Friday 22 April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20/21/22 April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 20/21/22 April 2022

UK COVID Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: 185,625 (average 26,517 per day lollity lol - see ONS figures below)
Admitted to hospital with COVID in the last 7 days: 13,752 (I've added this measurement because it seems more useful now than case numbers, bearing in mind many people are only in hospital overnight or for a couple of days)
In hospital yesterday: 16,447 (down significantly from 19,028 eight days earlier)
Using a ventilator yesterday: 339 (down slightly on 355 eight days earlier)
Losses of life last 7 days: 1,956
Total losses of life within 28 days of a positive test: 173,352
Total losses of life with COVID listed as a cause on the death certificate: 190,124
Tests last 7 days: 2,237,478 (average 319,639 per day)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 53,087,904
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 49,661,362
Boosted / 3rd dose / Spring Boosters: 39,125,015

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,509,536 (+1,163) cases and 6,996 (+3) losses of life.

World: 508,147,148 reported cases and 6,237,847 losses of life.

220422 ONS hospital admissions and deaths by age

"In the longer term we should expect millions of people to catch covid each year with the consequence that we have a population that is generally less healthy both from the burden of covid infection itself and the long-term consequences of long covid."
Kit Yates, member of UK indieSAGE advisory group, spelling out "Living With COVID" in plain English.  

This week's UK Government COVID surveillance comes with a warning that universal free testing in England has ended: "As such, there will be a reduction in the reporting of data obtained through Pillar 2 from April 2022 onwards. Data in this report should be interpreted in the context of this change to testing. Public health guidance remains in place for cases and their close contacts."
It's frankly pretty useless.
Much more trustworthy is the ONS (Office for National Statistics) random sampling. Estimates suggest 3.76 million people in UK had COVID in the week ending 16 April. A massive number, but still about 15% down on the previous week (gulp!):
England, continued decrease, estimate 3,218,700 people had COVID-19, equating to 5.90% of the population or around 1 in 17 people.
Wales, decrease, estimate 198,400 people had COVID-19, equating to 6.53% of the population or around 1 in 15 people.
Northern Ireland, continued decrease, estimate 65,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 3.56% of the population or around 1 in 30 people.
Scotland, continued decrease, estimate 281,400 people had COVID-19, equating to 5.35% of the population or around 1 in 19 people.
646 losses of life were reported yesterday, which will be artificially inflated due to the Easter break, but it is still very grim.

220422 ONS estimates total 1 in 17 had COVID in England

First it looked like Boris was going to tell us all to just forget about the results of the Downing Street Lockdown Party Season, he even suggested it wouldn't be important to "voters". Then Conservatives stopped attempting to block a vote about whether Boris lied about it. By mid afternoon Thursday Boris had "nothing to hide", and then the vote took place - except it didn't have to because it was clear it was going to win.  Boris was attempting to just carry on while this was happening, saying on Sky News:
"I think people want us to get on with the job of taking the country forward."
Well, obviously that would be great, if we were headed in the right direction and we thought you were actually sorry amd wouldn't either lie or party during lockdown in future.
There will now be an investigation into whether Boris lied to Parliament, or if he's really as dim as December in Tromsø.
The Metropolitan Police want nothing to do with it for now. They've said they won't be making any more announcements about further investigations (12 events are being investigated) or fines (over 50 issued so far) until after the May 5th local elections... erm... because it wouldn't be right to potentially sway public opinion by telling them who is a law-breaker before they vote... riiiiiight... 

Sky News and other media worldwide is reporting on the fabulous news that we have a whole world 20% drop in the  week on week number of COVID deaths and infections. While this is great news - receive it with caution. We have a lot of incredibly important religious festivals getting in the way of admin, plus, who wants to take a random test and miss the celebrations or the family get together? No-one. Testing will be waaay down, but reporting will be too. Let's celebrate in a week or two if it's still on a downward slope.

220422 ONS hospitalisations

We are all well aware vaccination will not necessarily make us "immune" to catching COVID - although it does prevent the vast majority of us becoming very poorly. We are also well aware we can catch COVID multiple times (even twice at once). We really aren't sure how often reinfection happens, whether it occurs more often with different variants (seems likely), or how quickly we can be reinfected after recovery. A healthcare worker in Spain has taken us a bit closer to the annoying truth, by testing positive for Omicron 20 days (just under 3 weeks) after testing positive for Delta. That's horrendously quick, and if she hadn't had the strains genome tested, we'd probably all assume she simply still had the same infection. She tested positive the first time just 10 days after having her booster jab, so the second time she really should have been well placed to avoid infection all together. Darnit. 

