Friday 28 January 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th / 27th / 28th January 2022


COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 26th / 27th / 28th January 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 16,333,980 (+89,176)
In Hospital Yesterday 27th Jan: 16,149 (it's going down -  17,976 a week ago)
Using A Ventilator Yesterday: 549 (664 a week earlier)
Losses of Life: 155,317 (+277)
Tests: 1,285,156
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,297,579 (90.9% of UK aged 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,314,633 (84%)
Boosted: 37,157,898 (64.6%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,164,536 cases and 6,136 losses of life

World: 368,179,091 reported cases and 5,660,289 losses of life.

since May 2021 98% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with covid were unvaccinated UK NHS

"60.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 10 billion doses have been administered globally, and 25.15 million are now administered each day. Only 9.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose."
(Our World In Data.)
The world population is 7.9 billion - 7,923,381,000

"Neil Young, thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around COVID19 vaccination. Public and private sector, in particular social media platforms, media, individuals - we all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic."
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation.
Spotify have had to remove all music by Neil Young. He issued them with an ultimatum to remove vaccine misinformation, including podcasts from Joe Rogan, and they haven't, so they have to remove his music. Kind of disappointing really Spotify... tut tut. 

We are expecting to see Sue Gray's report on the Tory Government Party Barn any minute - but there will be redactions (bits blanked out). It doesn't take a lawyer to know that an ongoing Police investigation means anything potentially criminal could be held back from us.
It is also possible that some Downing Street witnesses who may not have had 100% full and complete memory when speaking to Sue Gray, will not be willing to risk that when talking to Metropolitan Police Officers. Exciting stuff eh - but don't let it distract you from everything else.

US CDC IncidenceDeathRatesOmicron get boosted it raises protection by x 5

Restrictions have eased in England:
- Work from home if you can has ended.
- Face coverings are no longer mandatory in shops and other indoor settings.
- From Monday in care homes, there will be no limit on visitors, self-isolation will be reduced to 10 days from 14, and outbreak management from 28 to 14.
- From Mid-February, carers will use lateral flow tests before work, rather than weekly PCR.
Please remember that this is just England. 

In Wales:
- Work from home if you can and rule of 6/limits on mixing end. Nightclubs reopen.
- Masks remain in schools remain until half term and are still mandatory in shops, hospitals and public transport.
- COVID passes remain for nightclubs and large indoor events/attractions e.g. cinemas
- Self isolation for positive cases reduces to 5 full days (with 2 negative tests). 

In Scotland from 31 January 2022:
- employers will be able to phase in a mixture of office and home working 

In Northern Ireland:
- the ‘rule of six’ and requirement for table service when eating and drinking in hospitality has gone.
- Nightclubs can reopen
-  COVID passes for hospitality are no longer mandatory. 

And in the Republic of Ireland lots of restrictions were relaxed from 6am on 22 January 2022:
Pubs and restaurants normal opening times (no longer must close at 8pm)
Nightclubs can reopen
You no longer need a vaccination or recovery certificate to access hospitality or indoor activities
Social distancing is no longer required in hospitality or other settings
Restrictions on numbers attending indoor and outdoor events or activities no longer apply
Limits on household visits no longer apply

CDC table vaccinated versus unvaccinated

From 10th February, people in the UK who test positive and are especially vulnerable will be given Paxlovid - an antiviral pill mix of Pfizer’s PF-07321332 plus ritonavir.
"PF-07321332+ritonavir reduced the relative risk of COVID-19-associated hospitalisation or death by 88% in those who received treatment within five days of symptoms appearing."
Until now our most effective antiviral cocktail has been the antiviral molnupiravir and monoclonal antibody sotrovimab, which have been given to almost 10,000 of our highest risk patients.
That is going to save a lot of lives - and it's why we have been able to avoid overwhelming the NHS. 

Possibly also because of the excellent study results, yesterday the EU regulator approved Paxlovid. 

