Friday 22 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 700,057,262 officially reported cases and 6,958,594 losses of life.

Seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone, helpful hints from UK NHS

"UKHSA estimates that prevalence of COVID in England and Scotland has nearly tripled in the month since the ONS restarted its COVID infection surveillance."
John Roberts, COVID Actuary.
We expected a rise, but yowsers. Aren't we glad we got our surveillance data back... erm... hmm. 
Here from the UKHSA:
"There has been an increase in prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England and Scotland during the 2 weeks leading up to 13 December 2023."
- England, estimate 4.3%, equivalent to 2,333,000 individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. Around 1 in 24 people. 
- Scotland, estimate 4.1%, equivalent to 215,000 individuals. Around 1 in 24 people.
- Prevalence was higher for individuals aged between 18 to 44 years than for those aged over 65, and was estimated to have increased across all age groups in the 2 weeks up to 13 December 2023.
- In some areas of London prevalence looks like it might (last week) be as high as 1 in every 12 people.

Friday 8 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 699,001,023 reported cases and 6,948,566 losses of life.

3 years ago today, 90 year old Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK (and the world) to be vaccinated against COVID as part of a general immunisation rollout.
Last interview I can find with her was a few months ago, at which time she was healthy and well with no regrets. 

WHO COVID Isnt over get vaccinated text and image of lady

Friday 24 November 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th November 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th November 2023

World COVID Statistics: 698,216,394 officially reported cases and 6,942,772 losses of life.

WHO loneliness causes illness image of man with risk factors in thought bubbles eg. dementia

According to latest NHS figures and reported by COVID Actuaries, hospital admissions with COVID in England decreased by 12% in-week. Biggest decrease NE & Yorkshire (-22%) and the NW (-20%). Acute bed occupancy is down by 10%, on top of a 15% drop last week (although at the end of October England had less than 4,200 beds unoccupied in total, so really needed that decrease).

Monday 13 November 2023

The Ghost In The Attic Mystery Agency Puzzle Game Review Age 14+ (sent for review)

The Ghost In The Attic is an absolutely fantastic 'The Mystery Agency' escape-room type puzzle-solving game for as many players as you like, aged around 14 or over. Play is co-operative, and you'll need all of those different brains with different skills in order to beat the game. I'm proud to say we did, in around 2 hours - all of which we enjoyed immensely. 

The Ghost In The Attic Mystery Agency Puzzle Game outer box front like cardboard packaged parcel

The Ghost In The Attic is an 'escape room' type game, where you follow clues and solve puzzles in order to discover the solution. Sent to us for review by The Happy Puzzle Company, this is without any doubt THE BEST mystery/puzzle/escape type game I've ever played (including in-person escape rooms). It is incredibly well written and beautifully put together.

The Ghost IN The Attic puzzle home escape room game box contents

Friday 10 November 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th November 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th November 2023

World COVID Statistics: 697,638,516 reported cases and 6,937,323 losses of life.

"A&E  depts in England in October saw worst performance this year.
Nearly 30% waited more than 4 hours to be treated or assessed.
Nearly 45,000 had to wait more than 12 hours for a bed after decision to admit."
Some demoralising stats there, neatly summed up by BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym.

101123 COVID Actuaries hospital admissions

Thursday 9 November 2023

The Christmas Express Family Board Game Review (age 6+) Sent by Cheatwell Games For Review

Our latest review for Cheatwell Games is Christmas Express. Designed for 2 to 4 players aged around 6 or over, this a very nicely illustrated family board game with the aim to get your 'train' all the way to the North Pole first -  without sliding backwards down a bridge or getting caught in a snowstorm. 

The Christmas Express Game box front showing large colourful text, and cartoony illustrated snowy forest North Pole scene

The illustrations really are excellent, this is an attractive, bright and colourful game, with a very festive feel. The player pieces are card, with 8 cute animal characters to choose from, so everyone is happy. 

The Christmas Express Game box contents showing colourful bright friendly characters and game board

Movement around the board is via a hand of cards. Each time it's your turn, you pick up cards so that you have 5 in your hand. Most give a number of spaces to move forward, but some are more specialised....

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Cheatwell Games 'Host Your Own Family Quiz Night' Game Review (age 8+, sent for review)

Host Your Own Family Quiz Night has been sent to us for review by Cheatwell Games. Recommended for 2 or more players aged around 8 or over, you play as 2 opposing teams. All of the cards have 2 general knowledge questions - one of which is more suitable for the adults, and one a little easier (and sometimes more recent) with multiple choice answers for the younger family members. We played adults vs kids, and it was brilliant. 

Host Your Own Family Quiz Night Game Box Front with large logo

The game board is relatively small, so you can play without having to clear a big table, and play is instant - set up from brand new took about 2 minutes. Putting the game away is just as quick.

Host Your Own Family Quiz Night Game opened with contents spread out

The questions are split into 8 themes, and the board has corresponding spaces, so if you land on 'People', then you get a 'People' question. It's really varied, and the questions very well selected, so none of the categories actually became dreaded or favoured (even Geography).

