Friday 25 February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd - 25th February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 23rd - 25th February 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 18,804,765 (+31,933)
In Hospital Yesterday 24th Feb: 10,767
Using A Ventilator Yesterday: 289
Losses of Life: 161,224 (+120)
Tests: 685,308
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,606,239 (91.5%)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,953,594 (85.1%)
Boosted / 3rd Dose: 38,138,518 (66.3%)

Area: Cases (Positive Tests) Last 7 Days / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 6,618 / 208.8
Scotland: 43,161 / 789.6
Northern Ireland: 17,598 / 928.4
England: 234,902 / 415.4

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,287,908 cases and 6,471 losses of life.

World: 432,741,524 reported cases and 5,950,972 losses of life.

67 per cent lower risk of death with Omicron than Delta - gold text on black

"President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia."
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

"Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny.
We – and the world – cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away."
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, announcing to the UK that we will not be watching this one from the stands. We're in the players dugout at the moment, but prepared to warm up and appreciate we may need to step onto the pitch. Still hoping to avoid any serious gameplay. Not actually COVID, but for a lot of nations it will undoubtedly have a massive effect on case numbers, testing, travel etc...
Any Ukrainian nationals living, working and/or studying in the UK will be able to extend their stay (although if that hadn't been the case, you'd have been able to legitimately apply for sanctuary as a refugee anyway). There is currently no announcement of a resettlement scheme or other measures to provide an easy, legal and safe route for any Ukrainian refugees to enter the UK.

Regular people in Russia have been protesting against the invasion of Ukraine in great number (bless em, every one).
Russia's Interior Minister on TV warned the public to "refrain from unsanctioned protests" or they'll be "arrested and brought to responsibility" because there are "coronavirus restrictions, including on public events."
Erm... yeah. Right. I almost forgot we had a pandemic on. But are you sure that's the reason? Are you really sure?
Reports suggested by 7am GMT this morning, over 1,700 Russian anti-war protesters had been arrested.

NHS staff who test positive for COVID have been told they shouldn't come to work, which will no doubt come as a relief for just about any sentient humans out there. They should self-isolate for 5 days, and should only return to work after 2 negative tests.

250222 UK Stats 88.6% of UK adults have had 2nd jab

It looks like UK NHS workers will get a 3% pay rise, which is another kick in the teeth for people who have worked above and beyond for 2 years now.
Inflation was 5.5% in January, and was expected to rise to around 8% in April, but we're having a war now, so even that situation could change quite rapidly.

Transport for London have said they no longer expect passengers to wear face coverings, not only because English restrictions have changed, but in large part because case numbers in London are going down. 

This week's ONS random sampling survey found an estimated 2.6m people in the UK had COVID last week - which is the first time it's been below 3 million a week this year. High 5 all round... erm... nope. Nothing really to be proud about.
2,096,200 people (1 in 25) in England
98,200 people (1 in 30) in Wales
132,700 people (1 in 14) in Northern Ireland
240,700 people (1 in 20) in Scotland
(Remember this is in PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS ONLY. It doesn't include people who are in hospital, care homes etc..)
Annoyingly, although cases are going down in England, they are up for Scotland and uncertain for Wales and Northern Ireland.
Dropping in our younger children though... phew.

"The percentage of people estimated to test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in most age groups in the week ending 19 February 2022. Infections fell among those aged 2 years to school Year 6, school Year 7 to 11, school Year 12 to age 24 years and aged 35 to 49 years.
Trends were uncertain among those aged 25 to 34 years, aged 50 to 69 years and those aged 70 years and over.
The highest infection level remained among those aged 2 years to school Year 6 at 4.84%, down from 7.60% the previous week. The percentage of people estimated to test positive for COVID-19 was lowest among those aged 70 years and over at 2.08%."

Ukraine Downing Street 24th Feb 2022
10 Downing Street

How many of the UK population have an effective level of antibodies? (179 ng/ml or higher.) Latest results are out, for the week ending 6th Feb:
In England, 98.2% of the adult population
In Wales, 97.9% of the adult population
In Northern Ireland, 98.2% of the adult population
In Scotland, 98.2% of the adult population
"Across the UK, the percentage of children who are estimated to have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at the 179 ng/ml threshold ranged from 91.7% to 95.1% for those aged 12 to 15 years and from 72.2% to 82.0% for those aged 8 to 11 years"

