Friday 29 April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th/ 28th/ 29th April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th/ 28th/ 29th April 2022

UK COVID Official Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: 105,331 (average 15,047 per day)
Admitted to hospital with COVID in the last 7 days: 9,493 (significantly down from  13,752 a week earlier)
In hospital yesterday: 13,027 (down from 16,447 a week earlier)
Using a ventilator yesterday: 302 (down from 339 a week earlier)
Losses of life last 7 days: 1,560 (average 223 per day, significantly down on 1,956 a week earlier)
Total losses of life within 28 days of a positive test: 174,912
Total losses of life with COVID listed as a cause: 191,277
Tests last 7 days: 2,158,217 (average 308,316 per day)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 53,184,869
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 49,727,305
Boosted / 3rd dose / Spring Boosters: 39,248,005

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,516,153 cases and 7,076 losses of life.

World: 512,394,235 reported cases and 6,257,163 losses of life.

Immunosuppressed booster time test and image of syringe and vaccine vials

"For fans of important things quietly collapsing - it's worth taking a glance at the NHS England ambulance time data.
The headline Category 1s  - "immediate life-threatening": times are rising above standards but don't look utterly terrifying.
Category 2s. These are still critically important; "needing rapid assessment and transport": includes intense chest pain and strokes. So a *mean* [most common average] pushing past an hour is ... terrifying. And in the South West: *mean* was 1hr 53 minutes with 90th %ile waits at 4hr 31 (not a typo). [10% of category 2 people waited 4hr31m or longer.]
Category 3s & 4s are similarly horrific, with SW again the worst (a Cat 3 "urgent problem requiring treatment in an acute setting" having a *mean* of over 6 hours).
All numbers are by some way the worst since the categories were introduced in 2017. "Collapse" seems fair."
Paul Mainwood, Head Of Strategy And Planning at Innocent Drinks, Philosophical Physicist Oxford Uni.
That's the bad news, now the better news... 

This week's UK Health Security Agency (HSA) COVID Surveillance Report for England shows decrease in hospital admissions in all age groups and all areas. Genuine good news.
The North East and people over age 85 have the highest amount of hospital admissions this week.

The ONS Infection Survey shows we have about a whopping 24% drop in cases in the community since last week!! Whoot! That's awesome. A mere 2.87 million people in UK had coronavirus in the week ending 23 April (yes, I am taking the pee, I am aware 2.87m is still very very lots).
- England, continued decrease, estimate 2,408,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 4.42% of the population or around 1 in 25 people.
- Wales, continued decrease, estimate 172,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 5.67% of the population or around 1 in 18 people.
- Northern Ireland, trend uncertain, estimate 74,700 people had COVID-19, equating to 4.07% of the population or around 1 in 25 people.
- Scotland, continued decrease, estimate 218,000 people had COVID-19, equating to 4.14% of the population or around 1 in 25 people.

Fully vaccinated UK children aged 5 and over can now get an NHS COVID Pass letter for travel. It can be requested via the NHS website or by calling 119. 

Test as title and brightly coloured drawn image of adult and 2 children

For the first time, UK surveillance has detected more cases of Omicron BA.2 than regular Omicron. We knew this was likely, it appears to be a lot more catchy, but the good news is that cases are currently still going down rapidly, so we'll keep an eye on that, but there's hope it could mean anyone who has had regular Omicron isn't likely to catch it? Fingers crossed. Remember they only randomly test a percentage, they don't check every single positive case. 
Regular Omicron (VOC-21NOV-01/B.1.1.529) 2,177,997 (+11,676)
Omicron BA.2 (VOC-22JAN-01 / B.1.1.529.BA.2) 406,955 (+15,215)
V-22APR-02 (V-22APR-02 / B.1.1.529.XE) 1,371 (+77)
Delta - none. 

Strange Hepatitis In Kids Update:
Asia and Canada have now reported cases. The child in Japan tested negative for Adenovirus (I have seen several articles which state it can be hard to spot - especially if you aren't looking for it straight away) and they were also negative for COVID (which we all know can be tricky to spot), so neither can be ruled out.
We also have over 100 cases in the UK, and the US now has confirmed cases in Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The World Health Organisation says there are around 200 in total. 
In affected children with this liver condition usual diarrhoea and vomiting becomes severe, causing dehydration, followed by yellowing of the skin and the whites of their eyes. Diarrhoea and vomiting are sadly a normal part of human life, and our body's response whenever it feels it has ingested a poison, or doesn't think it has the capacity to cope with whatever it's going through and needs to cut back on immediately inessential jobs like digesting food (which is why a lot of pregnant people are ill when they go into labour, and the same when you're scared - you might need your energy and stomach muscles for running). Becoming severely dehydrated and turning yellow is NOT a normal thing to happen.
While this Hepatitis of unknown origin is seen as a new phenomenon, I have found a (not-yet-peer-reviewed) study from India last October with 47 children who presented with Hepatitis - which they saw as a direct result of COVID, and theorised may be due to the Delta variant. 

