Friday 29 July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus (and Monkeypox) UK and World News Update Friday 29th July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus (and Monkeypox) UK and World News Update Friday 29th July 2022

World: 580,003,877 reported cases and 6,415,501 losses of life.

"Many people now are boasting about the fact "I've had this four times". I wouldn't like to have COVID19 four times. And I do think there's some evidence to suggest that sequential COVID19 infections do result in higher risk of long term Long COVID, or cardiovascular or neurologic complications. You don't want to get this disease once if you can avoid it, and you don't want to get it four times for sure.
Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

COVID-19 Coronavirus (and Monkeypox) UK and World News Update Friday 29th July 2022

"The risk of monkeypox to the public remains low in the UK.
If you develop symptoms, stay at home and call 111 or a sexual health clinic.
The NHS is vaccinating at-risk groups and thousands more will be invited shortly. If eligible, please come forward when contacted."
Message there from the UK Government.

UK COVID hospital admissions are down - everyone together "Hurrah!"
The lovely COVID Actuaries have summarised neatly for us:
"Hospital admissions with COVID are now falling rapidly across England.
7-day average is down 19% week-on-week. Implied R estimate is below 0.9.
Regionally, falls of between 14% (East and NW) and 25% (London).
Bed occupancy with COVID is also falling, down 15% week-on-week."

Latest random COVID sampling from the UK ONS is also positive news (catch up Northern Ireland!). For the week ending 20 July 2022: 
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in England, Wales, and Scotland; the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland."
- England, estimate 2,632,200, equating to 4.83% of the population, or around 1 in 20 people.
- Wales, estimate 156,200, equating to 5.14% of the population, or around 1 in 19 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 113,400, equating to 6.18% of the population, or around 1 in 16 people.
- Scotland, estimate 272,000, equating to 5.17% of the population, or around 1 in 19 people.

290722 real hospital admissions by age

Good job COVID hospital admissions are going down, because the UK NHS is underfunded, under-respected, under-staffed and held together with wishes and sheer will. Amid reports of 40 hour waits for a bed, 5 beds left in an entire hospital, and patients dying in ambulances, we have a damning report from a group of cross-party MPs, the 'Health and Social Care Committee'. 
They found that we lost hundreds of experienced staff last year, yet we actually need another 475,000 health workers and 490,000 social care workers within the next 10 or so years, or the whole thing will fall apart.
"In the face of this, the government has shown a marked reluctance to act decisively."
"The persistent understaffing of the NHS now poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety both for routine and emergency care. It also costs more, as patients present later with more serious illness. But most depressing for many on the frontline is the absence of any credible strategy to address it."
So that's not going very well... 

290722 Monkeypox 7 day average Our World In Data

On Saturday 23rd Dr Tedros of WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak to be a PHEIC  - a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is the World Health Organisation's highest stage of alarm, and as close as they can come to legally calling a pandemic.
The panel had voted 8-6 against, but as with the UK Government, the Head of WHO is not obliged to follow their recommendations and has made the call himself. A lot of big names from the World of infectious diseases (including Dr Angela Rasmussen, Boghuma Titanji, Ana Amaya) believe he is correct to do so.

According to the US CDC live map, the monkeypox outbreak now includes over 20,800 people in 71 countries where monkeypox is not traditionally reported.  It is affecting all areas of the globe. Top of the list at this point are the following - bear in mind this is early days, a big outbreak makes a big difference, and population sizes vary massively:
USA 4,906
Spain 3,738
Germany 2,540
UK 2,432
France 1,837
Netherlands 878
Canada 745
Brazil 696
Portugal 588
Italy 426
New Zealand 2 (already doing worse than they did with COVID).

The latest report from WHO says 5 people are known to have died from monkeypox. While that is tragic for their families and friends, it is astoundingly low compared to other monkeypox outbreaks. The virus doesn't seem to be behaving normally, and is presenting as much less severe than other monkeypox - which has a mortality rate of between 1% and 10%. We really have to be aware that the populations it is spreading in currently are those people at lowest risk of severe illness. They are younger, fit and healthy men who are generally a lot more wealthy and able to access medical care than the populations where monkeypox has been seen before. (Anyone who thinks monkeypox can't infect them should be reminded it already jumped from an entirely different species.)
It's nowhere near as easy to pass on to strangers as COVID is, but we can't assume monkeypox will do anything other than spread out eventually, and that it'll pass through a community about as easily as chicken pox. Everyone under age around 54 in the UK and much of the world was not vaccinated against Smallpox. Even if it doesn't leave you with any scars or long term effects, who is really in the mood for being poorly for 2-3 weeks? And how much of an effect will that have on systems which are already crippled - public transport, the NHS, airlines etc... 
We also have the issue that monkeypox makes people contagious for up to 4 weeks. FOUR WEEKS. As world-leading monkeypox expert Boghuma Titanji said yesterday:
"Without support and I mean meaningful financial and material support that ensures stable housing and protects from loss of income, it is completely unreasonable to expect anyone with monkeypox to be able to isolate for one month."
This is true. If someone only has a couple of lesions/spots, just feels a bit rough or tired, and isn't a millionaire who hates other people, they are pretty likely to ignore their monkeypox and carry on with much of their life - and that's if they even realise and accept they have it. It doesn't bode well for containment. 
Of course it could all be fine and no-one will be seriously ill, however young they are, and we'll nip it all in the bud by vaccinating the best few thousand people. Everyone cross those fingers...  

