Friday 11 February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 9th, 10th and 11th February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 9th, 10th and 11th February 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 18,220,515 (+58,899)
In Hospital Yesterday Thursday 10th Feb: 12,753
Using A Ventilator: 430
Losses of Life: 159,351 (+193)
Tests: 1,041,542
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,480,344 (91.3% of UK aged 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,693,091 (84.7%)
Boosted / 3rd Doses: 37,684,442 (65.5%)

Area: Cases Last 7 Days / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 13,040 / 411.4
Scotland: 44,423 / 812.7
Northern Ireland: 26,495 / 1,397.8
England: 449,015 / 794

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,242,806 (+6,618) cases and 6,291 losses of life

World: 407,698,096 reported cases and 5,812,609 losses of life

50% of people with mental health problems it started before age 14

The UK's Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa has now processed over 5 million PCR tests. 

The UK has surpassed 2 million SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences uploaded to the international Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database.
(We really are truly world-beating at virus family trees.)
(GISAID was created back in 2008 to freely share the genetics of flu samples,  so that the world can prepare the most effective flu vaccines, and keep an eye on the situation. It was a perfect database for COVID. To date over 8,137,571 COVID genetic sequences have been uploaded.)

"Pfizer made $37 billion off its Covid vaccine last year, more than the GDP of 120 countries.
Moderna founders made Forbes’ list of richest people.
Yet only 10% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated.
And Covax—the global dose-sharing initiative—is out of money."
Craig Spencer MD MPH, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine, board member of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and Ebola survivor, with a reminder that in the West we really are very fortunate/greedy/privileged...

"Depending on where you live, it might feel like the COVID19 pandemic is almost over – or it might feel like it’s at its worst. But wherever you live, COVID isn’t finished with us.
Diseases know no borders, & as we all know from Omicron, any feeling of safety can change in a moment. We know this virus will continue to evolve. But we are not defenceless. We have the tools to prevent this disease, to test for it, & to treat it.
Where people have access to those tools, this virus can be brought under control. Where they don’t, this virus continues to spread, to evolve, and to kill."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO, with a reminder that we have one world, and it is very small. What we do right here today will affect the entire planet tomorrow.
"The funds we need are significant, but significantly less than the monthly economic costs of the pandemic.
We have a plan.
We have the tools.
We have hope.
Now we need the resources to: execute the plan, make the tools available & make hope a reality - everywhere"

Childrens mental health week all on the board

In Scotland:
The requirement for children and teachers in secondary schools to wear face coverings in class will end on 28th February.

In Wales:
From next Friday, February 18th. domestic COVID passes will no longer be required  (Obviously international travel is a different thing.)
From February 28th face coverings will no longer be mandatory indoors except in shops and health/care, and on public transport, where they will remain law. School mask wearing will depend on local case numbers.
If whole of Wales case numbers continue to go the right way, remaining mask rulings will be removed at the end of March.

The UK Terror Threat level has been reduced from Severe to Substantial.
Bet that'll help you sleep easy in your bed...

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister
It's been literally moments since Parliament last had a holiday, so they are off next week, returning Feb 21st, and it seems likely Boris' "Living With COVID" plan, including removing the isolation laws, will be one of the first things on the agenda upon their return.

The latest ONS statistics show 3.3m people in the UK had COVID last week. Encouraging trends in data according to Boris apparently. We're all blasé and cocky now, but most of the rest of the world considers us "High Risk" or worse. Sure we have these awesome vaccines and therapeutics which are keeping most people out of the hospital or the mortuary, but other places aren't so lucky, and we are a substantial overly-exciting world-travelling unpleasant-variant creation risk - and this is not a happy position for our remaining vulnerable people.
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) increased in England in the two weeks up to 5 February 2022, but the trend was uncertain in the most recent week. Trends were mixed in other UK nations, with the infection rate rising in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the week ending 5 February but falling in Wales.
The estimated number of people living in private households (not in hospitals, care homes and/or other communal establishments) that had COVID-19 in the most recent week was:
England – 2,824,700 people (1 in 19)
Wales – 121,200 people (1 in 25)
Northern Ireland – 145,600 people (1 in 13)
Scotland – 211,300 people (1 in 25)"

