Friday 25 November 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 25th November 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 25th November 2022

World COVID Statistics: 645,069,583 reported cases and 6,633,233 losses of life.

"My offer of formal negotiations was declined and instead ministers have chosen strike action.
Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve."
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen, as quoted by Sky News. 

251122 Pat Cullen RCN Nurses Strike quote

Today's UK random COVID sampling from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is refreshing. It's week ending 15th November, so 10 days behind, but positive tests are declining or static. That's excellent news as Winter is beginning to make itself known, and far better than we are doing with RSV (chest infection virus) and Flu. 
- England, estimate 809,200, equating to 1.48% of the population (a decrease from 1.73% in the previous week), or around 1 in 65 people.
- Wales, estimate 45,400, equating to 1.49% of the population (a decrease from 1.84% in the previous week), or around 1 in 65 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 34,100, equating to 1.86% of the population (there was no change in the percentage which was 1.86% in the previous week), or around 1 in 55 people.
- Scotland, estimate 83,700, equating to 1.59% of the population (a decrease from 1.85% in the previous week), or around 1 in 65 people.

Fancy a prescription for a warm home? Yes, it's true. Lots of people with long term illnesses get worse if they get cold, and may end up needing extra care and prescriptions, or becoming very poorly and admitted to hospital. That is all very expensive. A trial over the past year has paid the heating bills of folk who were identified by professionals on home visits as being especially vulnerable to a cold home.
The Warm Home Prescription pilot study went so well that it's being expanded to over 1,000 homes in a phase 2 trial. I should imagine the relief at removing all that stress will do wonders for anyone's health on it's own... 

251122 OurWorld In Data COVID Vaccines per 100 people worldwide map

Variant Watch:
Southern Africa has detected a new and overly-exciting looking variant. There are only 4 samples at this point - 3 from Botswana and 1 in a tourist travelling from Hong Kong to South Africa.
B.1.1.529 is a descendent of Omicron B variants, and has mutations also found in C variants. Nothing particularly new on their own, but a first to find them all together.
Until we see what it does in the real world, it's not time to worry. Case numbers in South Africa are rising, but not unusually enough to fret at this point.
In the UK 75% of all sequenced cases are from the BA.5 Omicron family, including great-grandson BQ.1 (V-22OCT-01), which is now 40% of all UK cases. That UKHSA title 'V-22OCT-01' shows it was only designated important 7 weeks ago, so it is fairly rapidly taking over from other variants.
"XBB (V-22OCT-02) has shown some growth in the UK. However, in the week commencing 7 November 2022, XBB represented only 1.8% of the total number of UK sequenced samples. A total of 345 UK XBB samples have been sequenced so far."
Keep on keeping an eye on that one...
BA.5.2.35 and BN.1 (BA. and sub-lineages) have been raised to 'keep an eye on' because they seem to be growing a bit quickly. 
BA.5.7 sequences from Australia have raised a flag. Like the South African variant I started with, there are just a few samples - 9 - but a dazzling array of mutations. By the law of averages these things are going to occur, and in the vast majority of cases, they fall away to nothing. 
BF.7, BS.1, BA.4.7, BA.2.3.20, and the recombinant XAW have all been 'de-escalated' because we're seeing less and less of them... 

Twitter may be about to reinstate Donald Trump, and potentially also a host of people they previously banned for disinformation. The problem with banning people is that they go elsewhere, so they've spent this time in an echo-chamber full of their own fans - who think like them. If they come back, they'll feel utterly confident in their beliefs and completely unwilling to back down.
The changes at Twitter will also allow paid verification 'blue ticks' for anyone, including people peddling disinformation, mis-quoting official advice or discouraging vaccinations. It is up to you to check your sources, and don't believe it just because they have paid $8 for a blue tick by their name. In fact never just trust anyone purely on the basis they have a tick by their name. Or a fancy title, yellow jacket, hard hat... 
From Elon himself:
"Sorry for the delay, we’re tentatively launching Verified on Friday next week.
Gold check for companies, grey check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not) and all verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates. 
Painful, but necessary."

251122 OurWorld In Data COVID Vaccines donated compared to administered by country

There's a nice interview this week in Science Magazine with Soumya Swaminathan, who is leaving her role as Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation. She's excited that India (along with many other countries) is now placing a much greater emphasis on health, and is returning to a public health role on a national level.
She acknowledges that WHO weren't perfect in regards to COVID, and has deep regret that they didn't say it was very likely to be spread through the air much earlier than they did. 
(Those pesky scientists and their demands for complete proof eh...)
She is also rightfully proud of the system put in place to facilitate vaccine equity, even if it didn't exactly work to plan. 

