Friday 5 November 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd, 4th, 5th November 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 3rd, 4th, 5th November 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 9,241,916 (+34,029)
In Hospital Thursday 4th: 9,160
Using A Ventilator Thursday 4th: 1,034
Losses of Life: 141,588 (+193)
Tests: 914,955
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 50,156,656 (87.2% of UK 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 45,790,934 (79.6%)
Booster/ 3rd doses: 9,347,074 (16.3%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 458,370 cases and 5,492 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 249,633,651 reported cases and 5,049,391 losses of life.

Celebrate bonfire night responsibly use your COVID app

"The age-adjusted risk of deaths involving COVID19 was 32 times greater in unvaccinated people than in fully vaccinated individuals between 2 Jan and 24 Sept 2021"
UK Office for National Statistics (ONS)

WHO has granted emergency use listing to COVAXIN (developed by Bharat Biotech), This is a massive relief to India especially, and it's been a long time coming. All of the countries who rely on WHO to ensure their medicines and treatments are safe, can now use the COVAXIN vaccine. It also opens up travel for anyone already vaccinated. 

The UK MHRA has approved Molnupiravir (also called Lagevrio) oral antiviral for at-home use. It is manufactured by Merck, and the UK Government have bought enough for 480,000 patients (1 tablet twice a day for 5 days). It is very expensive (£££s), so will be used mainly to help patients at greater risk of developing severe disease, and has to be given early in someone's infection - before they have a chance to become severely ill. Trials were stopped early, as it reduced hospitalisations and losses of life to around half in the patients who received it, so it became unethical, and somewhat cruel, to give any more trial participants a placebo.
The UK will be administering the drug this Winter, including as part of the RECOVERY trial, and as we are the first country to give approval, the results will help inform the entire world.
Merck have already said they will allow other manufacturers worldwide to produce this drug, making it available more cheaply and readily to poorer nations, although it will still be beyond the reach of many. 

UK Govt most people will be offered a Pfizer or Moderna Booster

Latest REACT Infection Survey results for England 19th to 29th October show what we can all see is actually happening - cases have been rising - and maybe we have a lot more asymptomatic people out there than we ever have before:
"There were 1,021 positives from 67,208 swabs, giving a prevalence of 1.72%. This represents the highest overall prevalence of REACT-1 since it began in May 2020. This is more than 2-fold higher than prevalence in the last report (9 to 27 September 2021), which was 0.83%."
So yeah... there were a lot of people with COVID over the second half of October, potentially more than ever before. A prevalence of 1.72% is approximately 1,175,818, or 1 in every 58.
In the South West prevalence increased by 4 times since the last report, to 2.18% - 1 in every 46 people had COVID. Rates are up in every region except Yorkshire and the Humber.
Most obvious question I think is about age, and highest prevalence was found in children aged 5 to 12, at 5.85% (1 in every 17) and those aged 13 to 17 years at 5.75% (1 in every 17.5).
Frankly that's awful, and it's no wonder we have now lost over 100 children. Even more awful, it was at it's highest the week before half term.
"Among people who were in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, prevalence was 10.1% compared with 0.83% among those without such contact."
It's definitely worth getting PCR tested if you are identified as a contact. 

Going back to the huge swathe of meeting minutes that JCVI released last weekend. When discussing 'pros and cons' of vaccinating children, there are a few glaring 'cons' which won't please anyone with children who have suffered badly from catching COVID - I can see why they weren't in any rush to publish:
“Natural infection in children could have substantial long-term benefits on COVID-19 in the UK” is one of the saddest statements really. Clearly we are pretty sure catching COVID isn't likely to give anyone except the blessed lifelong immunity. This isn't chicken pox.
"All adults will be vaccinated and there is a low risk of child-to-child transmission. Staff and parents will be protected."
Ah yes, Jenny Harries repeated this so often I think it was her mantra. Low risk of child-to-child transmission turned out to be a load of...*insert appropriate word here*.
"There is an argument for allowing the virus to circulate amongst children which could provide broader immunity to the children and boost immunity in adults."
Data shows immunity via vaccination might prove longer-lasting, and almost certainly gives broader immunity than natural infection, so that doesn't seem likely to be true. As we are fully aware "allowing the virus to circulate" through any population will inevitably lead to some deaths and severe illness, and Long COVID, this statement is really saying we can sacrifice a few kids because it'll give the rest of us better immunity and give the vaccinated grown ups a 'top up' to their immunity.
I appreciate that there is a need to be blunt and honest, but I don't think I can ever appreciate a need to purposefully allow anyone to catch COVID to protect someone else. 