Kit Yates, indieSAGE member and Mathematical Biologist at the University of Bath, has hit back at Jacob Rhys-Mogg's declaration that civil servants should get back into the office. It is in direct contradiction to a report from the Institute for Government published in February, which is hilariously titled "The government would be wrong to force civil servants back to the office full-time". You can't really be clearer. The report mentions that they'll struggle to recruit good staff, as people in the main like the new style of hybrid working (where they don't have to trek into town 5 days a week with a 2 hour commute each way). Getting everyone back in the office risks outbreaks - "Living with COVID" says it all. We have to live WITH it, it still exists.
"It smacks of a government that is desperate to put the whole covid pandemic behind them by simply ignoring what is happening."
He goes on to say that if we are going to knowingly put more burden on the NHS, we need to fund it properly at the very least.
Can I add that there's also the small matter of the environment, which has benefitted from less needless travel. We all understand that we need to use less fuel, it's not rocket science. 

As a reminder that the UK Government couldn't organise a breadfight in a Warburton's bakery, the National Audit Office has discovered that UK quarantine hotels have cost the taxpayer £400m - and that includes £92m from unpaid room bills (£74m) and people fraudulently claiming the cost back from their credit cards (£18m).
It is beyond belief that this has gone so incredibly wrong. The cost of quarantine was/is £2,285 (one adult for 10 days/11 nights, including hotel, meals, airport transfer and tests), so I'm not surprised people have failed to pay. It probably represents fair value, but it's a lot of money. Many people arriving home from red list countries didn't have any possibility of paying. I'm pretty certain anyone reading this now could have arranged a better solution. It's like Test & Trace all over again... 

Variant Watch:
- The majority of cases in the UK are currently Omicron BA.2, which is outnumbering the old Omicron BA.1 by around 1.7x, so not quite double yet, but increasing and expected to take over.
- Omicron BA.4 makes the list for the first time, with 1,294 cases detected in the UK (all but 1 in England). There is no evidence it is any more severe, or even more catchy. It is early days, it was only first spotted in February, but reassuring that it's barely making an impact.
- We have a new Omicron sub-variant which has arrived, possibly from the USA where it accounts for around 1/5th of new cases. BA2.12.1 - which sounds like a roadie testing a sound system. Initial estimates have this as substantially more catchy (boo), and it is increasing in prevalence in the United States, and likely to be fuelling a resurgence of infections in New York.  It is also a feature in India, where it looks likely to be causing a resurgence in infections in Delhi. Just 5 cases have so far been identified in the UK, so it doesn't make our lists yet. It doesn't look more severe, just a lot more catchy, but it's too early to say anything for definite, including exactly why it's spreading so well. Time will tell us more. It is something to watch.
- Finally the best news. Remember Mu!? It did look like it might be troublesome and potentially more deadly when it first arrived, but just couldn't keep up the pace, and has now been deemed "provisionally extinct". Tarah Mu.

220422 ONS cases by age

More on the strange Hepatitis affecting children, mainly very young children aged 1 to 5. More cases have been identified - the latest count from the UK is 108, and a second US state, North Carolina, has reported cases now. The US CDC has issued an alert. Already cases have been identified in Alabama, plus Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain. It's not good, and several children have required a liver transplant.
The main suspect is an adenovirus, the type that causes a heavy, possibly chesty, cold - but as yet we just don't know what is causing it, so nothing can be ruled out. A lot of scientists are wondering if possibly a boring old Adenovirus has mutated to cause this, or youngsters who have spent a lot of their life in lockdown have missed out on building their immunity - in which case I'd be having a hard stare at places where lockdowns have been long and robust - such as New Zealand. A quick look at US states doesn't really prove much - Alabama was mid table for how hard they locked down, and North Carolina was quite hard. 

