Thursday 3 February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd February 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd February 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases: 17,607,832 (+88,171)
In Hospital Wednesday 2nd Feb: 14,816
Using A Ventilator Weds 2nd Feb: 483
Losses of Life: 157,730 (+303)
Tests: 1,337,828
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,385,688 (91.1% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 48,494,414 (84.3%)
Boosted: 37,419,104 (65.1%)

Area: Cases last 7 days / Rate per 100,000 population
Wales: 17,380 / 548.3
Scotland: 24,816 / 454
Northern Ireland: 29,868 / 1,575.7
England: 605,032 / 1,069.9

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,193,156 cases and 6,228 losses of life (not yet reported today)

World: 386,369,853 reported cases and 5,722,054 losses of life.

mental health time to talk day 3rd feb 2022

This week's English COVID surveillance report shows:
- Case rates were highest in those aged 5 to 9, with a weekly rate of 1,925.5 per 100,000 population
- Case rates were lowest in those aged 70-79, with a weekly rate of 301.3 per 100,000 population
- case rates are highest in the South East and lowest in the North West
- the North East has the highest amount of hospital admissions
- hospital admissions are highest among those aged 75 to 84
- COVID-19 hospitalisations decreased in most age groups, though have increase slightly in those aged 0 to 4 and 5 to 14

Scottish secondary school pupils will continue to wear face masks for another week at least as a mandatory measure. 

The UK regulator has just today approved the Nuvaxovid vaccine for people aged 18 or over:
"Vaccine efficacy of Nuvaxovid to prevent the onset of COVID-19 from seven days after Dose 2 was 90.4% (95% CI 82.9 – 94.6). No cases of severe COVID-19 were reported in the 17,312 Nuvaxovid participants compared with 4 cases of severe COVID-19 reported in the 8,140 placebo recipients in the PP-EFF analysis set."
It may not sound familiar, but that's because we know it as Novovax - and we are a good month behind Europe with this one. 90.4% protection against COVID is excellent, and this was similar in a range of people:
"Subgroup analyses of the primary efficacy endpoint showed similar efficacy point estimates for male and female participants and racial groups, and across participants with medical comorbidities associated with high risk of severe COVID-19. There were no meaningful differences in overall vaccine efficacy in participants who were at increased risk of severe COVID-19 including those with 1 or more comorbidities that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 (e.g. BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2, chronic lung disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease)."

Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe:
"I wish to reiterate the firm call I made last week, which is indeed referring to a plausible endgame for the pandemic – not to say that it is now all over – but to highlight that in the European Region, there is a singular opportunity to take control of the transmission because of the congruence of three elements:
- a large capital of vaccine derived and natural immunity to Omicron;
- a favourable seasonality pause as we move out of the winter; and
- the lower severity of the Omicron variant, now well established.
This context, that we have not experienced so far in this pandemic, leaves us with the possibility for a long period of tranquillity and a much higher level of population defence against any resurgence in transmission, even with a more virulent variant. This period of higher protection should be seen as a “ceasefire” that could bring us enduring peace, on the condition that we:
- consolidate and preserve immunity by keeping on vaccinating and boosting;
- focus on the 5 stabilizers for the most vulnerable, with strong governmental oversight and commitment;
- promote self-protecting behaviour and individual responsibility – here with lower governmental oversight to limit unnecessary socioeconomic impacts;
- intensify surveillance to detect new variants.
I believe that it is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge without re-installing the kind of disruptive measures we needed before."
Beacons of light there... we will get there. We really will... 

Pfizer has asked the US FDA to authorise their vaccine for children and infants under age 5. Unusually the FDA actually asked Pfizer-BioNTech to hurry up and stop faffing, and just apply. FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo:
“In light of these new data and the rise in illnesses and hospitalisation in this youngest age group, FDA believed that it was prudent to request that Pfizer submit the data it had available."
A lot of people are very keen to give youngsters the protection older kids and adults are offered - a lot of people are being very realistic about Long COVID and risk of long term harm.
Youngsters aged 6 months to 5 years will receive a 1/10th dose, and it's likely it will be 2 doses initially, as the vaccines are proving more effective the younger you are - so even 2 doses has excellent efficacy results for infants.

