Tuesday 14 December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 13th / 14th December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 13th / 14th December 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 10,932,545 (+59,610)
In Hospital Yesterday 13th December: 7,672
Using A Ventilator Yesterday 13th December: 900
Losses of Life: 146,627 (+150)
Tests: 1,307,252 (That's really high)
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 51,298,838 (89.2% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 46,804,609 (81.4%)
Boosters: 24,075,451 (41.9%)

Area: Cases / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 16,366 / 516.3
Scotland: 22,786 / 416.9
Northern Ireland: 12,184 / 642.8
England: 293,521 / 519

Rep. Of Ireland: 628,306 cases and 5,788 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 271,397,526 reported cases and 5,333,158 losses of life.

Get Boosted Now image of very smiley lady every adult needs a booster COVID Omicron Emergency

"We can see that the growth in Omicron cases here in the UK is now mirroring the rapid increase that we are seeing in South Africa and the current observed doubling time is around every two days. Although yesterday we reported 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, the UKHSA estimate for the number of daily infections was 42 times higher at around 200,000. Scientists have never seen a COVID-19 variant that’s capable of spreading so rapidly so we have to look at what we can do to slow Omicron’s advance."
Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary in his address to Parliament earlier today.
He also said that there are still approximately 94,000 NHS staff who are still unvaccinated, and that COVID passes will always have a selection of routes to show eligibility, currently including proof of a negative test from the last 48 hours, proof of vaccination, a medical exemption or evidence of participation in a clinical trial.
UK MP's are voting on 4 different COVID measures tonight:
- Larger venue COVID passes
- Compulsory face masks in most indoor (non-hospitality) settings
- Avoiding self-isolation with daily lateral flow tests
- Mandatory COVID vaccinations for NHS employees by April 1st 2022

"Whilst we’ll maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all eleven countries from the travel Red List effective from 4am tomorrow morning."
Sajid again.
There really is little point having travel red lists of countries that have some Omicron, when it's whipping through the UK like fast thing that's fast. In fact it is travellers FROM THE UK who may find themselves unable to enter other countries without quarantine, or even at all. Consider this very carefully before you travel, because it can change without warning at any moment. 

"We're launching an urgent appeal for volunteers to come forward and support our national mission to Get Boosted Now.
Help our brilliant GPs, doctors, nurses & pharmacists.
Help us deliver jabs & save lives.
Help us get everyone boosted by the New Year."
UK Prime Minister Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson.
Go to NHSVolunteerResponders dot org dot uk to sign up 

How to reduce household transmission UK Government

As a reminder, people who have had a 3rd jab due to being immunocompromised can book a booster jab 3 months after that 3rd jab - so 4 doses in total. It can't be booked online though, you need to be invited by your GP or consultant. 

Yesterday Northern Ireland's COVID-19 passport scheme became law. You must show proof of vaccination or previous infection, or a negative lateral flow test result, to enter hospitality and entertainment venues.

Nicola Sturgeon has asked that people in Scotland limit the amount of social contact you have with other households - gather in groups of no more than 3 households.
“I am not asking anyone to ‘cancel’ Christmas – but in the run up to and in the immediate aftermath of Christmas, I am asking everyone to reduce as far as possible, and to a minimum, the contacts we have with people in other households.
We are not banning or restricting household mixing in law as before – we understand the negative impact this has on mental health and wellbeing – but we are asking everyone, and we will issue strong guidance to this effect, to cut down as far as possible the number of people outside our own households that we are interacting with just now. This will help break transmission chains.
Turning to Christmas Day specifically – or Christmas Eve or Boxing Day or whenever you have your main family celebration – we are not asking you to cancel or change your plans, and we are not proposing limits on the size of household gatherings. Places of worship will also remain open, with appropriate mitigations. But we will issue guidance to help you make Christmas safer.”

From 15 November (tomorrow) in WALES, if you are over 18, you must show the NHS COVID pass to enter theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

Yesterday Sajid Javid confirmed the UK already had around 10 people in hospital with Omicron Variant. Boris Johnson later confirmed that at least one person with Omicron Variant in the UK has succumbed to the virus.

Also yesterday, Sir Kier Starmer went on the telly to address the UK as leader of the opposition and offer a united front against COVID.
The possibilities for extracting the urine are strong in this one, but I will hold back, because it's the kind of cohesive act we really do need. Remember folks, it's a virus, it doesn't care who you vote for.

WHO getting vaccinated could save your life

After Boris' late night announcements on Sunday, and the introduction of COVID passes for leisure, plus daily lateral flow testing in place of isolation for fully vaccinated contacts, and the rollout of boosters to more age groups... the whole website set up fell apart by Monday morning.
All home tests, both PCR (for people with symptoms or household contacts) and lateral flow (rapid testing) were unavailable, and the Government were desperately trying to get people to stop trying to book vaccinations ("please wait until tomorrow") because the NHS website had collapsed.
So yeah, that got em moving... 

