Friday 21 January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20th / 21st January 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 15,709,059 (+95,787)
In Hospital Yesterday Thursday 20th Jan: 17,976
Using A Ventilator Yesterday: 664
Losses of Life: 153,490 (+228)
Tests: 1,370,093
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,186,398 (90.7% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,082,636 (83.6%)
Boosted/3rd Dose: 36,753,644 (63.9%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,127,951 cases and 6,087 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 344,445,133 reported cases and 5,596,969 losses of life.

Let fresh air in for a few minutes each hour or so- photo from inside open window with text

"It should be the last nail in the coffin because this is a country that has had one of the worst COVID death rates and one of the poorest economic performances in the developed world.
In a way it's ironic that what seems to be bringing down the Prime Minister is the Downing Street party rather than the record of bad Government over the last year and a half."
Former Tory MP Rory Stewart

"Omg. It's still Winter. That's a bit risky. Shouldn't we have waited to see if levels continue to drop? This gives the illusion everything is fine. The NHS is still under great pressure. Etc etc"
(Collated scientific response to Boris' announcements about the end of all Plan B restrictions.) 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that face masks will remain a requirement for everyone using Transport for London's busses and tube trains.

Huge thanks to the COVID Actuaries - Hospital admissions are beginning to drop across England (yeeeay - let's hope by today it's true across the entire UK).
"Nationally, admissions with COVID have fallen by 11% week-on-week, with significant falls in every region. Fastest fall in the North West (down 20%) and slowest in the South West (down 6%)."

"The Omicron Variant sub-lineage known as BA.2 has been designated as a variant under investigation. The number of BA.2 cases is currently low, with the original Omicron lineage, BA.1, still dominant in the UK and further analyses will now be undertaken."
To date, there have been 426 cases of Omicron BA.2 confirmed by Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) in England, with the earliest dated 6 December 2021. They include London (146) and the South East (97).
We don't know if this sub-lineage has any important differences to regular Omicron, and potentially not. It's important because it is missing the big red flag which shows it is Omicron, so quick variant checking is proving tricky - it's currently an annoyance for health authorities more than anyone else.
"In total, 40 countries have uploaded 8,040 BA.2 sequences to GISAID since 17 November 2021. At this point it is not possible to determine where the sublineage may have originated. The first sequences were submitted from the Philippines, and most samples have been uploaded from Denmark (6,411). Other countries that have uploaded more than 100 samples are India (530), Sweden (181), and Singapore (127)."

210122 COVID actuaries chart from Twitter with hospital numbers

The Telegraph is reporting that over UK 100 schools have already written to parents to ask them to continue sending secondary pupils to school in face masks.
1. My friend's child, who goes to school about 4 miles away from my house, is in a class where 20 pupils, the teacher and the teaching assistant have all tested positive since Christmas (just from that single class.)
2. Lots of schools don't allow peanuts in lunch boxes to protect a single classmate who is vulnerable to allergy. How many classes have unvaccinated pupils especially vulnerable to COVID? How many adults in schools are vulnerable?
3. My own 11 year old had COVID last October - he has always been incredibly strong, fit and healthy, he had very mild illness, yet here we are in January and he is still falling asleep after school some days.
4. My children genuinely don't have any issue with face masks, and while we have millions of people in the UK community infected, if a mask makes them feel more secure for whatever reason, they're welcome to wear them. 

The great "cases are dropping" conspiracy gets even bigger. I mentioned on Wednesday that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland aren't counting reinfections - so if you already had COVID once at any point over the last 2 years, that's it, your second positive doesn't count on the official figures (presumably even if it kills you).
There's more.
If you remember, back when lateral flow first got popular, the UK realised that positive lateral flow results AND the confirmatory PCR were both being counted, so the Government stopped counting positives from lateral flow. Sorted. The problem is that times have changed. For most of January we don't need a PCR test if we test positive by lateral flow, as long as we don't have any symptoms. Younger kids don't have to have a PCR if they get a positive lateral flow, even if they do have symptoms. So are all of those positive lateral flow tests now being counted as new daily cases? Not in Wales or Scotland... Arrrrrrgh...
It's not exactly complete and honest. The closest to true case numbers we can get is almost definitely from the ONS Infection Survey, but finding the total number of actual positive test results in any given week is probably less likely than finding out how many illegal lockdown parties happened last May.

Latest COVID Infection Survey results for the week ending 15th January 2022 show:
In England, the percentage of people testing positive decreased; estimate 2,984,200, equating to around 1 in 20.
In Wales, the percentage of people testing positive decreased; estimate 112,100, equating to around 1 in 25.
In Northern Ireland, the percentage of people testing positive increased in the two weeks up to 15 January 2022, but the trend was uncertain in the latest week; estimate 104,300, equating to around 1 in 20.
In Scotland, the percentage of people testing positive decreased; estimate 236,600, equating to around 1 in 20.

210122 Variants of concern Uk

Private Eye has been investigating and has reported that Downing Street offered to ease restrictions for Prince Phillip's funeral, and the Queen declined as she felt it would be unfair to people also grieving loved ones.
Downing Street had 2 boozy parties the day before the funeral. 

