Sunday, 19 December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th / 19th December 2021.

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 18th / 19th December 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 11,361,387 (+82,886)
Losses of Life: 147,218 (+45)
Tests: 1,598,910 (if that's not a record then it's very close!)
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 51,463,255 (89.5% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 47,009,608 (81.7%)
Boosted: 28,060,874 (48.8%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 656,600 (+5,124) cases and 5,835 losses of life.

World: 274,820,401 reported cases and 5,369,415 losses of life.

NHS COVID pass is FREE

"They must really think about the damage they are doing to society by… they take up hospital beds that could have been used for someone with maybe a heart problem, or maybe someone who is waiting for elective surgery.
But instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community they choose not to get vaccinated."
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Sky News today. Almost 90% of the eligible UK population have had their vaccinations, and the remaining 10% include 90% of the sickest people in hospital. 

The UK's efforts to administer vaccinations as quickly as possible really are world-beatingly excellent. On Saturday 906,656 people were vaccinated, including over 830,000 booster doses.
Well done to everyone involved.

Latest update on Omicron is another 12,133 cases identified in the last 24 hours, taking the confirmed total to 37,101 - although we don't test every sample (we test an even smaller % when we have so many new cases each day), the so that's likely to be a massive under-estimate.

Germany has joined France by banning non-essential UK travellers.
From today only German nationals and residents will be allowed entry from the UK, and ALL arrivals must show a negative test and quarantine for 2 weeks.
We aren't alone, they’ve also barred arrivals from Denmark, France, Norway and Lebanon.

The Netherlands is locking down hard. All inessential shops, hospitality, public venues and events will close, as will schools, until mid January.
Yowch, but I think they'll be the first of many... 

Slovakia is in full lockdown, and last week announced every resident over age 60 who is fully vaccinated will receive hospitality vouchers worth €500 from their thankful government. Carrots rather than sticks... 

According to the tally from the World Health Organisation, Omicron is now in 89 countries and doubling really quickly - between 1.5 and 3 days wherever it occurs.

191221 Nearly 4m boosters in a single week

What is happening now with Omicron is what we feared would happen 2 years ago with original COVID. It infects everyone all of a sudden at once, and even though it is not super deadly, the tiny number of seriously ill people very quickly adds up, fills our hospitals, makes our medical staff ill, and ultimately it wipes out a lot of people very fast.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a 'Major Incident' yesterday because over 26,000 new cases were announced in London in just 24 hours. If only 3% (bottom estimate) end up needing some hospital care, it's an extra 780 people - and that's simply not something you can repeat day after day after day. 

We are ALL fed up, bored, and have had enough of COVID. NO-ONE wants lockdowns. If they happen then it isn't to try and annoy you, control you or ruin your life - it's because we admit thousands of people to hospital every single day, and if we have no hospitals then people will die in great numbers. People who overdosed on paracetamol, fell down the stairs, got hit by a car. People with infected injuries, asthma or heart attacks. They'll all die because our hospitals are overwhelmed already. The people protesting in London yesterday really don't seem to get it. They're all so vain they think it's about them. It isn't. 

Unofficial rumour is that Northern Ireland's hospitals have all but collapsed. 

"Over 950 Armed Forces members are available to support the Covid Vaccine programme in England, Scotland and Wales.
Personnel from across the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy are giving jabs and helping with planning."
Be kind to our Armed Forces, they are essential, and lots of them have apparently been told they may not be going home for Christmas because they're helping with the vaccination effort. That seems terribly mean.
(Maybe we should just close everything and let everyone have a few days off... )

If you want to collect lateral flow tests at a local pharmacy, you now need a 'collect code' to present in store for each household. You can get one online or by ringing 119. The Government are trying to get more people to report the results - whatever they are - so they're keeping better tabs on where the tests are going. 

Over half of over 18s in the UK have now been boosted. 

Collect codes for lateral flow tests

In good news - AstraZeneca's monoclonal antibody treatment Evushield "retained neutralising activity against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.529), according to new preclinical data".
This is the US FDA study, so although it's not yet peer-reviewed, it is independent, not done by the drugs companies themselves, and excellent news. 

New reports from Imperial College are making all the headlines. They found vaccines were far less effective against Omicron:
They found a significantly increased risk of an Omicron case compared to Delta - 'these estimates translate into Omicron VE (vaccine efficacy) estimates of between 0% and 20% PD2 (after dose 2) and between 55% and 80% PD3 (after dose 3) against Omicron, consistent with other estimates'.
Basically - 2 vaccinations won't stop most people catching Omicron. 3 vaccinations stops between half and 4/5 of us having Omicron with mild symptoms/no symptoms.
Vaccination is thankfully still really effective against serious illness, but you need that booster jab. They predict a drop in vaccine efficacy against severe disease (hospitalisation) from 96.5%-97.6% against Delta down to 80.1%-85.9% against Omicron at 2 months after a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.
Still very reasonable. Fingers crossed the predictions hold true... 