Protect your kids from Measles Mumps and Rubella - get them vaccinated

Latest research suggests COVID symptoms might appear earlier than you'd expect. The results are from a Human Challenge Trial - which involved deliberately infecting 36 healthy, young, low-risk volunteers. They were infected with a very early version of wild COVID - from before any of the variants emerged. Researchers found that:
- On average symptoms start to develop about two days after contact with the virus.
- The infection first appears in the throat.
- Infectious virus peaks about five days into infection - by which time it is significantly more abundant in the nose than the throat.
- Lateral flow tests (LFTs/rapid tests) are a reassuringly reliable indicator of whether infectious virus is present (i.e., whether subjects are likely to be able to transmit virus to other people).
"The Human Challenge Programme is a partnership between Imperial College London, the Vaccine Taskforce and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), hVIVO (part of Open Orphan plc.), and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust."
That backs up all of the anecdotal evidence that people test positive earlier with throat swabs than they do with nose only. 

With Omicron Variant symptoms can more regularly include skin problems such as chilblains, and prickly heat and hives (allergic rash like nettlerash).

Famous People With COVID:
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss - who subsequently had to cancel visiting the Ukraine with Boris. 

Energy bill rebate

A group of protesters gathered in Parliament Square, London, yesterday and then attempted to go to New Scotland Yard to drop off what they called a "mass dump" of anti-vaccine evidence. They were mentioning a "criminal investigation" that doesn't actually exist. They even shared footage of a Police Officer saying that a report had been received and allocated to a Detective for looking at - but they seem to think that's proof the Police believe there's been a crime. Erm... nope.
If you want any evidence regarding vaccinations, you really can just compare earlier and current figures for how many people are seriously ill or dying from COVID. 

Rishi Sunak, billionaire and Chancellor of the Exchequer, led a UK Briefing today - but it was financial rather than COVID, so it's not really my thing.
Basically gas is in shorter supply worldwide, coal is being phased out, and in response energy prices have soared. The UK Government control a price cap on how much we can be charged on average, and in April they will put it up by 54% - which is £693 extra on an average annual bill (over £13 a week/ £57 a month).
In response the UK Government, who just wrote off £4.3 billion in fraudulent COVID claims, are kindly going to loan everyone £200 off your fuel bill this year so that you don't struggle too much just now. You'll be paying it back 40 quid a year for the next 5 years. Yeah, cheers Rishi... (that means that next year we won't get the 200 quid, AND we'll also pay an extra £40 - fun times).
There's more. Everyone in Council Tax bands A-D will have a £150 reduction in their Council Tax bill... this is 80% of households - ah, that is a better one. Nice. 
Excitingly the price cap is a 6 months thing and could go up again in October.... 

Also financial and not really my area of expertise, Boris confirmed today that the 1.25% 'Health & Social Care levy' rise in National Insurance will also go ahead in April. If you earn £30,000 then next year 9% of your wages will go towards National Insurance. 

Denmark has ended all of it's Covid laws (again). They have declared COVID "no longer a critical threat" and even if citizens test positive, they are under no legal obligation to isolate.
The Danish Government feel that they can't stop the spread of Omicron with public health measures and restrictions, so really they were fighting a losing battle and everyone should just use common sense and get on with it.
They did make a similar decision towards the end of last year, but then Omicron arrived and they reintroduced measures to prevent overwhelming hospitals. Fingers crossed they don't have to do that again this time. 

030222 COVID case rates by age UK

After the plight of the pregnant journalist who hadn't been able to get home made worldwide news, New Zealand appear to have announced changes to their quarantine policy.
There is a price to pay for Zero COVID or anything close to it, and the bottleneck of New Zealanders who are still wanting to go home amounts to many thousands of people.
From the end of February vaccinated nationals wanting to return from Australia won't have to go into military quarantine, and in mid March that'll apply to all New Zealand returnees, plus 5,000 students and temporary essential workers.
Vaccinated people who are not New Zealand nationals and residents (or part of specific schemes), will be allowed entry without military quarantine from October.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:
“There is no question that for New Zealand, it has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic. But the reason that it is right up there as one of the toughest things we have experienced is, in part, because large-scale loss of life is not.”
She's not wrong.  For most of the previous 2 years they have been able to enjoy security that most of the world has not. They've actually been locked down less than a lot of us - even though when they did lock down it was long and hard - and their economy has not suffered the same, nor have they had to pay the costs for COVID that we have, financially, in lives, and in physical and mental health. 

Scotland is taking ventilation in schools very seriously (thank heavens, some common sense). Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says they've identified around 2,000 rooms that have above average CO2 levels. Proposals to deal with this include estimates for £1.6 million on air filters, £2.4 million for mechanical fans and £300,000 to chop the bottom off doors.

