Friday 26 August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update August 26th 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update August 26th 2022

Today's news is probably the shortest ever, mainly because I've had a tummy bug and lost a couple of days, and then I've been so busy since then that I thought today was Thursday. Happens to everyone... probably. Maybe.

The BBC seem to have finally caught up with the fact that mortality in England over the past 10 weeks is about 12% higher than we would expect.
It's tricky to pinpoint exactly why this is, as direct losses of life to COVID are only accounting for about 4% of those people. Aside from some extra losses of life because of the extreme heat, COVID is probably indirectly responsible for a large proportion of the remaining extra people who have died recently. Going to your GP later on in an illness, missing regular scans and check ups, and being weakened by catching COVID are all culprits, as well as an overwhelmed and shattered NHS.
As a reminder - if you are ill, GET HELP OR ADVICE. They might be really busy, but it's still what they are there for. Don't ignore a niggle. 
COVID testing in the UK is about to change. From 31st August regular asymptomatic testing will be paused in all remaining settings, including hospitals and care homes.
Testing for individuals with symptoms in these settings, including health and social care staff, will continue.
Immunocompromised patients in hospitals and people being admitted into care homes and hospices will also continue to be tested.

Rishi Sunak has been interviewed in The Spectator. He says scientists were given too much influence and power at the beginning of COVID, and dissenting opinions were deleted from official minutes. 
Clearly deleting anything is very wrong - we should have seen the full story. It's only my opinion, but I disagree with the first bit. I actually think we should have moved more swiftly in line with the scientists, then we wouldn't have lost so many people, and we wouldn't have had to lock down for so long, or for as many times. You only have to look at nations which were very quick to act, to see that if scientists had really had their way, we'd have had to endure far less restrictions and lockdowns over all. That's an inescapable truth. There are many, many lessons to be learned from this pandemic, and only when we look back from 10 years into the future will we be able to assess exactly who got it right.
Rishi is a billionaire Chancellor and obviously finance is his main concern. Even so, I'm not entirely convinced he's taking into account just how expensive and debilitating Long COVID and bereavement are going to be for the UK going forward. 

The latest UK HSA (Health Security Agency) Monkeypox report has some positive news. New cases are beginning to drop. The picture isn't quite as rosy in London as elsewhere, but overall we have a negative trajectory, with an estimated halving time of 24 days. 
Targetting vaccines for those people most at risk (men who sleep with other men and are not in stable monogamous relationships) really has made a huge difference, and there is "no robust evidence of sustained transmission" outside those groups.  
Fast access to vaccination and information may just save the day. Let's hope so. 

A new paper has just been published looking at monkeypox transmission among the first 255 cases in Italy.
They found the average incubation time (between catching it and showing any symptoms) was 9.1 days.
A long incubation makes it much harder to work out exactly where you caught it and who from.

And there is more monkeypox study news on the way, because the UK's NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) have announced they'll be running a trial for a therapeutic treatment for monkeypox.
These are the people responsible for the incredibly successful RECOVERY trial for COVID treatments, which discovered how useful Dexamethasone is, and how pointless Ivermectin was, and ultimately saved tens (or hundreds) of thousands of lives.
Currently there is no special treatment that speeds up recovery from monkeypox, so this trial will be a massive bonus for the thousands of people who currently catch monkeypox in countries where it is endemic (found in wild animals).
Tecovirimat (also known as TPOXX®) was originally developed to treat patients with Smallpox. It "prevents the virus from leaving infected cells, stopping its spread within the body" and was licensed earlier this year by the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), based on promising initial study results in animals and "evidence of safety in healthy human volunteers".
It is being used to treat hospitalised patients with severe complications of monkeypox.
Nice of us to bother now that richer nations are affected by a disease that's affected some of our poorest people for the last few decades. 
Vaccine manufacturer Moderna is taking Pfizer and BioNTech to court to sue for patent infringement. They say that they developed the mRNA technique a few years ago.
"We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission.”
Goldarnit. This is the kind of argument which makes people distrustful of vaccine manufacturers and their immense profits. 
No doubt more will follow on this story...

