Friday 20 May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update Friday 20th May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update Friday 20th May 2022

UK COVID Statistics:
Cases last 7 days: 58,786 (average 8,398 per day)
Admitted to hospital with COVID in the last 7 days: 5,074
In hospital yesterday: 6,729 (substantially down from 9,619 a week earlier)
Using a ventilator yesterday: 191 (down from 203 a week earlier)
Losses of life last 7 days: 789
Total losses of life within 28 days of a positive test: 177,890
Total losses of life with COVID listed as a cause: 194,550
Tests last 7 days: 1,566,809 (average 223,829 per day)
Vaccinations 1st dose: 53,337,395
Vaccinations 2nd dose: 49,844,562
Boosted / 3rd dose / Spring Boosters: 39,474,656

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,551,835 cases and 7,244 losses of life.

World: 526,114,020 reported cases and 6,297,640 losses of life.

Vaccinations you should have before you leave for uni (from birth onwards) shows 2 young people hugging

"UKHSA have confirmed 11 new cases of Monkeypox in the UK. This morning I updated G7 Health Ministers on what we know so far. Most cases are mild, and I can confirm we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against Monkeypox."
Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary.

"In Downing Street there is a sense of injustice and considerable upset that the 126 Partygate fines have been levied disproportionately on women and junior officials. One source said: “the majority of [those fined] are very junior diary managers etc on 24k-ish and these fines are really stacking up for them. Typically they are getting fined for events they were at with their males bosses who seem to have got away no problem. Pretty clear also that people who bothered lawyering up [like the PM] are fine. There is a lot of very angry and upset people.”
Robert Peston, ITV's Political Editor. 

200522 ONS stats as given

And indeed Boris is making a lot of headlines, and rightly so. The Metropolitan Police have said they have concluded their 5 month long investigations into 'Partygate' and will NOT be issuing any further fines. In total 83 government officials, politicians and advisers have been found to have broken the law by gathering illegally, some on multiple occasions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received just 1 fine (which he funnily enough said he would several weeks ago), despite being present at different events with other people who have received a fixed penalty notices. Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s full inquiry report is expected next week.
It's going to be fun when all of the regular people who have been fined start going to court to try and claim back their money... 

The UK's COVID Alert Level has dropped to 3 from 4. I'd totally forgotten it even existed, but steadily decreasing numbers are the reason why... 

This week's COVID19 surveillance report shows a decline in overall hospital admission rates (yeeay!). It's true - see the figures above. Deaths with COVID have also decreased.
Case rates decreased slightly in all age groups, all regions and most ethnic groups, with decreases most notable in those aged over 80 (who frankly are in a rare group actually being tested).

UK ONS random sampling suggests that in the week ending 13 May 2022:
The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus continued to decrease in all 4 nations.
- England, estimate 1,037,400, equating to 1.90% or around 1 in 55 people.
- Wales, estimate 80,700, equating to 2.66% or around 1 in 40 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 29,800, equating to 1.62% or around 1 in 60 people.
- Scotland, estimate 122,200, equating to 2.32% or around 1 in 45 people.

Autumn boosters 2022 for these groups

"The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has elevated the classification of the COVID-19 variants Omicron BA.4 and Omicron BA.5 to variants of concern (VOCs) on the basis of observed growth."
As of 17th May, 115 cases of BA.4 and 80 cases of BA.5 have been confirmed in England, and "analysis of the available data suggests that they are likely to have a growth advantage over the currently-dominant Omicron BA.2 variant".
Basically, they seem a lot more catchy, partly due to 'immune-escape', so lets keep an eye on them. 

"Pleased to see the highest ever number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates on the National Medical Council register.
We are growing the workforce to help tackle the Covid backlog, and we are over halfway to delivering 50,000 more nurses in the NHS."
Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary.
While that looks great, there are a few queries. Statista suggests we actually have around a total of 592,900 nurses - which is higher than in 2015 (582,000), but substantially lower than in 2020 (669,900). The temporary register of people who joined/returned to help with COVID and vaccinations will close within the next 2 months. We also have a lot of experienced staff leaving the workforce (27,133 in 2021-2022).
Many of Sajid's total work in private practice, or in part time NHS roles, or currently not at all. This is just a register. What we really needed to know for clarity is 'equivalent full time positions for NHS nurses, midwives and nursing associates'. 