251122 OurWorld In Data COVID Vaccines per 100 people chart with sample countries and continents

A big reason China hasn't been able to relax their Zero COVID strategy is because vaccination take-up in older populations who are most at risk is relatively low, and hospitals could quickly become overwhelmed. Much of the reluctance is because the early Sinovac vaccine simply didn't perform as well as others, and was pretty rubbish against Omicron variants.
Several areas have now approved the new (and very effective in trials) CanSino inhaled vaccine, in hopes it will encourage more people to come forward. 
(Inhaled vaccines work like an asthma inhaler with a spacer - it turns it to aerosol and you just breathe it in - they are brilliant for people who can't have needle vaccinations).
For reference China currently has administered 241 doses per 100 people. The world average is 162, with the world leaders Cuba at 379 doses per 100 people. The UK was on 224 when last figures were announced in September, the USA is at 196. Africa is at 48.31 vaccine doses per 100 people. 

Still with China, and they are having a really bad time by their standards. They reported a whopping 31,444 new cases on Thursday morning, which was the highest total daily count of the entire pandemic so far. Official figures don't match this, because they only include people testing positive who have symptoms - and even that may be a bit lower than the reality, because most people don't want to be shipped off to COVID hospital. 
Tens of thousands of workers continue to be locked down in workplace hotels and dormitories, and millions of people are under restrictions at home. Many have been in that position for 3 months or more. A massive 80,000 people quarantine centre is being constructed in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province.
I really do think this is proving you simply can't lock it out forever, however hard you try... 

251122 OurWorld In Data COVID deaths per million people

Last week I told you when the UK's Royal Mail is on strike. This week UK workers have gone into freefall...

Trains... Over 40,000 members of RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) will strike on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday), and January 3, 4, 6 and 7 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday).
There will also be a ban on overtime from December 18th until January 2nd.
This WILL affect pretty much anyone hoping to catch trains on those dates. I've used trains a lot the last 5 months, and I've seen plenty of trains cancelled due to lack of staff as it is. With an overtime ban that will be massive. Plan ahead.

Higher education... UK university employees are also on strike. Members of UCU (University and College Union) have walked out for 2 days this week and will be out next Wednesday too, as well as more dates to be arranged in the future.

Aaaannnd nurses... (this is the quote at the very beginning of this post). In a widespread step never taken before, members of RCN (Royal College of Nursing) have voted to strike on 15th and 20th of December.
This will be in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and applies almost entirely to nursing staff. It should NOT affect critical services. It will mean some regular and non-urgent appointments are cancelled or re-arranged.
NHS workers with the union UNISON are expected to strike in the new year, and the Scottish government are in active discussions with their nurses. 

When someone on a very good wage, holiday package and working conditions says "ah, but I worked hard for that", my first thought is all of the people who also work damn hard and will rarely get a chance to holiday in America, watch their child in a school play or buy their own house. 
Call me a tofu-eating leftie if you want, but if no-one fights for good pay and conditions, everyone who isn't at the top of the heap suffers. Strikes and action by employees and unions are the reason we have 2 day weekends, holidays, sick pay, health & safety at work laws, the minimum wage and child labour laws.
Dockers, civil servants and barristers are among those who have also taken strike action this year. 

251122 OurWorld In Data Excess deaths as a percentage compared to projection

Flu ladies and gentlemen. It is not a cold or a sniffle, it is not the odd sneeze. It is nasty and it can do you serious harm. It killed my mate when he was in his late 30's. It hospitalised my young son and my partner 4 years ago, and it is at very high levels already.
Sky News are reporting that England has 10 times as many people in hospital with flu right now than we did at the beginning of December last year, and we are very short on empty paediatric intensive care beds. Last Thursday we only had 33 vacant in the whole of England. Flu is hitting hardest in the very young, and the very old. 
Testing negative on a COVID test and still going out and mixing when you are really poorly is naughty. STAY HOME IF YOU ARE ILL. Also stay home if you can, if you have your household's flu or chesty virus, even if you aren't as poorly as the others are. No-one wants your bugs and germs. And ventilate when you can - you don't want to keep breathing stale virus-laden air either. Look after yourself, and if you are a sole adult household, pick a buddy to keep a check on you in case you need help or Lemsip. 

It's the weekend! It's always the weekend now I only do news on a Friday, and I like that idea a lot. I hope none of you overspent on bargains you didn't really want, and if you are hankering over a 6ft fluffy purple llama with 60% off, Black Friday is the day for it. 

Stay Sensible, Keep Warm, Save The NHS. 

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

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

World 644,832,273 (+283,599) 6,632,791 (+996)
Japan 24,128,914 (+60,108) 48,772 (+130)
S. Korea 26,784,142 (+59,089) 30,223 (+59)
Germany 36,348,477 (+30,016) 157,388 (+274)
Brazil 35,147,091 (+25,790) 689,396 (+71)
Taiwan 8,226,983 (+16,040) 14,125 (+65)
USA 100,431,052 (+13,467) 1,104,661 (+88)
Australia 10,624,779 (+12,017) 16,060 (+15)
Hong Kong 2,068,310 (+9,219) 10,647 (+13)
Indonesia 6,634,648 (+7,110) 159,565 (+41)
Peru 4,209,905 (+6,676) 217,314 (+11)
Chile 4,895,292 (+6,106) 62,288 (+57)
Russia 21,556,766 (+5,784) 391,680 (+58)
Austria 5,535,259 (+4,619) 21,165 (+2)
China 297,516 (+4,010) 5,232 (+1) 


Warm Home



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