"Everyone who needs a lateral flow test can collect test kits from
- Local pharmacies
- Some community sites
- Some schools and colleges
There is no shortage of lateral flow tests. Ordering test kits for delivery has been temporarily suspended so we can work to fulfil current orders."
(Not having any available to order is definitely by definition a shortage, however it occurred. Just saying... )
Ordinarily you can find your closest location to collect lateral flow tests at maps dot test-and-trace dot nhs dot uk
This is another website which is a bit overwhelmed at the moment, as are the pharmacies. Everyone is trying to get lateral flow tests right now. If you can wait, please do and let those who need them get some - for work or to visit vulnerable people, or just to go and see Santa. 

Boris has written a letter to "The Whole Of The NHS", thanking you for everything. I have included it below. Don't forget to print it off and display it proudly on your mantelpiece.

Boris letter to the NHS 14th December 2021

Right Omicron....
We have a ton of EARLY information coming at us regarding how dangerous this is - how many people end up in hospital, how many die. Before I even start, let's listen to the wise words of Deepti Gurdasani, Epidemiologist and lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. She warns us all that the make up of the UK population is very different to that of South Africa, so we cannot expect the same outcomes.
The UK has fully vaccinated over 80% of people over age 12, over 68% of the entire population. South Africa has fully vaccinated less than 26%.
The UK has quite a large number of previously infected people, around 16% by positive tests, and even though we suspect it's much more than this, it's nothing like as high as South Africa, which has an estimated 72% population previously infected.
The UK population is fatter, richer and older, less physically active. South Africa is poorer and the population more likely to be deprived or malnourished. We live in different sorts of households, in different sorts of towns. We do different jobs, and different things for leisure. We are more similar than not, but we have a lot of differences.
The UK instead should look to Denmark, which is a little ahead of us with their Omicron outbreak and much (MUCH) more similar.
Denmark currently has the quickest Omicron growth worldwide, at a doubling time of 1.6 days (the UK is 2nd at 1.7 days) and they are seeing a rise in hospitalisations already, with hospitalisations running slightly higher than with Delta Variant. Boo.
Severity seems a little worse in children than previous variants (mainly more children with symptoms), but it's too early to give Danish breakdowns by age.
None of this is set in stone.
Rapid spread through a community will mean more people are testing positive in hospital admission tests for other things. Rapid spread can mean the seriously poorly and hospitalised are more visible. Rapid spread may mean certain populations have tons of cases, which can skew the figures - e.g. an outbreak of Omicron at a school will include loads of kids, an outbreak at a sports club might be almost all men in their 20's and 30's.
Early days still... 

All of that said, we have pretty positive news coming in from South Africa:
- The plateauing of cases has continued. It's as if Omicron is burning itself out. No-one really understands this, because it can't possibly have infected everyone already, but case numbers are rising much more slowly, and showing signs of levelling off.
- We are being told by medics and hospitals that the number of people being hospitalised in South Africa is lower than previous variants, with less patients needing oxygen or intensive treatment. There is a massive study by Discovery Health - South Africa's largest private healthcare firm, who found risk of hospitalisation from Omicron was 29% lower overall than in previous waves.
- Discovery Health also found that the jabs still work to protect against severe disease. Being double jabbed with Pfizer stopped 70% of Omicron hospitalisations.
- The mortality rate for Omicron in South Africa is standing at around 0.5%, whereas it was 3% with Delta Variant. That is a HUGE drop.
Now why? Why all of this?
Is Omicron really less dangerous, less deadly?
Does the fact South Africa are testing more low symptom people skew figures a lot?
Did everyone get scared and stay home?
Did they run out of testing capacity?
Is prior infection, or vaccination, or hybrid immunity (from more than 1 source), particularly great protection against symptomatic or severe illness?
Did we get so much better at treating people over the last few months?
Is there just a massive lag in data? (Some South African data has a 10 day lag, which means we won't always know full totals until up to 10 days after the date given.)
Is there just a time period before people are hospitalised or succumb, and by next week we'll realise we celebrated too soon?
There are no promises here, but to lose 1 in 6 of the people you anticipated will never be bad news. However, will it prove true once all the numbers are complete, and will it happen anywhere else in the world? I think we can be hopeful, but realistic. Fingers and toes crossed... 

The UK Ministry of Defence have said at least 750 personnel will be deployed to help with vaccine rollout in England and Scotland.
Quite honestly this is the sort of thing they are for. I know stabbing people in the arm with a very tiny needle is not as glamorous as helicoptering around the world rescuing ambassadors, but well, if we're paying their wages anyway,  they may as well...  

