Friday 8 July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th July 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update 8th July 2022

UK COVID Statistics on 6th July according to Medriva:
Cases: 22,883,995 (+142,930 over the previous 5 days, average 28,586 per day)
Losses of Life: 180,718 (+301 over previous 5 days, average 60 per day)

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,614,631 cases and 7,503 losses of life to 7th July.

World: 558,995,701 reported cases and 6,369,701 losses of life.

WHO living through a pandemic is hard

"Surveillance indicators suggest that, at a national level, COVID-19 activity has increased in several indicators in week 26 of 2022.
The number of acute respiratory infection incidents (suspected outbreaks) increased in England to 504 in week 26, compared to 382 in the previous week."
UK Government
Yes indeedy, COVID numbers continue to rise, and the number of people in hospital is now almost at the level of the last peak in April. English hospital admissions are still highest in those aged over 85, and now highest in the West Midlands.
The COVID Actuaries:
"Hospital admissions with COVID are still rising sharply across England. 7-day average is up 31% week-on-week. All regions seeing fairly consistent growth. Implied R estimate still at around 1.17.
London has now equalled the March peak.
Bed occupancy with COVID is above 12,000."

Image of a woman on someone's shoulders, enjoying a music festival, with text over

ONS random sampling also logs the increase. Week ending 29th June for England and Northern Ireland, 30th June for Wales and Scotland:
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase across the UK, likely caused by increases in infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5."
England, estimate 2,154,000, equating to 3.95% of the population, or around 1 in 25 people.
Wales, estimate 149,700, equating to 4.93% of the population, or around 1 in 20 people.
Northern Ireland, estimate 98,400, equating to 5.36% of the population, or around 1 in 19 people.
Scotland, estimate 312,800, equating to 5.94% of the population, or around 1 in 17 people.

Boris Johnson's government were truly record-breaking on Wednesday, with more resignations than has ever happened in the history of Parliament. Over 40 MP's resigned in a 24 hour period alone, with most saying they simply couldn't back him any more, he doesn't have any ethics or morals, and they don't like current policy decisions. Boris continued to stand his ground long beyond any normal human, but gave in on Thursday morning after almost 60 resignations.
With lots of top names gone, including Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove (who was actually sacked by Boris), the UK Government and cabinet has had to shuffle around for our temporary overseeing before Boris actually leaves, presumably with a whole new speech about how great he's been. This is planned for October by Boris, and earlier if possible by everyone else. (Leave means leave...)
Imagine for one second that your local school or supermarket lost this many staff overnight, and what a fabulous mess it would be next day. Then imagine the head or manager who everyone had complained about insisted on staying on for the next 4 months. That's us. Awesome. (I thought it was because he'd planned a huge extravagant delayed wedding party at Chequers, but he says this isn't so, so that must be true.)

Here are some of the current big name appointments - please bear in mind these are subject to immediate or disappointing change at any time. Correct at time of publication:
Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP as Chancellor of the Exchequer
Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Rt Hon James Cleverly MP as Secretary of State for Education
Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland QC MP as Secretary of State for Wales
Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Shailesh Vara MP as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Andrew Stephenson MP as Minister without Portfolio. He will attend Cabinet.
Johnny Mercer MP as a Minister of State (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) at the Cabinet Office. He will attend Cabinet.
Edward Timpson CBE MP as Solicitor General

Top tips to remember if you go for a paddle - it may be cold, fast, dangerous

There were some people from Bolton on the news yesterday, reacting to Boris' future resignation, and commenting on what a good job he's done with COVID.
The five-year average deaths registered across just England and Wales from 2015 to 2019 is 532,077.
There were 607,922 deaths registered in 2020.
There were 586,334 deaths registered in 2021. 67,350 of them had an underlying cause of COVID-19, accounting for 11.5% of all deaths registered.
Bolton appears to be in an alternate universe. 

Likely hospital-acquired COVID now accounts for 25% of COVID hospitalisations in England. Thanks to Adele Groyer of the COVID Actuaries for keeping an eye on this.
"Total Covid hospitalisations increased by 34% while likely hospital acquired cases increased by a huge 54% in the past week.
There were 2,920 hospital acquired cases in the past week."
Some of this number may well be a reflection of better testing. Let's hope so.
Ghana has detected 2 cases of Marburg Virus. Marburg has never been found in Ghana before, and is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola. You don't want it. WHO's information page sums it up nicely:
"Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials. Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.
Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are being evaluated."

Canada is going to throw away 13.6 MILLION doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine due to lack of demand, because its about to go out of date. The cheaper vaccines have been routinely bad-mouthed in the press, especially outside the UK - when actually the most serious side effects and levels of protection are pretty comparable whichever of the main 4 vaccines you get, especially for your 3rd jab or more. A mix and match approach offers best protection of all, so avoiding more traditional vaccines all together may not prove to be the wisest of moves. 

080722 Chart Monkeypox by region WHO report

Monkeypox latest from WHO:
Is the Monkeypox outbreak a pandemic? Well technically yes it is, although WHO have decided not to declare a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) just yet. It has now spread to over 70 countries, across all 5 continents. It is EVERYWHERE already. According to the figures provided by WHO, cases in Europe have tripled in the last fortnight. It is spreading fast - although currently it is still mainly being spread by sexual contact between men who sleep with other men, and in the homes of the people who catch it. There really is nothing to suggest that isn't just luck. What happens when a nursery aged child catches it? And spreads it to their playmates, siblings, pregnant women? Currently any mortality is confined to the poorest regions of the world, with the least access to healthcare, but as yet we have nothing to say we in the West can be complacent. Usually this strain of monkeypox has a 1% fatality rate, and our most vulnerable groups aren't currently catching it. Let's hope that continues. A lot of people are getting very twitchy, and are very unhappy WHO have not moved more quickly on this one.
Current figures from WHO, as of 4th July:
WHO Region: Confirmed Cases / Deaths
African Region:173 / 3
Region of the Americas: 902 / 0
Eastern Mediterranean Region: 15 / 0
European Region: 4920 / 0
Western Pacific Region: 17 / 0
Cumulative: 6027 / 3