COVID cases in the UK are continuing on their own downward trajectory - as we would expect with Summer, warm weather, outdoor play, high vaccination rates and very little testing. Hospitalisations are also creeping downwards - which is always a good thing.

I'm calling this bulletin over, because I'm already late and my poor sister has had to drive for 2 hours with me sat in the passenger seat silently tapping away, so that's it for this week.

It is the Bank Holiday weekend! Whoot! I get to see hopefully ALL of my kids - a rare do which we didn't even manage at Christmas or Easter for the past couple of years. I hope you have a chance to take a break and see your loved ones, and if you are working - thank you. Please give yourself a treat, you have earned it, you deserve something nice. 

Wear Sunscreen, Smile Often, Save The NHS. 


Friday 19 August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update August 19th 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update August 19th 2022

UK COVID Statistics:
In the 7 days until 12th August 744 COVID-related deaths were reported. This 189 less than the week before (-20.3%). 
In the 7 days to 15th August, 6,005 people were admitted to hospital with COVID. 
In the 7 days to 14th August 66 COVID-related deaths were reported. 
In the 7 days to 14th August, 448 people were admitted to hospital with COVID.
Northern Ireland:
In the 7 days to 12th August 16 COVID-related deaths were reported. 
In the 7 days to 12th August, 60 people were admitted to hospital with COVID.
In the 7 days to 13th August 17 COVID-related deaths were reported. 
In the 7 days to 12th August, 278 people were admitted to hospital with COVID.

Rep. Of Ireland: 1,653,576 cases and 7,742 losses of life reported in total as of yesterday.

World: 599,293,153 reported cases and 6,467,625 losses of life.

Who gets an Autumn booster UK 2022

The UK has become the first country to approve Moderna's new "bivalent" Omicron-specific COVID vaccine as a booster jab. Bivalent refers to the number '2', and it targets boring old COVID, as well as specifically targeting Omicron variants (by having especially shaped attachment points). Omicron variants now account for almost all cases on the globe, including most of those with the more disturbing collections of mutations. 
In tests people given the new vaccine were found to increase their protection against Omicron by 8 times, and protection against older strains of COVID was actually very slightly higher too. This is exactly what you would hope from a tweaked and upgraded vaccine. 
At the moment the UK MHRA have approved the jab as a booster for adults over age 18. 

The UK's Autumn COVID booster will begin rollout on 5th September with care home residents and housebound people among the first in line. Wider rollout will begin a week later. Eligible people are basically anyone in a special jab group or aged 50 or over. You will be invited to attend when it's your turn, and you will be offered the new Moderna Omicron-specific jab.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

July AND August #TBCSmiles...

In all the time I've collected the #tbcsmiles I haven't missed a month until last month. I have already apologised, and I really was very much grieving my Mum, and dealing with her funeral and all of the other things that need to be sorted when someone dies. My head was far too full, I didn't want to have to turn on my laptop and I just wanted to be left in peace. I guess it happens to all of us at times, and I'm glad I was able to tell myself to stop, and rest. 

I've spent a lot of time sitting in the garden staring at insects, and it's allowed me to think, and wonder, and remember a time when all of those around me now weren't there, and a cheekily-grinning and innocent little girl was.

Me and my mum in 1974 She is crouched and holding my baby sister on her lap

For anyone who didn't know why I collect my smiles, it is because they are incredibly precious, but so often we let them slip by unnoticed, or forgotten. It's easy to count how many times you cried last month, but how many times did you laugh? We need to remember these times equally. They remind us we can be a success, we can make people's day a bit brighter, we can make other people laugh too. They are the reason we are here. When you strip everything back, all any of us ever really want is to be happy. Start counting the happy times, and revel in your own success with an extra grin. 

Monday 15 August 2022

#TBCSmiles... 96 Months... 8 Years.

 8 years ago today, we woke up to find that one of our teenage children hadn't survived the night. In the early hours of the morning she had taken her own life. I wrote about it at the time, here

After 8 years we know that today isn't likely to be as hard as you might fear. It's not a reminder of Elspeth, because there is nothing forgotten, and mentally we know this date is coming, so we can brace ourselves for it. This is a day we can at least take off the mask and any illusion of pretending to be fine, even if we aren't. 

