Friday 3 December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st, 2nd and 3rd December 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 1st, 2nd and 3rd December 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 10,379,647 (+50,584)
In Hospital Yesterday 2nd December: 7,373
Using A Ventilator Yesterday 2nd December: 895
Losses of Life: 145,424 (+143)
Tests: 1,128,774
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 51,046,133 (88.8% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 46,462,63 (80.8%)
Boosters: 19,436,885 (33.8%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 578,064 cases and 5,707 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 264,816,872 reported cases and 5,254,442 losses of life

Celebrate Christmas safely UK Government advert showing man in Sata hat and lady smiling and laughing

Yesterday it was exactly 1 year since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received approval from the UK's MHRA. The Government have marked the occasion with 'Boost Day' and launched new adverts on the telly. 

The UK Government have purchased another 114m doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines - to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. These will give us at least 2 more boosters each.
The 60m doses of Moderna vaccine and 54m Pfizer/BioNTech doses are "in addition to the 35 million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022".

The UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) has approved a second monoclonal antibody treatment - Xevudy (sotrovimab). In trials it was found to cut hospitalisation and death by 79% in people at high risk of developing severe disease. It has to be given to a patient early on, before they get a chance to become really poorly. 

UK school attendance is down slightly - absences due to COVID among staff and pupils have almost doubled since the beginning of November:
Coronavirus related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 2.6% on 25 Nov, up from 1.6% on 11 Nov - confirmed 1.3%, suspected 1.0%.
Attendance in all state-funded schools was 89.3% on 25 Nov, down from 91.5% on 11 Nov.
2.0% of teachers and school leaders (and 1.9% of support staff) in open state-funded schools were absent due to COVID-19 reasons on 25 Nov, up from 1.4% on 11 Nov (support staff also 1.4% on 11 Nov).

Scotland's 10th Omicron case has no link to the previous 9. And 6 of those 9 are all linked to a Steps concert in Glasgow. Tragedy.
Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that it is spreading through the community... Scotland's definitely not alone in that... 

Don't feel smug Welsh people... you didn't have to wait long. You've now had your first confirmed case. England is now on 29 and Scotland 13. Half of the cases in England up until November 30th were fully vaccinated people (80% of the population aged 12+ are fully vaccinated).

031221 UK variants

So, Omicron, Omicron.... What do we know right now? 

How severe are the symptoms with Omicron?
All anecdotal reports seem to suggest it's mostly mild. There are obviously patients who are doing badly, including sadly a few who are losing their lives, but we still aren't seeing any big red wavy flags.
Don't forget Delta is about twice as deadly as original wild COVID - Omicron hasn't evolved from Delta, it's evolved from wild COVID.
Even if Omicron was 1 1/2 times as deadly as wild COVID, it would be less deadly than Delta. And we are saving more than half the people we used to lose - so working out numbers gets really tricky, before you even start talking about who is catching it, how old or fit they are, or whether they're vaccinated. I've seen nothing to imply it is any worse, or even potentially as bad as, Delta. But it's early.

What's the main danger from Omicron?
South African GP's are reporting they are overwhelmed by patients testing positive. Basically sheer numbers of people involved are the issue.
At the very beginning of the pandemic we were worried most of all about overwhelming healthcare, and we are back there now. We got so good at keeping COVID patients out of hospital that we reduced that risk by over 90%. We got so good at treating hospitalised patients we reduced risk of dying for anyone who did end up in hospital by over half. So many people were already bubbling with antibodies for Delta COVID we were (kind of) breezing along.
If Omicron COVID can get past a lot of those antibodies it'll infect a lot of people.
Inevitably a tiny percentage of those people will end up in hospital and a small percentage of those will die. A tiny percentage of a tiny number is a tiny number. A tiny percentage of a really huge number is a huge number.
We know it takes a couple of weeks to see the real effect of a big rise in cases, so right now we expect to see South African hospital numbers go up, and inevitably losses of life will follow - purely because of sheer numbers. 

How catchy is Omicron?
Well... it could genuinely be as catchy as a catch thing. We're already seeing large superspreader events occurring, even in places where we've only just spotted Omicron - for example at least 50 people have tested positive after a single company party at a restaurant in Oslo, Norway. That's massive.
Trevor Bedford, Epidemiology genius person, has been doing tricky maths with help from some other science experts, and estimates that Omicron could be 3-4 x as transmissible as Delta. That means each Omicron infected person would pass on the virus to an average of 3-4 times as many people as a Delta infected person would, but it's still far too early to say for sure, and it's not just about how catchy it is... 

