Friday 30 September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update September 30th 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update September 30th 2022

World: 622,586,038 officially reported cases and 6,547,819 losses of life.

Lets start with the bad news. UK figures are "facing an uptick". English hospital admissions are up by almost half on last week (+48%).
According to the COVID Actuaries' maths:
"Regionally, the biggest increases are in SE (up 64%) and Mids (up 58%) but big increases everywhere.
Bed occupancy is up by 37%"
An increase in people arriving in hospital with COVID leads naturally to an increase in 'hospital-acquired' COVID. Adele Groyer of the COVID Actuaries is the expert on this one:
"There were 2,197 such cases in the 7 days to 26 Sept. In the previous week there were 1,133 such cases.
The last time there were over 2,000 likely hospital acquired cases / week was in July."
Because we no longer routinely test people before they go to hospital, this is a bit of a canary-style early warning, alerting us to the fact there must be higher figures everywhere within the community.

260922 Hospital admissions England indieSAGE chart

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Newton's Lab Physics Experiment Kits Review (Age 10+) Sent for review.

We've been sent 2 of the brilliant build-it-yourself cardboard science kits from Newton's Lab to review. Made by Kikkerland, they are very carefully designed build-it-yourself physics-based engineering and science kits suitable for older children aged around 10 or over. 

I'm really keen that toys should last for decades, or be made with the Earth in mind (or both if possible). Children's science kits often include throwaway items, or tons of plastic bags, and you end up feeling like you might well be a part of the problem. The Newton's Lab kits are very much recycled cardboard with a couple of other pieces for stability or durability, packaged in a recycled cardboard box.

Collage showing 2 Newton's Lab Papercraft Science Models in the box and built

Friday 23 September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News Update September 23rd 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update September 23rd 2022

Oops - I'm so late. I am sorry! It's another post on my phone sadly. I do have my laptop, but it's decided not to play 'hotspots' this week and there's no Internet at my Mum's house. We soldier on. 

World: 619,365,299 reported COVID cases and 6,537,109 losses of life.

"We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic - we are not there yet, but the end is in sight."
Dr Tedros, Head of The World Health Organisation - whoop!
Losses of life to COVID have dropped to their lowest levels since March 2020, and although we'll probably never be rid of COVID, we have it under a level of control. Worldwide figures are dropping nicely week on week, so fingers crossed that continues as we head into Winter for the Northern hemisphere.

UK figures are a bit iffy. Hospital admissions are up 17%, but from a fairly low level, so it's not time to worry just yet - keep an eye on it.


The new UK Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced plans to fix the NHS. It seems to involve asking more of GPs and pharmacists, and doesn't even mention the fact we are short of 40,000 nurses. They don't just do bedpans Thérèse - we really need them.
In more positive news, she has announced a £500m fund to help pay for the discharge of medically fit hospital patients who need help at home. Around 13,000 of our 100,000 hospital beds have people in them who could go home - with assistance. Where the £500m is coming from is anyone's guess for now... 

Awww. Remember Margaret COVID? Margaret Ferrier is the Scottish MP who Nicola Sturgeon twice accidentally misnamed live on camera, when poorly Margaret went home by train after testing positive. She's been sentenced to 270 hours of community service to pay for her daft error.

Some longer term ONS data on the UK's 'Excess Mortality' has been released, and Adele Groyer of the COVID Actuaries has deciphered it for us.
From March 2020 to June 2022 the ONS estimates 137,447 excess deaths in England & Wales (people who died over the expected average). "However excluding deaths involving Covid, there have been 31,397 FEWER deaths than expected."
COVID takes the weakened and the elderly, meaning less people die from other causes. 

Hot on the heels of the excess mortality, putting COVID to one side - what are we dying from? Well, irregular heartbeat is claiming more people than usual - as are ischaemic heart diseases, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer's.
It's hard to tell if this is entirely unrelated to COVID, as all of those conditions are seen in people post-COVID, but failing to access prompt medical help can also be a factor in these cases. 
If you need medical assistance - it is there for exactly that reason. Don't be slow to contact your GP or 111 if you have a problem.   

Canada is dropping COVID19 vaccine requirements for international travellers and making their COVID app optional on September 30th. Masks will remain mandatory on planes and trains. 

The World Health Organisation has removed recommendations to use antibody therapies sotrovimab and casirivimab-imdevimab to treat patients with COVID-19, as they just don't seem to be effective against Omicron variants. 
Remdesivir and other treatments are still advised and do still work, so it certainly isn't all bad news.

China is still pursuing zero COVID, and last Sunday there was a terrible bus accident on the way to a quarantine facility. 27 people died. As a result there was a massive online protest against enforced quarantine. "We're on that bus too."

Not COVID, but researchers trialling a new treatment for Motor Neurone Disease have revealed excellent results from trials lasting the last 6 years. One patient was interviewed by Sky News and told how the monthly injections had reversed his progressive muscle weakness so much that he went from needing a wheelchair, to being able to manage at home without even using sticks to walk. 
At the moment it works best on the 2% of patients with a specific (usually inherited) gene mutation, and sadly doesn't have any effect with some other patients, but it really offers hope to all sufferers, and potentially the technology could be used elsewhere, so it is a massive breakthrough.

