Friday 27 May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th May 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 27th May 2022

UK COVID Statistics - The page says it's all updated, but some of the data is over a week old. It makes a lot of this irrelevant as anything but a rough guide as to trajectory:
Cases in the 7 days up to 22nd May: 57,584 (similar to a week earlier)
Admitted to hospital with COVID in the 7 days to 22nd May: 4,130 (substantially DOWN on a week earlier)
In hospital yesterday: 5,584 (substantially DOWN from 6,729 a week earlier)
Losses of life in the 7 days up to 20th May: 725 (down slightly on a week earlier)
Total losses of life within 28 days of a positive test up to 20th May: 177,977
Total losses of life with COVID listed as a cause up to 13th May: 195,347
Tests in the 7 days up to 19th May: 1,546,244 (similar to a week earlier)
UK Vaccination data up to 18th May
1st Dose 53,398,518
2nd Dose 49,895,254
Booster/Third Jabs 39,585,631

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,561,632 cases and 7,271 losses of life (not yet reported today).

World: 530,508,082 reported cases and 6,308,310 losses of life.

Free Meningitis jabs for UK students - image of young woman carrying a bag and coffee and grinning

The Nursing Director of the UK's West Midlands Ambulance Service, Mark Docherty, has told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that some people are now waiting up to 24 hours in an ambulance before a suitable bed is found, and the service could collapse completely. Over 100 people have now died when "the service has been unable to respond because its ambulances are held outside hospitals". Mr Docherty has gone so far as to predict the exact day the service might collapse completely if current trajectories continue - August 17th.
“It would make me the happiest person in the world if everyone in the system proves to me that actually the ambulance service in the West Midlands isn’t going to fail on 17 August, and I’ve got it completely wrong.”
Date for your diary there... fingers crossed it never happens. 

According to the ONS random survey, in the week ending 21 May 2022:
The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to decrease in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the trend was uncertain in Scotland.
- England, estimate 874,400, equating to 1.60% of the population or around 1 in 60 people.
- Wales, estimate 52,900, equating to 1.74% of the population or around 1 in 55 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 23,300, equating to 1.27% of the population or around 1 in 80 people.
- Scotland, estimate 135,400, equating to 2.57% of the population or around 1 in 40 people.

England only - In the week ending 22nd May the hospital admission rate was 5.68 per 100,000 population, down from 6.89 in the previous week.
Hospital admission rates for COVID-19 were highest in the North East, with a rate of 11.69 per 100,000 population.
The highest hospital admission rates continue to be those aged 85 and over

Between 2009 and 2018 there were 288 school shootings in the US, the next highest number was in Mexico where there were eight.
Sky News with the statistics in coverage of the Texas primary school massacre on Tuesday.
In 2020 being shot was the single highest cause of death to children and adolescents in America, pushing road traffic accidents into second place. 

Open wooden door with sign saying Come on in

Remember the extra 'catch up' money for UK school pupils via the National Tutoring Programme? Up to 8th May 2022, the Department for Education estimates that at least 1,508,049 places had been taken up on courses of tuition provided through the scheme. (Some pupils may be enrolled on more than one course.) 

Sue Gray's report into the Downing Street and Whitehall parties during lockdown has been released. One of the most damning parts is that she was appalled by how badly security and cleaning staff were treated. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat those around them, and what we can clearly tell is that they aren't considered real humans, they're just plebs, like most of us. Cannon fodder, similar to nurses and teachers and pretty much all those people we finally realised are actually the essential workers. If you weren't born into wealth and didn't attend a school which cost the equivalent of an annual council street sweeper wage per term, you don't count.
There is a protest by security and cleaning staff, and all low paid workers, outside Downing Street around about..... now.

Sue Gray's 48 page full report studied 16 different events which took place during lockdown. The illegal gatherings took place in the Downing Street garden, in the Downing Street Press Office, in Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat, in the rest of 10 Downing Street, and in the Cabinet Office at Whitehall. They included celebrations to mark staff leaving and Boris Johnson's birthday, and events which occurred at the same time as the usual 'Wine Time Fridays', but weren't labelled as such.
The largest group photo included in the report features Matt Hancock and took place immediately after a press conference on 15th May 2020. Boris Johnson attended, bringing cheese and wine from his flat. The event had been planned by email on 13th May.
A large gathering seems to have been to mark Lee Cain leaving. There were lengthy discussions prior to the event, discussing whether it was acceptable - "I think it's your decision my friend, not mind [sic]! But it obviously comes with rather substantial comms risks". Over 25 people attended, there were speeches, pizza, karaoke machine, and apparently alcohol in abundance. If I'm brutal it reads like your standard social club birthday party:
"The event lasted for a number of hours. There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One individual was sick. There was a minor altercation between two other individuals."
Longest and possibly largest event seems to have been on 16th April 2021, when 2 members of staff were leaving on the same day. Around 45 people attended in person. By 9.30pm only around 20 people remained, and although some left after a children's swing was damaged, "Exit logs indicate that some left after midnight and others between 01.45-02.45. Two members of staff stayed later still, with one leaving at 03.11 and the last leaving at 04:20."
I think we get the gist. 