Hoax Of The Day:
A screenshot of a social media post which claims to be written by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is photoshopped. It's not real. He did NOT make comments about avoiding calling unvaccinated people. The biggest red flag sign it wasn't true is the fact hoaxers generally have a very poor use of English, and in this case they had added a hyphen to his job description "Prime-Minister".

030222 COVID case rates by location England

The Spotify/ Joe Rogan media circus continues.
Actress Sharon Stone has joined in now. In an interview with TMZ she said:
“Mr Rogan is risking people’s lives with his idiocy and his professing that his thoughts about Covid are opinions.... Infectious diseases are science and they are fact-based situations so the pretence that these are opinions is dangerous. He should put a disclaimer that he’s an a**h*le and that his behaviour is dangerous and affecting people’s lives and deaths.”
For reference, Joe Rogan is (according to his Wiki page) 'an Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator, comedian, actor, and former television presenter'.
Supporting Joe we also have actor and ex-wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Tattooist Kat Von D and comedy actor Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop).
Against Joe we have pretty much every scientific and medical institution in the world.
Hilariously 1990's popular musical combo Right Said Fred responded on Twitter with:
"Have any of these half-wits actually listened to Joe Rogan."
Obviously it's not a scientific assessment, but there's a possibility quite a lot of people who qualify as half-wits have listened to Joe Rogan. 

Hoaxes Of The Week-A-Plenty:
Just about any photo showing a trucker or angry Canadian is being attributed to the truckers convoy.  Some are hilariously bad photoshopped images, some are clearly from the 1980's, some are very definitely nowhere near Canada. Be cautious before believing what you see.
For reference, if it has a picture of a jolly chap and everything is red and glittery, that's the Coke lorry at Christmas, and if you can see a bunch of cheeky kids in black puffer jackets doing a thumbs up, that's Truckfest in Staffordshire. 

Get boosted - like these UK footballers

I am off to Derby tomorrow for a long weekend working with the Tourist Board and swanning about like a holidaymaker on coach trip, so I will be taking the entire weekend off! I might not be here to remind you, but don't forget to spoil yourself too - you've earned it. I'll be back on Tuesday...

Today is "Time To Talk" day, and the aim is that we actually ask people about their mental health. We start a conversation, we don't hide it away or do that "oh, I'm fine" thing.
We've taken enough on the chin, and our upper lips might be wobbling. If you are finding it hard, then just about everyone will understand - we have ALL found it hard. Talk to your mates - and check on them if you haven't spoken to them this week. If you are struggling, reach out. There's always someone to talk to - don't be alone. The strongest people are the ones who take longest to fall and can fall the hardest. If you need a cushion, an ear, or to pretend you're actually okay and you just want to volunteer to help everyone else, Googling one of these might be a good place to start:
Samaritans (116 123 24 hours a day)
Mind dot Org dot UK
Campaign Against Living Miserably (0800 585858 5pm-midnight)
Text "SHOUT" to 85258
Papyrus - for young adults - 0800 068 4141
Childline - for anyone under 19 - 0800 1111

We are ALL people.

Some people. Never just numbers.
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 12,284,564 (+155,768) 333,357 (+667)

Japan 2,904,438 (+93,388) 18,949 (+78)

UK 17,607,832 (+88,171) 157,730 (+321)

Germany 10,369,890 (+66,790) 118,910 (+27)

Poland 5,035,796 (+54,475) 106,060 (+307)

Portugal 2,795,830 (+50,447) 20,077 (+53)

Belgium 3,229,629 (+45,428) 29,132 (+49)

Czechia 3,143,912 (+43,307) 37,325 (+18)

Mexico 5,027,870 (+42,181) 307,493 (+573)

Ukraine 4,169,897 (+39,620) 100,809 (+210)

Austria 1,959,017 (+38,135) 14,167 (+24)

Iran 6,483,799 (+37,395) 132,624 (+61)

Chile 2,258,005 (+35,197) 39,824 (+82)

Romania 2,325,016 (+32,671) 60,353 (+111)

Australia 2,644,750 (+32,116) 3,987 (+83)

Pakistan 1,442,263 (+5,850) 29,372 (+42)

Belarus 753,495 (+4,990) 6,099 (+15)

Bolivia 863,675 (+4,145) 21,045 (+34)

Bosnia and Herzegovina 353,137 (+1,918) 14,603 (+48) 

China 106,241 (+39) 4,636

New Zealand 17,005 (+188) 53





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