UKHSA Omicron needs booster jabs

Famous People With COVID:
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Tennis US Open Champion Emma Raducanu
Ed Davey UK MP
Matt Vickers UK MP
Jim McMahon UK MP
Rachel Reeves UK MP
Bridget Phillipson UK MP
Darren Henry UK MP
Dean Russell UK MP
(Did I miss a party or something? ... I can't help thinking gathering 400 MPs together in a room to vote in person today is one of the most blindingly stupid moves UK Members of Parliament have ever made.)

UK Deputy Prime Minister... do you know who that is? Do you? It's Dominic Raab. Anyway, he said on telly there were about 250 people in UK hospitals with Omicron, which confused everyone, because Boris had just said 10. He did later correct himself, and said 9. There was a lot of argument about "is it 9 or is it 10" in the media. I don't think they considered 1 person has lost their life. 

News Editor for New Scientist magazine, Jacob Aron, had a questionnaire on Twitter asking how many of us register our Lateral Flow tests every time?
Yes, always 29%
No, too much hassle 32%
Sometimes 18%
Only if I test positive 21%
The results are pretty striking, and I agree with the comments. People were saying it takes too long. When you have 4 or 5 of you, it takes half an hour - and realistically I should just be able to log in and tick nothing changed, give each name and result, and zap the QR codes. 2 minutes. Why do I always have to agree my 13 year old is still a schoolchild and hasn't changed schools? Make it easier UK Government people! 

China has reported their first case of Omicron COVID. They are one of the few countries still trying for zero COVID, and have an incredibly strict quarantine system which lasts for at least 2 weeks, so the traveller who has tested positive is unlikely to have exposed anyone else to the infection. Fingers crossed. 

A man in New Zealand has been caught after having potentially 10 COVID vaccinations in a single day. He was being paid to impersonate anti-vaxxers and get vaccinated in their name, so that they get a note on their medical record and a COVID pass. Clearly there are many reasons why you don't take anyone else's medical treatments, partly because it will affect how both of you are treated if there's an emergency.
There's a great quote from vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris from the University of Auckland:
“We know that higher doses result in more general vaccine reactions, like fever and headaches and pains, so you might anticipate he would feel pretty grotty the next day.”
I bet he can barely move his arms... he should be sentenced to hand mix Yorkshire puddings for at least the next 3 days...

"Health Systems are weaker now than they were a year ago. Sometimes you can get up after the first punch, but it's very hard to get up after the second and third. ... We're relying on health workers in the health system that have been weakened by this response"
Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation.
It's very easy to forget that 18 months ago we were waving rainbow flags and clapping for the NHS, and here they are in the same place, but without that extra support. Healthcare workers the world over are tired, demoralised, traumatised and scared. We have asked vulnerable people in binbags to take on long shifts and twice the recommended number of patients, to save the lives of strangers with a life-threatening disease we don't understand even now. And they've done it. Thank you all. 

It is too early to panic and too early to sit back relieved, but Omicron isn't about to wipe us all out, and vaccines still look good for keeping almost all of us out of hospital (probably around 96% of us won't need any hospital care), even if it takes a booster. Do limit your contacts already, don't take risks you can't afford to take. Use your brain, and prepare mentally now that your Christmas may not be exactly as you'd hoped, but it can still be great. For most of us, Christmas Day can be any day when we are ready, and it'll be worth the wait.

Some numbers. All people on this 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 10,932,545 (+59,610) 146,627 (+150)

Russia 10,074,797 (+28,343) 291,749 (+1,145)

Germany 6,587,192 (+27,476) 107,029 (+438)

Italy 5,258,886 (+20,677) 135,049 (+120)

Poland 3,857,085 (+17,460) 89,045 (+537)

Vietnam 1,443,648 (+15,220) 28,333 (+252)

Netherlands 2,906,969 (+12,760) 20,214 (+74)

Czechia 2,350,338 (+11,896) 34,697 (+56) 

Belgium 1,959,193 (+9,751) 27,631 (+46)

Denmark 570,502 (+8,314) 3,030 (+7)

USA 51,025,723 (+7,441) 819,428 (+113)

Ukraine 3,570,448 (+7,283) 91,602 (+387)

Switzerland 1,137,969 (+5,971) 11,862 (+12)

Greece 1,012,659 (+5,736) 19,475 (+130)

S. Korea 528,652 (+5,564) 4,387 (+94)

Slovakia 781,989 (+4,762) 15,516 (+101)













Exciting infographic on household transmission












Image https://twitter.com/hivepi/status/1470645434263736322?t=FeSWAD_1BAzNMgNaao0E7g&s=19









10 day lag 





















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