Tuesday 21 December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st December 2021

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 11,453,121 (+91,743)
In Hospital / Using A Ventilator not updated since Friday 17th
Losses of Life: 147,433 (+172)
Tests: 1,468,502
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 51,537,827 (89.6% of UK age 16+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 47,102,814 (81.9%)
Boosted: 29,876,223 (52%)

Area: Cases / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 19,208 / 606
Scotland: 35,177 / 643.6
Northern Ireland: 13,084 / 690.3
England: 454,133 / 803.1

Rep. Of Ireland: 666,657 (+5,269) cases and 5,835 losses of life

World: 276,145,149 reported cases and 5,380,831 losses of life

If you test positive, take positive action

Boris has filmed a spirit-boosting message for us all - and I'm sure many of you will be relieved to learn there will be NO MORE COVID measures or restrictions imposed in England (and currently also Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) before Christmas:

"Good afternoon everybody, I wanted to update you quickly on the latest COVID situation. There's no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we've seen before. The situation remains extremely difficult.
But I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans, your Christmas plans, are going to be affected.
So what I can say tonight is that naturally we can't rule out any further measures after Christmas, and we're going to keep a constant eye on the data. We'll do whatever it takes to protect public health.
But in view of the continuing uncertainty about several things  - severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate, or the impact of the vaccine rollout and the boosters, we don't think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.
And we continue to monitor Omicron very carefully, and if the situation deteriorates, we will be ready to take action in needed.
And what this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans.
But the situation remains finely balanced, and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.
And remember to keep following the guidance. Wear a mask indoors when required to do so. Keep fresh air circulating and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives. If you have not done so already, then please drop everything, find a walk-in or go online and make an appointment and Get Boosted Now.
Thank you very much, and happy Christmas."

"An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled."
Dr Tedros, The World Health Organisation.
The WHO have recommended that people cancel some of their holiday events... hang on, do they mean *gasp* - prioritising? I guess they go with the science and Chris Whitty too then.... who'd have thought it?... (Well, erm... me. And I imagine you too.) 

211221 COVID daily data

"As infections soar and businesses suffer, we still need much more urgency in action/support from UK Gov - so that devolved gov hands not tied.
To that end, it was disappointing and frustrating that neither the PM nor the Chancellor attended this evening’s COBRA."
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressing her personal annoyance on Sunday evening.

Also in "Boris is a bit disappointing", we have a new photo of yet another wine-fuelled gathering at no.10 last year while the UK was in lockdown. I think at this point we all understand that Conservative MP's, advisors and assorted employees believed (believe?) the rules were (are?) not written for them. 

Wales has announced restrictions from Boxing Day 26th December.
Sports events will be played without spectators - indoors and outdoors.
'Work from home if you can' is now law, with a £60 fine for staff and a maximum £10,000 fine for employers. 

Scotland has announced restrictions from 27th December for up to 3 weeks:
- indoor standing events limited to 100 people, indoor seated to 200
- outdoor events limited to 500 people
(This essentially makes sporting events spectator-free, and rules out large Hogmanay celebrations.)
- “From 27th December, again for a 3 week period, we intend to introduce some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues, higher-risk environments. I can confirm that a requirement for table service-only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises."
- Different groups using the same premises will have to maintain 1 metre distance between groups. 

211221 omicron count

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £1b package of business support for hospitality over the coming weeks. Coincidental, or a hint of what's about to come? Errr, yeah. If is increasingly looking likely that England will have to impose some tough measures.

There was a UK Government cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss whether or not to impose any restrictions in England, and by all reports it was a split decision. Ultimately it has been decided to leave us to our own intelligence for now... (Gordon Bennett they're brave...)
This situation can change at any point with very little notice. 

Young people aged 12-15 can now book their second vaccination from 12 weeks after the first. Vaccinations will also take place in schools next term.