Scientific reaction to Boris' announcements about removing final restrictions (self isolation) a month early range from "OMG" to despondency. I think it's fair to say this is not based on science, and is a political decision - as it was always going to be. The scientists are not the ones in charge, they just advise.
We are currently losing over 200 people every day to COVID - around 6,000 a month. That is 3 times as many as we lose to flu. 

Annnnnd on Robert Peston on Thursday morning, Professor John Edmunds of the official UK Government SAGE committee - the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (our brightest and best) was asked about Boris' plan:
Peston - "Is there anything in the SAGE minutes that I've missed, that says that the end of February is the moment to end all quarantining?"
Edmunds - "We haven't discussed it there. I mean, of course he gets scientific advice from elsewhere as well, UK HSA and others, so he may have had other scientific advice, that I'm not aware of."
Peston - "SAGE has certainly not given him that recommendation?"
Edmunds - "We haven't discussed it."
Prof Edmunds goes on to explain that "this restriction is the last one, and quite rightly so as well". Keeping infectious people away from the general population has a massive effect on slowing transmission, while restricting the fewest people - i.e. it only bothers those people who are currently infected. "The most bang for your buck." Removing it will have an effect, especially as prevalence is currently "about as high as it's ever been".

According to the ONS, over 3 million people in the UK had COVID last week, and the same the week before, and the same the week before that. It feels like it'll be barely moments before everyone has had it at that rate, but even at 3 million people a week, it's 5 months before everyone in the UK could have caught COVID once...  

The hashtag "Where's Whitty" has been trending...
"I think it's quite telling that we've not heard anything from Chris Whitty or Patrick Vallance for weeks and weeks."
Professor Christina Pagel of indieSAGE. She's not alone, a lot of people are asking the same thing...

"An important milestone has been reached in our understanding of COVID-19 – over 2 million genome sequences have been uploaded from the UK to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database."
And as if by magic, Sir Patrick Vallance, England's Chief Scientific Officer did make an appearance to comment on the 2m uploads to the GISAID database:
"The UK has world leading genomic sequencing capabilities which have played a crucial role in our fight against Covid-19. The feat of uploading a quarter of all SARS-CoV-2 sequences published globally to date is truly remarkable."
Unsurprisingly very few of the replies were commenting on our truly impressive, world-beating achievement. Shame.
But do you agree with Boris about removing self-isolation Patrick?

YoungMinds UK

The UK Health Security Agency have been  crunching numbers, and found that between 13th December 2021 (when Omicron infections started to become more dominant) and 6th February 2022, an estimated 105,600 hospitalisations have been prevented by booster jabs (in people aged 25 and over in England). (Yeeeay!)
Broken down by age group, it is estimated the boosters directly prevented:
87,300 hospitalisations in those aged 65 and over
14,300 hospitalisations in those aged 45 to 64, and
4,000 hospitalisations in those aged 25 to 44
(For those aged 25 to 64, both healthy and at-risk individuals were included in the analysis.)

3 cases of Lassa Fever have been confirmed in the UK during the past few days (2 travellers and their family member). The fatality rate is usually around 1%, but 1 of the 3 UK patients has died.
Lassa Fever is a bugger because incubation can be 3 weeks.
4 out of 5 patients (or 80%) are asymptomatic. The remaining 1 out of 5 (or 20%) get it rough. Most of them will be hospitalised, and may permanently lose their hearing, and/or suffer liver, kidney or spleen damage.
(OMG Lassa Fever, please no. Give us a break...)
Luckily, Lassa Fever seems quite hard to transmit as long as you have good hygiene (2 minutes hand washing everyone!)

