Tuesday 25 January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 24th / 25th January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 24th / 25th January 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 16,047,716 (+94,326)
In Hospital on Monday 24th Jan: 17,162
Using A Ventilator on Monday 24th Jan: 598
Losses of Life: 154,356 (+439)
(Up until Friday 14th Jan, 176,813 people had COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate.)
Tests: 1,335,199
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,252,579 (90.9% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,224,978 (83.9%)
Boosted: 36,996,936 (64.3%)

Cases By UK Nation Last 7 Days:
Area: Cases / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 15,665 / 494.2
Scotland: 27,539 / 503.8
Northern Ireland: 26,969 / 1,422.8
England: 559,207 / 988.9

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,149,660 cases and 6,087 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 356,670,211 reported cases and 5,625,953 losses of life.

UK Panoramic Trial needs recruits if you have only just tested positive

"Only a cake. Only 10 minutes. Only his staff. Wait for Sue Gray. This Sue Grey's mother died alone in a care home in April 2020. This Sue Grey had 3 people with her at the funeral, outside. Only 15 minutes. No cake. No one else. Enough already. Go."
Dr Sue Grey, Lecturer in Education, University of Exeter. Bereaved by COVID and speaking on behalf of a huge number of the UK public.

Latest UK Government revelation is that Carrie organised Boris a surprise birthday party during the first lockdown, in June 2020. Of course she did, why would we expect anything else?! He claims he was there for less than 10 minutes. Yeah, whatever... I guarantee he even blew out his own candles. Aerosol COVID for everyone!

The Guardian is record-keeping for us, and has collated a list of 7 different occasions on which Boris Johnson stated very clearly in public that he did not break the Coronavirus rules, and 15 occasions when there appear to be clear breaches of rules. These include staff leaving parties, parties in Boris' flat, garden parties, departmental parties, wine time Fridays, and Boris' birthday party.

Now that we've become an international laughing stock, even the Metropolitan Police have changed their tune. Previously they had announced they weren't going to investigate lockdown crimes retrospectively, which was presumably very exciting news for anyone who had committed any of their own crimes 'in the past'. Someone's been let off the lead, because the Met have now announced they WILL be looking into the Conservative Party party antics. Phew - bet that's a relief for any honest copper.
It was particularly farcical when Head of the Met Cressida Dick was saying they couldn't investigate parties at No.10 Downing Street because there was no proof of who was there - despite having a real live Police Officer guarding the door (plus WhatsApp messages, photos, staff witnesses, sign in books, CCTV cameras, press...).
Tragically it may be that the Met have only been given the go-ahead in order to delay the official partygate investigation.
The report by top ranking Civil Servant Sue Gray, into whether or not the UK Downing Street massive are actually running a Government or a Party Barn, was due to be released this week. She has now announced she will wait until AFTER the Metropolitan Police investigation (what the heck? What's that going to change? Has she lost the ability to make decisions on her own?). There will be a delay of several weeks.
Give. Me. Strength. 

As the Tories have few weeks reprieve, what they really need is a great distraction from the entire party scandal - something they could try and look shiny and clever at. Boost their egos, reunite the UK population, and make someone else the bad guy.
*Looks at the Ukraine*... *Looks at Russia*...
(I don't have room on Facebook to go into this one, but we are very much in danger of being embroiled in a war here. If you have no idea what this means and are reading on the website  - my own layperson's short explanation is at the bottom of the page.)

250122 weekly hospital admissions to 22nd jan by age

Travel NEWS:
From 4am February 11th COVID tests will NOT be required for fully vaccinated people entering the UK, and unvaccinated travellers will no longer need to self-isolate or take a Day 8 PCR test - they just need a negative test before travel and a PCR test after arrival.
Children under 18 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are exempt.
Boris says this shows "this country is open for business, open for travellers". I say this shows "it's half term, Jocasta needs to go skiing and I do not want to have to quarantine. We have more COVID than anywhere else anyway, so it's irrelevant".