Also from the ONS, it's a bit grim-yet-great news and its Omicron-related. (I saved the best ONS data news to last.)
They've crunched the numbers and worked out the risk of death if you catch Omicron (currently accounts for all but a handful of cases in the UK) compared to Delta (the variant which we had most of before December).
- The risk of death involving coronavirus (COVID-19) is 67% lower following an Omicron infection compared with a Delta infection. (For every 3 people who would die from Delta, if they catch Omicron instead, only 1 would die.)
- The difference in the risk of death involving COVID-19 between Omicron and Delta varied by age, where the reduction in risk was greater among those aged 18 to 59 years (87%) and those aged 60 to 69 years (86%), than among those aged 70+ (55%). (Omicron is massively safer for our oldest people.)
- The difference in the risk of death involving COVID-19 between Omicron and Delta varied by sex, with males having a greater reduction in risk of death than females (75% and 56% respectively). (Men were more likely to die from COVID. With Omicron both sexes are less likely to die, but men even more so, so men and women have a more similar mortality rate.)
Every single person who dies from COVID is still a tragedy for the people who know them.
"The study population included 1,035,163 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2021 in England. It covers 36.7% of all positive tests in December 2021. In the study population, 78.6% had Omicron-compatible infections and 21.4% Delta-compatible.
There were 128 deaths involving COVID-19 and 53 deaths not involving COVID-19 in those infected with Omicron, and 189 and 28, respectively, in those infected with Delta. The mean time from positive result to death involving COVID-19 was 13 days for Omicron and 16 days for Delta."

250222 daily variant watch UK HSA

Last bit of ONS, seeing as we are looking at Omicron:
"The most recent week shows that 75.7% of all sequenced COVID-19 infections from the survey were compatible with the Omicron BA.1 variant or its sub-variants, and 24.3% were compatible with the Omicron BA.2 variant." These percentages are an average over the whole week ending 13th February 2022.
We really don't have lots of data yet, it's too early, but initial signs don't suggest Omicron BA.2 is any more severe than BA.1, so we can stop sweating about that one. Even the World Health Organisation say so...
"We are not seeing a difference in severity of BA.1 compared to BA.2."
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO COVID lead, in the Q&A the other day. 

And in fact, the World Health Organisation issued an official statement about Omicron BA.2  - the slightly faster and/or catchier cousin of regular Omicron BA.1.
"Based on available data of transmission, severity, reinfection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines, the group reinforced that the BA.2 sublineage should continue to be considered a variant of concern and that it should remain classified as Omicron... as a distinct sublineage."
(Basically, seems similar enough to regular Omicron.)
"At a global level, the proportion of reported sequences designated BA.2 has been increasing relative to BA.1 in recent weeks, however the global circulation of all variants is reportedly declining."
"Declining" is often used negatively, but wow, it can be such a great word.   

Omicron-specific vaccines are in very early trials using small numbers of animals, but when used as a booster dose they haven't performed any better than current vaccines (not yet peer-reviewed). Disappointing, but not entirely... current vaccines are preventing most severe illness anyway, and I think we are all aware now that immunity is a far more complex thing than we used to think. We need to watch how it performs over time before we write it off.

Ukraine extension of all visas Priti Patel

The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) have given their response to Boris' 'Living With COVID' plan. I get the impression they were sucking air through their teeth as they typed this:
"Whilst many will welcome the return to pre-pandemic living outlined in the white paper, we must take a cautious approach to ‘normalisation’. Although you cannot test your way out of a pandemic, testing can be used to understand and limit the spread of a virus. The removal of free testing at scale - both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow devices (LFDs) - will compromise population health surveillance and our individual ability to limit any future spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the capability to resume testing at scale, and the associated workforce support, must be part of the Government’s contingency plan."

Canada removed the truckers from Ottawa over last weekend, but it appears they may not all have gone home. Apparently they are congregating in rural areas outside the city. A local Mayor, Tom Peckett is quoted in press as saying:
"It's on private property, they're not obstructing the roads, they're not blowing their horns or creating any noise that I'm aware of."
They really did drive everyone insane with the 24 hour a day honking...

And the USA is now facing issues with convoying truckers (it's like the plot of a 1970's movie). There are several convoys en route to Washington, and in response 400 unarmed National Guard troops are on their way too. Lets hope for a peaceful weekend...

Australian children aged 6 to 11 years old can now get the Moderna COVID vaccine at pharmacies, GP clinics and vaccination hubs (previously only Pfizer was authorised for younger children aged 5-11). This age group receive 2 x 0.25ml (50 micrograms) doses, 8 weeks apart. Adults get 2 x 0.5ml and a 0.25ml booster.

Ukraine European Commission headquarters with lighting to look like Ukraine flag 24th Feb 2022
European Commission

South Korea is having a very bad time with rising cases, and estimates for where they'll be in the next couple of weeks are pretty grim. Like Hong Kong, they avoided the worst for a very long time, and are bearing the brunt of that now. Still nothing to mock them for, they were the ones with brains.
South Korea has a population of almost 52 million, and has lost 7,783 people (152 deaths per million). They bought time for vaccine development, massive improvements in therapies and treatments, and they are facing less deadly Omicron. The UK have a population of around 68.4m and have lost over 161,000 people (2,353 deaths per million). The USA has a population of just under 333m and has lost over 969,600 people (2,901 deaths per million). Hong Kong has a population of 7.69m and has lost 425 people (56 deaths per million). 