The GP situation in the UK is now so bad that pharmacists in Wales will be able to prescribe some medicines in order to try and clear the backlog. Some pharmacists in certain areas of England already provide this service, but this is the first whole country rollout. If successful it is likely to be expanded to other UK nations.

On Wednesday the High Court ruled that the UK Government had acted unlawfully by failing to protect vulnerable care home residents who died from COVID. Principally this is in regard to discharging patients back home when they knew they were or may be infected, and could therefore infect everyone else living in the same accommodation. It was always a really stupid thing to do, and obviously had murderous results. Between March and June 2020 alone, over 20,000 of our most vulnerable care home residents died from COVID. 

Collage of 4 blocks of test explaining that vaccines are safe and effective

"Pandemic restrictions may have gone, but the impact of poor health on lives & livelihoods is ever present. New IPPR analysis shows that 400k are missing from the workforce since the pandemic due to ill health, long covid & declining mental health – with an £8bn hit to the economy."
The UK's IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) are calling for reforms, rather than a return to the previous 'status quo'. They have launched the Commission on Health and Prosperity, to collect evidence which supports their "fundamental hypothesis: that a fairer country is a healthier one, and that a healthier country is a more prosperous one".

It seems the National Crime Agency really are investigating where the UK's PPE money went. Baroness Michelle Mone (who usually makes frilly knickers) and moreso her husband are involved with a company called PPE Medpro, which won £203m in PPE contracts in 2020, and her home is one of several properties raided this week. I am doubting they found either £200m or a huge warehouse full of PPE waiting to be shipped out... they did however seize documents and computers. Her spokesperson seems to have been on the shandies, because their official comment to The Mirror newspaper was:
“Well done to PPE Medpro in supplying vital equipment to the NHS to fight this dreadful virus!”
Erm.... yeah... 

Parents of children who are extremely clinically vulnerable are reminding us that their kids still can't attend school in person, as it's simply not safe. If ever there was a case for free daily testing... this also applies to children with parents and siblings who, for whatever reason, can't develop immunity to COVID. Sure life comes with risks, but some risks are too big to take, and the outcome if it went wrong would be incredibly damaging to all involved.

EVERYONE who will always be especially vulnerable to COVID still matters. You are important, and you still deserve protection, and care.

290422 daily update UK Gov

We all know that many Governments have been a bit "creative" with their COVID figures. A new paper (not yet peer reviewed) published by the Royal Statistical Society looks at "Underdispersion". This is where numbers are too alike or regular to be realistic. They can be caused by things beyond our control, like reaching the limits on testing or a healthcare system which is overwhelmed, or they can be a little more sinister.
Russia is among the nations which do look a bit suspect - from February 17th until March 6th they reported just under 800 deaths from COVID each day, with no variation at all for weekends or random events. People simply don't die like that. If we look back at last year, Russia reported just under 800 deaths per day from about July 17th to September 22nd. One look at the chart and you can see the line is too straight, it doesn't look like those from other countries, nor does it look right compared to the rest of Russia's own reports. Their peak over Winter seems odd too - it is a perfect curve up to a 1,253 peak, with no randomly high or low days.
The report found "Seventeen countries showed underdispersion in reported deaths, and three more in reported cases." This is from a total of 237 countries and territories. The questionable ones were - Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, Egypt, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Venezuela, with underdispersion in reported cases in Qatar, Tajikistan and UAE, and underdispersion in weekly reported deaths in Belarus and Nicaragua. For some of these countries funding and lack of medical access will have caused this, but with the wealthier nations it is more likely to be deliberate interference. 

Moderna have asked the US FDA to authorise their vaccine for children under age 6. For some reason people are gulping at this, but honestly so far safety has been very much the same for any trials involving people aged 24 or below, so it's an obvious next step - and young children are who we usually give most vaccines to, so it isn't unusual. As time progresses and we are seeing more long term damage from COVID in people of all ages, it makes a lot of sense.

 Still on the US, and Dr Anthony Fauci, Donald Trump's least favourite Chief Medical Advisor, has said that the USA has passed the "acute component of the pandemic phase."
Let's hope that doesn't come back to bite him... 

Taiwan COVID cases chart from Worldometer - showing flat line and sudden turn to a virtual wall
The downfall of Taiwan, courtesy of Worldometer

Meanwhile in Denmark, they're so sure they have COVID under control that they have suspended their vaccination programme - the first country in the world to do so. The Danish Health Authority said “Spring has arrived, vaccine coverage in the Danish population is high, and the epidemic has reversed.”
Fingers crossed guys. I really hope that doesn't come back to bite you... 

Taiwan has really lost control of COVID - another 12,313 cases reported today takes the total over 100,000 (see image above with data up until 2 days ago). Chinese mainland is really the only place left attempting Zero COVID.

Talking of China.... Shanghai is still under lockdown, and last night hundreds of flights to/from the Chinese megacity of Guangzhou were cancelled as they began testing all 5.6 million people - after discovering a single COVID case.
Hangzhou (near Shanghai) has ordered that 9.4 million residents (3/4 of the population) must be tested every 48 hours to access public areas and public transport.
The Shanghai lockdown has reportedly caused the deaths of well over 100 people from lack of food or medicine, and thousands of others are asking for leniency, as office workers in the financial districts have been living on site for the last month in order to carry on working. They haven't been allowed to step outside the building since March 28th.

