Wednesday 15 December 2021

UK COVID Emergency Briefing With Boris 15th December 2021

UK COVID Emergency Briefing With Boris 15th December 2021

Cases: 11,010,286 (+78,610)
Losses of Life: 146,791 (+165)
In Hospital Yesterday 14th Dec: 7,673 (up around 300 since last week)
Using a Ventilator Yesterday 14th Dec: 896
First dose: 51,332,920
Second dose: 46,842,497
Booster or third dose: 24,732,162

151221 UK Briefing slides cases UK

Soooooo.... another urgent UK Briefing today and little wonder really, as we have our highest ever daily new cases at +78,610. The previous record was 68,053 on 8th January.

If I see another person say "yeah, but hospitalisations aren't up", I'll actually scream. As a rule people don't test positive and fall immediately to the floor in need of medical help. It takes a couple of weeks before most people go to hospital. Sure it's always a good thing to see hospital numbers not going up, but don't get complacent - ITS TOO EARLY. If it's the same on Christmas Day, allow yourself a whoop! I do not think it will be, and nor do the UK scientific and medical advisory people. Sorry. 

151221 UK Briefing slides hospitalisations UK

We have "ramped up testing":
"By Saturday 18 December, 900,000 deliveries a day will be made to ensure that even more people can order either a PCR or LFD test directly to their home."
They are also rapidly expanding capacity at pharmacies, PCR testing sites and local authorities. More lateral flow tests will be available across the UK in local community pharmacies - 10.5 million lateral flow tests per week, an increase of 5.5 million tests per week.
Booking slots for PCR testing sites will also increase by up to 100,000 per day from tomorrow (Thursday 16 December), especially in areas where booking slots have been filled.
"UKHSA is working to secure hundreds of millions more LFD tests and an increase in PCR laboratory testing capacity of up to 150,000 tests per day."

Today's Briefing was with Boris, and alongside him Professor Chris Whitty Chief Medical Officer for England, and Dr Nikki Kanani of NHS England.

As of today every adult 18+ who has had their 2nd jab at least 3 months ago can get a booster. Yesterday we administered over 548,000 booster jabs - a record. Boris thanks everyone and encourages us all to get jabbed. He lists some of the most impressive vaccination site figures, and reminds us we need volunteers still.
Hospital admissions are going up slightly overall, but coming down in more vulnerable groups because they're getting boosted.
The 15 minute wait after your vaccination will be removed from tomorrow, to speed things up and make it easier for places like pharmacies to give vaccinations.
Lots of stadiums and other buildings will host pop up vaccination walk-in clinics this weekend.
From Monday 12-15 year olds can book in for a second jab - please get them jabbed before they go back to school in January if you can.

151221 UK Briefing slides deaths UK

Chris with the slides:
We have 2 epidemics on top of each other. Delta cases are fairly level, not going up nor going down, but alongside we have Omicron and it is rising rapidly.
"I'm afraid we have to be realistic, that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks, as the rates continue to go up."
Hospitalisations reflects where we were 2 or more weeks ago, deaths even earlier - it has no relevance with Omicron, it's too recent.
Chris has a fantastic slide showing how protective vaccines are against Delta - he explains we want to get everyone back up to these levels against Omicron, and we can only do that with boosters.
The screening test for suspected Omicron cases suggests around 35% of UK cases are already Omicron - in London over 60% of cases are already Omicron. 

Chris thanks South African scientists for their hard work. He warns us that South Africa has masses of previously infected people, has already lost tens of thousands of people. It is only to be expected that less people there will become seriously ill this wave. We can't be complacent - it WILL be bad here. 

151221 UK Briefing slides vaccinations UK

Nikki Kanani is next - she asks for us to come and get vaccinated, come and volunteer, come and work as a paid vaccinator if you are retired etc. Please do your bit. Anyone 18 or over can now book a booster, or turn up at a walk-in. Over half of people 18+ have already had a booster.

Public ask why we aren't making self-isolation widespread for all contacts of confirmed cases? Boris says we want to keep supply chains running and things moving, and daily testing will do that.

Public also ask about shielding for especially vulnerable people? Chris says it has practical problems, mental health effects, we want to avoid it. Especially vulnerable people should get 4 doses - Jab 1,Jab 2, 3rd dose and Booster - and it will give most people a good level of protection.