UK NHS hospital waiting lists are the talk of the media, after The Spectator shared 'leaked' projections which suggest we are likely to have as many as 10 million people waiting for care in 2 years time. A lot of folk have delayed going to their doctor or seeking help during the pandemic, and that is going to catch up with us - hard.
Before the pandemic we had waiting lists of 4.4m people, and the NHS was being wound down and sold off apace. Now we pay the price for that.
Good news is many Conservatives are apparently concerned waiting lists of 10m people will reflect badly and have a negative effect on the 2024 election, so they may actually genuinely work to tackle it - but the bad news is no-one can pull medical staff and equipment out of thin air. 

Without any song and dance, Johnson & Johnson quietly paused production of their COVID vaccine in December. Word is that this is so that they could begin producing a new experimental vaccine unrelated to the pandemic. It must be an important one... Best of luck!

International day of women and girls in science and smiley photo of top half of  Maria Van Kerkhove, pretty and very clever and easily understood scientific lead at WHO

Researchers at China's Fudan University in Shanghai have developed a COVID test with the speed of lateral flow, and the accuracy of PCR testing. In their peer-reviewed study they tested nasal swabs from 33 PCR-positive COVID-19 patients and 54 control patients (23 with symptoms but PCR-negative, 6 patients with confirmed flu and 25 healthy volunteers). The test accurately processed all cases without error in under 4 minutes each. Nice. 

India have relaxed entry restrictions. Travellers no longer need a negative test within 72 hours of arrival, as long as they are fully vaccinated. 

More disaster in parts of East Asia after the Lunar New Year celebrations, as Hong Kong is reporting record numbers of new daily cases. They have implemented their toughest restrictions yet, which aren't 'lockdowns', but still led to empty shelves and panicked queues on Wednesday.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (she's in charge, but under the umbrella of China) said: “We still feel that this is the best strategy for Hong Kong, using all our capacity and our means to ensure that we could achieve the Dynamic Zero target.”
There are some suggestions that China is about to step in, and possibly enforce an incredibly hard lockdown, as it does in mainland China. (And to be honest that may be the only way any nation is ever going to ever maintain ZeroCOVID.) The South China Morning Post is reporting that sources tell them there are already “hundreds” of Cantonese-speaking mainland laboratory staff in Hong Kong to boost testing capacity and discussions are happening this weekend regarding a temporary hospital (China usually quarantines all positive cases).
73% of the Hong Kong population aged 12+ are fully vaccinated, but less than 20% of those aged 12+ (1.15m) are boosted.

The charities watchdog are investigating the Captain Sir Tom Moore charity, which is run by his daughter and her husband. As I reported on Tuesday, the charity has eye-wateringly high management fees.

110222 International day of woimen and girls in science

UK Health Minister Gillian Keegan is under fire for receiving a positive COVID test during a meeting, and not leaving immediately to self-isolate.
She was meeting with 3 fathers who had lost their daughters to suicide. She informed them she had tested positive and they chose to continue relating their personal stories.
Obviously 15 minutes isn't very long, and ideally everyone checks their results before continuing with their day - that's the stupid move, what happened next is more understandable.
Sometimes "the correct thing to do" isn't quite as clear as you'd hope. I imagine those parents waited a long time to see her, and it was an incredibly difficult and stressful experience for them. They were already there, so after 10 minutes any damage was probably already done. She might "know better", but seems she actually has a soul, and a heart.
She has apologised, she hasn't resigned. 

Canadian truckers and assorted American and Canadian protesters are now disrupting traffic at border crossings, including an important bridge near Detroit. It has had a big impact already on movement of vehicle production parts.
Sadly in the USA COVID restrictions are a political thing, and while some USA authorities are calling on Canadian authorities to take a tougher stance, we also have the baying mobs jeering and laughing from the stalls, and fuelling the protests.
The protesters really are very much a shouty minority. They are mainly protesting mandatory vaccinations or quarantine when crossing the Canadian border, and over 90% of Canadian truckers are already fully vaccinated.