The UK JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) have recommended that some people get an Autumn COVID booster. (I do wish they'd just say "anyone who is more vulnerable or won't develop AND keep good immunity will need a jab every 4-6 months, and it's common sense to also jab anyone who works closely with them".)
The JCVI’s current view is that in autumn 2022, a booster COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to:
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those 65 years of age and over
- adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group

The first 2 of 5 reports by the BMA (British Medical Association) have been published today looking at the pandemic, and they found that the UK Government failed in its duty of care to Doctors. They didn't protect them adequately from personal risk - physically and mentally. It starts with inadequate PPE and carries on until it reaches exhaustion and despair... 

In the UK almost 5% of the working age population are currently unable to work and not seeking work due to long term illness - this figure is massively up on pre-pandemic levels of around 3.5%. While that doesn't seem a big jump, around 2/3 of the entire population are working age, which at minimum is around 37 million people - so those unable to seek work amount to around 1.85 million people, up by somewhere around 350,000. I've said all along that Long COVID will be costly in all ways.

According to US CDC data, Omicron strain BA.2.12.1 now accounts for around 73.1% of all virus circulating in the New York region, and around 47.5% of ALL US cases. BA.2.12.1 appears to be more than 1 1/2 times as transmissible than regular Omicron was, and it's spreading rapidly. 

200522 US CDC Omicron BA.2.12.1

Long COVID is beginning to bite. I've seen tweets from Americans who have been refused medical insurance because of Long COVID. That is a big step change. We've seen Long COVID on scans and in test results, but now the money admits it's real, it's really real.

The first of Shanghai's residents were let out of lockdown yesterday after weeks stuck indoors, but most public places are still closed. 4 of the 20 subways lines are due to reopen on Sunday - providing there aren't more locally transmitted cases in the meantime. Fingers crossed. 

Analysis by the New York Times using data from US insurers shows that 76% of the Long COVID claimants were not even hospitalised when they had COVID itself. Around 1/3 of them previously had no documented pre-existing health condition.
Costly. In. All. Ways. 

Now... Monkeypox
Monkeypox is grabbing the attention of the whole Western world. What we don't really need is another pandemic, and monkeypox wouldn't have been at the top of anyone's list. Cases have emerged across Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and the USA, and the World Health Organisation are so concerned that today they convened an Emergency Committee meeting. It is likely they will discuss whether or not to declare monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The European CDC Information page explains:
"Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash typically develops. This often begins on the face, and then spreads to other parts of the body including the genitals.  Of note, the recently detected cases among MSM have reported a preponderance of lesions in the genital area. The rash goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off. The difference in appearance from chickenpox or syphilis is the uniform evolution of the lesions. The incubation period is typically 6 to 16 days but can be up to 21. When the scab falls off a person is no longer infectious."  

At last count 134 confirmed, probable or suspected cases have been identified, many without any clear links, so we know there are more out there. These include Spain 49 / Portugal 34 / UK 21 / Canada 17 / Italy & Belgium 3 / Australia & USA 2 and France, Sweden & Germany 1 each.
Although there are usually several thousand cases a year, they tend to be limited to West and Central Africa, with very few human to human infections. Monkeypox is usually spread by contact with rodents and other small mammals such as squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, non-human primates and other species.

There are two distinct strains of Monkeypox, and the strain which is circulating is the less dangerous strain, which has a fatality rate of somewhere around 1% (or likely less than that). It's impossible to tell accurately, because some cases are very mild and the person doesn't realise anything other than they feel a bit rough and have a spot or two (as often occurs with chicken pox) and obviously cases most usually until now have occurred in poorer communities where testing and access to healthcare is limited - as it seems, is any compulsion to study it to the nth degree. That situation is swiftly changing.

The outbreak in the UK is mainly centred around London, and in men who have sex with other men (MSM). This is incidental, it isn't considered a sexually transmitted disease. Anyone can catch Monkeypox, and it could just as easily have appeared in any demographic, but obviously sex is a great way to have the close contact, time together, shared bedsheets etc. which facilitate spread.

Monkeypox is most easily spread by the fluid weeping from the spots (just like chicken pox), so it gets onto clothes, bedsheets, towels and, most importantly, hands. It is still breathed out by infected people, but the droplets are huge and fall quickly to the ground, so it's not easily passed on via the air. Monkeypox won't spread around everyone like COVID - it's not something you are ever likely to catch sitting next to someone on the bus (but try and avoid licking strangers, sleeping in their bed or wearing their unwashed trousers).