UK monkeypox data according to the UK Health Security Agency today:
"Up to 6 July 2022, there were 1,517 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK. The median age of confirmed cases in the UK was 36 years old. In England, 99% of cases are male and 74% are known to be London residents. 16% (226) of England cases reported recent foreign travel, with 176 of these reporting travel within Europe."
So what happens if monkeypox does break out into the wider community? Well, there is only a tiny chance we'd end up under lockdown again. The good news is that it has visible signs that mother nature designed to be unattractive to humans (weeping spots and lesions). That's likely to put you off close contact, or touching the spots at least, and it will make you less keen to borrow their jeans. The bad news is it takes a few days to develop grim looking spots, during which time you're likely to feel increasingly rough and tired. Overall, it's not likely to ever spread more quickly than chicken pox - which in the UK tends to be seen as a normal childhood ailment most of us remember catching, but which is still very dangerous to a small portion of our society. So, kind of similarly to chicken pox, but none of us caught it as kids.  
If you had millions of £££'s and a population to look after, you could do worse than purchase them all a vaccine - it's long time tried and tested,  we have the recipe and ability, and it should last most people a lifetime. If you don't, and monkeypox really did start to spread through the entire population, everyone in the UK under around 55 hasn't been vaccinated and is at risk - and the younger you are, the greater that risk. Not only that, but if you push any virus through millions of people it is inevitable that mutations will occur.
We could have it with our Autumn COVID jab, then it would be incredibly cheap to administer. I might email the Health Secretary and suggest it (whoever it is having to speed read 'Biology for Dummies' currently).

Anyone can catch monkeypox UK Gov

Most mutations occur by accident. A couple of years ago I referred to virus as a photocopier or a 3D printer, which enters the body and starts printing copies of itself - and some of the copies aren't perfect, but they go on to produce copies of themselves, which create copies of themselves etc etc. Mutations can add up, be accidentally put right, disappear and appear all the time, and helpfully most of them don't really make much difference. 

Sir Kier Starmer, UK opposition leader, has not received a fine from the police for the leaked photos of him and a handful of work colleagues eating a take away and drinking a single can of beer whilst clearly actually working late into the evening in April 2021 - when most indoor gatherings were banned. Personally I feel there's a big difference between 'grabbing a tea while working late' and 'getting slaughtered at a pre-arranged alcohol-fuelled party'. Several Conservative party employee 'gatherings' were also dismissed with a stern look by the police. 

We take holidays to 'get away from it all', but there's one virus you'll struggle to escape by travelling abroad. Like the UK, cases are on the rise anywhere that BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron has a foothold, including France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, the USA, Australia.... Enjoy your holidays everybody - but be sensible...

Australia has expanded second COVID boosters to everyone aged 30 or over, but they'll only actively recommend it for people aged 50 and over. It’s up to people aged 30-49 years to decide for themselves.

Taiwan has done very well against COVID, and is one of the more hesitant nations, but they are now loosening entry requirements. The current weekly cap of 25,000 visitor arrivals has been raised to 40,000, and from 14th July, arrivals who hold passports of the Republic of China or Taiwan, or Taiwan resident certificates, and those who arrive in Taiwan for transit will be exempted from having to present PCR test results within 48 hours of travel. They will all still have a rapid test on arrival.

Hello you people who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, or who will always be especially vulnerable to COVID - you still matter. Never think you don't.

It is the weekend! I've had a ridiculously hard and busy week, and I'm ending it with a take away curry with my kids - that's my big treat, and I'll have leftovers for breakfast, so it's treat x 2 really. Don't forget your own treat. Make it for you, something you want to do, and enjoy every minute.

There's a heatwave promised. We love the outdoors, but we don't love heatstroke or sunburn. Drink plenty of water, wear a hat, use sunscreen, and sit in the shade if you are staying outside for any length of time.

Don't leave pets in cars, alternate alcoholic drinks with water, Save The NHS. 

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

Countries / Cases / Losses of life in the full 24 hours YESTERDAY until midnight GMT - all countries reporting over 10,000 cases (the UK doesn't report on Thursday):

World 558,613,503 (+947,283) 6,369,108 (+1,801)
France 31,974,607 (+161,265) 149,943 (+89)
Germany 28,926,346 (+117,732) 141,758 (+131)
Italy 19,158,347 (+108,413) 168,864 (+94)
USA 90,065,165 (+91,472) 1,045,080 (+320)
Brazil 32,761,045 (+73,365) 673,126 (+297)
Japan 9,496,651 (+44,845) 31,363 (+15)
Australia 8,377,932 (+43,130) 10,190 (+59)
Taiwan 3,995,590 (+31,431) 7,328 (+105)
Mexico 6,152,924 (+31,116) 325,928 (+60)
S. Korea 18,451,862 (+18,503) 24,593 (+10)
India 43,587,302 (+18,418) 525,343 (+38)
Greece 3,792,674 (+18,297) 30,400 (+29)
Finland 1,158,485 (+12,875) 4,941 (+66)
Austria 4,499,646 (+11,971) 18,825 (+9)
Chile 4,055,693 (+11,082) 58,717 (+68)
New Zealand 1,403,073 (+10,958) 1,561 (+15)
Canada 3,968,974 (+10,408) 42,183 (+103)
Israel 4,425,332 (+10,260) 11,056 (+14)

UK stats:

Monkeypox images
Superb WHO messaging

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