The UK NHS is working hard to try and get the final 4m eligible people vaccinated. The numbers are really clear now, anyone who doesn't get vaccinated is really risking hospitalisation, Long COVID or worse.
It reminds me of being a kid in the early 80's and listening to my uncle laughing about having survived rolling his car when he was drunk - and how that meant seat belt laws and alcohol breathalyser tests were being introduced to control us, not to save lives. Some things never change...

The Austrian parliament have overwhelmingly voted to introduce mandatory vaccinations for everyone aged 18 or over - 137 in favour, 33 against. This is the first universal vaccine mandate in Europe.
Anyone who refuses to comply by March will receive reminders and a maximum potential fine of up to 3,600€ (£2,990). The mandate does not include pregnant women, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and people who have recovered from COVID in the last 6 months. 

We will never know just how many people have died early because COVID exists, or how many extra years of life that has stolen.
A report in Nature Magazine attempted to look at worldwide 'excess mortality', and found around 100 countries don't publish accurate data in a timely fashion, so it's a lot harder than you'd expect. There are researchers counting traffic, looking at satellite images of graveyards, examining how many urns populations have ordered, and considering all manner of different ways population might be measured. Officially the reported total loss of life to COVID is just over 5.5m people, but estimates agree it is far more likely to be somewhere around 12m-22m people.

210122 Omicron sub lineage comment about it being usual to have more variants

US President Joe Biden has announced all US citizens will be able to collect 3 High quality N95 masks for free, and it will be ensured that ample additional stocks are available to buy.
Omicron is so catchy that the CDC recently amended their guidelines to advise all Americans they may wish to upgrade their protection.
People can also order 4 free home tests from the US Government website.

China have become convinced that a recent case of Omicron COVID in Beijing arrived on goods shipped from Canada. In response they have asked the population not to order products from abroad.
They are desperate to protect the Winter Olympics... 2 weeks and counting...

It transpires that famous anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic and his wife own most of a Danish biotech firm, which is currently working on a COVID treatment. "Ah" you think, this must be something natural and Earth-Mother-loving hippytastic... Erm, no. It's peptides - amino acid chains, almost like very simple protein chains that can get about the body quickly and regulate body functions - and it's a really high-tech treatment to help prevent COVID infecting cells.
It's not a vaccine, but definitely not the first thing I'd imagine Novak being keen on.
Novak and his wife own over 73% of QuantBioRes, and the peptide treatment is due to begin trials in the UK this Summer. 

For the record I'm a strict vegetarian who has only had antibiotics twice in the last 20 years, and I had my last baby on my living room floor with no pain relief - and it wasn't even by accident, I'd planned it (I had been promised gas and air but time was a bit tight). I have no issue with Earth-Mother-loving hippies. I'm also a big fan of vaccinations. 

Famous People With COVID:
Happy Mondays tambourinist and Dancing On Ice competitor, Bez. Sadly he has had to withdraw from the competition.

Lost Their Fight:
Fight Club and Rocky Horror Show actor, and larger than life singer and performer, Meatloaf.

 Theaters and museums across the Netherlands opened as salons and gyms on Wednesday in protest over the Dutch Government decision to relax restrictions on some businesses, while museums and theaters remain shut. 

Hoax Of The Week:
(Special treat for anyone reading aloud) Tennis players have NOT pulled out of the Australian Open with breathing issues. Fake news says Nikoloz Basilashvili, Nick Kyrgios and Dalila Jakupović have had to drop out from the Australian Open, but Nikoloz and Nick are still in the competition, and Dalila was never taking part anyway.

Fresh New Hoax Of The Day:
The Metropolitan Police has not launched an investigation into the COVID-19 vaccine programme in the UK, nor have any vaccination centres been closed by the Police.
Apparently last December a group of people reported to Hammersmith and Fulham Police that a vaccine-related crime had been committed, and (as is normal when anyone reports anything) they were issued with a crime reference number. It doesn't mean there's been a real crime, it means the Police have made an entry in the 'list of things reported by the public' - and in this case, it was potentially filed alongside 'aliens ate my hat'.
The crime reference number was then used in a fake advert placed in the Rotherham Advertiser. The advert also featured Police logos (tut tut) and a solicitor's name. The Solicitor's Regulation Agency are now the only people doing any investigating.

