Tuesday 7 June 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 7th June 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 7th June 2022

UK COVID Latest Govt. Dashboard Statistics:
Cases in the 7 days to 2nd June: 57,615 (average 8,230 per day)
Admitted to hospital with COVID in the 7 days to Sunday 29th May: 3,652
In hospital Thursday 2nd June: 4,891
Total losses of life within 28 days of a positive test to 20th May: 177,977
Total losses of life with COVID listed as a cause to 20th May: 195,962
Tests last 7 days: 1,546,244 (average 220,892 per day)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,565,970 cases and 7,347 losses of life up until yesterday.

World: 536,108,391 reported cases and 6,321,883 losses of life.

World Food Safety Day WHO advice to avoid food poisoning

“What we are detecting now is not the new transmissions that are happening, new transmissions are happening that we don't know anything about. And that really worries me."
Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, Cameroonian medical doctor and clinical researcher, talking to Kai Kupferschmidt, science journalist about Monkeypox. It has a very long incubation period, which makes it stealthy. Average is 7-14 days, but it can be 3 weeks before an infected person develops any symptoms. 

Let's start with "Partygate". Boris Johnson was interviewed last Wednesday by Mumsnet, and full credit to founder Justine Roberts, who asked the questions we've all been asking. She opened with:
“Why should we believe anything you say when it has been proven you’re a habitual liar?”
After the booing that Bozza received when he arrived at St Paul's Cathedral for the Platinum Jubilee Thanksgiving Service, an anonymous MP sent out a memo which resulted in a confidence vote among the Tory cohort. With the lack of a clear alternative now that Rishi has been exposed as having a tax exile billionaire wife (coincidental timing? I think not), Boris survived as Prime Minister with 211 votes for (59%) and 148 against (41%). That's got to sting.
Tory MP's are rushing to his defence and citing his fabulous handling of the COVID pandemic as one of his strong points. There are 195,000 bereaved families who may disagree, plus 2m people with Long COVID and frankly any taxpayer who is wondering where their PPE/Test&Trace app. money went. 

The Royal College of Nursing say staffing levels are dangerously low, with a newly released survey of a typical workday showing 8 out of every 10 shifts are unsafe (83%), and only 25% of shifts have the planned number of registered nurses on duty.

070622 Spring boosters UK NHS

Long COVID in the UK
Latest ONS statistics are Grim McGrim with 'I told you so' pants on. Costly. In. All. Ways. Anyway, I digress. The data as of 1st May:
"An estimated 2.0 million people living in private households in the UK (3.1% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID (symptoms continuing for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that were not explained by something else)."
 442,000 (22%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 less than 12 weeks previously
1.4 million people (72%) at least 12 weeks previously
826,000 (42%) at least one year previously
376,000 (19%) at least two years previously
Of those people:
593,000 (30%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 before Alpha became the main variant
239,000 (12%) in the Alpha period
427,000 (21%) in the Delta period
619,000 (31%) in the Omicron period
Long COVID symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 1.4 million people (71%), with 398,000 (20%) reporting that their ability to go about their day-to-day activities had been "limited a lot".
Most common symptoms are fatigue (55%), shortness of breath (32%), cough (23%) and muscle ache (23%).
"As a proportion of the UK population, the prevalence of self-reported long COVID was greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability."

We can't ignore Long COVID, and it really is a postcode lottery as to whether you'll get any help from the NHS right now. In an article in The Guardian and BBC, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) say “existing services are woefully inadequate to meet the level of demand”. They also say that “diagnosis and treatment vary hugely across the UK, with long COVID treated as a physical condition in some clinics but predominantly as a psychological condition in others”.
(I'm sure anyone suffering heart or lung problems will be ecstatic to be told by any medical professional that they can think their way out of organ damage.)
England currently has 89 dedicated Long COVID clinics, Northern Ireland 1, Wales and Scotland 0. 

The UK Government response to a letter from the Long COVID Kids HQ also implies they believe it's mainly a mental health condition. It has 15 mentions of mental health and just 1 mention of Long COVID.
Absolutely our children's mental health has suffered through the pandemic, and having Long COVID is bound to have an added negative effect on your mental health, but COVID damage is very often visible in scans, testing, organ function tests - and the amount of people now wheezing or out of breath when they talk. 

Call for evidence on contact tracing

A recently released Irish study has looked at some Long COVID conditions which are based in the brain, notably clinical range depression, anxiety, and PTSD. They found problematic alcohol use was common in people suffering these symptoms, at a worryingly high 45.5% at 2-4 months after COVID and 71.8% at 7-18 months post infection. 