Friday 27 October 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 27th October 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 27th October 2023

World COVID Statistics: 697,032,594 officially reported cases and 6,932,236 losses of life.

Hospital admissions with COVID in England have gone down for 2 weeks running. It looks hopeful this wave could have actually peaked and be on the downturn. If so, none of the newer, quicker variants have managed to get through our immunity better than their ancestors, and haven't even spread quickly enough to have an impact - whoot! The early booster roll out could also have been a very prudent move. Fingers crossed, what happens next makes a difference to what happens at Christmas.

By latest UK Government count (which is insanely behind):

New Cases 8,560 w/e 21st October

New Deaths (occurrences) 223 w/e 29th September

New COVID hospital admissions 3,367 w/e 20th October

The latest deaths data is also relatively small, with the number of people registered as dying only 1% higher than would be expected. Sadly it adds up.

"CMI calculates 204,800 excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. That total has increased by 33,200 in 2023.

Cumulative mortality rates YTD (year to date) are 5.5% of a full year’s mortality worse than 2019."

The Health Foundation charity have crunched the numbers and believe the UK NHS waiting list could expand to 8 million people waiting for treatment by the end of 2024 - or in a better scenario, it could have peaked now and be below 7.2 million by the end of next year.

The Health Foundation found (no surprises) the main problem is the ongoing chronic lack of staff and funding. Strikes by NHS workers asking for better pay have only caused an extra 210,000 patients to wait (3% of the 7.75 million backlog as of August 2023).

The longer you wait, the more serious, lengthy and urgent treatment needed, and the longer it takes to fix you and get you back to good health. This is a spiral of gloom, and it began unravelling long before COVID arrived. The NHS has run on less cash than it actually needs and waiting lists have been growing for at least 10 years - because someone (with private medical care) decided it was a good place to save money, and forgot how important health and life are to people, and to the nation as a whole.

As we're on a cheery note, 'destitution' isn't a word most of the world would associate with the UK, as it refers to being unable to meet the most basic physical needs -  to stay warm, dry, clean and fed.

Sadly a study released this week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (based on data collected up until the end of 2022), found UK destitution has doubled in the last 5 years, and the number of destitute children has tripled:

- Around 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022, a 61% rise since 2019

- Around 1 million children are destitute, an 88% rise since 2019

- This is widespread - the 3 local authorities with the highest levels of destitution are Newham, Manchester and Middlesbrough, and the 3 areas it's rising fastest are London, Wales and the West Midlands.

- More than 6 in every 10 destitute people (62%) have a disability or chronic health problem.

- The foundation point out that as almost 3/4 of destitute households receive benefits, our benefits system is pushing people (including a million children) well below the poverty line, with little chance of ever clambering out.

It's notable that the increase is smaller in Scotland. Scotland doesn’t cap child benefit at 3 children, and pays low income families a weekly top up for each of their children.

"According to the Economist, the world experienced an estimated 5.3 million excess deaths in 2020, 12.6m in 2021, and 6.9m in 2022. So far in 2023, the number is 2.3m, perhaps enough to make Covid, by the end of year, still the world’s third biggest killer."

New York Times journalist David Wallace-Wells neatly summing up the latest worldwide excess deaths news this week.

The COVID pandemic is simultaneously over, and also still killing us in droves. This cat is too snarly to go back in the bag, so instead, we should all just act like we can't see it, and remember the Trump method - less testing = less COVID. Eventually, if no-one tests, no-one dies from COVID. It's a winner. 

While we're on the subject, some of us really are being told in plain English NOT to test for COVID. This week I have seen multiple emails to both UK medical and teaching staff, reminding them that they should be at work unless they are physically too unwell to function, and shouldn't be testing for COVID, as it could keep them off work for longer than necessary if the result is positive.


The COVID inquiry hasn't been quite as explosive over the last 2 weeks, but we did find out Professor Angela McLean (now Patrick Vallance's replacement as UK Govt Chief Scientific Adviser), described Rishi Sunak as “Dr Death the Chancellor” (Muhahaha). She also referred to an unknown person as a "fu€k₩it". Naughty.

On a more serious note, Sir Patrick Vallance has asked that all of his diary entries aren't made public, because he wrote all kinds of brain dump in there, and his mental health is suffering at the idea we might all read it, and Professor of infectious disease modelling and Government advisor John Edmunds made a blistering testimony:

"As I explained to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, we either lockdown now and control the epidemic, or it will force you into a lockdown later, when you'll have to lockdown harder and longer. 20,000-25,000 people died. Some would have, but there's no reason for that many people to have died at all.. There was no strategy, no long term thinking."

Guess what's back? Yeeeay, mask wearing in hospitals!

In fact it's only a few UK health authorities and buildings (inc in Sheffield, Worcester) which at this point have asked staff and service users to wear masks.

Hospitals and clinics are literally swarming with sick people, vulnerable people, and staff who don't want COVID every 4 months for the rest of forever. What a mix. It always seemed ridiculous that mask-wearing was universally dropped - although don't forget that air purification has stepped up massively. 

Sad news for the Captain Tom Foundation charity, as it is closing down. They just aren't getting many donations, and it's probably not covering the staff bill. The late Sir Captain Tom's daughter is currently going through an appeals process to keep her illegitimately built home spa pool from demolition. (Thoughts and prayers. Maybe a slow handclap.)

