Friday 4 March 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd / 4th March 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 2nd / 3rd / 4th February 2022

UK Daily Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: +255,864 (average 36,552 per day)
In hospital yesterday Thursday 3rd March: 10,510
Using a ventilator 3rd March: 264
Losses of life last 7 days: +710 (daily average 101. Total 162,008)
Vaccinations 1st Dose: 52,654,053 (91.6% of age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd Dose: 49,061,567 (85.3%)
Boosted / 3rd Dose: 38,311,827 (66.6%)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,315,100 (+3,995) cases and 6,531 (+4) losses of life.

World: 442,971,521 reported cases and 6,004,789 losses of life.

040322 excess mortality UK

“Nobody believed in the modern world a human being could behave like a beast.”
Ukrainian President Zelensky speaking in person to journalist Trey Yingst yesterday.

Guess what I've got?
I'll give you a clue. It starts with a positive test and in most cases ends with a week on the sofa watching videos and feeling rough. Booo...
Couldn't roll that dice any longer and the inevitable has occurred. I lasted over 2 years talking about COVID before I got to try it, which I think is pretty good going for saying I live in Greater Manchester with 3 kids of various ages. I'm going for "would not recommend". I feel like I've been hit by a bus, everything hurts, so I think you'll spot the stories I wrote up before I got ill, and the other bits that are mostly headlines and soundbites... 

This week's UK COVID Surveillance Report, which is based on people testing positive, shows:

- 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, lowest in the North West.
- the South East has the highest number of hospital admissions (per 100,000)

Ukraine street artist  Lee

Latest infection survey data from ONS. This is the random sampling data, so it doesn't rely on symptoms or testing and is likely to be more accurate, especially regarding cases (with copy pasted quotes from the COVID Actuaries, because I'm ill and I am honestly incapable of maths), shows "a significant fall in NI, and smaller falls in E and W, but a further increase in S for the 5th consecutive week".
E from 3.8% to 3.6%
W from 3.2% to 3.1%
NI from 7.2% to 5.8%
S from 4.6% to 5.3%
For week ending 26th February, the number of people in the community with COVID is estimated to be:
England 1,933,500 or around 1 in 30.
Wales 94,200 or around 1 in 30.
Northern Ireland 106,300 or around 1 in 17.
Scotland 280,500 or around 1 in 19.
"With half term over, recent sharp falls in school ages has halted, but elsewhere there's continuation of recent slow declines, except possibly in the oldest age group."

The legal requirement for health and social care staff in the UK to be double jabbed will be removed from 15 March.
There was a public consultation on this, and 90% of responses said they wanted the ruling revoked. I find it hard to believe that reflects public opinion accurately, I think people who didn't want the vaccination mandate were probably more likely to speak up, but an overwhelming decision anyway. 

"Hospital admissions with COVID-19 are up 7% week-on-week with significant increases in the last few days. The change in trajectory is apparent in all English regions. The fastest increase is in the South West (up 17%)."
COVID Actuaries. Best keep an eye on that... 

040322 COVID UK HSA case rates per 100000

We're well aware that Long COVID is going to be a problem.
A US study has found nerve damage may be responsible for some of the symproms - which is hopeful as it offers us more options for treatment. The study only examined 17 people, but 10 of them (almost 60%) had nerve damage.
Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author on the study:
"I think what's going on here is that the nerves that control things like our breathing, blood vessels and our digestion in some cases are damaged in these long COVID patients."
Crikey Anne, that was your big moment, and that's your quote?

Vaccine protection against Omicron for children is not looking fabulous over time, but we do have varying results on this.
To be honest vaccination isn't particularly effective at stopping you catching Omicron variant COVID whatever your age, but our first not-yet-peer-reviewed study of 852,384 fully-vaccinated 12-17 year olds and 365,502 fully vaccinated 5-11 year olds in New York found:
Vaccine efficacy (effectiveness) against catching COVID
- declined from 66% to 51% for those 12-17 years by 4-5 weeks
-  declined from 68% to 12% for those 5-11 years by 4-5 weeks
Vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation also had a big drop, but thankfully remains far more effective, and means it IS still worth doing (and don't forget vaccination reduces risk of Long COVID substantially too):
- declined from 85% to 73% for children 12-17 years by 4-5 weeks
- declined from 100% to 48% for those 5-11 years by 4-5 weeks.
The second not-yet-peer-reviewed study by the CDC looked at protection against hospitalisation due to the Omicron variant, among health adolescents aged 5-17, including what happened when kids were given a booster. This data was taken from 10 US states:
"Two doses protect against COVID-19–associated emergency department and urgent care encounters among children and adolescents. However, vaccine effectiveness (VE) was lower during Omicron predominance and decreased with time since vaccination; a booster dose restored VE to 81% among adolescents aged 16–17 years. Overall, 2-dose VE against COVID-19–associated hospitalization was 73%–94%."
That's better... 

