Friday 18 March 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th / 18th March 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 16th / 17th / 18th March 2022

Today's stats error is.... "Reported case numbers for Scotland cover more than 24 hours" (Irrelevant as we are given a 7 day average).

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: 552,198 (average 78,885 per day, UP a lot from 59,117 a week earlier)
In hospital yesterday 17th March: 14,671 (UP a lot from 11,944 a week earlier)
Using a ventilator yesterday: 292 (UP from 253 a week earlier)
Losses of life last 7 days: 753 (average 107 per day, similar to 104 a week earlier)
Tests last 7 days: 4,997,040 (average 713,862 per day, UP from 650,544 a week earlier, despite less tests being distributed)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 91.7% of UK aged 12+
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 85.7%
Boosted / 3rd dose: 67.1%

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,365,467 cases and 6,638 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 467,256,593 reported cases and 6,090,530 losses of life.

Women with COVID should breastfeed and have contact with baby World Health Organisation

"The Peace Bell in Mariupol.
It rings no more.
Until the evil is defeated."
Illia Ponomarenko, Ukrainian journalist at the Kyiv Independent.
His home town is Volnovakha, which has been razed to the ground. Every building has been damaged, including his family home and the maternity hospital where he was born.
His university in Mariupol and everywhere he made his student memories has been destroyed. 90% of the buildings in Mariupol are estimated to have been damaged or destroyed.
His new flat, which he moved into 1 month ago in Bucha, has been destroyed.
He is left in Kyiv, wondering how long he has left there, and where to go next.
This is a young man who will never forget, and how can he ever forgive?
No-one wins a war, and it continues long after it ends.

Irish authorities urged caution yesterday at the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast. (Not 100% chance of that after missing it for 2 years.)
As usual loads of Ireland's public buildings were lit up with coloured lights for St Patrick' Day. Usually, they are green, but this year they were blue and yellow in support of Ukraine. Ireland understands how awful it is to lack peace with your neighbour, and how long those deep cuts take to heal.

All UK COVID travel restrictions ended at 4am this morning. Arrivals no longer need passenger locator forms, or negative tests. 

This week's UK COVID surveillance shows that it's still heading "in an upward trajectory" as Jenny Harries might say. "Bit of an uptick."
- case rates are highest in those aged 30 to 39 years old and lowest in those aged 0-4.
- case rates are highest in the South West and lowest in the North East
- the South East has the highest amount of hospital admissions this week
- hospital admissions are still highest among those aged 85 and older

180322 ONS infectivity study by nation UK from COVID Actuaries

The ONS don't really beat around the bush. This is the random sampling - which is due to be stopped now that COVID is all over and we're all 'learning to live with it':
"New COVID19 data shows infections increased across most of the UK, with record levels seen in Scotland. High levels of infection are driven by the rapid rise of the Omicron BA.2 variant."
In the week ending 12th March 2022:
England, continued increase, estimate 2,653,200 people had COVID-19, equating to 4.87% or around 1 in 20.
Wales, continued increase, estimate 125,400 people had COVID-19, equating to 4.13% or around 1 in 25.
Northern Ireland, trend uncertain, estimate 130,600 people had COVID-19, equating to 7.12% or around 1 in 14 people.
Scotland, continued increase, estimate 376,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 7.15% or around 1 in 14 people.

Hospital admissions are also still going the wrong way, and it's not slowing down. In England admissions with COVID are up 27% on last week.  COVID Actuaries Response Group:
"The most rapid increase is NE and Yorks, up 52% week-on-week! Other regions are up by 21-26%"
"Admissions with COVID are increasing at a similar rate in all age groups, with increases of 25-30% week-on-week"
When cases rise, hospitalisations rise, and sadly deaths follow:
"COVID deaths in English hospitals are no longer falling. After adjusting for estimated reporting delays, hospital deaths appear to have increased by 3% week-on-week."

180322 ONS COVID random sampling stats

The UK Health Security Agency data shows vaccine protection against hospitalisation is still doing okay - as long as you have had that booster dose:
"Two doses of either AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S) or Pfizer (BNT162b2) vaccines was associated with a vaccine effectiveness of approximately 25 to 35% against hospitalisation following infection with the Omicron variant, after 25+ weeks.
After a Pfizer booster (after either primary vaccination course), vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation started at around 90% dropping to around 75% after 10 to 14 weeks.
After a Moderna booster (mRNA-1273) (after either primary vaccination course) vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation was 90 to 95% up to 9 weeks after vaccination.

A new study published in The Lancet has compared risk of hospitalisation and death with Omicron and Delta in England. This is led by Professor Neil Ferguson, and they found that for every 10 people sent to  hospital, admitted to hospital or dying from Delta variant, with Omicron we have 5.6 visiting hospital, 4.1 admitted and 3.1 dying. It's substantially less dangerous.
It does vary a lot by age, which isn't a surprise, we can already see it's harder on our youngsters, but easier on our older populations.
For every 10 children under 10 admitted with Delta, 11 children are admitted with Omicron. For 10 people aged 60-69 admitted with Delta, only 2.5 with Omicron are admitted (4.7 for age 80+).
"For both variants, past infection gave some protection against death both in vaccinated and unvaccinated cases."