Lateral flow rapid COVID tests are still available free via the UK NHS until April 1st, but if you want to know how much you'll be paying in the chemist, luckily there's a bit of a price war on, so it looks like it could be fairly sensible prices.
Boots online is already selling tests at £5.99 each or 4 for £17, delivered to your door. After 1st April Boots plan to begin selling them in-store at a more reasonable £2.50 each or 5 for £12.
Superdrug have undercut them at £1.99 each or 5 for £9.79 in-store.
There are calls for the UK Government to introduce a price cap (this is standard, most Western Governments have put legal limits on charges for testing), but even if they introduce one, it might not be as low as this because they're raging capitalist profit-mongers and there's clearly a buck to be had.

"WHO has now identified 20 countries that have expressed interest in mRNA vaccine development training by the South African hub"
Dr Tedros, Head Of WHO.
How exciting, go Africa, go Africa! If we won't share it, make your own. You don't need us and our selfish ways, you'll be waiting forever.
Giving African countries the tools to create mRNA vaccines is also going to allow them to focus on diseases the West mainly ignores because it doesn't affect us (e.g. Lassa Fever) or we can buy our way out of it with expensive treatments (e.g.HIV).
Although actually, Moderna has just launched clinical trials for their newly developed HIV vaccine, so it was a poor example but a really exciting trial! (Developments in creation of vaccines, treatments, drugs and a whole host of medical and care practices have been put into fast forward by the pandemic, and we will ALL benefit going forward.)

250222 ONS Infection Survey UK nations estimates infections

In case you missed it the other day, that special message for anyone who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or is especially vulnerable to COVID - particularly people who will never develop good immunity, however many jabs you get, or however many times you catch COVID. YOU ARE STILL IMPORTANT. YOU WILL ALWAYS MATTER.

Over the last few years my family have rescued many pets, including guinea pigs, house rabbits, various birds and Gary the cat. Sadly our last furry creature (Pickle the guinea pig) died a couple of months ago, and we miss our mental health support animals very much. I have relented, and allowed my partner a kitten. The kids don't know, so I'm finishing early tonight to pretend I'm in an advert and do that whole "what could be in this box?" thing... I hope you have something special to look forward to as well... 

My thoughts are with everyone affected by the invasion of Ukraine, especially the ordinary people who find themselves suddenly living in the middle of a war zone. It is incredibly humbling, but just because someone else's plight may be worse than your own, doesn't mean you haven't earnt time off, a break, a treat, something nice. What it does mean is that you will probably appreciate it a little more...

Stay Safe, Never Lose Hope, Save The NHS.

Some people. They look like numbers here, but wherever they are in the world, and however safe they feel in their bed tonight, they are all people.

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

World 431,676,665 (+1,780,498) 5,947,213 (+9,801)

Germany 14,311,052 (+218,431) 122,895 (+273)

S. Korea 2,499,188 (+170,006) 7,689 (+82)

Russia 15,928,568 (+132,998) 348,578 (+762)

Brazil 28,580,995 (+95,493) 647,486 (+996)

Turkey 13,841,889 (+79,708) 93,539 (+281)

Japan 4,684,839 (+77,810) 22,529 (+257)

USA 80,446,580 (+70,885) 969,602 (+1,823)

Vietnam 3,041,506 (+69,128) 39,884 (+111)

France 22,534,971 (+66,732) 137,770 (+281)

Indonesia 5,408,328 (+57,426) 147,342 (+317)

Italy 12,651,251 (+46,169) 154,013 (+249)

Netherlands 6,234,953 (+41,177) 21,531 (+13)

UK 18,773,164 (+38,933) 161,104 (+125)

Spain 10,949,997 (+35,892) 99,162 (+226)

Chile 2,956,738 (+33,518) 41,795 (+224)

Malaysia 3,337,227 (+32,070) 32,534 (+46)

Austria 2,578,962 (+28,591) 14,700 (+39)

Ukraine 4,809,624 (+25,789) 105,505 (+276)





Moderna vax 6-11

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (CNN): In Heartbreaking Emergency Broadcast, Ukrainian President Tells His Citizens, “We Are Issuing All Those [Ukrainians] Capable of Defending Our Sovereignty; Each Citizen of Ukraine Will Decide the Future of Our People”



"Graduates will pay more as student loan repayments set to start at £25k and last extra 10 years"

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