Wash your hands regularly - drawing of hands and soap suds

Not a hoax - researchers have found in a few recent studies that some of the chemicals in cannabis seem to lower the likelihood of people testing positive for COVID. The latest is a study of people prescribed CBD tablets for various types of seizures.
The peer-reviewed study published in Science Advances looked at 1,212 U.S. patients taking prescribed CBD at the time of their first test, and found that 4.9% returned a positive, compared to 8.9% of the control group (for any patients who ever had a CBD prescription it was 6.2%).
(Are we absolutely sure that this is because of the CBD, and not just that they couldn't be bothered to go out and mix?... I'm joking!... Or am I?)
They also did lab tests and found COVID replicated much more slowly and ineffectively in CBD soaked lung tissue, and for mice given CBD oil:
"The lower dose of CBD reduced viral load by 4.8-fold in lungs and 3.7-fold in nasal turbinates (the lumpy bits in your nostrils), while the higher dose decreased viral titers by 40- and 4.8-fold in lungs and nasal turbinates, respectively. During this period, the mice showed no signs of clinical disease, and their body weights were not significantly changed."
Researchers are keen to point out (for people living in areas of the world where it is legal) that other compounds in cannabis, such as THC, are likely to have a negative effect on your ability to fight off viruses, and smoking is very bad for you. This is prescription strength pill-form CBD. Simply smoking, eating or smearing yourself with cannabis is not going to have the same protective effect.
"This study highlights CBD as a potential preventative agent for early-stage SARS-CoV-2 infection and merits future clinical trials. We caution against use of non-medical formulations including edibles, inhalants or topicals as a preventative or treatment therapy at the present time."

""Perfect attendance" should be a thing of the past. When you don't feel well, stay home instead of going to work or school and possibly spreading an infection to those around you. I hope Covid has taught us our actions affect others. And that everyone should have paid sick leave."
Dr Tom Frieden, Infectious disease expert, US pandemic response team member and former Director of the CDC. 

Tax Watch found the UK gave 5bn to companies in tax havens

All drivers with children have probably said "if you don't stop that then I'm turning round and taking you home", but it's not usually on a plane!
On Wednesday a flight from Miami to London turned round mid-flight because a female passenger refused to wear a mask.
I wouldn't like to imagine just how angry the other passengers were... ooof... 

Save The Hamsters!
It seems the people of Hong Kong are not so keen to destroy all pets as their Government are.
Officials announced around 2,000 animals, mainly hamsters, would be culled after an employee and 2 customers of nearby pet shops tested positive for Omicron, with a strain that was just slightly different. 11 hamsters have also tested positive, leading officials to believe transmission has gone from human to animal to human.
The Hong Kong Government put out notices urging people not to abandon pets, but it's going the other way. The owners are sneaking their animals out of Hong Kong to protect them, and thousands of potential owners have stepped up to adopt any animals people don't wish to keep.
These aren't just small furry rodents. Any 8 year old can tell you the truth. These are mental health and social wellbeing support pets. And members of the family... 

It is the weekend - hurrah! Give yourself a pat on the back because you just made it through the week that's scientifically proven to be the most dour of the year. I hope you have a treat lined up, and if not, make something up! You've earnt it. Something for you, not for the kids or your partner or parents, something nice to spoil yourself for a while.

A lot of you have COVID right now, and a lot of you are recovering. Be gentle on yourself, you can't see inside your body, but if you could, you'd appreciate it's going to take a while to heal. Take it easy, that lie in or afternoon on the sofa watching movies isn't indulgent, it's just what the doctor ordered.

I'll be back Sunday. Open A Window, Wear A Cardi, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. Each one would enjoy a snuggle on the sofa and a good film:

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

USA 70,544,862 (+692,320) 883,903 (+2,700)

France 15,600,647 (+425,183) 128,114 (+245)

India 38,566,027 (+347,254) 488,422 (+703)

Italy 9,418,256 (+188,797) 142,590 (+385)

Brazil 23,588,921 (+168,060) 622,251 (+324)

Spain 8,834,363 (+157,447) 91,599 (+162)

Germany 8,397,328 (+134,930) 117,044 (+176)

Argentina 7,576,335 (+129,709) 118,809 (+181)

UK 15,613,283 (+107,364) 153,202 (+330)

Australia 2,026,290 (+75,116) 2,896 (+55)

Turkey 10,736,215 (+71,843) 85,419 (+166)

Israel 2,103,945 (+68,513) 8,370 (+8)

Mexico 4,495,310 (+60,552) 302,112 (+323)

Peru 2,780,049 (+56,883) 203,868 (+118)

Portugal 2,059,595 (+56,426) 19,447 (+34)

Belgium 2,575,313 (+53,851) 28,726 (+31)

Sweden 1,784,005 (+41,604) 15,639 (+6)

Netherlands 3,720,816 (+39,920) 21,188 (+10)

Japan 1,972,893 (+39,841) 18,457 (+13) 





"People volunteer to adopt hamsters after Hong Kong orders mass cull over COVID-19 pet shop outbreak"

Tennis players:

"Schools defy Boris Johnson as they insist face masks must stay in class"

Face Masks in classrooms:

"A new study suggests oral CBD prevented COVID-19 infection in real-world patients"

Tax havens image

Case numbers UK - lateral flow/PCR

"Dutch museums turn into gyms and hair salons to protest virus curbs"

Criminal investigation hoax:

Omicron B

Obviously infection has that added risk of hospitalisation, death or long COVID, so testing the study results is NOT ADVISED. Not to mention the fact Omicron is an entirely different beast and plays by other rules, so we have yet to find out if it's even still true. Remember kids, hybrid immunity for the win - and the range of variants. In all of the studies I've ever seen, including this one, immunity gained from infection plus vaccination gave the highest protection levels.

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