Friday 22 July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 22nd July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 22nd July 2022

UK: 23,212,565 reported cases and 182,727 losses of life (within 28 days of a positive test) as of July 15th. 
World: 573,017,988 reported cases and 6,398,940 losses of life.

Meet outdoors or let fresh air in Image of happy people enjoying a picnic in the sunshine

"The UK Commission on Covid Commemoration has been established to secure a broad consensus from across the whole of the United Kingdom on how we commemorate the COVID-19 pandemic and mark this distinctive period in our history at a national and community level. The Commission is expected to report to the Prime Minister [whoever that may be] by the end of March 2023."

The latest English Gov Flu & COVID Surveillance Report (11th - 17th July):
- at a national level, COVID-19 activity has increased slightly in several indicators in week 28 of 2022.
- The number of acute respiratory infection incidents (suspected outbreaks) decreased in England to 528 in week 28, compared to 537 in the previous week.
- Positivity for pillar one laboratory confirmed cases for week 28 was 9.5 per 100,000 population, a slight decrease from 11.2 in the previous week.
- The hospital admission rate for week 28 was 18.34 per 100,000 population, a slight increase from 18.04 in the previous week.
- Hospital admission rates for COVID-19 remain highest in the West Midlands, with a rate of 25.33 per 100,000 population.

ONS random sampling figures for the UK are potentially a lot more accurate, especially as we don't even test most people any more:
"The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 continued to increase in England, and trends were uncertain in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in the most recent week (week ending 13 July 2022 for England and Wales, week ending 14 July 2022 for Northern Ireland and Scotland).
The estimated percentage of population living in private households (those not in care homes or other communal establishments) that had COVID-19 in the latest week was:
England, estimate 3,147,700, equating to 5.77% of the population, or around 1 in 17 people.
Wales, estimate 183,200, equating to 6.03% of the population, or around 1 in 17 people.
Northern Ireland, estimate 88,400, equating to 4.82% of the population, or around 1 in 20 people.
Scotland, estimate 340,900, equating to 6.48% of the population, or around 1 in 15 people.
(Almost 3.8 million people in total had COVID last week in the UK...)

220722 ONS infections by age chart

BA.2.75 [OMICRON BA.2.5.X]:
This is a new variant that has burst onto the scene, and it also has the name Centaurus. It's come from the BA.2 line of the family tree and has a lot of mutations, including several that we know help COVID spread more quickly and easily, so all of the major health bodies and Governments are watching this one. It appears to have recently developed in India and has already been detected in several countries, including the UK, US, Canada, Germany and Australia. No reason to assume it will be more severe or deadly, just really, really catchy. 

UK Variant Watch:
An estimated 78.7% of confirmed cases in England are now Omicron BA.5 which was first identified in April and was designated as a Variant of Concern on 18th May.
As of 18th July 2022, there were 24 cases of the new Centaurus BA.2.75 variant in the UK. Of these, 20 were in England, 3 in Scotland and 1 in Wales. 

Last week scientists from La Jolla Institute for Immunology released a paper looking at whether repeated vaccinations and infections make your body a bit 'meh' and complacent against COVID. The result was no - our immune system has a great memory and continues to put up a strong response - even if we have become bored of wearing masks and a bit remiss about washing our hands when we get home... 

220722 ONS covid hospital admissions compared to previous peak chart

Most teachers in the UK have been awarded a pay rise of 5%, but actually the schools themselves have to find the extra from their budgets - which would have already been worked out for next year. In effect, the £££s spent on your child's education is the same, to buy a slightly more expensive worker, so you'll only be able to afford those workers for less hours per week. The maths won't add up, and the government will end up having to cover most of it anyway. They deserve a pay rise, but don't make the kids and the poorer schools suffer for it. 

Monkeypox updates:
"Almost 14,000 confirmed monkeypox cases have now been reported to WHO this year, from more than 70 countries and territories. So far, 5 deaths have been reported, all in Africa. WHO will continue to do everything we can to support countries to stop transmission and save lives."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO.
In fact over 15,000 cases have now been reported, including 2.300 in the US and 2,050 in the UK. 
On Thursday WHO convened a meeting where they decided monkeypox still does not constitute a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern). 
Doctors are warning that the monkeypox in this outbreak is not presenting as you'd usually expect. Aside from the incredibly low fatality rate (whoot!), previously you'd be feeling poorly, have swollen lymph nodes (armpits, neck, groin), a temperature and spots that crust over. In a significant number of these new cases, there is a shortened incubation period of just 2 to 5 days, no fever, no swollen lymph nodes, and just a couple of spots or lesions in the underpant region.

A young boy in the Netherlands has tested positive for monkeypox, and no-one has any idea where he caught it. This is the first of what are likely to be many such cases.
In response to an overly-dramatic panic-mongering version of this story, Benjamin Ryan, Science Reporter for The New York Times, The Atlantic, NBC and others, had the best missing letter typo ever:
"This is misinformation about monkeypox. The outbreak is occurring almost entirely among men who have sex with me. Public health experts agree that sexual contact is the principle driver of transmission and have asserted that risk to kids remains *very low*."
What he was attempting to point out is that men who have sex with other men (not just him) are currently substantially more at risk from monkeypox than anyone else - this is the population in which it is spreading quickly - and festival season won't help that. As Terence Trent D'Arby once cleverly said "We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time". While we can all catch monkeypox, it is incredibly hard to catch by sitting next to someone on the bus - you catch it far more easily by sharing a towel or bed linen, or shaking a patient's unwashed hand and then licking your fingers.
A monkeypox vaccine rollout to people most at risk is already underway in several countries, including parts of the UK and US.