The latest REACT Study findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, covering 5th January to 20th January 2022 "show that prevalence in England during this period was 4.41%, by far the highest figure recorded since the beginning of the study".
During the period in which swabs were collected from randomly selected participants, approximately 1 in every 23 people in England was infected with the virus. The most they've ever recorded.
There were 4,011 positives from 100,607 swabs.
"The highest weighted prevalence was observed in those aged 5 to 11 at 7.81%. The next highest prevalence occurred in the 12 to 17 age bracket, with a figure of 5.17%.
Weighted prevalence increased 7-fold from the previous round in the 65 to 74 age bracket (0.48% to 3.06%), and 12-fold in those aged 75 and above (0.21% to 2.43%)."
With a staggering 7.8% of primary school children testing positive for COVID, there are several different worries coming from different scientific bodies:
1. It could just pass back to older age groups yet again, and any minute now we'll see case rates there go back up
2. Hospitalisations in kids will continue to keep going up.
3. Long COVID could become a massive issue that we will have to deal with for a very long time. Studies vary, but it's generally accepted that at least 1 in 10 children is likely to have long term (3-6 months or longer) problems as a result of infection.
4. The time off school will be massive! The latest school attendance figures show:
"Coronavirus (COVID-19) related pupil absence in all state-funded schools was 5.1% on 20 Jan (up from 3.9% on 6 Jan)."
3.9% of pupils had confirmed COVID, 0.6% suspected COVID.
4.5% of teachers and school leaders were absent for COVID-19 related reasons, and 4.7% of teaching assistants and other staff. 

Remember the whole thing about not every reinfection being counted? The latest REACT study data shows a whopping 2/3rds of people who have tested positive for Omicron since Christmas say they have had COVID before. That is far FAR higher then the 15% which was suggested a few weeks ago.
The good news is that the UK Health Security Agency are on it, and from Monday 31 January they will be including reinfections data on the daily dashboard. 

In the UK white people are way less likely to die from COVID than people from black and ethnic minority groups. The ONS have tried to discover why, and they believe it is mainly down to lagging vaccination rates
If you are white in the UK then you can be almost twice as likely to be fully vaccinated and boosted than a person who identifies as BAME (black or from a minority ethnic background).
If you are from a BAME background in the UK then you are up to 3 times more likely to die from COVID than a person who is white.
We are also fully aware from multiple studies around the globe and in the UK, that frontline workers and deprived people are at greater risk of COVID and death from COVID - and if you are from the black and ethnic minority groups in the UK, you are more likely to be a frontline worker or live in deprivation than the average white person.
Get yourself vaccinated. 

280122 UK Gov Omicron BA.2 surveliiance

"Since May 2021, 98% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were unvaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection for pregnant women and their babies. Book your appointment online."
Latest data (April to October 2021) shows vaccination IS safe for pregnant women, and their babies:
- The stillbirth rate for vaccinated women was 3.6 per 1,000, unvaccinated 3.9 per 1,000.
- The proportion of low birthweight babies was 5.01% for vaccinated and 5.33% not vaccinated.
- The proportion of premature births was 5.97% for vaccinated and 5.88% not vaccinated.
In August 2021, 22.5% of women giving birth had received at least one dose of vaccine. This increased to 32.1% in September, and 41.3% in October, but rates for black and/or deprived pregnant people lag behind.
- "...just 6.8% of pregnant black women and only 10.2% of pregnant women living in more deprived areas of England had 2 doses, compared with 23.4% of white women and 34.8% living in less deprived areas."
If you are pregnant and have not been vaccinated, please discuss it with your medical professionals. If you have recently had your baby, don't put it off. 

Spain is changing entry regulations. From February 1st travellers can only enter Spain if they are fully vaccinated and their 2nd vaccine dose (or single dose if a single dose vaccine) was within 270 days of travel - if not you'll need to have also had a booster jab.