Will antibodies gained from infection still work?
Omicron is causing more reinfections than Delta did. I think everyone is in agreement that has to be true. South Africa has a high number of previously infected people, and a lot are catching Omicron. Trevor and the gang are estimating somewhere between 20% and 83% of people may catch Omicron despite previous infection. That's a big confidence range, which shows how hard it is to measure at the moment. Part of the difficulty is that you simply can't test everyone, and most people have very mild or no symptoms, so it's impossible to tell genuinely how many people are being infected.
The World Health Organisation have agreed that it seems likely there is an increased risk of reinfection. A pre-print study (not yet peer-reviewed) of 35,670 suspected reinfections up until 27th November found people were almost 2 1/2 times more likely to be reinfected by Omicron than previous variants:
"Population-level evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection. In contrast, there is no population-wide epidemiological evidence of immune escape associated with the Beta or Delta variants."

Will antibodies gained from vaccination still work? 
We are going to have to wait patiently for a couple of weeks to really see absolute figures regarding natural immunity, vaccine immunity and unprotected population - especially as the larger affected populations are only around 24% fully vaccinated. As with immunity from infection, it's really hard to measure how effective vaccinations are, but everyone is trying. Anecdotal reports are overwhelmingly telling us it is nearly all unvaccinated people in hospital. They are telling us that infected fully vaccinated people have mild illness. It looks even more like you should be very glad if you are vaccinated. It's no proof of anything, but frankly it's a great starting point and could definitely be substantially worse.   

Will current antibody treatments still work?
Some people can't be vaccinated, and it's really not a great idea for them to catch COVID, as they're more likely to become very ill. These people especially will be pleased to know that GlaxoSmithKline have already said early tests show their antibody treatment should be effective against Omicron... ahhh. Excellent. 

How much Omicron have we got in the UK?
Hmmm. Well.... We sequence a lot of cases (look at their family tree), and we have some less complex surveillance going on all the time as well. It looks for 3 distinct markers in COVID samples, and in the last week or two suddenly we have about 3% of cases missing the 'S' gene. That is a feature of Omicron. 

031221 updated risk assessment omicron UK HSA

Yesterday in Parliament Matt Hancock answered questions about the fact any company linked to Tory MP's was ten times more likely to be awarded a PPE supply contract than companies which put in a tender for the job with the health service. His answers were rubbish. This is the guy with a pub photo on his office wall - the landlord of that very pub was given a massive PPE contract. Matt has already lost twice in court. Why does he still have a job?

The US FDA has narrowly decided to authorise Merck's antiviral pill Molnupiravir. End trial data is not as impressive as interim estimates, and found it reduced risk of hospitalisation or death by 30% (it looked more like 50% in early data). 30% is still a great improvement though. It can't be called a failure...

Scientists from the UK and US have been studying why the AstraZeneca vaccine causes the rare blood clotting disorder in a tiny number of people, and they think they may have found the trigger which starts off the chain reaction. All they need to do now is work out how to stop it triggering.
This is an incredibly rare condition. Up until 20th October, 423 people in the UK developed blood clots with low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia) after receiving the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine. This is after an estimated 24.9 million first doses, and 24.1 million second doses. Of those 423 people, 72 did not survive (46 cases were following a second dose, and 6 of those people succumbed).
The rare blood clotting condition is actually much more common with infection, and COVID causes lots of different types of blood clotting. Research has found up to 70% of COVID patients admitted to ICU develop blood clots in the lungs or legs. 

To try and slow the spread of Omicron, US President Joe Biden yesterday announced new testing requirements for international travellers, and plans for 50m free rapid COVID home tests. Insurers will have to pay back the cost of another 150m home tests.
Omicron has now been detected in 5 US states - Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, California and Colorado. Around 59% of Americans are fully vaccinated, with another 11% partly vaccinated - pretty low figures for the wealthier nations.

Greece are providing every adult with 2 self-testing kits for before and after Christmas, so people can celebrate with friends and family more safely. 

Greece are also making vaccinations mandatory for older people. From January, anyone aged over 60 who isn't vaccinated will pay a monthly fine of 100€ (£/$114), which will go straight towards hospitals.
Only 83% of Greek people over 60 are fully vaccinated. 

Germany are coming down hard on anti-vaxxers (this is what happens when you have scientists in charge). They have announced they will ban unvaccinated people from inessential shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities. They have also announced mandatory masks for school pupils, limits on meetings, and are in discussions to make vaccination compulsory in Spring.
Germany are reporting record numbers of new daily cases, and some hospitals (especially in the South) are already having to send new ICU patients elsewhere. 

Lots of alcohol weakens your immune system and removes inhibitions - making you more likely to lean all over people and shout sweet nothings in their faces, snog strangers, or dance like no-one's watching. In COVID times, only one of these is a great thing. Many countries have had alcohol bans over the last 2 years, and Finland is the latest to introduce restrictions. A 5pm curfew on alcohol sales for any establishment or person not using a COVID pass... 