220722 ONS covid stats compared to previous peak chart

Famous People With COVID:
US President Joe Biden. Twice jabbed, twice boosted, 79 year old Joe is "experiencing mild symptoms" and is taking a course of anti-viral Paxlovid. Don't overdo it Joe, rest and recover. The same to anyone with COVID. 

A new study by Kings College, London, has found that after being diagnosed with COVID, for or months afterwards you have a higher chance of being diagnosed as having cardiovascular disease, or being diabetic.
"The analysis showed that COVID-19 patients had 81% more diagnoses of diabetes in the first four weeks after contracting the virus and that their risk remained elevated by 27% for up to 12 weeks after infection.
COVID-19 was also associated with a six-fold increase in cardiovascular diagnoses overall, mainly due to the development blood clots in the lungs and irregular heartbeat. The risk of a new heart disease diagnosis began to decline five weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels or lower within 12 weeks to one year.
We know COVID can have a lasting effect on hearts, lungs and other organs, so we probably shouldn't be surprised at this news.
This was a big study, they looked at the health records of 856,000 people, and we really need to see what happens over the next couple of years to see how many of those people were always going to become ill, or even actually were ill, and having COVID gave it a bump start or meant that they were being checked out by medical professionals for the first time in ages. Either way, pay attention to your health during recovery from COVID, and if you do continue to feel rough, or spot or feel anything concerning, get in touch with your GP. 

The last thing we want to do is worry pregnant people, but we already know catching COVID later in pregnancy isn't a good thing. A new study has found that testing positive for the coronavirus in the last 3 months can double the risk of a premature birth, rising to a 7 times increased risk after 34 weeks. Thankfully we are able to save almost every one of those babies, some of them don't even require an extra hospital stay, but it's not the most stress free start for anyone.
"In a study of more than 5000 pregnant women, 9.1 per cent of those who had a positive covid-19 test after 34 weeks went on to give birth prematurely, defined as less than 37 weeks into the pregnancy. This is compared with 1.4 per cent of the women who didn’t test positive while pregnant." 
All evidence suggests getting vaccinated even when you are already pregnant is safe and a far better option than catching COVID. 

220722 ONS latest headline figures 6 charts on one image
If you re-use paper masks, be wise about it. A new study has found that as they start to get tatty, the raggedy edges and creases become microplastic-containing fluff - which you breathe in. Once a mask starts to look 'worn' it's time to throw it out.
Sadly we can't be as alarmed at this as we'd like to be. We eat loads of microplastics in our food and they are already in the air, where we breathe them in. We really are very stupid.

Scientists studying nasal spray vaccines have discovered that an MRNA vaccine jab followed by a nasal vaccine offers better immunity than 2 jabs. Variation seems repeatedly to be a good plan against COVID. 

COVID infections aren't only surging in the UK. Wastewater monitoring in the USA suggests they are in the second biggest surge of cases of the whole pandemic.

India has now distributed over 2 billion COVID vaccinations among their population. 

China may have bitten off more than they can chew. Word is that in desperation to catch omicron before it took hold, they over-expanded their testing programme way beyond budget and now will have to juggle to cover the wages of all of the hastily employed testing staff.

Give blood UK NHS image of smiling man with a needle in his arm and a comfy chair

Give blood if you can. If you'd take it when you needed it, it's only fair you add to the stock. I got my donations in early, which was lucky because before I was 25 they didn't want mine any more. A huge thank you to everyone who can and does donate blood. You are lifesavers every day, but you never really get the credit for being a hero. 

We can't survive without them, yet we don't even use the whole thing. We don't really understand how they work, but they're powered by electricity and full of emotions and dreams. It's World Brain Day. Look after yours. Keep hydrated if it's hot, even when it's raining. Get your COVID jabs and reduce your chance of injury due to disease. Exercise daily.

Remember there are still people out there who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, or who will always be especially vulnerable to COVID however many jabs or infections they get. Please respect them. 

It is the weekend. Hurrah! A cooler weekend and week lies ahead, with some local flooding and thunderstorms. Of course it is, the school Summer holidays have just begun. It you are attempting to leave the UK, my commiserations. Take water and something to do, because airports and ports are struggling to cope and there are massive backlogs, delays and cancellations. Dover is at gridlock. Holiday or not, DO NOT forget your own treat, at a time when you can enjoy it - you've earnt it. 

Stay Cool, Stay Sensible, Save The NHS... 

Some numbers. They were all born on the same Earth as you.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY in the full 24 hours until midnight GMT (the UK would currently be reporting around 20,000 new positive test results on average per day, and the loss of around 125 people):

World 572,488,183 (+953,875) 6,398,211 (+1,794)
Japan 10,604,679 (+135,239) 31,697 (+54)
Germany 30,239,122 (+107,819) 143,061 (+113)
USA 91,942,744 (+100,711) 1,051,235 (+251)
France 33,339,350 (+80,869) 151,237 (+133)
Italy 20,467,349 (+80,653) 170,527 (+157)
S. Korea 19,009,080 (+71,109) 24,794 (+17)
Australia 8,967,138 (+54,989) 10,968 (+89)
Brazil 33,506,282 (+51,988) 676,551 (+271)
Mexico 6,523,019 (+34,661) 326,764 (+107)
Taiwan 4,362,196 (+25,140) 8,392 (+74)
India 43,847,065 (+21,880) 525,930 (+60)
Austria 4,658,125 (+14,070) 18,987 (+16)
Peru 3,801,893 (+14,006) 213,918 (+24)
New Zealand 1,540,509 (+10,323) 1,868 (+31)
Singapore 1,636,109 (+9,749) 1,466 (+3)
Chile 4,161,478 (+9,003) 59,216 (+70)
Iran 7,304,550 (+7,915) 141,593 (+29)


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