As the charity is coming to an end, a person who worked on the launch has done media interviews. She says she helped set everything up, was in line for loads of industry awards, and then was told she was no longer needed and she couldn't talk about her involvement. Nice.

Captain Sir Tom Moore raised a fortune for the NHS while he was alive. He has his own legacy, and his daughter has hers.

The world's first vaccine against Malaria is doing astoundingly well! Big handshake to all involved in this one. Over 4 years of vaccinating children under 4 years in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, it has cut deaths from Malaria by 13% - saving 1 in every 8 of the children who would have died, and preventing hundreds of thousands becoming seriously ill.

In 2021, malaria killed an estimated 468,000 children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa, so if the vaccine can be rolled out across the entire area, it should mean over 58,000 children's lives saved, and make a massive difference to available healthcare services. 

It is the weekend again! Huzzah! Most of our young people go back to school on Monday, so if you've been juggling work from home and everything else - you made it. The world news is all a bit grim right now, so it's even more important to treat yourself to something nice. You've earnt it, you deserve it and it's good for your mental wellbeing. I'll be having a board game afternoon with my kids, with snacks and pop, because they've earnt it too.

No numbers tonight because I'm travelling, and it's a long one already! Back in 2 weeks... 

Worry About What You Can Change, Find Ways To Work With The Rest. Save The NHS. 



Images hospital stats

Week 1 stats

New Cases 8,560 w/e 21st October

New Deaths (occurrences) 223 w/e 29th September

Deaths data


Addendum to covid stats re scotland

And precis and image

Health Foundation

NHS underfunded Democide


Covid is over, and not. Less testing.

Teacher guidance - don't test.

COVID inquiry

Boris bollocks

150 partygate fines

Mask wearing Sheffield

Worcester did a month ago

Captain Sir Tom Moore:


Friday 13 October 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 13th October 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 13th October 2023

World COVID Statistics: 696,503,623 reported cases and 6,925,559 losses of life.

In England during the month between 1st and 29th September, 866 babies and children were hospitalised with COVID.
That is an increase from 476 during August and 276 during July. 

COVID hospitalisations are rising across England (Scotland is a more mixed picture). Last week there was a 25% increase, and this week a 12% increase. We are still at a relatively low level, but it's been rising fairly steadily since the end of June, despite the fact we aren't routinely testing anyone any more. 

131023 Hospitalisations children and babies chart

Friday 29 September 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 29th September 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 29th September 2023

World COVID Statistics: 695,939,792 reported cases and 6,921,077 losses of life.

Get your flu and COVID jabs UK NHS

Hospital admissions with COVID in England increased by 10% in the week ending 22nd September. Biggest increases are in the NW (+33%) and NE&Yorks (+29%).

290923 CMI hospital admissions England

The UK is still losing more people each week than anticipated, but it isn't at the lofty heights (and extra 8-10%) that it was last year. 
The Continuous Mortality investigation (CMI) weekly Mortality Monitor (week ending 15th September) for England and Wales shows rates were 4% higher than the equivalent week in 2019, based on death registrations data.
"CMI calculates 204,200 excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. That total has increased by 32,600 in 2023.
Cumulative mortality rates YTD (year to date) are 5.4% of a full year’s mortality worse than 2019."
Better news for this year (but worse for last year), the CMI note that there are far more late registrations than usual, so many of December 2022's registrations were actually added in with January 2023's figures.

Friday 15 September 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 15th September 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 15th September 2023

World COVID Statistics: 695,289,957 reported cases and 6,915,596 losses of life.

Massively mutated COVID variant (current estimate is 33 mutations) BA.2.86 Pirola is agitating a lot of people and causing an upset to our calmly steady COVID stats. It is visibly worrying health officials in the UK, US, Canada, Europe and beyond - although we still see no signs it is more dangerous or deadly, just more easily caught and very quick.

150923 weekly England hospital admissions by age UK HSA

Friday 1 September 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 1st September 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 1st September 2023

World COVID Statistics: 694,630,525 reported cases and 6,911,550 losses of life.

Hospital admissions with COVID in England are up among all age groups, but from 3 people per 100,000 population overall, to 3.37.
Up, but it's not a really dramatic increase, and could simply be a reflection of us spending more time indoors as the weather cools or more people returning to work after holidays, or something else seasonal.

Meningitis jabs for uni students

Current UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay has offered a 6% pay rise to England’s hospital consultants, and an average 8.8% rise to England's Junior Doctors. He says these offers are final, and is very disappointed that they aren't being accepted. 
Strike dates are planned, including for the first time ever, consultants and junior doctors striking at the same time - 20th September 2023. They will also be on strike simultaneously from 7am 2nd October until 7am 5th October. Many thousands of appointments will not go ahead as planned.
Junior Doctors in Wales are planning future strike action after refusing a 'final offer' last week, and Junior Doctors in Scotland will not be striking, as they have accepted an offer of 12.4%. 

