Tuesday 28 December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 24th - 28th December 2021

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 24th - 28th December 2021

I thought we'd have more complete data today - how wrong was I!? (Very, apparently.) We have much missing data, so we'll start with the national totals...

28 December 2021
England: 10,545,584 (+117,093)
Scotland: 831,158 (no report)
Wales: 594,753 (+12,378 - represents 25th and 26th December)
Northern Ireland: 367,181 (no report)
UK: 12,338,676 (+129,471)
In Hospital / Using A Ventilator not updated since 22nd December (see below for more updated figures).
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 51,679,435 (89.9% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 47,289,628 (82.2%)
Boosted: 32,696,064 (56.9%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 731,467 (+9,006) cases and 5,890 losses of life.

World: 282,223,385 reported cases and 5,426,477 losses of life.

Millions already Boosted why not join them

"That, after all, is the teaching of Jesus Christ, whose birth is at the heart of this enormous festival – that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves."
Boris Johnson, playing the 'religion card' in an effort to get us to continue going out to get vaccinated over Christmas.
It did cause some controversy, although the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury are among the billions of Christian and other religious people who agree with him.

"No surprise that confirmed cases of COVID19 have reached record levels over last few days, with positivity above 30%. Unfortunately I expect these to climb higher.
Vaccination remains your best protection, but you’ll need your booster too- please don’t delay #boostedbythebells"
Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, with a catchy tagline there. 

The UK Government sent everyone a phone message on Boxing Day saying GET BOOSTED NOW. I was actually quite offended they didn't add "Happy Christmas" or "Have a good day", or any sort of nicety. At least try to pretend you're human - and your tagline isn't as witty as Scotland's. 

Confirmed Omicron cases in the UK now total 177,201, but we know that's a massive under-estimate. It was a useful measure to show Omicron coming in and taking over, but it's well and truly here now....  

New guidance on isolating for close contacts in England

I think everyone was waiting for the UK to release their post-Christmas Daily update figures. They didn't disappoint.
The UK recorded 113,628 cases on Christmas Day and 108,893 on Boxing Day, before announcing a lower 98,515 in Monday. Excitingly Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales didn't supply figures for most of that break, so they were almost entirely the updates just for England alone.
It's also worth mentioning the weekend/Bank Holiday backlog and lag in data - and the massive number of people who won't have gone for a test on Christmas Day/Boxing Day, even if they tested positive by lateral flow...

Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary, was the first to give official word that there will NOT be any more restrictions announced in England before New Year's Eve.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all have additional measure in place regarding masks, distancing, maximum numbers for gatherings etc. England have herd immunity plans.
I don't think I need to remind you that what England/the UK are doing is a gamble.
Keeping hospitality open over New Year will mainly impact (at least initially) on young, healthy, vaccinated people, and the UK Government plan is that they won't get ill, and won't overwhelm hospitals. Someone has to be first to test any theory - although obviously usually we'd prefer it was someone else - and then when everyone's had loads of New Year fun, we can have another look and hopefully we'll have got away with it. Sure, it might work. Believe me, the world is watching this one very carefully - much of them with their hands in front of their eyes...

How to find an open pharmacy near you

Omicron has wreaked havoc on flights globally over Christmas. Just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day more than 4,500 flights were cancelled - almost all due to staff shortages. The carnage at airports continues - best of luck to anyone trying to get home. Allow loads of time for your in-person check in. 

It isn't just air travel which is affected by staff shortages - it is EVERYTHING. The NHS, bus operators and education are all likely to be really badly hit over the next month. The Government are very concerned, and rumour is that plans are already afoot to use school-from-home for whole year groups when staffing is an issue. 

For years first time of the pandemic, France reported over 100,000 new daily cases - on Boxing Day. 

China is facing their worst outbreak since they contained the pandemic on their mainland back in Spring 2020. The city of Xi'an with 13 million residents has been in lockdown for the past week, yet reported infections are still rising. China only report cases with symptoms, and today added 209 to the total - their highest daily figure since March 2020. 

281221 booster doses per 100 population

At the moment the UK has a lower death rate than almost anywhere else - why? It is being suggested that the AstraZeneca jab could be responsible, as it could offer longer protection against serious illness from Omicron. 

South Africa is also experiencing a lower death rate, and the widespread assumption is that its because of prior infection - which may also offer longer, stronger protection against future serious illness from Omicron. 

Because it's all going so apparently well in England (it is?), and we have all of our business open, the USA have decided to follow our lead on isolating - but they'll be going one step further. The US CDC have cut self-isolation when you test positive to just 5 days. (If you're fully vaccinated it is now 7 days in England - still 10 in other UK nations.) This only applies to US residents with no symptoms - anyone with symptoms or who develops symptoms goes home, and anyone who tests positive must wear a mask for 10 days. 

The US CDC have also cut isolation for non-boosted contacts to 5 days, with mask-wearing for 10. Boosted contacts can avoid isolation, but must wear a mask.
Whereas in England:
"If you are fully vaccinated and have been in contact with someone with COVID19, you should take a daily LFD test for seven days.
If you test positive or develop symptoms, you must self-isolate. "
(Unvaccinated UK adult contacts should self-isolate for 10 days.)

Urgent mental health support is available on the NHS forward slash urgent mental health

The UK has had such high demand for Lateral Flow tests that for 2 days running the amount they can physically post has been ordered within minutes. If you need tests, try and have patience, and best of luck.

The antiviral pills recently authorised by the UK and USA among others, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, both have warnings that they aren't suitable for everyone. Pfizer's Paxlovid can react badly with some other medications, such as specific blood thinners, and Merck's Molnupiravir can interfere with bone growth, so isn't suitable for children or during pregnancy.
(That's another reason not to take other people's medicines or buy drugs from people in back alleys.) 

