Friday 12 November 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th, 11th 12th November 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 10th, 11th 12th November 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 9,487,302 (+40,375) - for the first day in ages, this is an increase.
In Hospital Yesterday 11th November: 8,652
Using A Ventilator Yesterday 11th November: 999
Losses of Life: 142,678 (+145)
Tests: 980,626
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 50,491,701 (87.8% of UK aged 12+)
Vaccinations 2 Doses: 45,964,488 (79.9%)
Booster / 3rd Doses: 11,823,643 (20.6%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 490,001 (+5,478) cases and 5,566 losses of life.

World: 252,967,467 reported cases and 5,099,784 losses of life.

121121 UK NHS has delivered over 90 million vaccinations text over blurry hospital style scene

"Almost 2 million cases of COVID19 were reported in Europe last week, the most in a single week in that region since the pandemic started.
Almost 27,000 deaths were reported from Europe, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths globally last week.
COVID19 is surging in countries with lower vaccination rates in Eastern Europe, but also in countries with some of the world’s highest vaccination rates in Western Europe.
It’s another reminder, as we have said again and again, that vaccines do not replace the need for other COVID19 precautions."
A warning to the UK and others there from Dr Tedros and the World Health Organisation. 

From Monday the COVID Pass is being extended in WALES. If you are in Wales you will need to show proof of double vaccination or negative test to enter cinemas, concert halls and theatres. The scheme already applies to night clubs.
As we haven't seen news of mass nightclub breakouts since much of the world started using COVID passes, it does seem quite likely they help.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid is in trouble with vaccine manufacturer Valneva. (I'm stunned this didn't come up ages ago actually.) When the UK Government dropped them like a stone, Sajid made a throwaway comment that their vaccine wouldn't have received UK approval anyway. He did later amend that to say "may not get approval", but the damage to trust, reputation and share price was done.
Valneva have now managed to secure pre-orders with the EU and others (subject to approval), so all isn't lost.
Good job really, because trial results out last month showed over 95% of trial participants developed antibodies, at a rate higher than that seen after the AstraZeneca jab.
Excellently, no-one in the trial had an adverse event of note, and none of the participants who received either Valneva or AstraZeneca and caught COVID died. 

The latest UK HSA (Health & Security Agency) surveillance report figures show no massive changes, more of a smoothing out:
- case rates are highest in those aged 10 to 19 years old and lowest in over 80s.
- case rates are highest in the South West and lowest in London.
- the North East has the highest amount of hospital admissions this week.
(Something odd is happening in the N.E. Why have they had more hospital admissions than anywhere else for months and months?)
- hospital admissions are still highest among those aged 85 and older.

The Telegraph had an article on Wednesday looking at how many patients who died from COVID had hospital-acquired disease. The statistics are pretty grim, so please remember we have learned a lot since the early days.
In the 5 NHS Trusts with the highest percentages, at least 25% of patients who died from COVID are known or suspected to have caught it while they were a patient. In Countess of Chester Trust, 33% of COVID deaths are presumed hospital-acquired. 

A poll by the NHS Confederation (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), found that 88% of NHS leaders believe the demands on their organisation are unsustainable - almost 9 out of 10. A very similar 87% feel that a lack of staffing is putting patient safety and care at risk.

The BBC are reporting on people who have died because they didn't get an ambulance in time, or waited for hours to be admitted to A&E. The UK ambulance service is now entirely under extreme pressure or actually overwhelmed:
"The problems have forced all ambulance services to be put on their highest levels of alert - meaning patients who can make their own way to hospital are told to do so."
It's incredibly cruel to the staff, as well as to the patients. Ambulances race to assist and rush people to hospital. They aren't designed to turn up 4 hours after an emergency call, then queue outside a hospital for hours while their patient deteriorates or dies.
Some estimates are that 1 in 5 English hospital in-patients could go home with support, but social care is so short on staff, that support isn't there.
Something has to change - however "sustainable" Sajid Javid thinks this is, he's wrong. 

121121 UK HSA daily stats

The Metro have discovered that when he had his photoshoot the other day at Hexham General Hospital, Boris Johnson was told 3 times that he had to wear a mask, yet kept removing it. The Hospital Trust has asked members of the public not to follow his example.

The UK have begun trials of a drug which is hoped to help Long COVID sufferers, specifically those with fatigue.
The drug is not-so-snappily titled AXA1125, and The Guardian had a fantastic explainer on Wednesday. It is thought COVID damages and disrupts the cells mitochondria, which prevents them from effectively absorbing food, or fuel, hence sufferers are absolutely shattered and lethargic. It'll be tested on Long COVID sufferers who were not hospitalised, as well as those who were, and initial trials will only be on 40 people - so if it proves as successful as early signs seem, we still can't expect this to be available for another 6 months. 