A last note about Long COVID, and the US CDC are now looking into whether it can lead to an early death. Politico reports that they are examining over 100 deceased patient's records to determine if Long COVID could have been a contributing factor.
We did know this was coming, it's a fairly obvious step, and something we will have to look at very carefully. Damage to any organ can take a very long time to heal, and obviously it can put a body under enormous strain. If you are well and strong, and have a mild case of COVID it's one story, but if you had a lot of damage when you had COVID, are not so strong in the first place, or become ill with other things (or COVID again), it's logical to presume it can in some cases become physically overwhelming. Results will follow... 

Variant Watch:
The UK either has or is about to have a new COVID variant leader. The super contagious BA.4 and BA.5 which caused a wave in South Africa, and the roadies choice BA.2.12.1, which is the most contagious variant yet, are now more prevalent in the UK than standard BA.2. These are all Omicron strains, and not expected to cause much more than a ripple in the UK because we are so well vaccinated, and we've mostly been exposed to various Omicron strains multiple times recently already.

070622 weekly hospital admissions in the UK by area

Masks work to slow spread of COVID and reduce people who get infected - we already knew that though, right? A huge US study has analysed the effect of mask wearing in 92 regions across 6 continents. They summarised that "population mask wearing notably reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission" - on average decreasing the R (reproductive rate) by 19%.
The researchers looked at mask mandates, and found they made very little difference, either to the R value or to the number of people actually wearing masks. You are either a community which takes steps to avoid COVID, or one that doesn't.
(We've seen several times over the past 2 years that the initial Government messaging played a huge part in how populations reacted, and even how they are still behaving now.)

Monkeypox Update:
The monkeypox strains are being genetically sequenced to discover their family tree, and there are 2 distinct lineages. This implies its been slowly and quietly circulating for longer than we suspected. All other evidence also supports this theory. This is bad news because the more unknown monkeypox cases there are out there, the harder it is to eradicate. If monkeypox escapes into our wild animal populations then we lose any control.
Scientists are becoming concerned monkeypox will become endemic, something we all have to live with, and that would mean lots of people permanently scarred or worse (these strains have an estimated 1% mortality rate). It also risks mutations each time someone catches monkeypox, and rolling that dice millions of times is very different to rolling it a couple of thousand times a year.
The UK have just designated monkeypox a 'notifiable disease', which means if someone is suspected of having it, local Health Protection Teams or Councils MUST be informed promptly. (I'm actually surprised it wasn't notifiable already.)
The US CDC has just raised the alert level for monkeypox to level 2, and recommends that travellers wear masks, as well as other specific health measures for people travelling in affected countries:
- Avoid close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions.
- Avoid contact with dead or live wild animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes).
- Avoid eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders).
- Avoid contact with contaminated materials used by sick people (such as clothing, bedding, or materials used in healthcare settings) or that came into contact with infected animals.
- Don't lick strangers
( I added the last one) 

In the UK the total number of confirmed monkeypox cases as of 5th June is 302. That breaks down to England 287, Scotland 10, Northern Ireland 2 and Wales 3.
Old data from 30th May, but useful: "In England, 86% of the cases are in London residents (132 out of 153) and only 2 were women. Most monkeypox cases have occurred in people aged 20 to 49 years old (87%). One hundred and eleven cases are known to be gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM)."
The fact this has spread among mainly GBMSM people is random, it's fluke. It could have spread through nursery schools. Anyone can catch monkeypox, and actually we're really fortunate that currently it's mainly contained in healthy younger men, because it is most dangerous in young children and pregnancies. 

Platty Jubes honours congrats to health and social care staff

Between 13th May 2022 and 2nd June: "780 laboratory confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported to or identified by WHO from 27 Member States across four WHO regions that are not endemic for monkeypox virus".
As with the UK, reported cases have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men (MSM).
The BNO News tracker is updated constantly and at 3pm today said in non-endemic countries there are a total of 1,051 confirmed cases plus 33 suspected.
According to WHO, in the 7 African countries where monkeypox is endemic (exists in the animal populations and sometimes spreads to humans), from January to June 2022, 1,408 suspected and 44 confirmed cases including 66 deaths have been reported.

As an aside, the UK seem to have learned how to contact trace - and the good news is that hundreds of contacts are being tested, and often none or only 1 household member has caught monkeypox. This isn't like COVID. The droplets you breathe out are huge and fall rapidly to the ground/surfaces. It's more easily passed on via the spots (lesions), and the clear fluid that seeps from the spots while they scab over. 

Students in Beijing have been protesting China’s hard lockdown, which included a metal barrier on campus between students and staff at Peking University. It meant students were stuck inside, and staff could leave the site, and has now been removed. Students are also keen to learn the new timetable for end of term exams, because at the moment they don't know when they can go home. Fingers crossed monkeypox doesn't reach China... 

Florida appear to have had a UK-sized COVID test&trace failure. A state audit report shows that, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, case and test data was incomplete and full of discrepancies, and a sample of 2,600 tests taken at three state-run testing facilities failed to return results for nearly 60% of them. That's really no way to know how badly your state is affected. Additionally, anyone who did test positive should have been contacted within 48 hours, but often it was a week, and 23% weren't contacted at all. Yowch...