I have maintained my list of places in the world that claim to be free from COVID, and it is a very short list indeed. In mid January Tonga had their first case after their horrific earthquake (they have now had 10,065 cases and lost 11 people), and the rest of the list read Kiribati, Nauru, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Tuvalu (Turkmenistan had just locked down for the 2nd time).
Kiribati have now had 3,080 cases and lost 13 people
Nauru have had 4 cases
North Korea still claim zero cases
Turkmenistan still claim zero cases
Tuvalu still claim zero cases
Frankly from that list, I'm only confident Tuvalu is entirely COVID-free (Nauru and Tuvalu are island nations fairly near to Papua New Guinea, whereas Turkmenistan is next to Iran and Afghanistan).

290422 daily deaths from COVID in Russia underdispersion
Underdispersion in reported daily deaths from COVID in Russia

The World Health Organisation are warning that aside from all of the regular diseases you find in war torn areas where people don't have free access to clean water and medical care, Ukraine is at risk of a measles epidemic. Vaccination rates are historically lower than most of Europe, and the war has interrupted vaccine schedules. Measles is really catchy (but well prevented by vaccination) so you really need around 95% coverage to prevent outbreaks.

The WHO and the UN are also warning about global food shortages due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Poorest nations are expected to be worst affected. Somalia for example imports around 90% of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and in the past 2 months barely any shipments have occurred.  The lockdown in Shanghai is not going to help this situation. Shanghai has the biggest export port in the world, and it's been mainly closed now for over 4 weeks. 

Several countries have now told their citizens to leave Moldova, as fighting has erupted in the Russian-supporting Transnistra area, including shelling. No-one has yet claimed responsibility, but sadly Russia may well be doing exactly what we were told they would, and attempting to "denazify" and "liberate" another region of the Earth. Moldova is not in the EU or NATO, and has no plans for joining them. It does have at least 100,000 Ukrainian refugees already, including 8,000 in the Transnistra region (UN figures) and now Moldovan citizens are internally fleeing Transnistra. The population of Moldova earlier this year was only around 3 million people. 

290422 Weekly hospital admissions Mary Ramsey says vaccinate

Scientists are predicting that by 2070 there will be thousands of people infected with exotic and potentially deadly diseases - as bats spread throughout the warming world. They predict around 15,000 transmissions of disease within the next 50 years. The bats and the climate are determined to win, and in the end they will. Not just yet though, humans most likely have a few thousand years left as long as we don't annihilate each other in the meantime, or forget how to make fire from twigs... 

For me personally, some excellent news, as my landlord has agreed to give us extra time to move. Our eviction has been postponed until Autumn - which is much more realistic. I am lucky. The UK Government said back in 2019 they would make 8 week non-fault eviction notices illegal, and since then 230,000 households have received one - I feel sorrow and anger for every one of them. Receiving that notice out of the blue really does feel like the Earth has been ripped from beneath your feet. 

It is the weekend - hurrah! It'll be a much better weekend here, so I feel like I already have my treat - don't forget yours. It's also a Bank Holiday, so many of us will have an extra day to shout at squabbling children and have a lie in. The weather is good - and playing outdoors is a boost for everyone's mental health, as well as their physical. Natural ventilation and virus-killing UV light are awesome, and free. Be sensible if you are planning DIY - this is the biggest weekend of the year for people injuring themselves with tools they don't know the name of. Remember, there's no shame in reading the instructions or wearing safety gear... promise.

I'll be back on Tuesday with the next COVID report.

Stay Sensible, Keep Both Eyes On The Hedge Trimmer, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. Each number has a family and friends.

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

World 512,104,242 (+644,243) 6,256,161 (+2,781)

Germany 24,608,074 (+119,832) 135,608 (+239)

Italy 16,349,788 (+69,204) 163,244 (+131)

France 28,542,884 (+59,760) 145,711 (+132)

S. Korea 17,144,065 (+57,439) 22,588 (+122)

USA 82,954,768 (+55,692) 1,020,159 (+247)

Australia 5,847,352 (+46,138) 7,163 (+50)

Japan 7,771,536 (+45,771) 29,467 (+65)

Finland 1,023,013 (+22,541) 3,939 (+301)

Brazil 30,418,920 (+19,916) 663,289 (+124)

Canada 3,741,119 (+15,346) 39,177 (+170)

Thailand 4,224,008 (+14,437) 28,274 (+127)

Taiwan 88,440 (+11,511) 860 (+2)

New Zealand 915,522 (+9,125) 683 (+12)

UK 22,025,925 (+8,247) 174,696 (+248)

Russia 18,167,281 (+7,681) 375,566 (+166)

Greece 3,309,962 (+7,580) 29,073 (+51)




Ambulances in England

"Denmark becomes the world’s first nation to suspend the COVID-19 vaccination campaign"


UK Gov Vaccines are safe


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