Friday 18 August 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 18th August 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 18th August 2023

World COVID Statistics: 693,666,294 reported cases and 6,908,586 losses of life.

The UK JCVI has given their advice on who should be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine this autumn:
- residents in care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- anyone 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
- frontline health and social care workers
- persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults

The UK Government have announced £250m funding and plans for 5,000 extra hospital beds. Sadly these appear to be mainly aspirational or rented from private sources, rather than an increase to NHS supplies.
If you are a Tory minister, great news, this makes a tidy profit for someone, and puts more public money into private hands.
If you're a patient or NHS worker, it looks like there'll be 900 actual extra beds - just physical beds and A&E cubicles - by next January.  
If you are a Tory minister, great news, the NHS will spend Winter looking like its not fit for purpose despite your 'heavy investment', and private healthcare will look more attractive to the UK public. 

"WHO has designated COVID19 variant BA.2.86 as a ‘variant under monitoring’ today due to the large number of mutations it carries."
WHO, yesterday.
Exactly as it says, something very shifty looking has just entered the room, so everyone is watching to see if if it hangs around, and what it's capable of. At this moment only 5 cases of BA.2.86 (also known as BA.X) have been detected (although hardly anyone is tested these days) in Israel, Denmark (2) and Michigan, USA and London. We have no reason to think BA.2.86 is more dangerous, but we can see it has a whopping 30 mutations to the parts that latch on (like carrying a big bunch of keys) and has potential to sneak round our immunity and infect a lot more of us - if it learns that trick.

Meanwhile in the UK, new variant Eris is spreading well. This is EG.5 and has also recently been tagged by WHO, as a variant of interest. It now accounts of around 1 in 10 UK cases, and although it hasn't yet 'exploded' (helpfully it's the school holidays), there are a handful of scientists warning it could make Autumn and Winter less pleasant. 

Jonathan Van Tam, softly spoken voice of the UK COVID response, has taken up a position working with Moderna. 
Last year the UK Government announced a £1b deal with Moderna to build a new mRNA manufacturing plant. 
Did Jon Bon Tam have any part in that decision? Was his input unbiased? Did Jon Claude Van Tam already know 18 months ago that he'd be taking this position now?
Frankly he always seemed one of the cleverest and most human of the lot, so I'm willing to believe he just fancied a new job, and the timeline is really long for any subterfuge. 

"Misinformation kills.
52 American physicians actively spread Covid-19 misinformation to millions of people on social media about vaccines, masks, and conspiracies.
One third of the more than 1,100,000 Covid-19-related deaths as of January 18 2023 were preventable if public health recommendations were followed."
Dr Jonathan N Stea of University of Calgary, summarising the results of a University of Massachusetts study.

Remember kids, COVID isn't less dangerous than it ever was - we have just been vaccinated and exposed to it, and our immune system has learnt how to fend it off. If you run the gauntlet without any antibodies today, you carry the same (or slightly increased) risk of severe illness as you did back in January 2020 (and that includes the 1.5m people in the UK who cannot develop a robust immune response, however many vaccinations you gave them). 

Cyprus has an outbreak of a really nasty cat Coronavirus. It has already killed many thousand cats, and now vets are treating their patients with a human COVID treatment - Molnupiravir- in an effort to save the most sick animals.  

Does it matter which arm you get your jabs in? Apparently yes!
Newly published research from the USA measured the T cell immune response in 300 people, 2 weeks after the second dose of their initial COVID jabs (none of them had ever knowingly caught COVID at the time).
T cells were found in 67% of people who had both jabs in the same arm, and only 43% of those who got one dose in each arm. 
The moral of this story is "crikey, I never saw that coming" really does happen, and that sometimes your Nan's logic is easily as smart as science. 

Disappointing Human Of The Week:
Captain Sir Tom Moore's daughter is in the news again.
Not only did she pay herself a fabulous annual salary to run the Captain Tom Foundation charity, she seems to have built herself a home spa pool using charity funding, and now she's being investigated for charging for public charity appearances and taking the cash as her own fee for turning up.
No-one wanted to see you for being you love. They only invited you because you were representing your late father's charity. (Too harsh? I think not in this case. I'll be astounded if she wasn't also claiming all expenses, food and travel.)
As a reminder, we are promised that ALL of the original funds raised by Tom walking in his garden were handed over to the NHS Together charities.

Captain Sir Tom died from COVID and pneumonia in February 2021 aged 100. He developed pneumonia shortly after returning from a promotional trip to Barbados with British Airways. Taking a 100 year old man across the world on a plane during a pandemic, before he's even been vaccinated, is an advertising scheme so poorly thought out, you wonder which idiot agreed to it. His daughter and her family went on the holiday with him.

Hoax Of The Week:
Fox News made statements which implied the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) had authorised Ivermectin for treatment of COVID. Nope. Nopeitty nope nope.
The confusion came because during the lead up to a court case, someone mentioned that 'the FDA had never banned Ivermectin for COVID patients'. The FDA issue guidance and offer support, of course they didn't ban it. What if you had horrific headlice or intestinal worms AS WELL AS COVID. You'd want Ivermectin then.
There have now been about a million trials for this, and ALL clinical and real life evidence still shows no decrease in hospitalisations or death from COVID when patients are given Ivermectin - it simply doesn't help. Also, the Earth is a ball. 