All the papers are reporting rumours that plans are being drawn up for the UK to have a 2 week lockdown after Christmas - and is anyone reading this in any way surprised? 

Piers Corbyn, who's mostly famous for having a famous brother, has been arrested after calling for people to burn MP's offices. He really has lost the plot. This is apparently his protest against lockdowns (we aren't locked down) and vaccine mandates (only apply to health and social care).
Saying "allegedly" seems a bit superfluous when you've seen the video and no-one's denying it, but whatever... "allegedly".

We have multiple warnings from scientists and local South African people - they tell us NOT to pay too much heed to reducing case numbers in the hardest hit area of South Africa - Gauteng - as it is an incredibly seasonal region. 100s of 1,000s of migrant workers and holidaymakers go home over Christmas. The population drops massively, so case numbers WILL drop massively. 

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak flew back from California urgently last Friday, and it turns out he wasn't just on a jolly. Rachel Reeves MP:
"The Chancellor should've been here supporting our workers and businesses. Instead he flew away for private meetings with US healthcare corps. He must publish details of all his meetings in the US, and announce a package of support for our businesses."
They really can't wait to sell the NHS, can they?

He said licking rats was his right middle ages style drawing of person succumbing in a bed, while a woman looks whistfully out of the window, and a plague doctor stands beside her.

Pfizer BioNTech is having to re-think their vaccinations for children under 5. They have been using a 1/10th dose in a 2 dose regimen, but it simply isn't strong enough, so they're going to continue trials with 3 doses. It will delay results and approval for use by the public by a few weeks - that is now expected in late Spring.
A 1/3 dose jab is already approved in several countries for children aged 5-11.

ICNARC tells us about what is happening in Intensive Care in the UK. The latest report is from before Omicron arrived, and shows that during the last 6 months we've seen a real difference in who is being admitted.
There are more pregnant people, more younger, more deprived, more immunocompromised and fewer need ventilators.
If you look just at people in ICU who AREN'T vaccinated, they are much younger, more of black ethnicity, more deprived, far fewer with underlying conditions.
It also tells us that UK ICUs are pretty full, with some using surge capacity already, and 5% of patients being transferred from one hospital to another because of lack of beds.
I think that's a warning...

The Sunday Times is reporting that if the UK does have a big surge in COVID cases, 'virtual wards' will see around 15% of patients treated at home, with remote monitoring of Oxygen levels.
This really could work incredibly well, and treat a lot of patients while reducing the risk to everyone else who has to use and work in hospitals. They really do need to be cared for adequately though, checked regularly, and supported - physically and mentally. 

Sad medic stands in front of seated Santa with text - I cannot make people care about other people

USA topical comedy show Saturday Night Live last night went out without an audience and pre-recorded, as everyone is feeling twitchy about COVID ruining their Christmas.
It isn't the only thing having to cancel at the last minute, but at least it won't cost them - restaurants, clubs, theatres and other venues are going to lose a fortune.
If you've booked something and it isn't cancelled, please honour your booking  or pay some of the cost. We all want these facilities to be available when we're ready to go back out, and they've already had a really hard 2 years.

Good news! There is barely any flu across the UK, and at this point in the year, it was very much expected flu would stand out.
Phew... simple health measures don't only work against COVID... 

A huge thank you to everyone who has wished my daughter well, she is now bored more than anything else - after 5 or 6 days isolated in her bedroom to try and keep the rest of her household COVID-free for Christmas. So far, so good... best of luck to anyone else in the same position.

It's Christmas week, so I will be spending time with my family (including hopefully all of our big grown up kids). I will keep you informed over the next fortnight, especially with major developments, but COVID won't keep to a schedule and neither will I, so it'll be a bit ad hoc... I expect a UK briefing at some point early next week, it seems likely.

Don't take risks you can't afford, but don't let fear overwhelm you. Remember that the simple things can be the most effective - and they can be what you have most control over.
Prioritise, limit contacts, get boosted, wash your hands. Keep your little bubble safe, and have respect for other people's.
We can do this, and we can have a great Christmas, whatever Omicron tries to throw at us. We got this...

Some numbers. All would have a glint in their eye at the sight of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree:

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

UK 11,278,501 (+90,109) 147,173 (+125)

USA 51,696,205 (+85,924) 827,206 (+487)

France 8,577,376 (+58,536) 121,418 (+85)

Germany 6,788,546 (+30,953) 108,836 (+230)

Italy 5,364,896 (+28,108) 135,544 (+123)

Russia 10,186,823 (+27,434) 296,180 (+1,076)

Poland 3,942,864 (+19,397) 91,415 (+543)

Turkey 9,154,209 (+17,644) 80,244 (+191)

South Africa 3,292,609 (+16,080) 90,345 (+48)

Vietnam 1,524,368 (+15,895) 29,351 (+248)

Netherlands 2,966,744 (+14,616) 20,420 (+50)

Belgium 1,999,764 (+9,604) 27,895 (+36)

Czechia 2,397,266 (+8,966) 35,187 (+64)

Denmark 609,062 (+8,594) 3,067 (+13) 

Canada 1,874,473 (+7,566) 30,040 (+8)

Ukraine 3,604,549 (+7,503) 92,929 (+288)

Ireland 651,476 (+7,333) 5,835

S. Korea 558,864 (+7,313) 4,644 (+53)

India 34,740,275 (+7,081) 477,422 (+264)

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Sources: 

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://twitter.com/chrischirp/status/1471634712447885320?t=L5Q8Azn6LJDpWzUZ1Q4Phw&s=19

I am so very tired. 

https://twitter.com/chrischirp/status/1471878307327135762?t=cJ2vz-y2yKJtaUEnJc_mYg&s=19

Boosters boost immunity ....

