if we decide we need them, we'll be watching the data. He says there is geographical variation. There is "no one number to look at".
More information on the anti-virals. They need licensing first of all. They'll be more likely to be administered to immunocompromised people, to care home residents if there's an outbreak etc. 

201021 UK Government briefing slides vaccinations age 12+

Press asked about returning to the 'Blitz spirit' from the beginning of the pandemic. Sajid just keeps talking about vaccines. I'm not sure if he's broken.
Press did also ask about GP's being too busy to vaccinate or giving it low priority. This is his chance to do a great quote... he talks about importance of vaccines and ends with "get your flu vaccine". Awesome try.
Steve says our 'public spiritedness' is to get vaccinated, and reminds us GPs are really busy. This is why we have vaccination in pharmacies, vaccination centres, pop up centres etc.
Jenny (I'd forgotten she was here) reminds us although vaccination wavers after 6 months, and you have a bigger chance of catching COVID, it still does a great job of keeping you out of hospital. She says "put a face covering on", and talks about the 'natural break' with half term (she must have finally accepted kids spread COVID).

Press asked about booster people not being able to book online. Sajid talks about the pandemic not being over, it's here and around the world, but how great it is not to have restrictions. He's lost. OMG, he's pulled Lateral flow tests from somewhere. He's now advising people use them.
Give it up Sajid, and just promise they will change the online system so that people can book boosters online...
Steve says what we've all learnt is to not carry on if we are ill - it can spread disease and we understand that risk more.
Steve remembers the question! Hurrah. He doesn't answer. He just tells us 4m have been vaccinated and more are being invited now, and repeats that if you get to 6 months plus 1 week, you can book online or ring 119.

Sajid says you should wear masks in really crowded places with lots of people, we should wash our hands, we want to avoid restrictions. It was almost a quotable quote. He reminds us to get vaccinated.

Jenny talks about data on vaccination being different - don't get it confused between catching COVID, hospitalisations etc. She makes the clear point about 'waning' - vaccine drop off doesn't fall off a cliff edge. Over 60 at 5 months it's still 80% effective at keeping you out of hospital.

201021 UK Government briefing slides hospitalisations by vaccination status

Press ask if the Government can't be doing more, Sajid replies 'Of course. We're always looking to improve access to vaccinations'.

Press asked about "do as I say and not as I do".... Sajid agrees he has to set a good example as a private individual. (Please do.)

Soo..... today's major take away is - get your jabs when you're invited, or when the website allows you to. Both COVID AND flu.

Back Friday with the usual news.... 


And the slides:

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