It is the weekend! For me it is a busy one, but with family, so it'll be exciting and memorable. I hope you have something nice happening too - and you remember to treat yourself. You earnt it. 

I'll be back in a couple of weeks. 
Play Outdoors, Wear Suncreen, Save The NHS. 

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

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (plus figures added over the last 24 hours):

World 693,666,294 (+1,077) 6,908,586
Macao 14,120 (+412) 123
Hong Kong 2,916,892 (+399) 13,819
Afghanistan 224,812 (+52) 7,941
Lithuania 1,322,361 (+50) 9,695
Poland 6,518,496 (+44) 119,636 
Czechia 4,643,541 (+42 ) 42,813
Denmark 3,182,857 (+39) 8,780
Vietnam 11,622,383 (+17 ) 43,206
Slovenia 1,344,385 (+11) 7,100
Niue (Small island near Tonga) 840 (+7)
(Most countries do not give a daily update, or even a weekly update - these are the countries and communities who reported most new cases yesterday, but it doesn't give an accurate representation of the actual world picture.) 


More beds Image with credit @c_peatfield twitter
Measles image
Autumn boosters

Flu and covid jabs from October NHS advice image
UK beds

COVID variant BA.2.86
Van dammed tam
Misinformation kills



Capt Tom

Friday 4 August 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 4th August 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 4th August 2023

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has currently authorised 9 different COVID vaccines, and the latest is Bimervax, which is suitable as a booster jab for people aged 16+. It's still up the Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI) as to whether we actually deploy any of the vaccines we've okayed, and the Government have to agree to buy them. 

Protect yourself from the sun - skin and eyes - WHO poster

In the UK COVID cases are currently on the rise, with pharmacists noting a marked increase in test buying over July and the ZOE app. registering a jump in symptomatic people. That follows a similar pattern to previous pandemic years, with us desperate for the school holidays to serve as a firebreak. It's always worth keeping alert though... 

Friday 21 July 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 21st July 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 21st July 2023

World to date: Officially reported COVID cases 691,770,965, losses of life 6,901,646

The final witness has testified for the first phase of the UK COVID Inquiry. There's a lot to sift through and evaluate, so an interim report is expected next year, and it'll be a long time before the final document. By then it'll likely be another degree warmer, fish will contain too much plastic to count as fauna, and no-one will really care about a report stating the obvious inadequacies we all lived through. They hope. 

measles is common abroad get vaccinated and image of holidaying family climbing steps onto a plane

A recent UK study has looked at just how many children have been hospitalised with COVID in England. 
• Between July 2020 and February 2022, 3,226,535 children and teenagers in England tested positive with COVID for their first time. 
• 29,230 (0.9%, almost 1 in every 111 of those who tested positive) needed hospital admission - some were tested on arrival to hospital with various other ailments, but 21,000 (around 3 in every 4) were taken to hospital and admitted specifically due to COVID. 
• 1,710 (5.9% or 1 in every 17 of those admitted to hospital) involved paediatric critical care.
• 70 deaths occurred in which covid-19 or paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome was listed as a cause.
•  8,415 (28.8% or more than 1 in every 4) of those children admitted to hospital were aged under 1 year. 

Friday 7 July 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 7th July 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 7th July 2023

World COVID Statistics: 691,207,603 officially reported cases and 6,898,266 losses of life.

Happy birthday to the NHS! 
On Wednesday the UK NHS was 75 years old, and so was the first baby born in their care. Most of us in the UK have lived entire lives without fear of financial ruin because we got poorly or had an accident. We can ring an ambulance, book an appointment with a GP, become pregnant or turn up at A&E without having to worry if we can afford it. That is a very precious thing, and it has been underfunded and squeezed for a long time. In order that the NHS care for us, we really needed to take better care of the NHS. Thank you to anyone who has ever worked for the NHS. 

NHS birthday card with a small donor card beside

Yesterday the UK Government lost their legal battle to keep some of Boris and his mates' WhatsApp messages and notebooks secret from the COVID inquiry. They argued that some of it is 'irrelevant', and the High Court decided the COVID inquiry can be the judge of that. I think the Government are out of legal options now - they've got to hand it all over by 4pm Monday.
(For reference, the Christmas party video with catered snacks, flirtatious dancing and shiny paper hats is amongst things previously deemed irrelevant by our Government.)

Friday 23 June 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd June 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd June 2023

We may as well start here... The Privileges Committee Report:
Within an hour of my last post, Boris Johnson resigned. This was after he received an advance copy of the 'Partygate' report - which he said finds him guilty "regardless of the facts". 
Even then he didn't actually give in, and reportedly sent the panel some extra evidence. They delayed the report by 24 hours to read it, which bizarrely resulted in Johnson getting shouty in Parliament about delays to publication.
On Thursday we were able to see what has been blindingly and unquestionably obvious since the very start. We were right there watching. Johnson lied to Parliament. Repeatedly.
He was emphatic that all of the COVID socialising rules had been followed, but as he has a brain and implemented them in clear English himself, he must have been aware he was breaking them.
Parliament still had to endorse the Privileges Committee's report, and they did, by vote of 354 - 7 (225 Conservative MPs abstained). 