It turns out that Boris and his bunch are even more arrogant than we realised (and that's depressingly impressive). Last December they held a Christmas party for 40-50 people at no.10 Downing Street. This is while the rest of us, myself included, were having to make difficult decisions about which of our children and their partners we even saw over Christmas.
I honestly don't care about his political leaning, I hate his lack of any respect for his own citizens. I hate his "us and them and shut up whining" attitude. I hate the fact he treats us like scum, and feels 160,000 dead people is acceptable, as long as he's still king in his fancy palace.
I'm not allowed to mix COVID and politics - so for fairness I have to point out we can't possibly know whether another party would do a better or worse job.... uh huh... 

Open letter to Cressida Dick regarding Boris Johnson's Christmas party last year

Hoax Of The Day:
A new hoax video being shared shows clips of around 64 different athletes (many footballers) collapsing, and claims it's all due to COVID vaccinations. 45 clips aren't clear enough to say where they occurred, but the fact checkers at Snopes and Reuters have identified 19. None have any known link to vaccinations. Most are dehydration or exhaustion, some are players/athletes previously diagnosed with COVID, and several are from before vaccinations. One of the clips is from 2015.

French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné is reporting that Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has called UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson "a knucklehead" and “a clown in charge of a circus”.
Clearly this is untrue. Although it's arguable Boris is as stupid as his public persona would imply, he's definitely not actually in charge.

Where there's 1, there'll be more...
Darley Dene Primary School in Surrey has made the news for sending parents an attendance policy which states any pupil who has a positive lateral flow test result should go to school while they wait for a PCR test... OMG NO.
ANYONE who gets a positive lateral flow test stays at home and orders a PCR test - whether they are a 7 year old Surrey school pupil, a 25 year old bar staff, a 56 year old Member of Parliament or anyone else.

Trump Of The Day:
An Italian man attempted to cheat vaccination by wearing a fake silicone arm (which must have cost a fortune!). He had no idea the trained medical professional paid to vaccinate him would see through his cunning plan... erm... yeah... 
From next week you have to be vaccinated or recovered in Italy to be able to enter cinemas, theatres, gyms, nightclubs, ski lifts, stadiums, bars and restaurants.

Sajid Javid has suggested that it could be sensible to take a rapid test before you go to Christmas parties this December. Seconded.
Imagine you suddenly had to work Boxing Day because Janice gave the rest of the staff COVID? Or what if you only went to one event and then spent the rest of the party season in bed ill? Hands up if it would spoil Christmas if you felt responsible for making Granny really poorly? How great would it be if we had to close everything mid-December and stay home because there were no spare hospital beds, no ambulances? You get the picture.
Be sensible, think of others, think of yourself. Lateral flow test regularly, especially before socialising, stay home and order a PCR test if you have symptoms. You aren't wearing a mask or distancing because you're a sheep, or because Boris told you to. You're doing it because you have a brain... 

It is Friday! Yeeeay! It's been a long and hard week for me, so I will definitely be having my weekend treat - and it's going to be a hot and lengthy bath with a lush bath bomb I got for my birthday. We are all tired, we're all suffering the early dark nights, and I'm sure we are all getting a little stressed over Christmas. Remember to take some time out for yourself too. Just for you, not the kids or anyone else. You've earned it.

I shall be back on Sunday.... Regular testing, Sensible Choices, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. All people on this huge big rock in the sky:

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):

Germany 6,079,213 (+52,417) 103,190 (+281)

UK 10,379,647 (+50,584) 145,424 (+143)

Russia 9,736,037 (+32,930) 278,857 (+1,217)

Poland 3,623,452 (+26,965) 5,126 (+470)

Belgium 1,809,557 (+23,113) 27,120 (+48)

Netherlands 2,706,263 (+21,529) 19,586 (+62)

Czechia 2,211,972 (+18,582) 33,450 (+50)

USA 49,735,054 (+18,229) 806,570 (+172)

Italy 5,077,445 (+17,030) 134,077 (+74)

South Africa 3,004,203 (+16,055) 89,940 (+25)

Slovakia 712,749 (+15,278) 14,696 (+90)

Ukraine 3,477,649 (+13,777) 87,566 (+509)

Hungary 1,134,869 (+10,143) 35,122 (+191)

Austria 1,185,982 (+6,738) 12,693 (+68)

Greece 957,552 (+6,201) 18,427 (+102) 




"People urged to take a Covid test before going to Christmas parties"

Athletes collapsing, regulators and fact-checkers say:

Christmas image

"There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are related to reported incidents of athletes collapsing, regulators and fact-checkers say" - immune escape

Who preprint - immune escape from prior infection

WHO Dr Maria Van Kerkhove

The role of neutralisation assays - - open letter from NHS and care staff

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!