The rules on 'Sick Notes' in the UK have changed temporarily until January 27th. For now, no-one will have to show a signed note from the doctor for sick pay from work or benefits for the first 28 days of illness. This will hopefully leave doctors free to deal with vaccinations.

211221 booster doses delivered UK NHS

Sotrovimab monoclonal antibody treatment is now available in the UK for high risk people who test positive. It is given as a transfusion early in an infection, and in trials reduced the number of people who end up needing hospital care to around just 1 in 5 of the expected number.
This stuff is now like gold dust, because the USA shipped out their supplies and have now run out. 

Annnnd the reason the USA have run out of Sotrovimab is mainly because this may be the only really effective monoclonal antiBODY treatment against Omicron. Hospitals in hard hit Omicron areas, including Mount Sinai in New York City, will no longer be offering patients Bamlanivimab / Casivirimab (Eli Lilly / Ronapreve friom Regeneron) as they are failing to prove effective.

Gilead believe their antiVIRAL Remdesivir will work well against Omicron, as they "found no additional prevalent mutations in the viral RNA polymerase compared to previous SARS-CoV-2 variants" - basically their key should still turn the lock. A heck of a relief... and another drug that's like gold dust... 

Independent SAGE are a group of world-leading scientists who got together to keep the public informed, rather than treating us like children. Yesterday they published a fantastic plan that anyone can understand, and which explains clearly how to reduce the risks of (let's be brutally honest here) facilitating the death of your loved ones this Christmas.
The plan helps you to think about safer choices, prioritising, ventilation, minimising mixing, when to lateral flow test (as close as possible to when you go out or mix with people!), where you'll sit and for how long, etc etc and it really is incredibly useful. You can find it here - https://www.independentsage.org/making-a-plan-for-household-mixing-december-2021/

211221 12 to 15 year olds can book online

London's New Year's Eve celebrations in Trafalgar Square have been cancelled for this year. That's a massive shame for everyone involved. 

Sadly Edinburgh's Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) celebrations have also been cancelled. Again a truly massive shame for everyone involved. 

Happy Christmas to Dolly Parton, and from Dolly as well, because Moderna's vaccine is looking good against Omicron as a 'jabs plus booster'. After the 3rd dose (which is half size) the number of antibodies created increased by 37 times - excellent news. When they tried giving a 3rd full dose as a booster, Omicron-fighting antibodies increased by 83 times. Get in... 

Omicron cases in New York/ New Jersey were at 13% of the total COVID cases last week and 92% this week - yowch. 

UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has put out a plea for former teachers to come forward and help out in January, as we may have so many current school staff off work that it proves tricky to keep schools open.
Slow down on the sherry if you can't immediately spot the irony in asking vulnerable pensioners to come to work, in an environment where they'll mix with potentially hundreds of other people, with hardly any safety measures to avoid COVID. 

196 children aged 0-5 were admitted to hospital in England with COVID during the week ending 11th December. 

Crisis at Christmas will be vaccinating guests

America's Cornell University shut down it’s campus early last week after a whopping 1,537 COVID cases in just 6 days (Sat 11th Dec - Thu 16th Dec). On Wednesday 15th positivity rate was 7.6% (329/4,350 tests). 

New Zealand has linked the death of a 26 year old man to the Pfizer vaccine, and it is their second loss of life after vaccination. Both individuals died from myocarditis.
New Zealand have administered 8,027,097 doses, which shows how rare this is, many times rarer than developing myocarditis from catching COVID. It is also particularly sad because the man didn't seek medical attention, and if he had, his chance of survival was very good.
Myocarditis is heart inflammation and most cases are very mild. In more severe cases, sufferers will have symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and chest pain. These are symptoms that no-one should ignore, whether you've had any virus, any vaccination, or none. 

Also in New Zealand news - they have delayed the start of their phased reopening of borders. Nationals and visa holders won't now be allowed in until February. Entry to non-residents will follow. 