COVID jab UK deadline July except vulnerable NHS

Among evidence which has now become public is a reminder WhatsApp isn't just for text messages, and the 'Partygate video'.
Handily this video appears to be from a party the met police didn't investigate through 'lack of evidence', and it shows people wearing paper party hats, laughing, flirting and dancing at an actual Christmas office party - with music, booze and catered food. Awesome.

I am so very sorry if you lost your next of kin, your parent, your child, during lockdown and restrictions on mixing. If you lost someone you loved very much, with very little contact or chance to say goodbye. If you attended a limited funeral, or weren't even able to go. If you had a baby, and couldn't show them off. If your Grandchildren grew, without you being able to watch. 
This affected ALL of us. They set the rules, and some never for a second believed those rules also applied to them. 

Tuesday 13 June 2023

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Why should parents take out life insurance? 

As a parent, you’ll know what it's like to have your hands full. From hectic morning routines and busy bedtimes to schedules that are bursting at the seams and even juggling your career in the moments where you can catch your breath. It’s safe to say that being a parent leaves little time for life admin and all those other little jobs that should be at the top of your priorities. 

Two young boys in school uniform with book bags, walking ahead facing away from the camera

One of the most common tasks that parents inevitably avoid is organising a life insurance policy. Putting in place affordable life insurance cover can sound like a long-drawn-out process and the thought of searching for a quote and working your way through a myriad of health questions whilst your kids are squabbling in the background is enough to put any busy parent off inquiring about life cover. 

However, if you have children, life insurance is something that should never be put off. In this post, we’ll explore why parents should take out life insurance for the benefit of their dependents and their peace of mind! 

Friday 9 June 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update catch up 9th June 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update catch up 9th June 2023

World COVID Statistics: 690,078,591 reported cases and 6,889,524 losses of life.

Hey up! Remember me? I'm finally regaining use of my faculties after having my abdomen wall reconstructed, and dipping back in to the COVID news between naps and 'exercising by walking round the block at the speed of a UK Government Renters (Reform) Bill'. 
I get a 6 month sicknote, so recovery is all going to plan, just veeeery sloooow. It's been 6 weeks, so there are quite a few headlines you might have missed - here are some of them.... (as always source links are at the bottom of the page, so you can find out more if you wish). 

Mpox vaccination deadlines UK

Friday 14 April 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 14th April 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 14th April 2023

World COVID Statistics: 685,461,263 reported cases and 6,841,423 losses of life.

"There is no health without health and care workers.
Health information does not communicate itself.
Vaccines do not administer themselves. 
Wounds do not dress themselves. 
Caesarean sections do not perform themselves.
Diseases do not diagnose themselves. 
Medicines do not prescribe themselves.
And care, compassion and kindness do not deliver themselves. 
They all require a person, and not just a person, they require a health or care worker."
Dr Tedros, head of WHO, on 7th April - the 75th anniversary of the formation of the World Health Organisation. 

310323 1st and 2nd COVID jabs will end for most on 30th June

The UK ONS have released their finalised mortality figures for England and Wales for 2022. This is based purely on raw numbers, and comparisons don't account for changes to population (age and number) over time. 
"In 2022, there were 577,160 deaths registered in England and Wales; this was 9,174 (1.6%) fewer deaths than in 2021, and 33,747 (6.2%) more deaths than the five-year average (2016 to 2019 and 2021)."
- More men died than women, and the area with the highest figure above the 5 year average was the South West. 
- Leading cause of death was dementia and Alzheimer's disease, with 65,967 deaths (11.4% of all deaths); higher than in 2021 (61,250 deaths, 10.4%).
- Leading cause of death for males was ischaemic heart diseases (38,730 deaths, 13.3%), and among females was dementia and Alzheimer's disease (42,635 deaths, 15.0%). This was also the case in 2021.
- COVID was the 6th leading cause of death (22,454 deaths, 3.9% of all deaths registered), having been the leading cause of death in 2021 (67,350 deaths, 11.5%).

Friday 31 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 31st March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 31st March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 683,871,943 reported cases and 6,830,866 losses of life.

"Isn't a baseline of 1 million current cases & several hundred deaths a week dramatic enough for you? Like Coronation Street, it drags on forever, but can't be said to lack drama."
Excellent quote from someone named Mal Smith on the COVID stats last week. COVID very definitely isn't over, we are 'learning to live with it'. Never forget those who won't ever be able to take it lightly. Around 1.5 million people in the UK will always be more vulnerable to serious disease and death. Never belittle someone who wants to wear a mask or flinches if you cough, whether for their own safety or yours.

310323 1st and 2nd COVID jabs will end for most on 30th June

The weekly COVID19 surveillance report from the UK HSA shows that hospital admission rates have decreased in almost all age groups. The highest admission rates continue to be seen in the over 75s.
This is for the week ending 26th March, so it's much more up-to-date than we used to have to work with. 

Friday 24 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 683,110,747 reported cases and 6,824,665 losses of life.