040322 COVID UK HSA hospital admissions per 100000

Only 12 people turned up in Washington for the US anti-vaccine mandate truck convoy gathering. Yes, twelve. 12. T.W.E.L.V.E. That's not exactly huge is it? It's true, I've seen the photos. Considering how hyped up it was, all those thousands of tweets and retweets, that's pretty astounding...

There is a lack of trolling on the internet at the moment - except when it's talking about the invasion of Ukraine. There are some suggestions this is partly because the Russia bots have all been told to focus on backing Russian forces.
Notably there was very little posted about the vaccination mandate truck convoys in USA. I'm not buying it that they all realised there are more important things to complain about. I think they were never ever really much of a thing at all, it was mainly paid hype. Makes me wonder who was really stirring that up (presumably Russia), and why....?

"The UK has now donated over 300,000 vital medical supplies to Ukraine after another plane flew out this morning.
We stand with the people of Ukraine and continue to take every opportunity to give them the support they need."
Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary.
After the UK's history of counting individual gloves and other items in the past, 300,000 could mean 18,000 boxes of paracetamol. I hope it is more substantial (oxygen Sajid, they need oxygen!)

Olympic Hopefuls:
Sadly for the athletes involved, Russia and Belarus are not allowed to take part in the Paralympic Games. At first it was suggested athletes could participate under a neutral flag, but that was not a popular choice.
Happily Paralympians from Ukraine will be competing. They had already sent a full team of 20 athletes and 9 guides. A very small ray of sun among a sky of dark clouds. 

Anonymous image of all countries supporting Ukraine, shown as colourful fishh compared to Russia's Shark

Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation gave a pretty emotional speech at the briefing the other day.
"In Ukraine, there's 2,000 people that need oxygen to survive. If anything that number has gone up, because we have people with injuries, people undergoing surgery who need oxygen, we've children with childhood pneumonia, we've women in difficulties."
He went on to say that:
 " COVID, oxygen is lifesaving - full stop. You need it when you need it, you can’t wait until tomorrow for oxygen. You can't wait until next week. You can't be put on a waiting list for oxygen.
You can't stand in a queue for oxygen, oxygen saves your life right now, and Ukraine needs that.
If we do not get oxygen into the system and other critical drugs, people will die needlessly.
Well, they're dying needlessly to start with, but when you see nurses mechanically ventilating infants in basements of hospitals, you know, even the toughest of us, we struggle to watch that...."
(Me too.)
He went on to refer to the nurses as heroes, and talk about the people in a potentially worse position, very sick adults who can't be carried downstairs to the basement, and the people caring for them.
"I just could not believe the bravery of those frontline health workers, and they're a shining example to the world..."

There has been a lot of press regarding the release of Pfizer's vaccine trial data. There have also been some scary social media posts, so let's address it.
1. First of all - there really is nothing there which we didn't already know. Lots of new people didn't suddenly get vaccinated and die. EVERYTHING in there is in the public eye already.
2. Yes - there is a huge list of different reported 'adverse events' within a couple of weeks of vaccination - 1,291. If you go through them, as I have twice now, you'll find a lot of it goes like this:
Injection site swelling
Injection site pain
Injection site redness
Injection site soreness
Injection site tenderness
Injection site itching...
Broken leg
Bruised ribs
Black eye
You get the picture.
When you hone it down, there are only a handful of more serious side effects that can be attributed as likely due to the vaccination, (each of those listed under several slightly different names) and I'd like to think we are well aware of them now.
3. Yes, thousands of people (42,086) reported adverse events. But literally millions (over 84 million) were Pfizer vaccinated during the same period, so it's still very few, and most adverse events were very mild and short-lived. We know that just by telling people they've had a vaccination, a significant number will develop very mild 'side effects'.
4. People are incorrectly saying 3% of people who had the jab died. WRONG. 3% of people who reported adverse events died.
5. Yes, 3% of those with adverse events (1,223 people) died very soon after being vaccinated - but 84 million people were vaccinated. Naturally lots of people would coincidentally have succumbed within a couple of weeks of vaccination.
6. Some lovely person called BitAnon on Substack has kindly done the maths, because it is beyond me at this point (4.52pm Friday, I'm flagging) Equation 1: risk of side effects = total case reports / total doses administered = 42,086/84,294,472 ~= 0.0005 * 100 = 0.05% (1 person reported an adverse event for every 2 doses - mostly 'soreness at injection site')
Equation 2: risk of death = total reported fatalities / total doses administered = 1,223/84,294,472 ~= 0.000015 * 100 = 0.0015% (1 death for every 68,924 doses)
That sounds horrific, but remember it should be anyone who died during that period. Around 25 people per million (1 in 40,000) will die each day in UK conditions, so really you'd expect it to be higher, and we may not even have all 'adverse events' reported.
(Note: as the number of fully vaccinated people was very low at the time, these calculations assume all vaccinations were first doses to unique individuals.)
7. The clear and important figures here are that your chance of becoming very ill or worse after vaccination is waaaay smaller than your chance of becoming very ill through catching COVID.  