Dr. Angela Rasmussen agrees:
"Worth noting: non-pharmaceutical measures to reduce risk of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID) transmission will also reduce risk of monkeypox. Monkeypox can also be transmitted by fomites (surfaces) so don’t skip the handwashing, laundering, or surface disinfection either."

"Historically, vaccination against smallpox was shown to be protective against monkeypox. While one vaccine (MVA-BN) and one specific treatment (tecovirimat) were approved for monkeypox, in 2019 and 2022 respectively, these countermeasures are not yet widely available, and populations worldwide under the age of 40 or 50 years no longer benefit from the protection afforded by prior smallpox vaccination programmes."
The World Health Organisation.
Yes people, finally, there is an advantage to being older. The UK stopped routine Smallpox vaccinations in 1971, and people received the vaccine when they were very young. It leaves a scar, so sometimes was given on the sole of the foot. 

Free Meningitis jabs for students Image shows young person with a fake smile, clutching a cold empty paper coffee cup with both hands

G7 health ministers have come together this week and they have just signed a Pact for Pandemic Readiness. This will see "the UK, USA, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy work more closely together – and with relevant multilateral organisations like the World Health Organisation – by sharing the best of their Covid inspired initiatives, including those on surveillance and rapid response".
They also agreed to work on resistance to antibiotics and building "climate-neutral health systems by 2050 at the latest".

Did you know that if you are a low income UK household receiving benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit then many broadband providers offer 'social tariffs' which are discounted? Most eligible households don't even know this exists and are paying full price. Speak to your provider because it could save you £200 a year. Among those offering discounted broadband are BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Hyperoptic and NOW.

Sir Kenneth Branagh will play Boris Johnson in a new Sky mini-series about our Prime Minister's handling of the pandemic. 48 cases of wine were delivered to the studio this morning so that they can begin filming (lol, the wine was a joke. Actors use Ribena.) 

The Queen has created 8 new UK cities as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Congratulations to Stanley in the Falkland Islands, Douglas on the Isle of Man, Bangor in Northern Ireland, Dunfermline in Scotland and Wrexham in Wales, and Colchester, Doncaster, and Milton Keynes in England.

Information on HRT drug shortages in the UK

"Today is the second anniversary of the Organ Donation opt-out system coming into effect in England. You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die and families will always be involved."
One of the best moves the UK ever made. Should the very worst happen, what you leave behind could give up to 9 other people a chance to have a life... talk to your family, let them know your wishes.

Psst, you people who can't be vaccinated, or those who'll always be especially vulnerable to COVID - I've not forgotten you, you still matter. 

It's the weekend! Hurrah! And we are creeping closer to the long Jubilee weekend and time off for most of us here in the UK. A huge thank you in advance to everyone who will be working. Whenever your 'weekend' is, do not forget to treat yourself. You have earned it and I hope you have something nice planned. I haven't yet (shame on me!), this week has flown by so fast, I'll have to come up with something... hmmmm. 

Play Out, Don't Lick Strangers, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. They all have a favourite song.

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):

N. Korea (DPRK) 2,241,610 (+263,380) 65 (+2)

Taiwan 1,156,291 (+85,761) 1,284 (+49)

Australia 6,863,827 (+49,921) 8,028 (+52)

Japan 8,513,463 (+38,812) 30,211 (+36)

Germany 26,051,725 (+38,442) 138,633 (+145)

Italy 17,205,017 (+26,561) 165,827 (+89)

S. Korea 17,914,957 (+25,108) 23,885 (+43)

New Zealand 1,087,466 (+7,909) 990 (+17)

Chile 3,630,741 (+6,852) 57,782 (+15)

Thailand 4,401,378 (+6,463) 29,681 (+41)

Russia 18,283,706 (+5,089) 378,168 (+96)

Greece 3,414,189 (+3,708) 29,658 (+16)

Austria 4,228,908 (+3,234) 18,333 (+5)






Discounted broadband -

Omicron BA.2.12.1



"Could monkeypox become a pandemic? Here's everything you need to know"

Definitely it's only an *STI* in the same way that COVID, flu or chickenpox are - spend hours with someone, have intimate contact, share bedclothes and breathe on each other, you'll potentially pass it on.

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