The UK still seem to have fared better than the USA regarding young people and Omicron:
"Covid hospitalization rates among children aged 4 and under were FIVE TIMES higher during the peak of Omicron compared with Delta, according to a new CDC report."
Dr Tom Frieden.
Bear in mind that this is not only because children were more likely to become more ill, but also because far more children seem to catch Omicron/test positive/show symptoms full stop. 

Omicron Delta kids US CDC charts and text

New research published by the World Health Organisation shows that transmission of COVID19 from women to babies in the womb or during childbirth is possible, but extremely rare.
"Findings show that less than 2% of newborn babies born to women who have COVID19 test positive themselves. Importantly, even fewer show signs of the disease."
Anyone who has a baby, and also has COVID, is advised to have skin to skin contact and breastfeed their baby. 

New Zealand will reopen their borders to international travellers next month, with Australians allowed quarantine-free entry from 13th April.
Fully vaccinated travellers from other countries will begin to be allowed entry from 2nd May.
New Zealand closed their border over 2 years ago, in March 2020, and although they have a lot of COVID now, they bought time to vaccinate everyone. They have lost 138 people to COVID at this point,  one of the lowest death rates in the entire world at 28 per million. (For reference the UK has lost 2,385 people per million, and the US 2,979 per million. Worst of all is Peru at 6,272 people lost per million / 1 in every 160)

Pfizer BioNTech have submitted an authorisation request in the USA for a 4th dose for people aged 65 or over. This announcement came at almost the same time as Japan announced they were buying 145m doses for 4th doses for their population.
Moderna meanwhile have asked for US FDA approval for a 4th jab for all adults.
It was always going to happen - the plan was always that we'd have regular jabs, in a similar way to annual flu jabs - the main question at the moment is just how often we'll need a top up. 

180322 NHS England daily deaths COVID

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have approved Pfizer's antibody therapy Evusheld - which is a single dose each of two long-acting antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab, given as injections. They bind to the spike protein on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in turn preventing it from attaching to and entering human cells.
Evusheld is authorised to be used before being exposed (‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’) and is for use in adults who are unlikely to mount an immune response from COVID-19 vaccination or for whom vaccination is not recommended.
"In a clinical trial in adults, Evusheld was found to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 77%, with protection from the virus continuing for at least 6 months following a single dose.
There is not yet enough data to know how effective Evusheld is against Omicron or the duration of its effect against this variant, and the MHRA will work with the company to establish this."

And a different Pfizer antibody therapy, the tablet Paxlovid, will be manufactured by 35 generic drugmakers worldwide, who will supply it to 95 poorer countries.
Paxlovid is given to more vulnerable people who have been exposed to COVID or have just tested positive, and in trials reduced hospitalisations in high-risk patients by around 90%. 

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong are estimating that about 4.5 million of Hong Kong's 7.4 million people may already have caught COVID. Quite honestly I hope so, because their mortality rate is horrific, so it wouldn't be a bad thing to discover far more people had actually already had the virus than we realised.

China is building a 6,000 bed COVID quarantine hospital in Jijin. They are still attempting zero COVID, and when you recall Hong Kong currently has a 4.7% fatality rate among COVID patients (in large part because of low vaccination rates among the elderly), it's very easy to see why they haven't given in yet. Everyone who tests positive has to isolate. This incredibly strict strategy worked before, but it may not be as effective with Omicron, and a very tired population. It seems even President Xi appreciates this, and the economic fallout from locking down so many people. He has reportedly said that while he expects any outbreaks to be brought under control as soon as possible, China must “strive to achieve the biggest prevention and control effect with the smallest cost, and minimize the impact of the Covid situation on economic and social development”.
On Thursday China reported over 2,600 new cases, and today over 2,400 new cases.

Canadian Embassador to UN amendments to Russian ambassador's letter  page 1

Canada are relaxing restrictions for incoming travellers. They will be dropping pre-arrival COVID testing for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada by the end of the month. Random testing will continue for now. 

The World Health Organisation and the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the health crisis in Ukraine.
"There is severe disruption to health services and access to basic commodities, as a result of widespread destruction of infrastructure, including health facilities.
WHO has verified 43 attacks on health care, with 12 people killed and 34 injured, including health workers."
They are very concerned about people with ongoing physical or mental health conditions, including people with HIV, TB, Cancer, and people in residential care.
"Displacement, poor shelter, and overcrowded living conditions caused by the conflict are likely to increase the risk of diseases such as measles, pneumonia and polio."
It is also worrying regarding COVID.
Access to clean water and electricity is limited, Oxygen-making facilities have closed, travel is dangerous and supply lines are broken. Despite this, the World Health Organisation has already delivered "100 metric tonnes of medical supplies, including oxygen, insulin, surgical supplies, anaesthetics, and blood transfusion kits – enough for 4,500 trauma patients and 450,000 primary health care patients, for one month".
They ask us not to forget:
"...although Ukraine is rightly the focus of the world’s attention, I urge you not to lose sight of the many other crises in which people are suffering.
In Afghanistan, more than half the population is in need, with widespread malnutrition and a surge in measles, among many other challenges.
In Ethiopia, the blockade of 6 million people in Tigray for almost 500 days has created a catastrophic food and health crisis.
In the Syrian Arab Republic, more than 12 million people are in need of health assistance, almost half of them children.
And in Yemen, roughly two-thirds of the population, more than 20 million people, are estimated to be in need of health assistance.
Mr President, in every case, the only solution is peace. Our world needs peace more than ever.
As if COVID is not enough, to have a devastating war like this is dangerous for the world."