"I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the house on December 1 2021, December 8 2021, or on any other date."
Boris Johnson, ex-UK Prime Minister, giving his written evidence at the 'Did you lie to Parliament?' enquiry.

"The PM certainly knew it was a drinks party because I told him and when he walked outside he saw a drinks party."
Dominic Cummings, ex-advisor to the ex-Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

"Like many thousands of others, my family followed the rules and will have to live with the consequences of not being with our loved ones at the end, for the rest of our lives."
Ms Becky Cummer, spokesperson for the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, speaking to Sky News.

Boris Johnson's official written defence was published on Tuesday. There was literally nothing new, a point that the investigating committee noticed immediately.
Boris admits he 'misled' Parliament, but said that he did it "in good faith". He's repeatedly saying he didn't know after-work partying and Friday afternoon drinkies were illegal. He claims when he said "I've done nothing against the law", he believed it.
He is clearly still confused over how he could be fined for his surprise birthday party where "no cake was eaten and no-one even sang happy birthday".
I can believe that. I can believe Boris thinks anything he does is fine, and if it's not fine now, it will be eventually.
The issue isn't cake Boris, the issue is lots of people gathering together in person, and as you didn't leave when they started arriving, you were one of them.

On Wednesday Boris gave sworn verbal evidence in person and underwent questioning from the Privileges Committee. One point raised repeatedly was whether he was advised works parties were illegal or not.
Hands up who had advisors during lockdown? No? Me neither. Hands up if you actually made the rules? ...that's you Boris...
Boris said that people who think folk in Downing Street were partying during lockdown "simply do not know what they are talking about".
My son missed out on his 10th and 11th birthday parties in March 2020 and 2021 (he was 13 on Tuesday). He says "3 or more friends would have counted as a party". I'm with him.

Moving on, the latest Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) report is far better news, although still unfortunate for anyone involved. It shows 55 losses of life above those lost during the same week (ending 10th March) in 2019. I can't see any bank holiday reporting affecting that, so it's possibly the best it's been in months or even years.
Although 533 deaths mentioned COVID, the non-COVID losses of life were incredibly low, so they were offset.

The ONS random sampling study is winding down, and this week there are less random test results across the UK, which reduces accuracy, and they didn't have enough samples returned in Northern Ireland to compile a full report. Sad times.
For the week ending 13th March for England, Wales and Scotland, and 7th March for Northern Ireland:
"The estimated percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) increased in England, and the trends were uncertain in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland."
- England, estimate 1,493,200, equating to 2.66% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Wales, estimate 74,500, equating to 2.41% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 26,000, equating to 1.42% of the population, or around 1 in 70 people.
- Scotland, estimate 136,200, equating to 2.59% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.

The Health Foundation have examined results of a 10 country survey (high income countries, 9,526 people responded), and found that while most GPs have a higher workload than before the pandemic, UK GPs have the highest stress levels and lowest levels of satisfaction. On the plus side, they were great at using computer data and dealing with patients with dementia. Ermmmm yeeay.. ?

Junior doctors in England have voted to strike again over pay, after Government talks did not prove successful.
There will be a 96-hour walkout for shifts starting between 7am Tuesday 11th April and 7am Saturday 15th April.

Following on from last week's revelations about the origins of COVID and animals in environmental samples at Huanan Market in Wuhan, the French scientists involved have published their (not-yet peer-reviewed, but being held in high praise online) study.
The samples were collected waaay back at the very start of the outbreak, when the market was closed, right at the beginning of 2020.
A cluster of human COVID cases surrounded the market, but all animals within the market at the time tested negative. The genetic codes from swab samples of equipment and the market walls, floor etc were uploaded by Chinese scientists more recently, and the French team spotted they included lots of animal DNA.
Environmental samples can be a bit of a soup. If you tested my kitchen table you might find flour, human, cat, COVID and tomato. We can assume the flour and tomato aren't responsible for the COVID, but we can't say for sure the human or cat was, and it could even have been introduced by someone else. What is clear though, is that they existed in the same space together.
Animal DNA found mixed together with COVID included raccoon dogs, red foxes, rabbits, cats and dogs - all of which can definitely catch COVID - as well as other more exotic mammals including Amur hedgehogs, Malayan porcupines, hoary bamboo rats, Himalayan marmots, masked palm civets, Siberian weasels and hog badgers.
Lots of animal and lots of COVID together at the market does suggest a possibility that animals were infecting each other with COVID for a while before they passed it to humans, and/or humans became aware it existed.
(There's a great write up on this on CNN actually.)