Tory Minister Lord Agnew has resigned from the treasury over the UK Government's handling of COVID business loan fraud.
It's been reported that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has written off £4.3billion of the £5.8billion which has been stolen from emergency Covid-19 schemes.
(Yet you or I could easily go to prison for even £1,000 claimed fraudulently.) 

Nicola Sturgeon has announced easing of regulations in Scotland.
From next Monday employees can begin a phased return to office working - slow and steady and with a focus on hybrid working rather than all back full time at once.
From Friday physical distancing when masks aren't worn indoors (e.g. wedding celebrants, some receptionists etc) is being relaxed from 2m to 1m.
Also from Friday, adults won't have to wear masks when taking part in organised activities with children under 5. 

Manchester case numbers have peaked. Huzzah. London was a couple of weeks ahead, but thankfully new cases and hospitalisations are now dropping on average right across the UK - as we were promised in the press conference last Friday, but couldn't see in the figures at the time.
A few areas are still in the thick of it, but as pressure drops in the bigger cities, there is some wiggle room at least for medical, nursing and ambulance staff, so we can be calmer about completely running out of medical care.

On the subject of hospitals. It is NOT all good news. Admissions for children in the UK ARE STILL RISING. Around twice as many kids are being admitted than with Delta Variant before Christmas - and this is mirrored wherever Omicron is dominant (including South Africa and the USA).
We are more careful with our little ones, they are more likely to be admitted when they have symptoms, and Omicron COVID can cause high temperatures, headaches and a croup-sounding but non-serious cough... but still... it's not good at all...

250122 weekly hospital admissions to 22nd jan by age 0to 5 and 6 to 17

Someone put in a Freedom Of Information request to the UK Government for how many people have died of COVID with no underlying conditions. As of Friday 22nd Jan, that was just over 17,300 people. This information is being used by anti-vaxxers to suggest that anyone without any comorbidities shouldn't worry, shouldn't get vaccinated, and has had their lives ruined by all the sickly old people.
Frankly if you feel like that, why are you even reading my page?
The truth is that over half of UK adults are overweight, which is a comorbity. There is diabetes, heart disease, the 1.5m people who can't even be vaccinated - and the list goes on, and on. Blood conditions, HIV, auto-immune conditions, asthma, COPD, heart defects, liver or kidney problems. And then we come to age. However old you are right now, that's not going backwards any time soon.
So yeah, the truth is that despite so few people being what you could consider incredibly healthy, still 17,300 of that small group of our absolute fittest died when they got COVID. Utter tragedy.
Let's not dwell on how many of them are struggling with Long COVID and no longer even qualify for the "fully fit" group

A new Swedish study (which hasn't yet been peer-reviewed) has found there is a "high prevalence of olfactory disorders 18 months after contracting COVID-19".
18 months after COVID-19, more than 1/3 of recovered people had a clinical reduction in their sense of smell (and lots of them didn't even realise) and nearly half self-reported parosmia - a distorted sense of smell. In total 65% (2 out of every 3) had some form of alteration to their sense of smell.
The better news is that just 3% reported "gustatory dysfunction" - where enjoyment of food is completely ruined through loss of smell, and the individual can struggle not to lose weight and suffer nutritionally.
The researchers determined that: "Given the amount of time since initial insult to the olfactory system, it is likely that these olfactory problems are permanent" - but don't lose hope entirely because I've already seen a professional say they have patients who have still recovered beyond this point.

We did know from previous studies that the Eli Lilly and Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatments are very poor performers against Omicron Variant, but after further consideration the US FDA has now revoked authorisation for use with COVID patients - mainly because people are wasting their time and money for the gain it's giving them. It's such a shame.
Further studies are underway - lots of places have stock of these treatments, and if they can find any time period, population group or way of administering that actually does benefit, or a future variant does respond well to them, they'll be back.  

A second UK RECOVERY Trial for antiviral treatment Molnupiravir officially begins today, for hospitalised patients. Patients with early COVID have already been taking the drug at home as part of the PANORAMIC Trial, where it has had excellent results at preventing severe illness. This is to see if it can also stall the disease in patients who are already showing more serious symptoms.
Let's hope so. 