San Francisco has a substantial gay population and yesterday declared a 'Local Public Health Emergency' - this will allow extra funding to be diverted to combating the outbreak. Also yesterday, New York State declared monkeypox an 'Imminent Threat To Public Health'. 

The monkeypox vaccine is incredibly effective, and worth getting earlier rather than later if you are in an at-risk group. It's 2 jabs a month apart, and from 2 weeks after your second dose someone with a regular immune system will be 98% protected.
Monkeypox vaccine efficacy

For reference, the main monkeypox symptoms in the current outbreak include fever, swollen glands in places like neck, armpit and groin, muscle aches and pains... Followed by one or more spots that crust over. 

Back to COVID... Research out in the last week (not yet peer-reviewed) has shown that infection with any Omicron strain offers protection against symptomatic illness with the newest Omicron strains of around 76.1%... (3 out of 4 isn't bad). So anyone who has had COVID since around December 2021 has far less of a chance of being ill right now. Good news. 

Scientists from the University of Birmingham have analysed the health records of 2.4 million people in the UK, including 486,000 who caught Covid, and they've added 2 new symptoms to the Long COVID list - hair loss and loss of libido. Sorry to anyone affected. 

(Someone remind the next Prime Minister not to play the herd immunity game with a new virus before we know the long term effects.) 
New research suggests that around 5% of previously infected adults have long-lasting or possibly permanent changes to their sense of smell (5.6%) and/or taste (4.4%). Excitingly this is probably due to brain damage. Welcome to my world. I lost most of my sense of smell as a teenager - mine hasn't ever come back. If it's been over 2 years then your own doctor may well be of the opinion yours won't either. Good news is that you won't be so bothered by other people's BO, bad news is you won't be so bothered by your own BO. It can make eating challenging at times, so find things you can still smell or taste, make your food look visually attractive, and if its really bad, plan meals and mealtimes so that you still eat properly. 

290722 real hospital admissions by age

The UK NHS has set out a Long COVID action plan. 
"Specialist clinics, dedicated to long COVID, will now be able to send people for tests at local one stop shops and mobile clinics, rather than people going back to their GP practice for multiple different tests.
Backed by an additional £90 million investment, the updated long COVID plan includes ambitions for all patients to have an initial assessment within six weeks to ensure they are diagnosed and treated quickly.
Latest estimates from the ONS show that around 1.6 million people in England are experiencing ongoing COVID symptoms lasting more than four weeks, with around one in five saying it has a significant impact on their daily life."
They will be establishing "a nationwide network of 90 specialist long COVID clinics, 14 hubs for children and young people and investment in training and guidance to support GP teams in managing the condition".
About blinking time... 

Hopeful news on the horizon, as scientists may have identified part of all coronavirus which remains the same whatever variant you get. That doesn't just go for COVID variants, it also works for SARS, flu and other coronavirus. If targeting this area proves effective then there's a Nobel prize on the way... 

Give blood UK NHS

The World Weather Attribution Group have done a rapid response study looking at the heatwave 10 days ago. They chose England and Wales to research, and believe it's likely around 840 extra people died on just Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th. That is a huge amount of people, and an awful lot of relatives and friends.
2 years ago, research suggested the chance of the UK reaching 40 degrees had risen from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 100.

Is UK testing coming back? Two people who worked temporarily for test and trace have told me they've been recalled... 

It is the weekend, and I am at home with my kids (since about 5pm). Hurrah! Weekend off for me, and then a few thousand emails to address next week, but before that my treat! I've earnt it, and I'm sure you have too, so don't forget yours. I'm having a Chinese meal, and after a week with mainly a microwave I can't wait. Be kind to yourself, and look out for those people who are still extra vulnerable to COVID. 

Play Outdoors, Keep Your Clothes On With Strangers, Save The NHS... 

Some people. They look like numbers here, but they are all people.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life reported in the full 24 hours until midnight GMT last night:

Japan 11,888,057 (+207,236) 32,170 (+122)
USA 92,917,658 (+93,216) 1,054,422 (+260)
S. Korea 19,535,242 (+88,296) 24,957 (+25)
Germany 30,787,309 (+84,798) 143,855 (+153)
Italy 20,898,388 (+60,710) 171,638 (+199)
France 33,741,251 (+51,594) 151,894 (+112)
Australia 9,282,006 (+46,325) 11,512 (+125)
Brazil 33,752,376 (+45,307) 678,147 (+276)
Mexico 6,686,954 (+27,916) 327,412 (+151)
Taiwan 4,522,347 (+23,953) 8,776 (+62)
India 43,979,730 (+20,409) 526,258 (+47)

CNBC: Monkeypox could spread well beyond communities of gay and bisexual men, WHO says.

Monkeypox symptoms

And a second report has similar results

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