Wednesday 19 January 2022

COVID UK Briefing with Sajid 19th January 2022

COVID UK Briefing with Sajid 19th January 2022

UK Cases: +108,069
UK Losses of Life: +359

"You have sat there too long for all the good you have done.
In the name of God, go."
Senior MP and former Conservative Party Chairman David Davies - who explained he was 'tired of defending Johnson against angry constituents'. Boris has not yet gone anywhere, and doesn't seem keen to leave without a fight.

A quick COVID update today because of Boris'/Sajid's announcements - and before I go into that, a couple of points to remember...

190122 No face coverings from tomorrow in schools

1. As I was reminded by Tina - Reinfections across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are STILL NOT COUNTED as a new COVID case, so daily numbers are going down, but because so many people are being reinfected by Omicron Variant, we have less of an idea how many people are really testing positive. (Some estimates are that at least 15% of cases are reinfections, I'd say among the people I know of, it's far FAR more than that.)
In Wales if you test positive more than 42 days after you previously had COVID, it is counted as a new case, but nowhere else in the UK.
Well done Wales for honesty - and well done on finding yet another way to fudge the numbers for the rest of the UK. 

2. Cases and hospitalisations are dropping on average in the UK, and they are dropping in London - but this is NOT universally true. Hospital numbers are still going up in at least 3 areas of England - including the North West - and if you go smaller scale some local authorities are having a very bad time. Relaxing these incredibly soft measures anywhere that hospitals, ambulance service or social care are already cracking under the strain seems unwise. (Is it really so important you don't have to wear a mask in the shop?) Figures released to the public by central Government are already a few days behind, so let's hope they know something we don't, and aren't just throwing some of us to the lions. 

3. Boris is under massive pressure. There is potentially about to be a vote of no confidence and when that happens it's possible he'll lose his job (and his flat with that lovely wallpaper). He is currently more likely to do whatever it takes to please the people he believes are most important to his success. Generally this will be business, donors, investors, gamblers, stock market traders - the money behind the throne. They want everything open, get on with it, stop messing about, it's just a virus, get back to work so they can keep earning. It's not always 100% science-led.


190122 UK briefing cases by date UK

The really pretty minimal restrictions that'll come to an end in England, as planned, on Thursday 24th January are:
- the requirement to wear a face mask in specific circumstances (although they will still be advised in crowds etc).
- work from home if you can
- Mandatory use of COVID certification/COVID passes (there will still be available to business who want to use them)
Boris also announced that from 24th March COVID-positive people will no longer be legally required to self-isolate. Again the specific legislation ends on that date anyway, so this is as anticipated and won't be extended.
Boris also announced in Parliament that English schoolchildren won't be expected to wear masks in classrooms from Thursday 20th - which is tomorrow. 

190122 UK briefing ventilator beds by date UK

Today's UK Briefing was with Health Secretary Sajid Javid. He gave us a bit of a history lesson about what has happened over the last 9 months in England. We were going okay, last Summer went okay, and then Omicron came along.

Over 1/3 of the UK's total number of cases have happened over the last 8 weeks. We didn't return to blanket restrictions, we decided to pursue a different path "a balanced and proportionate response". These measures left us with far fewer restrictions than most of Europe, but bought us more time to vaccinate and boost as many people as possible, expanded our testing, secure anti-virals... (we lost another 359 people today Sajid).

"Data shows Omicron is in retreat".
"The number of patients in intensive care beds is back at the same level as July".
He says he's always said he will remove measures as soon as the data allows.
- Starting immediately, the guidance to work from home ends.
- From next Thursday any legal requirement for COVID passes is removed - but any venue/event/organisation can choose to use them.
- From next Thursday they will no longer legally mandate masks - but they suggest they are worn in crowded and enclosed places, especially with people you don't usually meet.
- Face coverings will no longer be required by secondary school pupils in classrooms from tomorrow, and they will soon review guidance for communal areas.
- He is looking to remove legal measures regarding self-isolation, and replace them with guidance and advice.
- He is looking to ease restrictions on visitors to care homes.
These steps represent a major milestone, but they aren't the end of the road and we shouldn't see it as the finish line.

"We cannot eradicate this virus and it's future variants. Instead we must learn to live with COVID in the same way we've learnt to live with flu - and we'll be setting out our long term plan for living with COVID this Spring."

He mentions possible bumps in the road ahead... and signing new deals with private health care to boost NHS care. He says we should think about what we can do to keep the virus under control - wash hands, get jabbed, test and stay home if you are ill.
Sajid asks that everyone who hasn't yet come forward for vaccination please do so. 

190122 critical care admissions england by vaccination status

Dr Susan Hopkins with the slides.
It's very clear vaccination keeps most people out of hospital, and out of ICU.
She shows we have far more vaccinated and boosted people than most other countries - which is really helping keep down our hospitalisation rates.

Public asked if kids are going to be vaccinated? Sajid says it's down to the JCVI (Joint Committee On Vaccination and Immunisation)  to advise the Government

Public also asked about the Day 6/7 lateral flow testing - when previously we've always been told we can get a false positive result? Susan explains we are finding now that lateral flow tests are actually pretty accurate in showing the end of an infection - but PCR tests still show false positives. The evidence has changed.

Press asked Susan about cases falling - she says they are now falling in ALL UK areas (phew! Good to know). There are a couple of blips regarding age groups, but she seems fairly confident. 

Sajid says self-isolation will be under review - at the moment nothing has changed, you have a legal duty to isolate if you test positive/have COVID. As a contact you have to isolate or daily test. 1 in every 20 people currently has COVID.

190122 UK briefing booster uptake comparable countries

Sajid says he HAS ALWAYS followed the rules. It's the right thing to do. He sounds genuine, and as if he is attempting to pass on a clear message to someone else.

Lots of questions about whether Sajid backs Boris. He doesn't answer. He even had a question about whether having to answer questions about Boris was frustrating him. He said he was 'pained' and 'angered' and it was right for Boris to apologise. 

Sajid says he feels we've made all the big decisions right (170.000 dead people though Saj, and by God you've been lucky a couple of times). He says he forsees no restrictions in future, but continued use of testing and annual jabs. 

Press point out we have announced another 359 dead people today (it was another 438 yesterday). Sajid says the numbers vary day by day. He says England's 7 day average is around 200. (Maybe last week.) He says 40% of people who are in hospital and have COVID are incidental - they are in hospital with other things, and just happen to have COVID - so their deaths aren't really COVID. It's a bit grim really this, and Sajid is floundering, so passes the baton. Susan says so many people have had COVID over the last 8 weeks that 'incidental deaths' will obviously be higher. 

Sajid says you can't rule out restrictions in future. We have no idea what's going to happen. We know our therapeutics work, we know the British public can be sensible, will come forward for vaccinations. 

Huge shout out to everyone who refuses to quit despite not feeling okay. You got this.

Sajid answers the final questions about Boris and 'Partygate'. He says he's also pained (obvs didn't get an invite). He understands the anger and pain the public are feeling. Then he goes a bit tedious and starts talking about "Boris asking for a full enquiry, as he should". (Yeeeeah, whatevs Sajid.)

Sajid ends by reminding us 2 jabs isn't enough to really keep you out of hospital, so please get boosted. 


  'In the name of God, go': leading Tory figure David Davis tells PM to resign

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