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.

UK GPs are already warning they won't be able to administer the Autumn Boosters because they can't afford it. Staff are already short and trying to do 3 things at once, volunteers are back at paid work trying to keep food on the table, and so extra staff need to be employed to cover the rollout. At the same time, bonusses for vaccinating housebound people and in care homes have been removed, and the standard payment per dose administered has dropped from £12.58 to £10.06. In essence, the Government has done to the jab rollout what it has done to dental care - made it a loss-maker for almost any NHS facility trying to deliver it. 

190822 latest random sampling ONS

Deaths data from the COVID Actuaries is a quiet and steady somewhat hidden statistic which isn't pretty. For the week ending 5th August:
"1,662 more deaths were recorded in-week compared to the 2015-19 average. That’s 18% more."
He goes on to explain the population is aging, and other factors affect figures, but still we have an excess mortality rate of around 11%. Around 3-4% is non-COVID, and 7% COVID-related. The effects of COVID, pressures on the NHS, and all of the other things that have happened over the past 3 years are making a visible difference to our life expectancy.
People have delayed going for diagnosis and treatment, missed out on scans and check ups, then when they begin treatment they're already more ill, or even end up needing urgent care. They can't get an ambulance because they're all queueing to offload patients in A&E. A&E is full because there are no beds to move people to, and a HUGE percentage of people already in hospital could go home if they had access to social care. Someone to help them when they get home. 
Really most of this could be solved if we pay ALL social care workers an adequate wage for doing the jobs most MPs would never do, and could never have the skills to do. Reward them properly, tempt leavers back to the profession, and recruit like mad. Then nurses and first responders can get back to doing what they do best. 
Anyway, I digress... 

Having said that, latest week's hospital admission figures for England are dropping overall, down 11% on the 7 day average - although not dropping so much as static in the East and the North West. They remain highest in our oldest people. 

That trend should continue, because latest random sampling from the ONS shows a welcome drop in COVID infections across the UK. For the week ending 8th August for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and week ending 6th August for England:
- England, estimate 1,432,900, equating to 2.63% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Wales, estimate 72,600, equating to 2.39% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 36,600, equating to 2.00% of the population, or 1 in 50 people.
- Scotland, estimate 164,100, equating to 3.12% of the population, or around 1 in 30 people.
We still have more people infected than at the peak with Alpha variant, but 1/4 of the hospitalisations... bit double-edged that one... 

190822 weekly hospital admissions UK

Small businesses in the UK received a total of £21.3 billion in local authority COVID business support grants, and over 1/3 of all available funding was allocated to the accommodation and food services sector - a part of the economy hit hardest by the pandemic.

A new Uni of Oxford study (not yet peer-reviewed) looked at the medical records of 1.28m US patients. It compared levels of some more common brain conditions 2 years after illness with COVID or 'other respiratory infections'. They found that:
"Risks of the common psychiatric disorders returned to baseline after 1–2 months (mood disorders at 43 days, anxiety disorders at 58 days) and subsequently reached an equal overall incidence to the matched comparison group...risks of cognitive deficit (known as brain fog), dementia, psychotic disorders, and epilepsy or seizures were still increased at the end of the 2-year follow-up period. Post-COVID-19 risk trajectories differed in children compared with adults: in the 6 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection, children were not at an increased risk of mood or anxiety disorders, but did have an increased risk of cognitive deficit, insomnia, intracranial haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, nerve, nerve root, and plexus disorders, psychotic disorders, and epilepsy or seizures. Unlike adults, cognitive deficit in children had a finite risk horizon (75 days) and a finite time to equal incidence (491 days)."
Basically low mood and anxiety levels were the same after a couple of months, but lots of other things were not, although children seemed to recover better than adults. Bear in mind 'increased risk', even doubled, can still refer to a single person or two, the numbers of ill people are tiny. 
"A sizeable proportion of older adults who received a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis, in either cohort, subsequently died, especially those diagnosed with dementia or epilepsy or seizures."
I've included the chart for all of this, and I think it's easy to read. Again we are talking about tiny percentages, but to me the saddest thing is that even though the risk of dying within 2 years was a bit bigger with COVID than with other respiratory infections, all of the older people who were ill really took a knock. This is why we need to be responsible and look after them. If you are poorly, don't go and see your Nan. 
Most of the people in the study were NOT COVID vaccinated, mainly because they caught their illness 2 years ago.

Hoax Alert:
People are sharing images on Social Media about an unpublished vaccine study on 301 teenagers in Thailand. The figures are wrong, and it's really flawed. According to Reuters fact-checkers:
"A study of 301 teens in Thailand found mild and temporary heart rhythm changes after a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine among one in six teenagers, not one-third as social media posts claim."
Now, 1 in 6 is still high, but we've been over this before, and all of the kids except 1 returned to normal within a fortnight. What 'normal' is might well be in question, as the researchers didn't have a chance to test them before they were vaccinated. Teenagers getting vaccinated AND taking part in a study might well have a temporarily elevated heart rate, or feel anxious anyway, so this study is not great. 
What we do know from other studies is that while COVID vaccine can rarely have a direct effect on the heart, COVID infection very often does, and it's more likely to be long-lasting. Vaccination reduces that risk significantly. The risk ratio is clearly in favour of vaccination, or I wouldn't have vaccinated my own kids. 