Red Star Belgrade All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance

Red Star Belgrade football fans really made a point last night (in fact they made more than 1 point) by filling the stadium with giant banners listing wars since 1950, and the John Lennon song lyric "All we are saying is give peace a chance". Regrettably there are a good few more wars they could have listed there. (they listed wars with NATO /UK /US involvement - the political view in Serbia is not entirely NATO-friendly).

The Canadian delegation to the UN have published a letter sent by the Russian delegation - with amendments.
The Russian delegation claim to be rescuing Ukrainians and are requesting international help for them, because of their "dire humanitarian situation".
Well done to whoever completed the 'amendments' without just losing their temper. The letter is above and below... 

Canadian Embassador to UN amendments to Russian ambassador's letter  page 2

Psst. Vulnerable people. You are still important. Never think you don't matter. You matter here - all of you. When anyone in my family tests positive or is clearly ill, they'll be staying home. Today, tomorrow, next year. 

Hoax Of The Week:
The hoaxers are attempting to squeeze a little money out of us before home testing ends. It can look really authentic, but you will NOT be asked to pay for a test, or test delivery from the NHS, especially not via a message you receive as a surprise. It's a cruel hoax.
"If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, the NHS will not ask for payment or card details for you to book a test. 
You can report suspicious emails to the email address 'report at phishing dot gov dot uk' or by forwarding texts for free to 7726."

Famous People With COVID:
Zoe Ball, Disc Jockey, Celebrity Goggleboxer, and ex of Norman "Fat Boy Slim"  Cook. She's had to pull out of tonight's Comic Relief TV extravaganza. (Light relief might be just the thing we all need right now.)

170322 Ireland St Patricks Day in blue and yellow for Ukraine

It is the weekend! We have birthday celebrations, which are always great and feature cake, so it's a double win. I'll be back Sunday, but between now and then I will take time off. I'll not look at news and I'll be blissfully out of touch. I have that luxury. Anyone who doesn't have that luxury would value it so highly, so please take it, enjoy it, and value it yourself. It's been a hard week, things aren't going as we'd like in many ways, so you've earned a treat. Take that too.

If you don't have that luxury, I have every hope you will next week.

Stay Sensible, Don't Lick Strangers, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. Each has a face, a mind, fears and worries, hopes and dreams..

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

World 465,990,122 (+2,073,004) 6,087,487 (+6,064)

S. Korea 8,250,592 (+621,328) 11,481 (+429)

Germany 18,140,525 (+296,980) 127,072 (+242)

Vietnam 7,174,423 (+178,112) 41,683 (+76)

France 23,860,194 (+101,747)140,729 (+116)

UK 20,001,627 (+89,717) 163,386 (+138)

Italy 13,645,834 (+79,895) 157,442 (+128)

Japan 5,911,813 (+56,573) 26,600 (+158)

Netherlands 7,380,902 (+53,667) 21,755 (+19)

Australia 3,767,956 (+52,341) 5,665 (+26)

Austria 3,335,900 (+52,045) 15,320 (+31)

Brazil 29,527,640 +49,601656,487 (+484)

USA 81,350,883 (+35,474) 996,072 (+931)

Russia 17,484,257 (+34,819) 363,039 (+561)

Switzerland 3,238,685 (+29,249) 13,463 (+22)

Malaysia 3,927,437 (+27,004) 34,185 (+86)

Thailand 3,276,098 (+25,456) 23,998 (+77)

Greece 2,732,866 (+24,256) 26,792 (+62)

Hong Kong 996,862 (+21,650) 5,136 (+289)

Turkey 14,644,382 (+21,354) 96,954 (+101)

New Zealand 438,477 (+19,616) 135 (+10) 




Stolen Lives by Sasha Anisimova from Kharkiv

Sergey Grechaniuk

Children theatre overhead view Maxar

Inside Mariupol theatre

cover of Time magazine

Rue Buot Image - By Seth Globepainter in Paris, France.

Canadian UN letter with amendments

Police urge caution as St Patrick's Day celebrations return after pandemic

Image Ireland

"Italy is ready to rebuild the Theatre of Mariupol. The cabinet of Ministers has approved my proposal to offer Ukraine the resources and means to  rebuild it as soon as possible. Theaters of all countries belong to the whole humanity"

Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister for Culture.

And more data on prevalence

Hospitalisations England:

Delta vs Omicron

In US kids:

China builds 6000-bed COVID hospital


Japan buying vaccinations

Pfizer Antibody therapies

Hong Kong:

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