Image of woman shouting carrying sign saying 'sick pay now' and text about low paid workers protest

As of 26th May, the total number confirmed in England since 7th May is 101.
There are currently 3 confirmed cases in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland, taking the UK total to 106.
"The risk to the UK population remains low, but we are asking people to be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body. Although this advice applies to everyone, the majority of the cases identified to date have been among men who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, so we are asking these people in particular to be aware of the symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner. You should contact a sexual health clinic immediately if you develop a rash or lesions – though please phone ahead before attending in person."
By BNO Newsroom's Tracker, there have been 416 suspected or confirmed cases identified to date. This includes at least 9 cases across 7 different US states. 

Rishi Sunak has announced at least £400 help for every UK household this Autumn, with extra payments (which are automatic and will just land in your account) for disabled and older people, and lowest income families. He suggests if you are on the UK's top 250 rich list, like he is, and don't really need the money, you can donate it to charity.
The National Union of Students are there in the corner, waving their arms and attempting desperately to get noticed. Many students will not benefit at all from his measures, yet they are still hoping to eat - in some cases every day. 

“I feel when I discuss [Covid] with my friends, people are ready to compromise and lower the bar: maybe we can accept a few more old people dying, [rather] than have to work with a mask.”
Pfizer CEO Albert Boula, as quoted in the Financial Times. He feels Governments just want to announce a victory, and general public are getting bored of preventative measures, but that complacency could come back to haunt us in another 3 or 4 months... 

Image of human body skeleton and text
Courtesy of the COVID Actuaries - link below

I have mentioned 'Paxlovid rebound' before, and now the US CDC has issued a warning about it. This is where taking Paxlovid doesn't give the body long enough to completely beat COVID, and it 'flares up' again once the treatment course (usually 5 days) is finished.
"COVID-19 rebound has been reported to occur between 2 and 8 days after initial recovery and is characterized by a recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms or a new positive viral test after having tested negative."
They stress that Paxlovid IS SAVING LIVES, it's almost 90% effective at preventing hospitalisations, and they have no reports of anyone with rebound suffering severe disease.
"Paxlovid continues to be recommended for early-stage treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among persons at high risk for progression to severe disease."
Researchers are on the case.

Strange Hepatitis In Kids Update:
The UK HSA update today says that we have now recorded 222 cases in the UK.
"Of the confirmed cases, 158 are resident in England, 31 are in Scotland, 17 are in Wales and 16 are in Northern Ireland. The cases are predominantly in children under 5 years old who showed initial symptoms of gastroenteritis illness (diarrhoea and nausea) followed by the onset of jaundice. As part of the investigation, a small number of children over the age of 10 are also being investigated. No children have died."
The European CDC data is a little behind, but up until 20th May 2022, they had recorded Austria (two), Belgium (14), Cyprus (two), Denmark (seven), Greece (three), Ireland (six), Italy (27), the Netherlands (14), Norway (five), Poland (one), Portugal (11), Republic of Moldova (one), Serbia (one), Spain (29), Sweden (nine), and the United Kingdom (144) (Told you they were a little behind.)
The US CDC is more up to date - as of 25th May they are investigating 38 possible cases.
Still nothing I can find with any solutions as to what is actually causing it.  

A really big CDC study into Long COVID has some pretty grim results. They summarised the results:
"COVID-19 survivors have twice the risk for developing pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions; one in five COVID-19 survivors aged 18–64 years and one in four survivors aged ≥65 years experienced at least one incident condition that might be attributable to previous COVID-19."
They looked at visitors to health centres. 1,640,776 control patients and 353,164 people who tested positive for COVID. Then they reviewed 30–365 days later (when a problem arose or after a year, whichever came first).
Results were as follows:
"Among all patients aged ≥18 years (18 or over), 38% of case-patients experienced an incident condition compared with 16% of controls; conditions affected multiple systems, and included cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and psychiatric signs and symptoms. By age group, the highest risk ratios (RRs) were for acute pulmonary embolism (RR = 2.1 and 2.2 among persons aged 18–64 and ≥65 years, respectively) and respiratory signs and symptoms (RR = 2.1 in both age groups). Among those aged 18–64 years, 35.4% of case-patients experienced an incident condition compared with 14.6% of controls. Among those aged ≥65 years, 45.4% of case-patients experienced an incident condition compared with 18.5% of controls."

The COVID Actuaries are keeping tabs on Long COVID in the UK, and have a great article about it this week, compiling much of what we know:
"As of May 2022, an estimated 1.8 million people living in private households in the UK (2.8% of the population) self-reported Long Covid symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected infection. This is less than 10% of the 22 million UK reported Covid cases; however, the 1.8 million does not include those living in care homes."
People who have been hospitalised with COVID are at greater risk, and care home residents have a far greater risk of hospitalisation and severe illness with COVID in general. The COVID actuaries also report on a study which was published in Nature magazine last month:
"A community study of more than 600,000 people in England found more than 20% of those testing positive for COVID-19 had at least one persisting symptom after 12 weeks."