COVID vs Respiratory illness long term effects

Monkeypox update:
The UK stats say:
"Up to 15 August 2022 there were 3,081 confirmed and 114 highly probable monkeypox cases in the UK: 3,195 in total. Of these, 75 were in Scotland, 27 were in Northern Ireland, 43 were in Wales and 3,050 were in England."
The number of people in the USA with confirmed monkeypox is a pretty hefty 14,115. Highest prevalence is in New York (2,744), California (2,663), Florida (1,372), Texas (1,079), Georgia (1,066) and Illinois (888).
The US CDC tracker says that globally there are now 40,399 confirmed cases in countries which do not historically have monkeypox, The number of people who have lost their lives remains at 5. Those people were in Spain (2), Brazil, Ecuador and India.  

A dog in France has become the first known pet animal to catch monkeypox from it's humans. No real surprises, monkeypox originated in animals and can be transmitted via a range of mammals, including rats, hedgehogs, shrews, squirrels and primates. As yet we don't know if cats can catch monkeypox, but I have a premonition we may know the answer to that one in about 3 shakes of a kitten's paw.

WHO have officially given names to the 3 monkeypox strains affecting humans on this Earth. Don't get too excited, they're so disappointing its probably worth skipping this bit.
The names are... Clades I, IIa & IIb...
"Consensus was reached to now refer to the former Congo Basin (Central African) clade as Clade one (I) and the former West African clade as Clade two (II). Additionally, it was agreed that the Clade II consists of two subclades."
Unsurprisingly, the variety in our current worldwide outbreak has split off from the former West African clade, and is now known as Clade IIb.
Much more excitingly, they are still looking for a new name for monkeypox, and have an open consultation, so anyone can give their idea... get your thinking caps on people! 

Disadvantage and schooling IFS August 2022

The China COVID app. hacker story proved true. There really is someone attempting to sell the details of 48.5 million Shanghai area residents - for just £4,000. I'm guessing 48.5 million people are going to get a lot of spammy calls and emails... 

Back in 2019 the UK NHS was promised 40 new hospitals before the next General election. Only 13 of those are actually brand new hospitals, most are additions or revamping of current facilities. Despite this, work has only started on 8 out of the 40.
So that's not going to happen. 
(I know we've had a pandemic, but crikey that's a poor start.)

Back to China and they are pursuing their Zero COVID strategy. On Sunday they locked down a branch of IKEA and the surrounding area, because a close contact of someone who tested positive was in the store. This caused massive panic to leave, which of course was to no avail as authorities were already standing outside when the snap lockdown was announced.
All citizens in the affected area had to stay put for 48 hours, and undergo 5 days of "health surveillance" (basically daily testing and monitoring for symptoms). 

Famous People With COVID:
Albert Boula, the CEO of drug-producing mega-giant Pfizer. He has been vaccinated 4 times, has mild symptoms and has begun a course of antiviral Paxlovid. 

One for Albert... A new COVID-related condition has been identified, and its unique to people taking the antiviral Paxlovid.
Apparently it makes your mouth taste godawful. Sufferers of Paxlovid Mouth have been chatting online and sharing helpful tips. Fingers crossed they're more sensible tips than things like 'injecting UV light to kill COVID'....

Young people anxious worried or stressed text Shout to 85258

There are many disasters and wars ongoing in the world right now, and it's easy to forget that actually COVID is still a massive threat to unvaccinated populations. Even now, 79.3% of people in low-income countries have NOT received a single dose of a COVID vaccine. It is World Humanitarian Day, so I won't end on a fluffy bunny story, I'll end with some words from Dr Tedros of WHO:
"There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus. 
But we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. 
We cannot live with mounting hospitalisations and deaths. 
We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. 
Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves, and protect others."

It is the weekend! Hurrah! I don't know why I'm cheering, I've had a ridiculously lazy week. Still, there's always time for something nice to mark you made it through the mud again. Do NOT forget your own treat - you've earned it.

Well done to any students who worked darned hard and got the fair result to show for it. If you didn't then there are loads of options available to you, it's not a failure, it's just that you weren't ready to go there yet. Anyone  who has done well deserves a huge pat on the back, because the last 2 1/2 years have been full of surprise interludes and changes to expectation. You're stronger now, you got this. 

Don't Ignore A Niggle, Pick Your Blackberries Not Your Spots, Save The NHS. 

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

Countries / Cases / Losses of life - officially reported YESTERDAY in the full 24 hours up until midnight GMT:

World 598,688,851 (+802,779) 6,466,235 (+2,067)
Japan 16,161,801 (+208,483) 35,955 (+300)
S. Korea 21,861,296 (+178,480) 25,813 (+61)
USA 95,186,075 (+68,979) 1,064,780 (+264)
Germany 31,771,884 (+46,724) 146,383 (+169)
Russia 19,000,055 (+35,809) 383,362 (+62)
Italy 21,581,917 (+27,291) 174,447 (+147)
France 34,299,686 (+23,605) 153,427 (+92)
Taiwan 4,975,946 (+23,401) 9,540 (+34)
Brazil 34,245,374 (+22,167) 682,276 (+202)
Australia 9,870,724 (+19,718) 13,156 (+135)
India 44,314,618 (+15,754) 527,253 (+47)
Chile 4,409,873 (+10,465) 60,043 (+7) 


"UK is first country to approve jab against Omicron Covid variant"
2 year study

"What, exactly, is "Paxlovid mouth," and how do you get rid of it?"

Image: disadvantage starts early

Teenagers vaccination

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