ONS Risk of death vaccinated 1 unvaccinated 32

Also in the REACT Study, genome sampling.
"A total of 126 positive samples have been sequenced to date (from the random study), all of which were Delta variant. Of these, 13 (10.3%) were the AY.4.2 Delta sublineage which has been classified by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as a variant under investigation (VUI)."
AY.4.2 Delta is the Delta variant which we think may be a bit more transmissible... and it's definitely increasing, but if you look at the figures, it doesn't appear to be doing any more damage. 

And here we have some figures - from the ONS. The latest numbers on UK Long COVID:
"An estimated 1.2 million people (1.9% of the population) experienced self-reported “long COVID” in the 4 weeks to 2 October 2021.
This is up from 1.1 million last month, reflecting the sustained increases in infection rates during August."
240,000 (20%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID less than 12 weeks previously, up from 154,000 the previous month.
"Prevalence of self-reported long COVID remained greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years. However, it was notably higher among people aged 12 to 16 and 17 to 24 years than last month, with the latter now similar to the 35 to 69 age group."
(This is what herd immunity via natural transmission looks like.)
The most common symptoms are still:
- fatigue (55%)
- shortness of breath (39%)
- loss of smell (33%)
- difficulty concentrating (30%)
Some people still don't really believe "Long COVID" is real. Some people have seen more than enough scan images of damaged organs to know that it is.

Yesterday the armed forces began supporting vaccinations in Scotland. Not only with logistics driving things around, but with actual vaccination support as well. 

051121 indieSAGE rolling new cases UK

Jon Van Tam is looking very tired and a bit older these days. He was on BBC news telly yesterday, and was asked how we avoid a lockdown over Christmas. “Christmas and indeed all of the darker winter months are potentially going to be problematic, and I think the things that are really going to determine this are, first of all, human behaviours and caution..."
Bit harsh. If your kids get COVID at school, it doesn't matter how careful you've been to that point, it's beyond your control. The same is true for most people who catch COVID - be at at work, on the bus, in the shop etc.
His second variable was "how well the vaccination programmes go". He mentioned flu vaccinations as well as COVID 1st, 2nd and boosters.
His 3rd item was unexpected, and more generally mentioned in the longer term: "We have to keep a weather eye on the absence of new variants of concern."
He looks very fed up. 

Scientists have identified a gene which, if you have it, doubles your risk of dying from COVID or having respiratory failure. Your likelihood of having the gene depends on ancestry, so it could go some way to explaining why some populations have higher rates of hospitalisation and death.
The gene LZTFL1 is present in 60% of people of South Asian descent and only 15% of people originally from European backgrounds. It is rare in Afro-Caribbean populations, who also have a disproportionate number of deaths in the UK, so really we need to keep looking for the why?, but this is definitely a good starting point to potentially help lessen the risk or develop better treatments for some populations.

From January 4th all employees of any large American business (more than 100 employees) have to wear a mask in the workplace.
People who believe their human rights are affected by donning a small piece of cloth to protect other people are already very shouty. 

051121 indieSAGE percentage testing positive positivity rate UK

Meanwhile in the UK, the deadline for care home staff to be fully vaccinated is coming up next week on November 11th. At the end of October by NHS figures, as many as 1in10, or 49,000 workers, were not double-jabbed.

It seems likely COVID vaccinations will be mandatory for all full time NHS England staff from April next year - and an announcement will be made next week apparently.
There has been quite a long period of public consultation on this, and they're likely to have such a long deadline because they don't want any more healthcare staff leaving right now - just as Winter busy season starts.
Mandatory jabs for healthcare workers are becoming pretty much a universal requirement worldwide. It makes sense, it helps protect healthcare workers from unnecessary danger, and it'll help protect their patients too. It also relieves the pressure from staff being off work self-isolating, and is a safer environment for vulnerable staff.

I really don't understand most healthcare workers who aren't happy about vaccination at this point. Billions of people have been jabbed before you, and you must appreciate the benefits - if you don't trust medical science, why are you working in a regular hospital? Genuinely. Any answers appreciated. 

Sir Jeremy Farrar has stepped down from the official UK Government SAGE group. He said "you never listen to us or do what we suggest, so what's the point?" Lolz, jk, no he didn't. He did however leave with a warning that the pandemic is "a long way from over".
His opinions don't always match with the UK Government. Jeremy thought it would be best to continue to wear masks, concentrate on ventilation and heavily test to control numbers, whereas Health Secretary Javid has suggested he'd be fine with 100,000 new infections a day.

051121 indieSAGE cases by age group

Today's indieSAGE briefing started with a very stark situation update:
"The Government has been advised by it's own Scientific Advisory Group (SAGE) to introduce mitigations, and bring in the so-called Plan B. That was a couple of weeks ago, but it is continuing to ignore that advice, even as we approach the difficult Winter months, and this week a senior member of SAGE quit that committee.
So we have a Government that is not taking enough mitigation measures, and is out of step with what's happening across the rest of Europe, and Winter is coming..."
There is a clear reduction in testing - both lateral flow and PCR, over half term.
When you compare the rates of infection in children before half term and now, there is a very big drop. That IS reflected in the ONS study, so hopefully cases in children may have peaked (so many have already caught it) and it isn't just a lack of testing.
They also looked in depth at the situation around the world regarding vaccinations and vaccinating children, so if you are interested, it's well worth a watch. 