Belarus really are upsetting a lot of people, and Russia appear to be backing them up by flying their military around (Level 12 willy-waving). Reports are suggesting migrants are actually being lured into the capital Minsk with free flights, then shepherded to the borders with EU countries and told they can't go back into Belarus, they'll have to cross the border - which of course they can't.
It's so bad, Turkey have now announced a ban on anyone from Syria, Yemen or Iraq flying from Turkish airports into Minsk.
This is truly horrific. It's almost Winter, and possibly several thousand people are now gathered on the borders around Belarus, with nowhere to go. The Belarussian Government are playing political games with these people, and unless the EU countries involved give in, the fate of the migrants is pretty dire. 

COVID cases are rising across Europe. The Netherlands are one of the first countries in Western Europe to say they're not enjoying this 'vaccination vs hospitalisation' game of chicken. Cases are at their highest ever, and an official announcement has been made tonight regarding restrictions. Work from home when possible, 7pm curfew for inessential shops, bars and restaurants, private gatherings in the home limited to 4 people and sports events will not have spectators. 

121121 variant watch UKHSA

The Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu is only 4.5m (15ft) above sea level at its highest point. It may be the first country lost entirely to climate change and the rising sea level - it doesn't take much of a storm to create 4m waves. The Foreign Minister Simon Kofe addressed COP26 knee deep in water, where there used to be land. His Government are trying to find legal ways to maintain their culture and keep the 12,000 population country together, and retain the control of their waters, even once all of the land has gone.
Kiribati is in a similar position, although they are even closer to sea level, so actually worse off.
Surely there's some mega rich billionaire who has higher islands they don't actually need? They could do a swap. Tuvalu is only 26km2, 25km2, 24km2...  

The UK Government Department for Education seem to be thinking ahead finally. They've released details of contingency and other measures for pupils facing A level and GCSE exams in Summer 2022:
"In recognition of the fact that students’ education has been disrupted by the pandemic, they will be given extra help to prepare for their exams as follows, as confirmed following a joint DfE and Ofqual consultation:
- students taking GCSEs in English literature, history, ancient history and geography will not need to cover the usual range of content in the exams. Students taking GCSEs in all other subjects will be given advance information about the focus of the content of the exams to support their revision
- students taking AS and A levels will be given advance information about the focus of the content of the exams to support their revision
- students taking GCSE mathematics will be given in their exams copies of formulae they would in other years have to memorise
- students taking GCSE physics and combined science will be given in their exams a sheet covering all the equations they might need to apply in the exams

Vitamin C and D are again making the news. They are both vitamins we know help build a good immune system, and which some humans can be short of. A review of 12 vitamin C studies, including five randomised controlled trials, published in the journal Life earlier this month found that:
"The current level of evidence from the RCTs suggests that intravenous vitamin C intervention may improve oxygenation parameters, reduce inflammatory markers, decrease days in hospital and reduce mortality, particularly in the more severely ill patients. High doses of oral vitamin C supplementation may also improve the rate of recovery in less severe cases. No adverse events have been reported in published vitamin C clinical trials in COVID-19 patients."
The authors are concerned that this cheap and readily available treatment may be being overlooked, as the UK REMAP-CAP trial set up in June 2020 has not even started. 

New Zealand have a home isolation system in place to support people, but it is reportedly overwhelmed. They were coping with 100-120 cases a day, but now have a backlog of people who aren't allowed out and may need support with care, food or somewhere to stay away from household members.
2 people have died from COVID while in home isolation, which is seen as a huge failing - and frankly if even New Zealand can't manage to keep an eye on COVID patients at home, what chance do any of us have?

Esther Rantzen (age 81), creator of Childline (support for anyone aged under 19,  call 0800 1111) and therefore a national treasure, was on the telly this morning with some fairly extreme views on older people who choose not to have a third jab. She feels they should also be voluntarily willing to say that they won't take any hospital care if they become ill with COVID.... or take their chances "on their perch" as she put it... 

Scotland book your vaccine from November 2021

Sky News has an interview with one of the longest hospitalised COVID patients in the UK, 40 year old Dad and Cancer survivor, Andy Watts. He spent 10 months in hospital and revealed that during his hospital stay he regularly heard visitors who didn't believe COVID was real, and was even confronted in his bed by a conspiracy theorist who told him it was all a hoax. I bet that made him feel better...

Media are reporting that a dog in Surrey is the first in the UK to catch COVID. If that's the first dog in the UK to catch COVID, I'm Boris Johnson's Great Aunt. I think what they mean to say is "this is the first dog in the UK to test positive for COVID" - which is pretty much what the UK Government announced.
Soooooooo many very big and expensive zoo animals have caught COVID from their keepers, and been tested positive by on-site zoo labs, you really think domestic pets aren't catching it regularly too?
Veterinarian Dorothee Bienzle of the University of Guelph in Ontario led a study which found 2/3 cats and 2/5 dogs whose owners had tested positive for COVID had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 themselves -  implying they had been infected with the virus at some point. When they tested cats in a shelter, less than 1 in 10 had antibodies.
The Netherlands' Utrecht University tested 156 dogs and 154 cats from about 200 human COVID households, and found the animals in around 1 in 5 homes tested positive with PCR or had antibodies.
Generally symptoms in animals are very mild or non-existent, but, just like humans, they can sometimes develop breathing or gastrointestinal problems. The chances of your pet giving COVID to you are incredibly slim, and we don't have evidence it's ever happened. They generally have teeny tiny breaths and are very short, so spreading COVID through the air is much harder for a dog or cat than a human - and in the case of house pets, who are they going to catch it from except you?. 