Famous People With COVID:
Dr Brian May, husband of Angie from telly soap Eastenders in the olden days, Astrophysicist and member of popular musical group 'Queen'.

Lost Their Fight:
Carlos Marin, one quarter of classical vocal group Il Divo. He was 53. 

Trump Of The Day;
Donald Trump was booed during an interview on Sunday, when he said he had his booster jab. Although he has never expressed any refusal towards vaccinations, his fans haven't all remembered that, and they don't all feel the same...

All of the national UK newspapers published on Monday had a special Get Boosted Now cover. If you haven't, and it's been at least 3 months since your 2nd jab, please do. Book it or go to a walk-in. Go to one of the pop-up walk-in centres in exciting places, so you have something special to tell the grandkids later on... 

The Queen Elizabeth II has continued to follow the science, and after cancelling some less important gatherings this week, has now announced she won't be travelling to spend Christmas at Sandringham, she'll be staying at home in Windsor like last year.

The first Christmas was pretty simple yours can be too

My family understands what it means to lose someone, and to have to live with the eternal feeling that if you'd just done something differently then you might have saved them. It is an horrific position to be in, and it's not only the adults, the kids feel that burden. For all of us this Christmas will be a balancing act, and there'll be a lot of tough decisions.
"It's better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and grieve later" Dr Tedros.
Do NOT take risks you cannot afford to take. For many of us this week will be very cautious, but likewise, for a few people any risk will be worth taking in order to meet with loved ones. We're all different, and in different situations. Don't coerce anyone into doing anything they aren't comfortable with, and try and be respectful of other's fears. We are all just human beings... and we all get scared. 

Thank you so much to the person who has sent me a book token for Christmas! and to the people who have 'bought me a coffee' on the blog link - I shall definitely spoil myself (I think I've earned it!). Thank you.

I hope you are getting ready to enjoy your Christmas - and I still have my fingers crossed for anyone who is in a household hoping to be free from COVID so that they can mix - including my daughter, her partner and their housemates. Whatever happens you can still have a good Christmas, you can still make sparkle and smiles. And as Dr Tedros says, we can all have a great celebration later on...

I will be back before Christmas with a quick update, but I'm guessing no UK briefing, and hopefully no in-depth studies or bad news!

Be Wise, Prioritise, Save The NHS...

Some numbers. All completely unique human beings, but they'd all pull the same face at a really bad Christmas cracker joke:

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

USA 52,059,667 (+143,530) 828,836 (+623)

UK 11,451,514 (+91,207) 147,261 (+44)

Russia 10,241,812 (+27,022) 298,222 (+1,019)

Spain 5,535,231 (+26,568) 88,793 (+29)

Germany 6,834,446 (+21,710) 109,243 (+280)

Turkey 9,189,881 (+18,762) 80,591 (+176)

Italy 5,405,345 (+16,198) 135,778 (+137)

France 8,640,924 (+15,075) 121,717 (+224)

Vietnam 1,555,455 (+14,977) 29,791 (+225)

Netherlands 2,992,157 (+12,154) 20,504 (+36)

Canada 1,896,462 (+10,450) 30,063 (+13)

Hungary 1,228,400 (+10,105) 37,896 (+366)

Denmark 627,356 (+10,082) 3,084 (+8)

Poland 3,968,451 (+9,610) 91,514 (+29)

South Africa 3,316,585 (+8,511) 90,453 (+105)

Belgium 2,010,956 (+7,702) 27,953 (+33)

Finland 219,250 (+5,932) 1,493 (+39) 



IndieSAGE household mixing plan:































Sick pay






London’s NYE celebration in Trafalgar Square cancelled








Suspension of monoclonal antibodies in New York. 


PM rules out new Covid rules for now but no guarantees in coming days




https://twitter.com/sairaghafur/status/1472914666267492359?t=nN5ULveOE9qS1DACMkEeIA&s=19 IMAGE






Image for Christmas Jennifer Wagner - https://www.redbubble.com/people/inspirivity/shop

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