Tuesday 5 April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 4th / 5th April 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 4th / 5th April 2022

UK Daily Statistics - bear in mind that most people no longer qualify for free testing, and they'll be starting to run out of stockpiled lateral flow tests:
Cases last 7 days: 425,303 (average 60,757)
In hospital yesterday 4th April: 20,398 (UP from 19,118 a week earlier)
Using a ventilator yesterday: 351 (DOWN from 363 a week earlier)
Losses of life last 7 days: 1,174 (average 167 per day)
Losses of life total: 166,148
People with COVID listed as a cause on their death certificate up until 25th March: 187,929
Tests last 7 days: 4,148,840 (average 592,691 per day)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 52,837,997 (91.9% of UK age 12+)
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 49,488,642 (86.1%)
Boosted / 3rd dose: 38,881,391 (67.6%)
(Although hospitalisations/ventilator use is up, it is a smaller rise than last week. Are we reaching the peak of this wave? Let's hope so... )

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,477,112 (+2,738) cases and 6,805 (+6) losses of life.

World: 493,330,951 reported cases and 6,181,214 losses of life.

getting vaccinated is your best defence UK Government

Now that free testing has ended in England, the UK NHS list of COVID symptoms has been expanded. (Obviously those 2 things are entirely unrelated, I've no idea why I put them together like that.):
"Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:
- a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
- an aching body
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a blocked or runny nose
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea
- feeling sick or being sick"
Close inspection reveals the list for children is EXACTLY THE SAME, so that's handy.
Obviously any or even all of those symptoms still doesn't mean you have COVID, but you are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of COVID including a high temperature, or don't feel well enough to go to work or do normal activities.

"If you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, the Government will no longer send you a PCR test to keep at home.
You should be sent lateral flow tests by 12 April which can be used to report your results."
Not so much winding back PCR testing as attempting to stop it all together by the looks of it...  

050422 UK Daily stats

Vaccination in the UK has now expanded to include younger children:
"JCVI advises a non-urgent offer of two 10 mcg doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) to children aged 5 to 11 years of age who are not in a clinical risk group. The 2 doses should be offered with an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses.
The intention of this offer is to increase the immunity of vaccinated individuals against severe COVID-19 in advance of a potential future wave of COVID-19."
(Children in clinical risk groups already had their offer a while ago.)

I know a lot of people do, quite rightly, feel a bit worried about the safety of vaccinating younger children, especially when you hear things like "with children's vaccinations wait 3 months after testing positive for COVID in case it increases the risk of heart inflammation". (Even worse when I randomly say blood clots when I mean heart inflammation. I am sorry to anyone who panicked over that!). At first that does sound worrying, but it's literally a safety measure against a theoretical threat.
The best data on vaccine safety and heart inflammation - Myocarditis - that we have currently really is from the USA, where they've been vaccinating younger children for a while. Other countries have too now, so expect more data soon.
This quote is actually taken from the JCVI statement a few months ago, when they decided to offer vaccination to clinically vulnerable young people 5-11:
"The Pfizer-BioNTech paediatric COVID-19 vaccine is typically well tolerated, although local and systemic reactions following vaccination, such as fatigue, headache and injection site pain, are common in this age group. In the United States where over 8 million children in this age group have been vaccinated, 8 to 10% of persons reported at least one day absent from school following vaccination. Serious adverse events following vaccination are extremely rare in this age group. In the United States, less than 2 cases of vaccine-related myocarditis have been reported per million doses. The majority of cases of myocarditis were reported after the second dose. International data from adult programmes suggest that a longer interval between doses (greater than the 3 to 4-week schedule widely used in the United States) is associated with a lower reporting rate of myocarditis following vaccination. This association is expected to also apply to the paediatric dose and formulation when used in children."
We know catching COVID actually causes significantly more cases of Myocarditis, especially in younger people - most of them very mild and you might not ever know unless you were randomly scanned or were an athlete. So by waiting 3 months for vaccination after catching COVID, you are, in theory, just being cautious in case your child did have mild Myocarditis when they had COVID, and they are also the 1 in 500,000 who would have more severe and noticeable heart inflammation after vaccination. We don't have any evidence, but it could theoretically happen, and it does no harm to wait, so lets wait.

