Friday 16 December 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 16th December 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 16th December 2022

World COVID Statistics: 656,579,733 reported cases and 6,668,126 losses of life.

Today's ONS random sampling (week ending 5th Dec for England, Wales and Scotland, week ending 3rd Dec for Northern Ireland) is as anticipated, showing an increase in positive test results:
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase in England, increased in Wales and Scotland, and the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland."
- England, estimate 1,095,100, equating to 2.01% of the population (an increase from 1.73% in the previous week), or around 1 in 50.
- Wales, estimate 55,900, equating to 1.84% of the population (an increase from 1.43% in the previous week), or around 1 in 55.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 38,700, equating to 2.11% of the population or around 1 in 45.
- Scotland, estimate 100,700, equating to 1.91% of the population (an increase from 1.68% in the previous week), or around 1 in 50.

Cold weather can be dangerous. Stay warm, stay well. UK Gov.

Tens of thousands of Nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were on strike yesterday for the first time in history. England’s Chief Nurse, Dame Ruth May, was herself on the picket line in London. 
Over 30,000 operations were cancelled last month due to shortages of staff. No medical professional can be expected to work without the correct support. The stress must be almost unbearable, and it costs lives. 
Scottish nurses in the unions Unite and Unison have voted to accept their pay offer of UP TO around 7.5%. Lowest awards are only around 2%... 

We aren't only short of nurses. Research by Labour has found the NHS is paying up to £5,200 for agency staff to cover doctors for a single shift. 
The UK has an artificial cap on how many doctors we train - 7,500 a year. Clearly the UK needs far more than 7,500, the cap serves little purpose other than to pull up the drawbridge and deter commoners like you and me from trying to sneak into their club...(too blunt? I think not.) The UK relies on workers coming from abroad to fill the gaps. COVID and Brexit have proven what a ridiculous plan that is.

To complete the 'UK Medics can't work under these conditions and need better pay and more colleagues right now' triumvirate, we have ambulances.
English and Welsh ambulance staff are due to strike on December 21st, and at the moment North West Ambulance Service unions say they'll only cover Category 1 calls, where there is an immediate threat to life (some other ambulance services have not committed to any more than this either). Category 1 includes situations where the patient has stopped breathing or their heart has stopped.
Suspected heart attacks and strokes are Category 2 - get a taxi. Yowch. 

WHO have published supplementary materials for their estimates of excess mortality associated with the COVID pandemic - the extra people we have lost. 
In total WHO estimates that by December 2021, worldwide COVID had claimed somewhere between 13,231,107 and 16,580,230 lives. Not all of those people will have died from COVID itself, but because it exists. 
It seems although the UK was an horrendously bad performer in 2020, sadly other countries began catching us up after that. 

161222 percentage of people unvaccinated by deprivation level UK indieSAGE

Professor Christina Pagel of indieSAGE has done an in-depth look at vaccination differences between the UK's most deprived and most comfortable populations.
Throughout the pandemic, the more deprived you are, the more likely to live in a multi-generational home and/or a multi-occupancy home, and a cramped home. The more likely you are to have a job where you worked throughout the pandemic and mix with the public, and can't take paid time off when you're ill. The more likely you are to catch COVID. The more likely you are to die from COVID. 
The more likely you are to not be fully vaccinated.
Disregarding age and people who know they are clinically vulnerable, the more at risk you are, the less likely to go for your vaccinations. It's crazy. You are worth more than that. 17% of our most deprived people aren't vaccinated, compared to just 6% of our least deprived. 

Strep A infection has now killed 19 children in the UK this Autumn. It doesn't only affect children, in total 74 people have lost their lives in England alone (including 16 children).
This is a very tiny proportion of the people who catch Group A Streptococcus - most of whom have hardly any symptoms. It is fairly normal for some people to develop Scarlet Fever, Impetigo or Strep Throat, and very rare it becomes more serious.
If someone in your house is ill, with a fever and any of the following: sore throat, cough, generally not feeling well, rash of tiny raised spots (usually affects chest and tummy as well as other skin) - a doctor may want to check to see if they have Strep A, which is bacterial and treated with antibiotics.
If anyone is ill and doesn't get better as you'd expect, has a very high fever, doesn't wake properly between naps or becomes dehydrated, get advice from 111 online or call 111. They will arrange an ambulance visit if they feel you need it. If you believe a life is in imminent danger, always call 999. 