As a reminder, Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, and it prevents it from cleaning up all of the garbage in our blood, so the toxins build up. Hepatitis can be genetic, but otherwise it usually affects adults, and can be caused by poisoning yourself with drink or drugs, or some chemicals. It can also be caused by a virus, but this unusual Hepatitis does not match any of the normal types A-E.
Symptoms can include:
- flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, body aches)
- abdominal pain (especially in the right upper quadrant)
- light-colored poo
- itchy skin
- dark urine
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)

A UK patient had COVID for a staggering 505 days, which is an incredibly long period of time. They were already unwell, with a compromised immune system and sadly died eventually. Persistent COVID is the subject of a conference in Portugal this weekend - where discussions are expected about the importance of protecting vulnerable patients. The longer COVID replicates, the more chances we have of creating new and exciting variants - most of which we really don't want. 

maggie keenan NHS spring Booster jabs

Hoax Of The Week:
COVID is not caused by snake venom in the drinking water.
A video making the claim has millions of views and is being shared widely elsewhere in the world... erm, no. It's a truly fantastic hoax, and I don't think it'll be believed by very many people in the UK - especially as it would be ridiculously hard to pull off. Our only poisonous snake is the Adder, and there really aren't very many of them. 

No real surprise, the US Justice Department is attempting to overturn the Florida judge's ruling and reinstate mask mandates for public travel. The ruling was overturned on Tuesday, on the grounds that the CDC didn't have the authority to implement it. The whole thing is so politically charged, it really is incredible. How a nation of 332 million people can be so divided over a health matter depending on who they vote for is staggering.

Remember Margaret Keenan? Maggie was the first person who wasn't involved in a trial to be vaccinated in the whole world - and today she had her Spring booster. Poor woman can't get stabbed without a camera crew present. She's been taking notes too - I reckon she'd had her hair done and she was wearing a very smart short sleeved top! The sunshine clearly suits her, she looked 10 years younger... I won't mention the fact the photos show her without a mask being vaccinated, and then wearing a mask standing with a group of nursing staff (above)... noooo, I won't mention that at all... 

It is Earth Day - and we are reminded that we all live together on one big rock floating around in space. Whatever we do affects everything else living on our planet. Tiny actions of one individual can add up to have huge effects. Your reusable or paper shopping bag may seem insignificant, but millions of plastic bags not being created makes a real difference. 

The UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) has given Sir David Attenborough the distinguished accolade of Champion of the Earth. Sadly that alone isn't going to ensure it's still habitable for our Great Grandchildren, but we now have more whales in the sea than 50 years ago, and national treasure David can rightly claim some credit for that. He has taught us all to respect our environment and the creatures within it, even if we haven't always heeded that advice. 

It is also the weekend! Hurrah...  We made it through another week, and the COVID numbers are going down in the UK, regardless of Easter reporting. As the situation has calmed, I shall move to two COVID reports each week - on Tuesday and Friday - which is very different to 2 years ago when I was reporting daily. We've come an incredibly long way in a very short space of time. I guess life will never be exactly the same as it was before COVID arrived, but we are rapidly moving towards a place where it doesn't control us any more - eventually we will be almost entirely in charge.

Don't forget to treat yourself - I shall be treating myself (and my family) to some time off from packing and sorting. A relaxing movie night off is a necessity rather than a pleasure, and my first drink is poured...

Some numbers. Each is a person, very much like you or me, and connected to us in ways we can barely begin to understand...

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):

S. Korea 16,755,055 (+81,010) 21,873 (+206)

Italy 16,008,181 (+73,212) 162,466 (+202)

Germany 23,987,618 (+72,181) 134,434 (+150)

Australia 5,612,854 (+48,984) 6,939 (+46)

Japan 7,535,033 (+47,409) 29,201 (+50)

Thailand 4,128,038 (+21,808) 27,523 (+128)

UK 21,933,206 (+11,393) 173,352 (+320)

Vietnam 10,544,324 (+11,160) 42,998 (+7)

New Zealand 870,591 (+9,473) 610 (+10)

Russia 18,119,862 (+9,001) 374,563 (+195)

Austria 4,092,513 (+8,155) 17,057

Greece 3,273,382 (+7,014) 28,839 (+31)

Taiwan 47,100 (+3,859) 856

Netherlands 8,035,603 (+2,628) 22,206 (+9)

Czechia 3,892,504 (+2,164) 40,058 (+8)

China 196,086 (+2,133) 4,674 (+11)

Hungary 1,890,953 (+2,047) 46,048 (+24)



US lockdown comparison


"Scientists probe lockdown link to child hepatitis mystery"

Persistent COVID:


Snake Venom:

Maggie Keenan

Quarantine hotels:


  1. Thank you for adding the hospital cases, totally agree that it is the only accurate measure that we have now.

  2. Well done, I agree that hospital admissions are the only way to assess this outbreak now

    1. Thanks Michael - that's much appreciated. Cases really is just some sort of guideline number now. It's a shame we won't have a kinder gauge, it's a bit grim!


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