040322 COVID UK HSA hospital admissions per 100000 by age

Special message for anyone who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and anyone who is especially vulnerable to COVID. You are still important. YOU DO MATTER. I'm isolating, and as long as I'm here and COVID exists, I'll always isolate if I catch it.

Joe Biden on Wednesday announced longer term plans for dealing with COVID in the USA - the COVID Preparedness Plan - which includes a "Test To Treat" initiative. The USA will be buying a steady stream of millions more antiviral and monoclonal antibody doses, and aims to get them to patients who need them very quickly, by dramatically speeding up testing and prescriptions.
“We’re launching the ‘Test to Treat’ initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they’re positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.”

Twice sacked ex-UK Education Minister and star of 1980's comedy "Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em" Gavin Williamson has been made a Knight. Its probably either for his fabulous job making up all of those heavily weighted A level and GCSE exam results, or for not snitching to Sue Grey about all the parties. Thought they'd sneak that one out behind a war. I think they're in danger of making knighthoods a bit rubbish...
(N.B. the almost immediate provision of at-home learning via the Internet for the UK's school children was amazing work - by all who were actually involved). 

More great results from the UK's Recovery Trial.
"Baricitinib inhibits JAK1 and JAK2, enzymes that are important in regulating the immune system’s response.
That means like the corticosteroid dexamethasone and the IL-6 inhibitor tocilizumab, this is another drug that targets the host’s immune response not the virus."
Kai Kupferschmit, German Science Journalist, commenting on a successful new drug trial. Baricitinib has been exciting people for a while, and it can be used on top of the other 2 COVID drugs (Dexamethasone and Tocilizumab, adding to the effect and saving even more lives.
"Adding everything together in a metanalysis, the authors estimate a 20% reduction in mortality."

How to look after your Mental Health UK NHS if you are struggling

WHO has added molnupiravir antiviral medicine to their list of treatments for COVID.
Like the UK, WHO suggests that molnupiravir is only provided to non-severe COVID-19 patients with the highest risk of hospitalisation - e.g. people who have not received a COVID19 vaccination, older people, people with immunodeficiencies & people living with chronic diseases like diabetes.
Because it's a new drug, molnupiravir shouldn't be given to children, or anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Our mental health is taking a battering right now. We've got COVID, climate change and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The World Health Organisation have just reported that the COVID-19 pandemic alone has triggered a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.
If you are struggling, do not be alone - there are lots of people you can talk to, starting with your own mates. They might be a lot more understanding than you imagine.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is support available across the country. Find your local 24/7 urgent helpline at NHS dot UK / UrgentMentalHealth

It is the weekend. I'm going to spend another couple of days lounging around in my pyjamas and hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll be a bit more myself. I've got cheesecake, so it'll do for my treat because right now everything that touches me hurts, so I'm very grumpy. Hahaha. Don't forget your own treat!
We have all earned it, even if you think someone else might have had a harder week than you.

No numbers tonight because I'm out of time, space, and eyesight... Back Sunday all being well....

Choose Peace, We Are ALL People, Save The NHS. 


Amazing image

COVID surveillance report:

More Long COVID

Mental health images




Oxygen WHO

Dr Mike Ryan  the bravery of healthworkers.

Vaccination and kids

Pfizer data

Pfizer jab data and misinformation.

Mps pay

Omicron accounts for over 99% of UK cases now, and all the evidence (study and anecotal) suggests far more people have symptoms that keep you poorly for a few days, but far less people become seriously ill.

I can confirm it gives you an awful dull headache, a temperature, and the runniest of runny noses and congestion - and it makes you tired. So very tired.

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