Analysis by UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) suggests the nasal spray vaccine that offers protection to children against flu may also help reduce the rate of group A strep infections. They looked at data from 2012 onwards and in pilot areas where flu vaccines were given to all children, levels of Strep A infections were comparably low.
"In 2 to 4 year olds, rates of GAS were 73.5 per 100,000 children in pilot areas, compared to 93 per 100,000 children in non-pilot areas.
In 5 to 10 year olds, rates of GAS were 50.3 per 100,000 children in pilot areas, compared to 57.8 per 100,000 in non-pilot areas."
There was however no notable difference in levels of Scarlet Fever or more severe illness.
Good news, bad news. It may mainly be that the cocktail of immunity a flu-vaccinated child has will allow them to escape symptom-free, unless they were more susceptible anyway.

Flu vaccination helps protect against Strep A infections

It is NOT going well in China, as the reality of letting go of Zero COVID is not really showing in official national figures, but in reality it's hitting hard:
"All-hands video call with my Beijing office. 90% of people have Covid (up from 50% a few days ago). Some obviously miserable. Many nursing kids/parents at home. Our “work at home” policy is now “work at home if you’re well enough”. This thing came on like a runaway freight train."
Beijing-based lawyer James M Zimmerman.
The unofficial word from China, (especially Beijing at the moment), seems to be "everyone's got COVID". Clearly that isn't actually true, but the latest report by the China National Health Commission estimates the R number to be 16. (Sixteen.) The UK has rarely ever admitted to anything over 2. An R of 16 means each infected person is infecting an average of 16 others, and doubling time for total number of infected people is hours, not days. 
There are reports of panic buying across the country, pharmacists running out of medicines, and various people online are saying COVID is sweeping through their workplaces.
Medical staff seem to have it worst of all. Hospitals are becoming very busy, and staff sickness is going through the roof. Reuters have been watching social media posts, and have quoted hospital workers saying they are being asked to continue to work, even if they test positive and have mild symptoms. The eternal problem of lack of PPE and COVID control measures is also being mentioned.
Taking most of the brakes off at once in a poorly protected population was always risking a very unhappy result. Modelling predictions are pretty grim at best. FT modelling estimates that:
"Under a scenario in which China’s leadership continues to roll back zero-Covid, the national health system would quickly become overwhelmed. With daily fatalities reaching as high as 20,000 in mid-March."·
I remember how ominous that oncoming blanket of doom felt for us, it isn’t pleasant. China is flipping massive. That is one heck of a population to throw to COVID - almost 22 times as many people as the UK - and the UK had better vaccination rates plus a slower moving COVID variant.  
The World Health Organisation has expressed concern regarding how low Chinese vaccination rates are, especially in the elderly population, and America has offered to help with rapid mass vaccinations.
Chinese population 1,439,323,776 (1.4 billion people)
UK population 67,886,011 (67 million)
US population 331,002,651 (331 million)

It's also not going so well in other parts of Asia which mostly avoided COVID for 2 years, notably Japan and South Korea, and cases are rising as expected in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe and the USA, as Winter takes hold and we spend more time huddled together indoors. 

Flu is at high levels UK HSA

"We have to recognise that anti-vaccine activism, which I actually call anti-science aggression, has now become a major killing force globally.
During the COVID pandemic in the United States, 200,000 Americans needlessly lost their lives because they refused a COVID vaccine. Even after COVID vaccines became widely available.
And now the anti-vaccine activism is expanding across the world, even into low and middle income countries. It's a killing force. 
Anti-science now kills more people than things like gun violence, global terrorism, nuclear proliferation or cyber attacks. And now it's become a political movement. 
In the US it's linked to far extremism on the far right. Same in Germany.
So this is a new face of anti-science aggression, And so we need political solutions to address this."  
Professor Peter Hotez speaking on behalf of the World Health Organisation.  Lamenting the fact that people simply don't understand how good they have it, and some seem to be obsessed with making other (often vulnerable in many ways) people just as blind. 

There is a supply chain issue with some antibiotics, due to raw ingredients from China being delayed on their way to India for manufacture. Coupled with increased demand as Winter approaches, and media panic causing some stockpiling, this means prices have gone up, and even doubled. The UK won't struggle to afford this, so although it has created a bit of a hold up, we can expect issues to disappear once new stocks get back into the supply chain. With the reopening of China, it is hopefully far less likely to happen again. 