Health & Social Care Levy will pay for

INews have been investigating why the UK Government hasn't completed the purchase and distribution of 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca's monoclonal antibody drug Evusheld, for clinically extremely vulnerable people, including many with Cancer.
In trials Evushield reduced the chance of developing Covid by at least 77%, so was almost as effective as vaccination, and it was approved by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) last month. The UK Government are reportedly a bit wary because they aren't sure how it'll fare against Omicron, specifically Omicron BA.2.
As a rule most antibody treatments lost a little efficacy against Delta, and performed substantially worse against Omicron.
Well, luckily we have a pre-print study (not-yet-peer-reviewed) which is lab based, and found that against Omicron BA.2 "the activity of Evusheld is significantly improved (fold change increase ~10 compared to BA.1)".
Fold change basically means "times" twofold is twice, threefold is three times etc. The wavy line means "around about", so "~10-fold" means "around about 10 times as much".
This is in a lab, in a test tube, not in a human, and although 10x as effective is great, there was already a 2.7-fold decrease in neutralisation activity (2.7 x worse)  when comparing BA.2 (our new/current Omicron strain) with B.1 (boring old COVID), so the results are not great, and you are still substantially worse off than where you started. I can appreciate the Government being hesitant, but maybe not so much now we have Omicron BA.2.  

Final reports confirm that the anti-viral treatment Remdesivir has failed to show any benefit (it's not yet peer reviewed, but it already has about 40 top European scientist's names on it, so the results should be robust).
The drug (originally intended for Ebola) looked hopeful, so it was added to the UK-led DisCoVeRy Trial and distributed in a "European multicentre, open-label, parallel-group, randomised, controlled trial".
843 adult patients needing supplemental oxygen in hospital in 5 European countries were added at random between March 2020 and January 2021. Around half of the trial participants received Remdesivir (420) and were compared to the control patients who received regular standard of care. At day 15:
Remdesivir group
Not hospitalised, no limitations on activities: 62/420 (14.8%)
Not hospitalised, limitation on activities: 126/420 (30%)
Hospitalised, not requiring supplemental oxygen: 56/420 (13.3%)
Hospitalised, requiring supplemental oxygen: 75/420 (17.9%)
Hospitalised, non-invasive ventilation or high flow oxygen: 16/420 (3.8%)
Hospitalised, on invasive mechanical ventilation or ECMO: 64/420 (15.2%)
Death: 21/420 (5%)
Control group
Not hospitalised, no limitations on activities: 72/423 (17.0%)
Not hospitalised, limitation on activities: 135/423 (31.9%)
Hospitalised, not requiring supplemental oxygen: 31/423 (7.3%)
Hospitalised, requiring supplemental oxygen: 65/423 (15.4%)
Hospitalised, non-invasive ventilation or high flow oxygen: 16/423 (3.8%)
Hospitalised, on invasive mechanical ventilation or ECMO: 80/423 (18.9%) Death: 24/423 (5.7%)
The conclusion: "There was no significant difference in the occurrence of Serious Adverse Events between treatment groups (remdesivir, n=147/410, 35.9%, versus control, n=138/423, 32.6%, p=0.29)."
Shame, especially for the USA, which bought up almost the entire global supply... (Gordon Bennett, I nearly said "they'll be okay if there's a massive Ebola outbreak" and then realised that literally anything is possible nowadays... please no... ) 

Hospitals must not be a target

A Government report into the NHS is not looking great regarding Cancer diagnoses and treatment.
Many thousands of people have delayed screening checks (if you are due a smear test or a mammogram or anything else, don't put it off any longer), and there is a real shortage of staff, which has been made worse by staff illness and a failure to recruit. The report suggests by 2030 we'll be short by almost 3,400 specialist Cancer nurses, and Cancer survival rates could even go down... 

The Lancashire Post has an interview with senior staff at Preston Hospital, who talk about patients regularly waiting for a bed in waiting rooms and corridors by A&E for 2 days, and in some cases even dying there, without privacy or dignity. Truly grim. Filling your Accident & Emergency with people waiting to be admitted obviously has a knock on effect that means other people can't access emergency care or treatment, and ambulances sit outside for hours waiting to offload patients, so they can't attend emergency calls. Truly, truly grim, and they aren't the only ones in this position. COVID hospital admissions on England are actually currently highest in the South.
Staff will no doubt be doing everything they can, including using triage to identify people who need help urgently, so please PLEASE if you are very ill, get yourself help and go to hospital - but if you break your arm or jab yourself with a stick, you could be in for a long wait, so take a book, water and snacks... 