USA CDC mask advice N95

America has begun a rollout of 3 x free N95 masks per person. 

Olympic Hopefuls:
China has felt able to lift the 1 month long lockdown in Xi'an, but they aren't having full success in Beijing - so mass testing is being carried out.
So far 78 people involved with the Olympic Games have tested positive, including an as-yet-unnamed competitor. What a shame...  

Lost Their Fight:
Big Merv Shields, member of racist far-right Nazi band Skrewdriver. He was a vociferous anti-vaxxer who expressed a belief that COVID was "a leftie Jewish plot". My commiserations to his children.

Omicron sub-variant BA.2 is still increasing in prevalence, but still doesn't look like anything terrifying. We may get our first real statistics from Denmark, where it now accounts for around 40% of all cases. So far there is nothing to suggest it is more deadly, more severe, more likely to infect people or more likely to break through vaccinations or any immunity - but it does look like it travels a bit quicker, so may physically be quicker to pass on and make people ill, or it could be slightly more catchy, so infects more people.  

South Korea is now experiencing their Omicron takeover, and cases have risen to around 8,000 a day. Officials are asking people to consider not travelling for the Lunar New Year holidays, which begin this weekend.
President Moon Jae-in has ordered health officials to “make a swift switch toward the omicron strategy”. This will see health care resources limited to high-priority populations in order that it they aren't overwhelmed. E.g. PCR testing will be offered to older adults 60+ and those who have been in close contact with confirmed patients, and other people will take rapid tests at home. 

Japan is also struggling with Omicron, and reporting around 44,000 new cases a day. They  have expanded a COVID-19 "quasi-state of emergency" to cover 34 of the nation's 47 prefectures, and restrictions will continue until at least 20th February. They include shortened opening hours and curfews for hospitality, and limiting alcohol sales. 

Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University have been trying to work out how we get the best protection from COVID. They have discovered there are 2 ways to get "super immunity" - either with breakthrough infections after vaccination, or natural infection followed by vaccination. Basically a hybrid mix of the two gave an advantage - which is only fair when you consider the risk of serious illness or Long COVID. 

Pfizer/BioNTech have begun trials for their Omicron-specific vaccine. Participants may have already had no vaccine, or doses of the current Pfizer vaccine, in order to gather as many efficacy results as possible.
The Omicron-specific vaccine is already in production, and is only a tweak on the original, so they're confident. 

Let fresh air in - shows open window

Not-So-Luxury Cruise Crews News:
The Australian aid ship currently hurtling towards Tonga, HMAS Adelaide, now has a confirmed 23 COVID cases on board. COVID-free Tonga really need the help, but really don't need the virus. Discussions are underway about how to safely and successfully get the goods off the ship without any contact. Potentially trickier than it looks because COVID can exist on surfaces for some hours - although they do have sunlight and virus-killing UV on their side. It's the middle of Summer there.

A kitchen worker at a care home in Staten Island, USA, has been arrested after putting in 7 insurance claims for loss of earnings due to exposure to COVID. He was spotted when 6 of the positives had the same specimen ID. (Any more and he'd have been spotted when Guinness Book Of Records got in touch. No-one has had COVID 6 times...)

Beijing, China, is still desperately attempting to protect the Olympics. The latest strategy is that anyone who has bought selected cough, cold and fever medicines in the past 2 weeks has to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours.

The CEO of Pfizer has been interviewed  on Israeli telly and said "we should be able to come to normal lives... in a few months". He reckons annual jabs will be doable, easy to remember and acceptable to the public - and we can cope just fine with any Omicron-type variants as they pop up. Let's hope so Albert - I'm liking your confidence very much. 

Ancient rock legend Neil Young has warned Spotify that if they don't remove vaccination misinformation then he will bar them from hosting his music.
In December almost 300 medical and educational experts wrote an open letter to Spotify asking them to remove it - and to consider more carefully the age and vulnerability of their audience.   

