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. 


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