There are some early figures coming out which suggest jabs might only be really effective at protecting us against Omicron for a few weeks, before they start to wane.
Way back at the start of the pandemic we were willing to accept vaccinations which needed repeating every 3 months, but we have been incredibly lucky and forgotten all of that. Fact is that immunity is far more complex than we realised too, so we know that lab results and early figures aren't ever something we should actually panic about, and rarely give us the difference between preventing you catching COVID, and preventing you becoming seriously ill. 

Does catching Omicron give you any protection against other variants? Oh yes it does. Researchers at Sigal Lab have a not-yet-peer-reviewed study which found after infection with Omicron, antibodies really beefed up:
"We studied people who were infected with Omicron close to when they had symptoms and about 2 weeks later.
The increase neutralizing immunity against Omicron was expected - that is the virus these individuals were infected with.
However, we also saw that the same people - especially those who were vaccinated - developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant."
This is indeed hopeful, because Omicron is currently washing over the UK /Europe / USA (it'll wash over the world), but looks likely to kill a slightly smaller percentage of people, while also offering protecting from Delta (and potentially other variants) in the future..... I think we file that in 'good news'. 

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers has kindly updated us on English hospital admissions. This is the data that Boris has used to decide whether to bring in restrictions. In summary:
- the number of patients with COVID in English hospitals is definitely rising - numbers across England as a whole have risen by 27% in a week  (20th to 27th December).
- North West numbers up 38% in a week, East of England up 33% and Midlands up 23%.
- number of COVID patients in London hospitals has grown by 45% in the week (20 Dec to 27 Dec), and there's currently a 14 day doubling time (1,360 on Dec 13 to 2,640 on Dec 27).
- despite rises, we are still a long way from the highest figures during previous peaks.
London around 1/3 (2,640 versus 7,917 last January 18th)
England as a whole around 1/4 (8,474 versus 34,336 last January 18th)
He reminds us it's too early to tell what's going to happen next... keep those fingers crossed.

Home Care for COVID World Health Organisation

UK are currently 2nd in the booster jab league tables - behind Chile. Bet that surprised you. Israel are 3rd. 

In the UK there will always be rota and emergency pharmacies open over the bank holidays - Google "find a pharmacy NHS" to get the NHS search page for your nearest options any time of any day or night. 

Hands up if COVID did NOT interrupt your Christmas. You lucky people! Have a grin and give yourself a high 5. Nice one.
Sadly it waylaid a lot of people's plans, including ours.
My 22 year old daughter wasn't well in time, and still tested positive after 14 days (and she used to run cross country for the county, so she's fit and healthy). Thankfully she is recovering her oxygen levels now.
In addition my 22 year old stepson had tested negative after work, next morning caught the train to come to Manchester and had a phone call from his boss because other staff had tested positive. He did another lateral flow test on the train and got a faint line - and went immediately back home.
So... we were 2 short for Christmas dinner, and will be having a second Christmas when we can all be there. Darn you Omicron! To be honest, I was more concerned about our grown up kids being ill and a long way away than I was about not being able to get together for Christmas. 

If you were ill over Christmas, I hope you are improving and feeling more like yourself. Be kind, you'll be more tired than you think.
If you were isolating over Christmas, I hope you haven't become ill, and haven't had to miss too much.
If you were alone over Christmas, I hope you aren't alone any more, and you have found some interesting and caring people to talk to.
If your Christmas wasn't what you'd want it to be, I hope you have already begun to make plans for how to have a proper celebration when you can... 

I shall be back in a few days or when something exciting happens - hopefully it'll be after the New Year, and the 'exciting' will be in a good way, not a bad one! We can hope... If you mix, do it sensibly. Open the windows, lateral flow test just beforehand, wash your hands, don't get drunk and whisper in everyone's face, but have a good one. Hopefully 2022 will be kinder to everyone.

Don't Take Daft Risks, Do Make Daft Smiles, Save The NHS.

Some people. Wherever in the world they were born, they'd all smirk the same at a Christmas cracker joke:

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

World 281,903,724 (+763,341) 5,423,196 (+5,202)

USA 53,791,852 (+229,016) 839,605 (+823)

UK 12,209,991 (+98,515) 148,003 (+143)

Spain 5,932,626 (+53,654) 89,139 (+30)

Italy 5,678,099 (+30,797) 136,780 (+147)

France 9,146,451 (+30,383) 122,898 (+256)

Turkey 9,333,223 (+26,099) 81,733 (+157)

Russia 10,415,230 (+23,210) 305,155 (+937)

Canada 2,035,831 (+21,001) 30,184 (+38)

Argentina 5,480,305 (+20,263) 117,066 (+31)

Germany 7,028,368 (+18,734) 111,304 (+223)

Denmark 715,133 (+15,525) 3,217 (+7)

Vietnam 1,666,545 (+14,872) 31,418 (+204)

Netherlands 3,076,442 (+11,432) 20,728 (+12)

Australia 312,011 (+10,051) 2,197 (+7)

Greece 1,084,228 (+9,359) 20,496 (+67)

Hungary 1,245,319 (+7,989) 38,743 (+436)

Switzerland 1,260,277 (+7,024) 12,216 (+11) 



















https://twitter.com/DHSCgovuk/status/1475753720319258628?t=L6R_ZGrlQ__29_kIBnYHUQ&s=19 IMAGE


Home care for COVID - World Health Organisation:


Image - https://twitter.com/DHSCgovuk/status/1475806234959921157?t=TjHguB9lqIQ65c92iVrTPg&s=19

UK Hospital situation and commentary



U.S. health officials cut COVID-19 isolation, quarantine guidelines from 10 days to 5


Hospital admissions UK:




Christmas eve figures 












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