Vaccines save lives, and the HPV vaccine was originally rolled out to teenage girls in the UK back in 2008. Time has elapsed, and now a study has been published by Cancer Research UK in The Lancet. They have found that it has reduced rates of cervical cancer in women in their 20's dramatically.
Best effect is seen when girls were offered the vaccine aged 12-13, and following up this population, the rates of cervical cancer have dropped by a truly staggering 87%.
"The estimated relative reduction in cervical cancer rates by age at vaccine offer were 34% for age 16–18 years (school year 12–13), 62% for age 14–16 years (school year 10–11), and 87% for age 12–13 years (school year 8), compared with the reference unvaccinated cohort."
They estimate that by June 30, 2019 there had been 448 fewer than expected cervical cancers and 17,235 fewer than expected cases of CIN3 (grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia - abnormal cells) in vaccinated cohorts in England. Excellent stuff. It's so excellent that in summary they say:
"The HPV immunisation programme has successfully almost eliminated cervical cancer in women born since Sept 1, 1995."

UKs HPV vaccine saves lives

COP26 News:
190 countries have agreed to phase out coal power, and end investment in new coal power worldwide, while rapidly scaling up deployment of clean power generation methods. Australia notably are not joining in.
And already sadly Indonesia have reversed their decision to sign up to end deforestation. That's a bit of a blow really. 

"When you think you need A&E, go to 111 online first.
The NHS will help you right away, and if needed, a healthcare professional will call you."
This is one of my favourite episodes of The IT Crowd.... except its not, its reality. I appreciate they are attempting to relieve pressure on A&E, and the 111 and 999 phonelines, but they are still there if you need them. I'd strongly suggest that if you don't think you've got time to fire up the laptop, call 111. ALWAYS call 999 if there is imminent threat to life.  

Europe is definitely into another wave. Cases, hospitalisations and losses of life are currently rising week on week, and we are heading into Winter. There is a bit of a panic to try and vaccinate as many people as possible...

The UK Government are about to launch an advertising campaign to get us to open the windows regularly at home. We know this makes sense. Fresh air blows everything around and reduces any virus concentration in air in the room, which is good for everyone - whether you're the one breathing out COVID or not. It works just as well for flu and other virus as it does for COVID, and breathing in less virus means your body has a better chance of beating it quickly. Remember, it's the year of the cardi. 

Open a window, wear a cardi, save the NHS - three vertical stripes with a window, cardi, NHS

It is the weekend! Hurrah! My kids were finally both back at school today, and the adults are still testing negative, so hopefully we've escaped it. I hope if you've had COVID in your household, you are improving or better too.
Don't forget your treat - something that is just for you, not for the kids or your partner or parents. Something indulgent for you, because you've earned it, and you deserve a special something for yourself. 

It's also firework night, aka bonfire night, aka Guy Fawkes night. Remember:
1. Don't try to blow up Parliament
2. Keep a safe distance between spectators and fireworks or bonfires
3. Always have a bucket of water ready, just in case
4. Don't go back to a firework that hasn't gone off, and don't ever dispose of fireworks on a bonfire - or I'll show you the scar through my eyebrow...

Play Safely, Wear A Cardi, Save The NHS...

Some numbers. All fascinating people with a story to tell:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life in the FULL 24 hours up until midnight GMT YESTERDAY:

USA 47,187,256 (+81,033) 772,315 (+1,149)

Russia 8,673,860 (+40,217) 243,255 (+1,195)

UK 9,208,219 (+37,269) 141,395 (+214)

Germany 4,697,673 (+35,662) 96,763 (+140)

Turkey 8,150,708 (+29,482) 71,526 (+228)

Ukraine 3,006,463 (+27,377) 70,146 (+699)

Poland 3,060,614 (+15,516) 77,395 (+250)

Brazil 21,849,137 (+13,352) 608,715 (+411)

India 34,332,407 (+12,265) 459,875 (+214)

Netherlands 2,166,796 (+10,214) 18,497 (+23)

Iran 5,964,824 (+9,862) 126,921 (+158)

France 7,190,334 (+9,502) 117,849 (+47)

Czechia 1,792,735 (+9,472) 30,911 (+40)

Romania 1,685,264 (+8,971) 49,624 (+434)

Austria 856,002 (+8,594) 11,419 (+19)

Thailand 1,943,424 (+7,982) 19,462 (+68)

Belgium 1,393,358 (+7,981) 26,083 (+22) 





JCVI Minutes:


COVID sympathetic gene

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