A newly released (not-yet peer-reviewed) study from the University of Edinburgh has found that while having COVID infection often affects the menstrual cycle of those who have one, COVID vaccinations usually do not.
Now, this is one of those studies that relies on memory and personal experience, so it may not be as accurate as something measured and precisely counted, but it found people with a history of COVID infection reported an increased risk of heavier bleeding, missed periods and bleeding between periods, while there was no real difference between experiences of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Tanzania now has an outbreak of Marburg Fever. This is the haemorrhagic (bleeding) disease which Equatorial Guinea currently has an outbreak of too. It is a relative of Ebola and the fatality rate in previous outbreaks has been between 24-88%. There is no treatment.
Tanzania have identified 8 confirmed cases so far. 5 of those people have died.
Equatorial Guinea are not so quick to tell us what is happening, but we had an update on Wednesday. It isn't good news. In total there are now 9 laboratory-confirmed cases and 20 probable cases. There are 7 deaths amongst the laboratory confirmed, and all 20 probable cases have died. The cases are from 3 areas, 150km apart, and in one of those areas there's no clear link to other cases. The World Health Organisation sadly accept that this "suggests the potential for undetected community spread of the virus". 
WHO have access to trial vaccines which are too late to help anyone already ill, but as the fatality rate is so high, are being considered as an option for close contacts.
WHO still assess global risk as 'low', but within Equatorial Guinea it has been raised to 'very high'.

Monkeypox good news from the UK HSA:
"Thanks to the sustained reduction we've seen in mpox cases, the vaccination programme in England can be wound down this summer."
In fact, the UK has only detected 6 cases in 2023 so far, and 3 were returning travellers. Amazing considering the high in July last year was 350 people per week.
If you are eligible, there is still time to get your 1st, 2nd or both doses to get protected, but be quick. First dose by 16th June, 2nd by 31st July.
And guys... well done on putting the reins on this one...

The 3rd National Day of Reflection took place yesterday, Thursday March 23rd, marking 3 years since the UKs first COVID lockdown.
Organised by Marie Curie, COVID charities and other agencies, the Day of Reflection was an opportunity for all people to think and talk about their own experiences of loss, grief and bereavement during the pandemic.
I am sorry for anyone who has lost someone over the last 3 years, especially those who lost someone to COVID, or missed out on final moments or days, funerals, hugs, and held hands, and all of those things which make us human.

It is the weekend! Early finish for me as I am in the land of no internet and poor indoor phone reception, and its raining and getting colder, but at least its been sunny and I've topped up my Vitamin D. Don't forget yours, it boosts your immunity and makes the world feel a little less grey. Get yourself outdoors for some fresh air, and don't forget that treat either. You earned it. I have mine waiting back at home for me next week, and it's 2 hour long bubble bath shaped... ooooh yes.

Play Outdoors, Wear A Cardi, Save The NHS...

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

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (plus figures added YESTERDAY in the full 24 hours until midnight GMT):

World 683,070,914 (+85,592) 6,824,482 (+617)
Russia 22,550,395 (+12,512) 396,974 (+36)
S. Korea 30,739,457 (+11,400) 34,201 (+14 )
USA 106,082,759 (+10,424) 1,153,526 (+138)
France 39,735,279 (+9,249) 165,454 (+29)
Japan 33,398,536 (+8,485) 73,632 (+40)
Germany 38,326,616 (+5,635) 170,231 (+157)
Mexico 7,516,046 (+4,008) 333,362 (+27)
Chile 5,243,653 (+3,769) 64,443 (+27)
Australia 11,297,847 (+3,373) 19,750 (+10)
Austria 6,015,537 (+3,327) 22,071





Jr Drs

Origins of COVID

And marburg image

Monkeypox and image

Friday 17 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 682,255,152 reported cases and 6,817,431 losses of life.

"Over 3 years into the COVID19 emergency, too many lives have been lost. Too many people are still suffering, including from Long COVID. We'll never stop demanding equitable access to life-saving tools.
"Understanding COVID19’s origins and exploring all hypotheses remains:
-a scientific imperative, to help us prevent future outbreaks
-a moral imperative, for the sake of the millions of people who died and those who live with Long COVID"
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Norovirus home care NHS advice

On 11th March it was 3 years since WHO declared COVID a pandemic. It wasn't actually their job, but by 11th March 2020 it had become clear no-one else was going to do it and everyone was waiting, so Dr Tedros made the announcement. In some people's minds this made him responsible for the entire thing. 
"Around this time three years ago, the world woke up to the seriousness of COVID19, to stay at home orders, to life - as we had known it - changed…
We have all been impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, we are all different, and we cannot go “back” to the way it was, we need to make our futures better…
I know the world wants so desperately for the COVID19 pandemic to be over. I do too. But we aren’t done yet and this virus isn’t done with us yet. It is here to stay and we can do more to protect everyone, everywhere…"
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Friday 10 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th March 2023 - the Matt Hancock Lockdown WhatsApp edition. 

World COVID Statistics: 681,301,970 reported cases and 6,810,359 losses of life.

"Since April ‘20, the COVID-19 Infection Survey has gathered & analysed more than 11 million swab tests & 3 million blood tests from households.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in the survey… your contributions have provided invaluable data that has helped develop our understanding of COVID-19 & helped shape decisions made throughout the pandemic."
Prof.Steven Riley, Director General of Data, Analytics and Surveillance, UK Health Security Agency.

100323 COVID jab Spring booster rollout recipients

Almost 3 years since the first UK press conferences, so hands up if you've got COVID! Yeeeay... noooo... booo. My youngest is testing positive again (4th or 5th time). Most of us are ill, but he's currently the only one with a positive test to prove it. Should be a fun weekend ahead...