Bad news for a lot of people who have been trying to get away abroad for the Easter holidays, as huge levels of staff sickness and technical problems have meant airlines across Europe, including Easy Jet and British Airways, have had to cancel hundreds of flights. There has been absolute carnage at airports, with delays of over an hour in Manchester and up to 4 hours in Dublin just to get through security. It's being blamed on increased traffic after the removal of many COVID restrictions, and staff illness. COVID's over, COVID's not over... damn. That pretending it's not happening just isn't working as planned...
During COVID airlines wound down, laid off staff and ran much reduced services. Attempting to reverse that at the drop of a hat has proven impossible. Add in removal of COVID measures such as testing and masks, and voila, remaining experienced staff are all catching the virus and dropping like flies.
I'd suggest people consider ferries instead, but erm... yeah. Persona non grata P&O still have their own issues, as they had at least 2 ferries impounded because they weren't fit to sail. 

recognising-COVID-symptoms as opposed to influenza

Our youngest people have suffered over the past couple of years, with a significant number of infants, toddlers and preschoolers falling behind usual developmental milestones. Babies who have spent a lot of time around adults in masks are struggling with facial expressions, toddlers are behind with social situations such as turn taking, sharing and interactions with others, and reportedly preschool children are less likely to be toilet trained and have a wide vocabulary. There's less excuse for those last two, but 2 years of COVID restrictions is going to have far reaching effects beyond the obvious. 

The World Health Organisation have confirmed the suspension of supply of Covaxin by India's Bharat Biotech.
"This suspension is in response to the outcomes of WHO post EUL inspection (14 – 22 March 2022) and the need to conduct process and facility upgrade to address recently identified GMP (goods manufacturing practice) deficiencies."
The factory has basically failed inspection, and is not contesting this at all. Supplies for export will now face delays while they tidy up and get everything in order. WHO are keen to state that this has nothing to do with vaccine efficacy - it's purely about the practices at Bharat's facility. We aren't told exactly what the problem is, but it can be anything from fridge isn't cold enough or incorrect labelling to failure to keep documentation or rat infestation.

The UK have now sent over 5 million items of humanitarian aid in the form of medical equipment to Ukraine.
"Items including lifesaving medicines, ventilators & wound care packs from NHS England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland have been sent on 13 flights."

Just in case humanity survives COVID AND WW3, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have published a report stating that we have until 2025 to turn around emissions and avoid a “catastrophic” temperature rise. (Well, there's a deadline which makes 8 weeks for me to pack up my world and move home seem far more realistic.) No pressure at all... the IPCC say that not only do we have start reducing emissions, but by 2030 we actually need to have cut them by half. Yowsers... (Still, raising the price of energy by 50% should help, plus all of those cancelled flights.... )

050422 UK have sent 5 million items to Ukraine

Fingers crossed we are seeing the UK's MASSIVE COVID peak begin to turn over. We simply couldn't infect 3-5 million people a week forever - it will always burn out. We have Spring coming, and umpty gazillion of our population are fully vaccinated, plus they've recently had COVID, so the next few months could be a whole lot easier - although because of the time it takes after testing positive, we will see a rise in hospital admissions and losses of life for some weeks yet...

You guys were utterly lovely on Sunday - THANK YOU. I have just about got over the shock of finding out I'll be moving house. Pah, who am I kidding? I'm like a rabbit in the headlights - probably carrying a box. I'm going back to staring at walls and wondering how they got so much blue tack on them.

Have a good week, stay sensible, and I'll be back on Friday with next COVID update...

Some people. Each and every one would appreciate a moment to close their eyes and feel the warm fresh air on their face on a Spring day...

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 14,267,401 (+265,995) 17,662 (+209)

Germany 21,908,379 (+139,353) 130,969 (+256)

Italy 14,966,058 (+88,173) 160,103 (+194)

Australia 4,785,679 (+58,178) 6,436 (+38)

Vietnam 9,922,040 (+54,995) 42,681 (+39)

Japan 6,735,920 (+33,834) 28,327 (+41)

UK 21,410,305 (+33,297) 166,148 (+368)

Thailand 3,757,575 (+21,088) 25,606 (+91)

Greece 3,114,591 (+18,456) 27,816 (+70)

New Zealand 717,650 (+14,183) 386 (+23)

Netherlands 7,935,106 (+14,081) 22,037 (+14)

Russia 17,926,104 (+13,947) 370,311 (+316)

Austria 3,912,606 (+12,946) 16,061 (+59)

Turkey 14,919,591 (+12,213) 98,234 (+37) 





Masks from Anna Davidson of the official Australian SAGE advisory group - OZSAGE.



Chart of symptoms:

Pandemic babies developmental delay

Not a target


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