It's Burns' Night and we have Haggis, to celebrate my partner's Scottish-Ness more than Mr Burns himself, who it turns out might have been a little bit lacking at times. Slavery and misogyny were the order of his day, and he seems to have indulged himself more heavily than most. Tsk...

I will be back on Friday unless Boris creeps out of hiding in the meantime...

Sláinte Mhath to you all.

Some people - all unique and all the same.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. Randomly chosen from the more severely affected countries nearer the top of the chart):

UK 16,047,716 (+94,326) 154,356 (+439)

Germany 8,890,186 (+82,079) 117,617 (+102)

Russia 11,241,109 (+67,809) 327,448 (+681)

Israel 2,488,924 (+64,094) 8,488 (+7)

Netherlands 4,008,459 (+54,160) 21,227 (+8)

Japan 2,216,829 (+47,176) 18,523 (+17)

Australia 2,285,286 (+44,441) 3,225 (+71)

Denmark 1,425,245 (+43,734) 3,635 (+14)

Belgium 2,830,719 (+41,857) 28,835 (+18)

Poland 4,584,360 (+36,995) 104,097 (+252)

Czechia 2,794,245 (+30,350) 37,080 (+14)

Finland 456,355 (+29,529) 1,852 (+37)

Austria 1,650,597 (+24,946) 14,019 (+19)

Romania 2,048,896 (+19,685) 59,632 (+44)

Ukraine 3,889,488 (+19,118) 99,443 (+161)

Bangladesh 1,715,997 (+16,033) 28,256 (+18) 




What's happening with Ukraine and Russia?

You may or may not have noticed, but there is potential we could be about to be embroiled in a war, and this isn't a minor thing - world superpowers are heavily involved.
The main potential battleground is Ukraine (led by Volodymyr Zelensky), which, until 1991 was a part of what we tended lazily to called Russia - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
After 1991 Ukraine gained independence, but it isn't quite as easy as that, because it wasn't all love and peace. Within the Ukraine are 2 distinct areas which don't want to be considered part of the Ukraine and have considered themselves independent since 2018. They are the Donetsk People's Republic (led by Denis Pushilin) and Luhansk People's Republic (led by Leonid Pasechnik). They are supported by Russia (led by Vladimir Putin).
Russia (official title The Russian Federation), Donetsk PR, Luhansk PR and neighbouring country Belarus (led by COVID-denying Lukashenko) together form the Union State - which is basically a coalition with a series of pacts and agreements saying they're mates and will back each other up.
And now you only just begin to see why there may be some tension...
There is also the massive topic of Crimea, which I think we are all aware has been involved in a bit of a scrap in the past.
In Spring 2021 Russia began massing troops near Ukraine, and everyone got twitchy. They moved some of them later in the year, but now they're back, and intelligence (all that James Bond shizz) suggests that Russia are about to step in because they want their own Russia-friendly governance of Ukraine.
The situation has become so tense that now the US, the UK and others have ordered their nationals and embassy staff to leave/consider leaving.
The Ukraine Government aren't alone. They are actually friends with (and hioe to join) the EU (European Union), and have a lot of their own military allies, including NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - coalition of 30 countries with pacts and agreements), and individually the UK, the USA, Canada, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Lithuania. There are also a lot of countries which support the current Ukraine Government, but aren't involved on a military level.
NATO and other forces have begun to move. They may not be intending to enter Ukraine, and might only plan to bolster their own nation's security (including NATO/EU members), but it's a lot of troops and a lot of Government officials, and a lot of twitchy trigger fingers.
"Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and is set to deploy four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region. Spain is sending ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria. France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command. The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria from April to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region, and is putting a ship and land-based units on standby for NATO’s Response Force. The United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance."
It must be stressed NATO is a defensive  alliance with a main aim to peacekeep - they should not attack anyone who doesn't strike first.
So yeah... this could get pretty big. Or not. Time will tell.

https://theconversation.com/5-things-to-know-about-why-russia-might-invade-ukraine-and-why-the-us-is-involved-175371 https://www.nato.int/nato-welcome/index.html



























Your regular reminder that COVID isn't over, and it can still kill you. 




























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