Another breakthrough, and researchers in Shanghai have developed a mask which can detect incredibly small quantities of COVID in the air, and alert the wearer via their smartphone. Obviously in China it's a bit harder to test it "in the field", so we only have lab results so far, but it can also detect swine flu and bird flu, and can be adapted to detect any other novel repiratory viruses that may arise in the future. This could be incredibly useful in confined spaces such as meetings, transport, lifts etc.

Although overall COVID cases are dropping, we still have to keep an eye on variants, just in case any become bothersome. There doesn't appear to be anything particularly bad making headway, but interesting variants of note include Centaurus and BF.7 - two Omicron strains which seem to be a bit quicker to spread, although neither have made much of a dint in our regular Omicron BA.5 at the moment. 

It is the weekend. I'm meant to be doing a car boot sale, so fingers crossed for some good weather, and my treat might have to wait until I go home - but I'll have earned it. I'm sure you've earned yours too, so don't forget to do something nice for yourself. Not for anyone else, just for you. Have a good weekend! 

Stay Sensible, Get Your Flu Jab, Save The NHS.



Friday 16 September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus (and other virus) UK and World News Update September 16th 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus (and other virus) UK and World News Update September 16th 2022

A kind of normal report today, covering the last 2 weeks' COVID news. You'll be glad to read that nothing too major or disastrous has visibly occurred on the virus front while focus is elsewhere. 

If you are in the UK then you can now book your Autumn COVID booster jab if you are:
- aged 75 and over
- immunosuppressed
- health & social care workers
Invites will be in the post. 

Autumnal leaves surround text telling you that you can get your Autumn COVID boosters when called

Remember last year when Scotland's (and Ireland's) COVID cases started going up at the beginning of September because their kids had gone back to school? And the rest if the UK followed the same pattern with a 2 week delay? Well guess what... 
Yep. The very latest ONS random sampling data shows a levelling off and then a 2 week rise in cases in Scotland, and uncertainty in N. Ireland. Cases in England and Wales were already levelling when samples were collected on 5th September. Winter is coming. 

Thursday 15 September 2022

September 2022 #TBCSmiles 97 Months

It's been a heck of a month hasn't it? We thought 2 years of COVID was the wrong sort of adrenaline ride, then add on Brexit, stratospheric fuel prices, potential food shortages and visible climate change, and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The nation is 'in mourning', which affects us all, but some more than others. What it definitely does for everyone, is remind us of our own loved ones.

Moment of reflection at 8pm Sunday 18th September 2022

After a period of not so great health, where age and life caught up with her, an older lady died. She had loved her homeland, her dogs, and her own garden. She also enjoyed trips around the UK and abroad, gathering mementoes to store safely on her return home. She collected stamps and coins, ceramics and expensive teddy bears. She had a lifetime of moments. She saw and learnt far more than she could ever pass on to others. There were tens of thousands of conversations, debates, and smiles at strangers. She didn't go out so much in the final months, and she made a conscious decision about how, and where, she chose to end her days. She left behind a house full of treasures, the most precious of which have little financial value, and a family for whom there will never ever be a replacement.

My Mum's casket wasn't quite so posh as the Queen's lead-lined hand-crafted oak box adorned with flags and jewels. My Mum chose cardboard. I love that. I have a hunch her stamp and coin collection wasn't quite so grand either..

Friday 9 September 2022

The Death of Queen Elizabeth II

It feels inappropriate to post about COVID today, although I have drafted a post, so I'll keep that for when the time is right. Instead, ahead of the first official address to the nation and commonwealth from our new King Charles III, here are a few bits of more pertinent or timely information... 

The Royal Family on Twitter announcement with text and image of the Queen smiling
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Mayfair in 21 April 1926. She was NOT born into the role of future Queen, it only occurred because King Edward VIII abdicated when she was 6, and her Dad (his younger brother) became King. (Edward abdicated because he wanted to marry a twice divorced American lady and UK Government said he couldn't - because the King is also head of the Church of England and it would upset their members).

Friday 2 September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update Friday 2nd September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update Friday 2nd September 2022

UK COVID Statistics: 
England (to 31st August) ~
Total cases: 19,833,314 (last 7 days +24,674. Obviously this figure is affected by how many people can actually access testing)
Losses of life: 164,624 (last 7 days +419)
Scotland ~ 
Total cases (to 31st August): 2,091,313 (last 7 days +3,612 - again, influenced by how many people can access testing)
Losses of life (to 28th August): 15,592 (last 7 days +41)
Wales (to 28th August) ~
Total cases is a little cleverer. Wales use the ONS estimate, as well as telling us how many people actually test positive. ONS estimate +2,067. PCR test +9, Lateral Flow tests +53.
Losses of life data is not so clever, clear, or up-to-date. 
Northern Ireland ~ 
Don't really seem to be bothering collecting any data nowadays, they just use the ONS random sampling estimate (see below). 

Rep. Of Ireland as of Wednesday 31st August: 1,656,956 cases (+75 ) and 7,839 (+19) losses of life.

World: 609,026,757 reported cases and 6,499,352 losses of life.

Students get your jabs before you go to uni - image of young adult woman with travel coffee and a smile

The UK's COVID Alert Level has been downgraded to Level 2 - "COVID-19 is in general circulation, but direct healthcare pressures and transmission are declining or stable".
Bet that's a relief eh. Nah, I'm joking. Did anyone even remember the COVID Alert Levels existed? Has anyone told the NHS that pressures are declining or stable?