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59696499

Leaked SAGE minutes 

https://twitter.com/bbclaurak/status/1471932874261770248?t=52HKpF2XgTtnp0pKiZj4Gw&s=19

https://twitter.com/UKHSA/status/1472567775478841347?t=dKRFzaO9BmwBiGyTDcAnQw&s=19

 https://news.upday.com/uk/boosters-hit-record-as-nhs-hails-super-saturday-for-englands-vaccine-programme-2/

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/sajid-javid-hospital-beds-unvaccinated-b972808.html

Image

https://twitter.com/cw_janene/status/1472398183221186560?t=hl7zfpunhbiG9cHUlkKq7g&s=19

Image - https://twitter.com/MyAngle_Salem/status/1472011780654354436?t=KC3X4WIkKAiTFbK8c64mUg&s=19

Image - https://twitter.com/NHSEngland/status/1472461716491546629?t=sFbjUDk0aqMffoyV7srl3A&s=19

Image - 

https://twitter.com/NHSuk/status/1472567424935501830?t=hchGsPvJczRchNClGtpXdw&s=19

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59715820

Watch video - quote?? 

https://twitter.com/g33kgurli/status/1472081064797491203?t=TCW-Ew0pbamN6mVEREyl1w&s=19

https://news.upday.com/uk/the-netherlands-will-enter-lockdown-from-sunday/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-01/-567-bonus-for-seniors-aims-to-boost-low-slovak-vaccination-rate

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-mayor-of-london-sadiq-khan-declares-major-incident-over-huge-surge-of-omicron-cases-12499021

General Omicron characteristics:

https://twitter.com/ewanbirney/status/1472248575178518528?t=GTeeMnpDGtysqjQTOdjLyQ&s=19

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-cases-doubling-15-3-days-areas-with-local-spread-who-2021-12-18/

https://twitter.com/MetroUK/status/1472493903685332994?t=Q6PrQcF9IvxssLJRA1rRjA&s=19

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-than-half-of-over-18s-boosted-against-covid-19

https://test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/collect-lateral-flow-kits

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1472552494664503298

https://t.co/8yoiQuDk4t

https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/press-releases/2021/evusheld-long-acting-antibody-combination-retains-neutralising-activity-against-omicron-variant-in-independent-fda-study.html

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/sajid-javid-hospital-beds-unvaccinated-b972808.html

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-48-global-omicron/

https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/press-releases/2021/evusheld-long-acting-antibody-combination-retains-neutralising-activity-against-omicron-variant-in-independent-fda-study.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/17/nhs-could-face-surge-in-hospitalisations-despite-booster-say-scientists-omicron

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232698/omicron-largely-evades-immunity-from-past/

https://twitter.com/DazeJohnby/status/1471179169006596100?t=8z_pXQsL-PCr2uyLBosmjQ&s=19

https://twitter.com/MetroUK/status/1472493903685332994?t=Q6PrQcF9IvxssLJRA1rRjA&s=19

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-officials-drawing-up-plans-for-two-week-post-christmas-lockdown-over-omicron-threat-reports-say-12498746

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/19/media/snl-no-live-audience-coronavirus-paul-rudd/index.html

https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/coronavirus/pfizer-tests-third-vaccine-dose-in-children-under-five-says-two-doses-are-not-strong-enough/news-story/20dfe62aaad7507badcb75b526ab02fa

https://twitter.com/RachelReevesMP/status/1472318924737941506?t=7thxdvhIInpyps2iGrnNbQ&s=19

https://t.co/u4ZwLcsL23

https://twitter.com/Tuliodna/status/1472291572406530054?t=Z-uvnnU1ChY3oLq-FdXuZQ&s=19

https://twitter.com/rid1tweets/status/1472259389054717955?t=AmRO1lC7Sm55rW57wF6b3A&s=19

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/19/media/snl-no-live-audience-coronavirus-paul-rudd/index.html

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/232698/omicron-largely-evades-immunity-from-past/

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-49-Omicron/

https://twitter.com/doctimcook/status/1472223212117372940?t=PhS46l6nJqJWe_wHQuVB8A&s=19

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/17/nhs-could-face-surge-in-hospitalisations-despite-booster-say-scientists-omicron

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/covid-patients-treated-at-home-nhs-plans-emergency-omicron-b972797.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-59696499




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