Trump Of The / HOAX Of The Day:
It's popular 90's musical combo Right Said Fred - again! More precisely Richard Fairbrass, who always seemed to have a brain when he was dancing around saying he was too sexy. Sadly it was an illusion.
He is among those sharing an image which has been photoshopped. The original is from a mobile vaccination clinic at a Patriots training camp (which is some kind of an American sports-related fun day thing), and reads 'COVID vaccinations here, no appointment' - in English, with a translation in Spanish underneath. The photoshopped image writes over the Spanish with "don't forget to donate your children's organs".
I'm sure whoever edited the picture thought they were hilarious, but as there are genuine professional medics at work here, it's worthy of a law suit.
Frankly it's so obviously photoshopped I'm concerned for not only the mental state of anyone who shared it, but also their eyesight. 

A newly released study by Nanjing University in China and University of California (UC) San Diego, has estimated that the pandemic has generated over 8 billion tons of plastic waste - masks, gloves, aprons, syringes, test kits etc. Even worse, they estimate around 25,000 tons of that will end up in the sea, and much of it will continue to float ashore and kill sealife and birds for the next few years. 

2nd Hoax Of The Day:
It really is the week for hoaxers, there must be nothing on telly. This one is an edited version of a speech by US Vice President Kamala Harris back in July. During the speech she says:
"Virtually every person who is in the hospital, sick with COVID-19 right now, is unvaccinated".
Someone who should probably have learnt to tie their own laces long ago has edited the clip to say "vaccinated". Simple, but sadly it's being widely shared, so it's also somewhat effective... 

Portugal are making it illegal for your boss to text you after work. New labour laws have been approved to reflect the fact so many people now work from home.
In any company with more than 10 employees, in most cases it'll become illegal to contact staff outside work hours, home workers must have recompense for additional cost of heating and power, workers should have mental health checks via a face-to-face meeting every 8 weeks, and parents of children under age 8 have the right to work from home if possible.
(Meanwhile in the UK, the only things I've seen are saying everyone should go back to the office and keep the frothy coffee economy going, or pay more tax because 'it's a privilege' to work from home...)

091121 New regulations announced that all NHS and care staff have to be fully vaccinated

It is the weekend - hurrah! And we made it through another week. This is hopefully a very special weekend for me, as I'm going to be celebrating my 50th birthday on Sunday. I was barely a teenager when this pandemic broke out, and the last 15 or 20 years of COVID really have aged me. It'll take a while to choose my rocking chair and zip up slippers, so I'll be taking an extended weekend off to spend time with some of my big kids, and my smiles post due Monday will also be late - but I will be back on Tuesday...

Do not forget your own treat! You've earned it - all of you (especially you Tina, I hope you and your children are feeling better soon - and maybe gloriously sleepy while they recover). Remember to do something special for you, not for anyone else, but for you.

Have Fun, With Some Caution, Protect The NHS.

Some numbers. All people on this tiny little rock we call home:

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 9,487,302 (+40,375) 142,678 (+145)

Russia 8,992,595 (+40,123) 252,926 (+1,235)

Germany 4,963,698 (+37,770) 97,994 (+172)

Ukraine 3,179,577 (+24,058) 75,607 (+750)

Netherlands 2,269,235 (+16,204) 18,695 (+32)

Poland 3,175,769 (+12,965) 78,555 (+31)

Austria 934,948 (+11,798) 11,641 (+40)

Czechia 1,866,969 (+10,395) 31,355 (+28)

Vietnam 1,009,879 (+8,982) 22,930 (+81)

Italy 4,843,957 (+8,516) 132,686 (+68)

Hungary 939,784 (+8,370) 31,867 (+116)

USA 47,701,670 (+8,154) 780,833 (+58)

Iran 6,027,269 (+7,322) 127,918 (+109)

Thailand 2,004,274 (+7,305) 19,934 (+51)

Slovakia 547,052 (+6,843) 13,446 (+41)

Greece 821,900 (+6,832) 16,616 (+56)

Malaysia 2,535,338 (+6,517) 29,576 (+41)

Croatia 528,286 (+6,449) 9,774 (+53)

Australia 187,041 (+1,414) 1,873 (+11)

New Zealand 8,306 (+199) 33



Sources: (24 seconds)

"An image from a COVID-19 vaccination clinic that circulated on social media has been altered, according to fact-checkers"

Vitamin C Studies:

"Tuvalu's foreign minister gives COP26 speech standing in knee-deep seawater due to climate change"

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