Press asked if we should limit our activities, cut back on Christmas plans?
Boris lists all the regular preventative measures - ventilation, masks, distancing, etc as well as vaccination boosters. He says we have the "right approach, the right mixture". (Personally I'd like him to mention all of the non-vaccine measures more often!)
Chris talks about how much the booster raises protection back to levels we saw against Delta and Alpha COVID. 

Press ask again, should we be discouraged from going to parties and mixing? They use this to sidle into asking about Conservative party Christmas parties last year.
Chris answers and says "prioritise". He also says "if people think there is unfairness.... separate it out from your absolute need to see what is right for you, your communities etc".
(As I said before - protesting Tory Christmas gatherings by partying like it's 2019 is the equivalent of driving with your eyes shut to protest a parking ticket. YOU are the first person it'll harm, but it won't give Government a sensible message.)

151221 UK Briefing slides hospitalisations by vaccination status with delta UK

Press are scathing. They really are attacking Boris. Pretty much everyone mentions the Downing Street Christmas parties 2020 and the effect it'll have on 'compliance' with any measures.

Chris says he echoes Nikki with "this is a very serious threat" and there will be an increasing number of hospital patients in "substantial numbers" which will become apparent after Christmas. It'll start before then, but will be really evident after Christmas.
He states we aren't South Africa - I spoke about this yesterday. We are VERY different populations - different ages, health, households, vaccinations, prior infections etc. You can't just say what happens there will be mirrored here, because it won't.
We don't yet have UK data on mortality - Chris says he will share it as soon as we have it. 

Press asked about "vaccine passports". Boris says he's grateful that it was voted through in parliament yesterday, and points out that nothing is mandatory, if you don't want to get vaccinated you can do lateral flow tests. It isn't a "Vaccine Passport". He talks about keeping moving, keeping open. 

Chris refers to himself as being 'like a stuck record' and then has the best quote of the briefing:
"I really think people should be prioritising those things, and only those things, that really matter to them, because otherwise the risk of someone getting infected at something that doesn't really matter to them, and then not being able to do the things that do matter to them, obviously goes up. I don't think you have to be a doctor to think like that... "
Perfectly worded... bless him

Boris reiterates, "we aren't closing events, we aren't closing hospitality". IT IS UP TO YOU TO LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF. He says "think carefully before you go out". Do a rapid test, wear a mask on the bus on the way, use your own common sense. 

151221 UK Briefing slides cases with s gene target failure and therefore suspected Omicron UK

Chris is talking about future vaccines and someone off-screen has a horrific dry COVID-sounding cough!! I think it was Boris? Gordon Bennett...(Long COVID... or Omicron. One of them.) Nikki and Chris talk about how we'll administer vaccines in the future, and that they are likely to have a range of protection to cover lots of variants in one shot. 

Chris says he is realistic and thinks his Christmas plans will be interrupted - he is concerned many many NHS staff will all get COVID around the same time (when the patients start turning up in massive numbers) and so he's likely to be called to work. He did not sound very happy. 

Nikki says you should get boosted and tell people. Ha! Well, guess what I did today!!? And my flu jab... double sore arms... 

I think the main message today is don't kill Granny because you wanted a pint and a pizza. Don't catch COVID on 23rd Dec and miss your big New Year do. Get your booster asap. Use your brain and protect yourself because Omicron is coming, and it's going to wash over us incredibly quickly.
Nikki put a mask on as she left the podium... she's a goodun... 

151221 UK Briefing slides get boosted now book online or call 119

Sadly for me, one of those new positive cases is my adult 4th year uni student daughter. She's triple jabbed with Pfizer, and now isolating until at least Christmas Eve. Fingers crossed her partner doesn't test positive, because even if they are both well, ANYONE WHO TESTS POSITIVE FROM NOW ON WILL BE ISOLATING ON CHRISTMAS DAY (waaah, waah, $%8!'@ and rats.) Dang you COVID... 

What will be, will be... don't despair, get boosted, and prioritise your movements and contacts... And learn how to use video calls - it's almost 2022, we should all 'see' whoever we want to see this Christmas - safely.

Back Friday with the regular report.


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