Sunflower drawn for us by a young student in Wakefield

Any day might be interrupted with a surprise memory, a badly chosen comment, a celebrity story, or a worry about someone you know, or don't. Any day can end badly just as it can end well, but each and every day is a mundane sort of grief, a new normal that you learn to live alongside. 

There are never quite enough people for dinner, or enough washing to go in the machine, and nowadays I cook mainly in silence standing alone, without Elspeth sitting at the kitchen table chatting. I usually love cooking, but sometimes I just can't bring myself to do it. 

Friday 12 August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other viruses UK and World News Update 12th August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other viruses UK and World News Update 12th August 2022

World COVID Statistics: 
Cases: 593,567,442
Losses Of Life: 6,449,589

UK COVID stats regarding cases, hospitalisations and deaths are on the way down. According to the ONS random survey week ending 25th July for Wales and Northern Ireland, and 26th July for England and Scotland:
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland; and the trend remained uncertain in Northern Ireland."
- England, estimate 2,106,000, equating to 3.86% of the population, or around 1 in 25 people.
- Wales, estimate 108,800, equating to 3.58% of the population, or around 1 in 30 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 109,800, equating to 5.98% of the population, or around 1 in 17 people.
- Scotland, estimate 260,800, equating to 4.95% of the population, or around 1 in 20 people.

UK heat advice met office - take water, be sensible

A clinically extremely vulnerable chap named Nicholas Chavez has pulled out some exciting COVID stats for us. That's exciting as in startling rather than fun... we'll start with England’s COVID hospital admissions in the first week of August: 
2022: 6,842
2021: 4,738
2020: 411
And how about England’s excess deaths during the month of July (more deaths than average, via the ONS):
2022: 6,260
2021: 2,109
2020: −1,018
Well, that's going well then. Funny how well masks, distancing, being sensible and acting like we might have a disease worked, as compared to this year's "it's finished, we're done with that now. Move on".... 

Sunday 7 August 2022

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My friend's baby Una with a massive grin

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Friday 5 August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and Monkeypox UK and World News Update 5th August 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and Monkeypox UK and World News Update 5th August 2022

The UK is currently reporting an average of around 9,000 new COVID cases per day, and 120 losses of life. 

World COVID Total: 587,110,053 reported cases and 6,431,557 losses of life.

"ONS deaths data has been released for week ending 22 July, the week of the heatwave.
1,885 more deaths were recorded in-week compared to the 2015-19 average. That’s 21% more.
Year-to-date there have been 320,980 deaths recorded which is 4% more than the 2015-19 average." 
Stuart McDonald, COVID Actuaries. 
No surprise that death registrations for the week of the UK heatwave show a marked increase. Not all deaths which occurred will show in these figures, so there'll also be a higher than average total next week too. COVID losses are also showing a marked increase in the previous week, up to 745.
I am sorry to everyone who lost somebody they cared for.

UKHSA Monkeypox vaccination for these people

We have some excellent news from the COVID Actuaries, COVID is truly DOWN:
"Hospital admissions with COVID are now falling rapidly across England. 7-day average is down 21% week-on-week. Implied R estimate is around 0.9.
Regionally, falls of between 13% (Midlands) and 25% (South West).
Bed occupancy with COVID is also falling, down 17% week-on-week."
Good stuff. 

Sorry about July's #TBCSmiles...

So there were no #TBCSmiles in July. My mother had died, and the funeral was on the 19th. I was exhausted and having a desperately needed few days at home with my family. They needed me to be there, even if just to ruffle their hair occasionally and feed them something including vegetables. I needed some normality and a break. 

Flowers from my mothers funeral red yellow colourful and bright

Funerals are mainly organised by other people after talking to you, but they are still really stressful. It was forecast to be the actual hottest day ever, and with people travelling (mainly by train) from all over the country, any stress was doubled. We went down a day early, and avoided the midday. It was a mere 31 degrees in the shade at 7am...

Tuesday 2 August 2022

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Boy holding light up building construction blocks called light stax

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