So, let's talk about Omicron B, or Stealth Omicron, or Omicron BA.2 as it's probably more properly known. It is making all the press, why is that?
- We have detected 1,993 cases so far in the UK.
- When Omicron was first categorised as a Variant Under Investigation, we were aware of 3 sub-lineages in the family tree - Omicron BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3. BA.1 was the first to spread, and erupted in December. BA.2 is running in from the back.
- BA.2 is really fast. REALLY FAST. It didn't start to develop as early on, but it's already taken over in Denmark. Cases are also rising in other Omicron-heavy countries, such as the UK, USA and Greece.
Dr Eric Feigl-Ding (who is usually right, but gets very excitable) says:
"Our newest modeling (by JP Weilan) says it is approximately ~2x faster than vanilla BA Omicron, which was 4-6x faster than Delta, which is 2x faster than Wuhan. Thus, 2*5*2= up to 20x faster than Wuhan? Maybe, maybe not. But worrisome."
(Don't worry, it won't actually spread 20 x as fast because most people just don't mix with that many strangers each day, and especially not if they are ill.)
In fact, German Professor Moritz Gerstung, researcher and department leader at the European Bioinformatics Institute, has crunched the numbers and believes Omicron is around 15% quicker at spreading than Delta was last year - and Omicron BA.2  is around 20% quicker than Delta.
- Vaccine effectiveness at preventing symptomatic illness for BA.1 and BA.2 seems very similar - in fact vaccines could be slightly more effective in Omicron BA.2. (YEEEAY GOOD NEWS!!!)
The same research team at Oxford also found 2 weeks after your booster protection against symptomatic illness for Omicron was 95%. Nice. (More GOOD NEWS!!)

Can you be reinfected with Omicron BA.2 after BA.1? Well... yes.
- A Norwegian researcher has found some cases, but whatever variant you pick - some people will NEVER develop immunity and could always catch it again.
- We are seeing a slight "uptick" in cases in the UK, USA and Greece - but all 3 did just have big holidays and have returned to work/school, plus testing has been at its limits and may be catching up, so that's one to watch, but doesn't mean anything yet.
- The fact BA.2 has taken over so quickly in Denmark does make it seem plausible, but again nothing proven so far.
This is not chicken pox. Catching it doesn't ensure lifelong protection for most people. It just prevents most people becoming severely ill. That's the second best outcome. As the World Health Organisation are desperately trying to bash into our stupid skulls - use all the tools you have and stop relying on vaccinations alone.

BA.2 still doesn't appear to increase the number of people who become severely ill - it's just that slightly more people will still catch COVID and be able to pass it on - meaning vulnerable and unvaccinated people have even less chance of it passing them by.
BA.2 is Original Omicron's slightly louder, rowdier brother. 

Vaccine effectiveness against Omicron 2 lines UK study

I did mention it the other day - Pfizer BioNTech have started trials of their Omicron-specific vaccine. Moderna have said theirs is almost ready to begin trials too.

Denmark will end all COVID restrictions on February 1st.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said:
“We say goodbye to the restrictions and welcome the life we knew before.”
Although they are reporting an average of over 45,000 daily cases, only 40 people are in Intensive Care. That really is a fabulous statistic isn't it?! 

Norway have said they will also look at removing restrictions.
We just need to work on case numbers...
(Remember kids - the more cases you have statistically the greater likelihood for exciting variants to develop - and we are NOT all vaccinated.)

Sweden has extended their COVID restrictions for another 2 weeks, due to an exceptionally high number of daily cases.
Hospitality has an 11 p.m curfew and people should work from home when possible.

US CDC IncidenceDeathRatesOmicron

A convoy of trucks is making its way from around Canada, and from the USA, to the home of the Canadian Government in Ottawa, in protest about vaccine mandates - in particular for truckers crossing the border.
There's been a big news blackout on this, so it's kind of tricky to assess the size, and it's Chinese whispers gone insane! It will be big, but nowhere near the 1.4m people and 70,000 trucks some are claiming (lollitylollol). Not only is this receiving a media blackout, but because they all want a word with (the manager) Justin Trudeau, it's also being tagged as the "KarenKonvoy" (my apologies to anyone named Karen.)
The truckers appear to be asking for a national body which can overturn local COVID rulings and restrictions, but Canadians are pointing out that's not how their legal system works, and even if it was, would it want to remove restrictions?
So far the protest has been entirely peaceful - as far as we can tell. Let's hope frustrations don't end in tears.