Image of human shape and text

Still on Long COVID and bad news potentially from a massive study published this week in Nature magazine. They looked at the medical records of a truly enormous 13 million people in total and found that if you catch COVID, being vaccinated only reduced your chances of developing Long COVID by around 15%. That is still a significant number of people, but much lower than was hoped going by self-reported symptoms on the UK's Zoe app. However vaccination will still protect most of us from becoming infected in the first place - which itself obviously reduces your chances of Long COVID. Frankly at the scale of infection we have worldwide, 15% amounts to a huge number of people - potentially millions overall - so it's good news, but not as good as we'd hoped. The caveat is that this is not data taken from recent months, so it is just a guide, we need to see the numbers with Omicron infection, booster jabs etc. This is an evolving situation. 

Hoax Of The Day:
Monkeypox and shingles are different viruses and there is no evidence of COVID-19 vaccines links.
I'm not sure why this one is making the rounds, but Shingles is caused by Varicella virus - the same virus that causes Chicken Pox. Both Monkeypox and Chicken Pox are poxviruses, they both cause spots, general illness, muscle aches, tiredness etc, and they both have an animal name in the title, but they aren't the same and never will be. COVID is caused by SARS Cov 2 virus, which is a Coronavirus, it doesn't cause spots, which is a shame, because if it did, we'd have a far greater chance of spotting it earlier (boom boom) and people would be less keen to catch it.
Vaccination against COVID cannot cause Shingles, Chicken Pox or Monkey Pox.
It's fortunate that the Smallpox vaccine protects against Monkeypox, and that's because they are similar enough that when a body has the Smallpox vaccine, it learns how it works and how to beat it, and when it sees Monkeypox it recognises a similar threat (same as we can see similarities between Ice Skating and Roller Skating, and being good at one might give you an advantage with the other). But again, they are different viruses, and one cannot cause the other. When you are poorly with one thing, it is easier to catch others, because your immune system is already busy and possibly really tired, but they are not interchangeable.

Hey, you people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or those who will always be especially vulnerable to COVID - you still matter. I haven't forgotten you, and nor have millions of other people.

Alexander Fleming's original mold that produced the first ever antibiotic, Penicillin, has been kept in deep freeze storage for the last 70 years, and its genomes are still regrown now and used for study and experimentation. It's in pretty poor condition after being grown over and over for all of that time, so it's not used for human people or more in depth study. The original mold also reproduced too slowly to be used for mass production, and research scientists in the USA were asked if they could help. A woman named Mary Hunt found a Cantaloupe Melon with a golden mold on it at a local farmers market and took it to the lab, and it was the breakthrough they required. It generated almost 1000x the Penicillin, and in 1942, 400 million doses were manufactured. Within 3 years, over 650 billion doses were being manufactured per month. Since then it's estimated that antibiotics have saved the lives of well over 200 million people. 

It is the weekend. Hurrah! Another week over in the UK it's half term, plus we have a long weekend coming up at the end of next week to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Something we can really look forward to.
Don't forget to treat yourself - you have earned it, and you should look after yourself as well as everyone else.
Well done and congratulations to any of you with reason to be proud of yourself this week, including all of you young people taking exams - and those living with them and trying to keep everything chill and stress free - and regular commenter Claire, who has had a gorgeous baby boy... (it's always nice to type something with a big grin). It doesn't have to be so grand, some days we are handed a more lowly opportunity to grab hold of life, but it can be equally an achievement. 

Back Tuesday... Play Outdoors, Wear A Cardi, Save The NHS.

Some numbers. They all used to think that the monsters hid under their bed.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (since midnight GMT. In larger countries,  such as the USA and India, some states /provinces might have yet to report today):

DPRK (N.Korea) 3,270,850 (+100,470) 69 (+1)

Taiwan 1,735,067 (+94,855) 1,784 (+126)

Australia 7,156,555 (+38,954)8,374 (+39)

Japan 8,737,532 (+31,542) 30,458 (+40)

Italy 17,355,119 (+19,666) 166,476 (+118)

S. Korea 18,053,287 (+16,567) 24,103 (+40)

Germany 26,247,110 (+7,469) 139,132 (+17)

New Zealand 1,136,708 (+6,959) 1,087 (+30)

Thailand 4,434,511 (+4,837) 29,913 (+29)

Russia 18,315,292 (+4,619) 378,784 (+84)

Greece 3,439,773 (+3,727) 29,771 (+15)

Austria 4,244,865 (+1,572) 18,643 (+11)

Vietnam 10,715,247 (+1,239) 43,078

Saudi Arabia 765,788 (+483) 9,140 (+2)

Romania 2,908,018 (+427) 65,676 (+7)

UAE 906,639 (+403) 2,302




Sue Gray



Strange Hepatitis in kids


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