070622 weekly hospital admissions in the UK by age

Health officials in the US are beginning to worry about diseases other than COVID and monkeypox. The rise of the anti-vaxxers has had a negative effect on the uptake of all immunisations, including childhood Polio, Hepatitis and Measles jabs. Honestly people, we've had it so good for so long that you don't know how lucky you've been. Reversing that really is insanity. There are enough things that can kill us already, keep adding to that list and very soon you are back in the dark ages, when people had lots of children partly because they expected some wouldn't make it. 

Not COVID (or monkeypox), but truly excellent news regarding Cervical Cancers. The UK has switched to a different type of screening test which looks for HPV - a collection of viruses which can occasionally cause Cervical Cancer. The test is so much better that we can test every 5 years instead of 3, and will still catch more cases long before before Cancer develops.
We have a genuine chance that giving the HPV vaccine to our teenagers will mean Cervical Cancer is a thing of the past by the time our grandchildren are adults. 

Famous People With COVID:
Prince Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha Windsor. Sadly he was unable to attend any of his mother's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Sensible decision all round I think.

The US CDC has counted up the number of COVID vaccine doses that have been thrown away since December 2020 when US vaccinations began. It is a staggering 82 million. A significant number are from vials which aren't empty at the end of the day, or have been out of the deep freeze for too long, but millions have been simply wasted because they were over-ordered and went out of date.

The world's potential food shortage situation isn't getting any better.
"The invasion of Ukraine has badly disrupted food supplies, exacerbating the risk of famine around the world. This is compounded by the impact of climate change and extreme weather. The Horn of Africa is now experiencing one of its worst droughts in recent history"
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation (and recently re-elected unopposed for another term - presumably no-one else was keen to compete for the level of abuse that man gets for mainly being the messenger). 

Image of man sitting in a chair with a mask on, and his arm out donating blood

Turkey has officially changed it's name.
"...the Government of the Republic of Turkiye, henceforth will start using 'Türkiye' to replace the words such as 'Turkey,' 'Turkei' and 'Turquie' that have been used in the past to refer to the 'Republic of Turkiye."
They have asked that the rest of the world please refer to them as Turkiye (pronounced Tur-key-yay), although they appreciate it will take a bit of getting used to.

The world's biggest 4 day week 6 month trial has begun - and it's in the UK. 3,300 employees from 70 UK companies are taking part. They receive the same pay and benefits, but only work 4 days.
It turns out we all get really tired and fed up during a 5 day week, but give us an extra day off if we fit everything into 4 days, and in many cases overall productivity actually goes up. It is a clear positive for mental health, carers, parents and people with long commutes. It often saves the company money and benefits the environment, and after the success of home working and other adaptations during the pandemic, it's a natural step forward.

It is World Food Safety Day. 400,000 people worldwide die each year from eating unsafe food. Wash your hands before you cook or eat, and again when you've finished. I was once told by a lab technician that more people get food poisoning in the UK from reheated rice than from anything else. If you're saving leftovers or spare portions, get them cool and in the fridge/freezer as quickly as possible, and reheat until it's piping hot all the way through. You most probably won't die, but a jiffy tummy is no fun either.  If in doubt, cook it longer / whack it in the oven before you barbeque it or just bin it.

I hope all of you managed to get some time off over the last week and the Platinum Jubilee weekend, to get out and about, have some fun and create some memories. We did, we even went to the cinema to see Bob's Burgers. It's good to be back doing normal stuff, and it's good to know that whatever happens with monkeypox, it is almost certain we will never have to take the preventative measures we've had to take for COVID - plus there's already a very effective time-tested vaccine! 

Stay sensible... I'll be back with the next update on Friday. 

Some people. They look just like numbers, but each one is a real human being.

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):

Taiwan 2,540,871 (+83,027) 3,214 (+124)

DPRK 4,198,890 (+61,730) 71

Germany 26,593,732 (+50,472) 139,769 (+21)

Australia 7,475,637 (+31,201) 8,802 (+47)

Japan 8,957,135 (+11,351) 30,773 (+21)

S. Korea 18,174,880 (+6,172) 24,299 (+20)

New Zealand 1,206,411 (+5,831) 1,194 (+8)

Greece 3,478,779 (+5,638) 29,951 (+24)

Russia 18,358,459 (+3,259) 379,657 (+73)

Austria 4,271,517 (+2,240) 18,675 (+1)

Thailand 4,471,179 (+2,224) 30,221 (+20)

Denmark 2,988,099 (+1,791) 6,388 (+12)

Netherlands 8,095,313 (+1,421) 22,326












































Measles and Polio














4 day week 




Food shortages




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