How to get medical help this Winter 111 online

Hoax Of The Week:
Not COVID, but a current trick to take your cash. Over the past week I've had no end of text messages which claim to be from my children. The messages are from random numbers and say they are using a friend's phone because theirs is somehow broken, and "save the number" or "text me back".
This is a hoax with which splits 2 ways. Sometimes it wants to get into my contacts list. Don't interact with it, and definitely DON'T SAVE THE NUMBER. In some cases if you reply, your 'child' will ask you to send money urgently. 
As always, if something doesn't seem right, no-one legitimate will mind if you don't respond, but go directly to the contacts you already have and get in touch with them on a trusted number. And if it really is your child, you'll soon know... 

Also not COVID, but of incredible importance. US scientists have made breakthroughs in nuclear fusion, which doesn't produce greenhouse gasses, and can provide a nearly limitless source of (income) clean energy.
Nuclear fusion works by bashing light molecules together, and researchers have now been able to produce more energy than it took to create the reaction - "fusion ignition" - they sent 1.8 megajoules and received 2.5 megajoules.
They used inefficient lasers to do this, so the power needed for the lasers wiped out the benefit, but they proved they can do it - and there is massive potential to tweak it until it's efficient. Don't hold your breath, it'll probably be over the next 2-4 decades. 

Protect from Norovirus

The UK Government are reminding us that alcohol hand gels don't really kill Norovirus. That's because virus are made of tiny blocks held together by fats. Melt the fats, destroy the virus. As Tyler Durden once said "USE SOAP".
Why this wasn't pushed harder during COVID messaging is beyond me. Don't panic, most anti-bacterial hand gels (the clue is in the name) actually contain enough soap to also destroy simple virus such as COVID. Thankfully...

There may be strikes, but emergency and urgent medical assistance should still be available to you. For advice and help, go to 111 online if you can, if not call 111. If you believe a life is in Imminent danger, always call 999.
Banksy in aid of Ukraine December 2022
Banksy in aid of Ukraine December 2022

It is the weekend - yeeeay! And it's the last full weekend before Christmas - yeeay! And 'gulp'. So soon? Remember when you were a kid and you were so excited right now? Take an evening to relax and enjoy that feeling again, and don't let stress to perform spoil this time for you. 
We all feel pressure to create a feast with 20 different options, and wrap beautiful well-thought out gifts, have everything 'just so' and make it 'perfect'. You can't plan 'perfect'. You can do your best to get a load of pieces, throw them together and hope it makes for a great time, but actual 'perfect' just happens when it feels like it. You can't control it, but you raise the chance of success if you are happy and smiling and enjoying yourself - you are, after all, a very important person to everyone there. 

I intend to be a wee bit busy next Friday, my kids are gathering and I think we might actually have everyone together at once for the first time since before COVID - for a few hours at least (I am SO excited, I'm bursting). I'll do some news at some point between Christmas and New Year, and I'll keep an eye on China - best to of luck to everyone there. Best of luck to everyone anywhere, whatever celebrations you have this December. I hope COVID (or Flu, Monkeypox, Strep A, RSV or any other infection or illness) does not spoil your plans. 

Happy Christmas from all at the brick castle

A Very Merry Christmas to you all...

Smile Often, Stay Home If You Are Ill, Save The NHS. 

Some people. They are shown as numbers here, because their names would take up too much space.

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

World 656,282,129 (+551,271) 6,667,516 (+1,561)
Japan 26,668,251 (+168,491) 52,564 (+277)
S. Korea 27,995,726 (+70,154) 31,232 (+58)
France 38,745,523 (+62,541) 160,228 (+106)
Brazil 35,809,832 (+48,351) 691,652 (+217)
USA 101,714,157 (+43,038) 1,112,797 (+282)
Germany 36,946,574 (+40,701) 159,737 (+143)
Hong Kong 2,307,397 (+17,080) 11,075 (+19)
Taiwan 8,531,899 (+16,068) 14,796 (+37)
Australia 10,946,174 (+15,948) 16,631 (+32)
Peru 4,399,073 (+8,718) 217,782 (+44)
Russia 21,692,870 (+7,833) 392,832 (+57)
Colombia 6,330,409 (+7,052) 141,996 (+53)
Austria 5,634,944 (+5,771) 21,291 (+5)
Mexico 7,174,464 (+4,811) 330,743 (+14)
Chile 4,971,853 (+4,359) 62,795 (+42)



WHO excess mortality
Cheers to Paul Mainwood for flagging that one.

Vaccinations and deprivation
Anti-vaccine activism
Chinese population 1,412,360,000
UK population 67,327,000
China modelling to see what happens next
Nuclear Fusion
 Strep A
Scottish nurses

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!