Not COVID, but Shell and BP have both reported their highest quarterly profits in 8 years. I can't wait to see how high that soars with how much they're going to make over the next few months. 

Famous People With COVID:
HRH Prince Charles - again. He first had COVID back in March 2020, and is triple vaccinated. He met with his elderly mother 2 days before testing positive. 

Spain have relaxed their rules for travelling teenagers. From midnight this Sunday (13th February), children aged 12 to 17 do NOT need to be fully vaccinated to enter Spain, as long as they have had a negative PCR within 72 hours of arrival.
This is a very last minute decision as regards half term, and will have arrived too late for some people. Sorry if you were among those who had cancelled.
Children under age 12 have no restrictions, adults aged 18 or over still need to be double jabbed.

2m uploads to the GISAID database - nice one

Great news for anyone who has been waiting to travel to The Philippines - they have reopened the border to visitors who are fully vaccinated and don't require a visa. Travellers won't have to quarantine in hotels either, but must have a negative PCR test within 48 hours of arrival.
The Government of the Philppines began an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on 16th March 2020 and closed the airports on 20th March 2020.

In this week's edition of "you couldn't make it up", you may have seen the photograph or video of Russian President Putin and French President Macron sitting at the world's most hilariously long table in Moscow this week. If you didn't see it, it's worth Googling because it is worthy of any James Bond spoof - their fancy white table is about 25ft long (7 1/2m).
It turns out Russian authorities gave Emmanuel Macron a choice - take a COVID test while he was in Russia, or sit a ridiculously long way away.
Macron refused to take a Russian COVID test, because he didn't want to hand over his DNA.
(This is the first and only time I've said 'fair point' when anyone was worried about a COVID test being used to collect their DNA, although what he thought the Russians would do with it is anyone's guess.)

It is also Children's Mental Health Week, something that I know far too much about. All of our children and young people have had a ridiculously hard and long 2 years, and being young and frustrated is hard enough without a pandemic.

If she was still here, my family would have been celebrating a 24th birthday this weekend. We shall be having our usual 'double cake day' and, as it falls at the weekend, cocktails and mocktails. (This would absolutely get the seal of approval.) Don't forget to treat yourself and, over the next few days, take some time out to have a treat and a chat with your kids too. You all earned it, and some of you might really need it. Take a pause, and stop, just for 5 seconds, and remember everything about that moment.

Back Sunday. Open A Window, Every Now And Again, Save The NHS.

Some people. However keen or wise, resilient or respected, adaptable or reliable, they are all people.

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):

Russia 13,731,794 (+203,949) 338,813 (+722)

Germany 12,049,913 (+152,911) 120,340 (+144)

Japan 3,666,285 (+100,097) 19,917 (+175)

Netherlands 5,603,964 (+80,610) 21,377 (+19)

Italy 11,991,109 (+67,152) 150,555 (+334)

UK 18,220,515 (+58,899) 159,351 (+193)

S. Korea 1,239,287 (+53,926) 7,012 (+49)

Denmark 2,141,732 (+45,202) 4,001 (+24)

Ukraine 4,462,970 (+41,229) 102,403 (+236)

Indonesia 4,708,043 (+40,489) 144,958 (+100)

Chile 2,545,819 (+38,446) 40,370 (+97)

Poland 5,348,182 (+35,777) 107,757 (+290)

Mexico 5,226,269 (+34,261) 311,554 (+927)

Austria 2,217,585 (+32,712) 14,337 (+22) 

Iran 6,761,855 (+31,247) 133,437 (+143) 

Australia 2,855,375 (+29,853) 4,482 (+51)

Vietnam 2,457,170 (+26,487) 38,784 (+96) 





Young Minds:

Allon theboard


Chris Whitty political decision

Children's Mental Health Week


"Hong Kong braces for worst Covid-19 wave since pandemic"

More Hong Kong

Image and Patrick Vallance


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