The KarenKonvoy is also being called the Freedom Convoy and it is a voice for anyone who is against vaccine mandates. Sadly it's also become a bandwagon to jump on for literally any conspiracy theorist, eugenicist ("it only kills old or sick people"), anti-masker, anti-vaxxer, people protesting plexi-glass screens (yes really), and anyone bored enough by COVID restrictions that they're getting tetchy.
Even I think vaccine mandates should be a last resort - but there are a lot of crazies out there. We are one step away from some of them demanding hospital staff rock up for surgery without gloves on.

A man has been taken off the heart transplant list at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, USA, because he isn't vaccinated. It seems really harsh, but the more you consider it, the more of a fool he is. He will have to receive huge amounts of immuno-suppressants in order to retain that new heart, and that would put him at massive risk of dying if he catches COVID. Hearts for transplant are incredibly rare, they need to be given to people with a good chance of survival. 

CDC table vaccinated versus unvaccinated

COVID won't finish us all off, but climate change and our own stupidity just might. Greenpeace are among those pointing out the utter insanity of our airline rules. In order to retain the right to fly a route, an airline has to keep flying it - and this is particularly the case in the EU. Although necessary flights were reduced, they weren't cancelled or taken back to miniscule levels, even during a panic where people weren't flying. This has led to bazillion of empty planes travelling around the world, spewing out pointless emissions and using up millions of gallons of fuel for no reason. Over this Winter in the EU alone, it's estimated over 100,000 "ghost flights" will take place.
(Sometimes I wonder if we even deserve to maintain dominance on this planet. Let something else take over, humans are idiots.) 

I cannot stress enough that new rules about reducing the self-isolation after testing positive to 5 full days if you get 2 negative tests, is just teasing most people. I get no end of messages from people who test positive until day 10. Omicron is a different beast - it lasts longer. Sorry guys. If you get out before day 10, consider it a bonus. 

It IS the weekend! This would be the longest month ever, except we know January 2020 was the longest month ever! It's STILL January! Have  treat - something for yourself, because you earned it. It's the last weekend in January, it's grim weather, and it is DEFINITELY time to spoil yourself a little. And take it easy if you are recovering from COVID - it's exhausting.

Life is not about living in fear, it is not about pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits. It is about finding as much joy out there as you can, and drinking it all in. COVID may be here to stay, and we may have to find ways to live with it that will work, but we will. Common sense will prevail, and until then we all have our own personal common sense to fall back on. Sit in a breeze, wear a mask, open a window, limit contacts, get vaccinated, wash your hands. YOU have control over much of this. Use it.

Wear A Cardi, Test Regularly, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. Each number is a real human being:

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries,  such as the USA and India, some states /provinces have yet to report today):

World 368,173,920 (+1,463,969) 5,660,289 (+4,055)

Italy 10,683,948 (+143,898) 145,537 (+378)

Germany 9,451,321 (+116,684) 118,177 (+112)

Russia 11,502,657 (+98,040) 329,443 (+673)

UK 16,333,980 (+89,176) 155,317 (+277)

Netherlands 4,205,649 (+74,019) 21,262 (+9)

Japan 2,421,443 (+73,945) 18,642 (+43)

Belgium 3,007,724 (+68,285) 28,938 (+36)

Poland 4,752,700 (+57,262) 104,907 (+271)

Denmark 1,567,270 (+50,392) 3,700 (+26)

Mexico 4,828,446 (+49,150) 304,803 (+495) 

Israel 2,705,103 (+45,376) 8,599 (+43)

Australia 2,468,597 (+39,658)3,500 (+98)

Austria 1,766,292 (+38,631) 14,061 (+19)

Czechia 2,923,680 (+34,740) 37,145 (+14)

Ukraine 3,980,610 (+34,408) 99,882 (+144)

Romania 2,146,558 (+31,724) 59,857 (+59)

Chile 2,075,703 (+26,727) 39,620 (+26)

Greece 1,890,296 (+22,361) 23,195 (+112) 



How infectious is Omicron BA.2? Dr Eric Feigl-Ding

"Spotify removing Neil Young's music after Joe Rogan ultimatum"

Images and figures:

SARS-CoV-2 seems to awaken HERV-W ENV (snappy title)

"Health officials monitor BA.2 subvariant of Omicron variant"

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