Friday 10 February 2023

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

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

World COVID Statistics: 677,186,916 reported cases and 6,779,665 losses of life.

"Devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, injuring thousands of people. WHO has activated its emergency medical teams network, now on the ground delivering health care to those in need."
Monday 6th February's earthquakes are so far known to have killed over 22,000 people, injured over 80,000 more, and they have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless in snowy conditions.
Volunteer teams from more than 25 countries are already there, and 95 countries had offered help by this morning. Volunteers include over 30 search & rescue teams, engineers, medical staff, firefighters and vets, and they are still pulling people out alive.
Thank you to all of them.
Anyone wanting to make donations, please use official agencies such as the 15 members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). DEC agencies work together to ensure the correct sort of aid is targeted exactly where it's needed most. DEC includes many of the big names, including the Red Cross, Save The Children, Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid and International Rescue.

UK HSA How to not spread regular flu human to human

"Over the past few weeks there have been several reports of mammals including minks, otters, foxes and sea lions having been infected with H5N1 avian influenza. H5N1 has spread widely in wild birds and poultry for 25 years but the recent spill over to mammals needs to be monitored closely.
For the moment, WHO assesses the risk to humans as low. Since H5N1 first emerged in 1996 we have only seen rare and non-sustained transmission of H5N1 to and between humans, but we cannot assume that will remain the case and we must prepare for any change in the status quo."
Dr Tedros, head of WHO, with a little warning at Wednesday's Conference On Global Health. 

The latest UK COVID Infection Survey random sampling is a mixed bag, which is a less rosy view than the previous few weeks, as anticipated. For the week ending 31 January 2023:
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) increased in England, continued to decrease in Northern Ireland, and the trends were uncertain in Wales and Scotland."
- England, estimate 874,700, equating to 1.56% of the population (an increase from 1.42% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 65 people.
- Wales, estimated 36,600 (95% credible interval: 28,100 to 47,400), equating to 1.19% of the population, or around 1 in 85 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 25,500 (95% credible interval: 18,000 to 34,200), equating to 1.39% of the population (a decrease from 1.52% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 70 people.
- Scotland, estimate 82,300 (95% credible interval: 66,000 to 100,300), equating to 1.56% of the population, or around 1 in 65 people

If you use the Zoe app. then you may have missed that they've changed their data. They've removed their own estimates of how many people had COVID each day over the past year, and instead they're using the ONS random sampling figures as above.

100223 hospital admissions by week england COVID actuaries

Hospital admissions are going up too. In England greatest increases are in the young. They're low numbers, so each 1 makes a big difference, but age 0-5 is up 30% on last week, and age 6-17 up 21% . Overall admissions with COVID are up 9% week on week (week ending 6th Feb), bed occupancy has risen by 6%. Admissions rose quite sharply in London, the East and South West but were fairly flat everywhere else.

The UK's Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) Mortality Monitor report is still not pleasant reading. In the week ending 27th January there were 14% more deaths than the same week in 2019.
"CMI calculates 165,600 excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. That total has increased by 14,200 in the first four weeks of 2023."
These people are not all dying from COVID. Last week's excess (above expected) deaths was 1,762 people. 579 had COVID mentioned on their death certificate.
It's becoming increasingly hard not to blurt out the obvious. Our NHS is horrendously under-staffed with exhausted, under paid and under respected people. Millions of us are suffering the after-effects of (repeated) COVID infections. This is the result. (Bear in mind the chart also tails off because final figures aren't yet in for the later dates.)100223 CMI Covid Actuaries weekly excess deaths last 26 weeks

The UK's national booking service has arranged over 86 million COVID vaccine appointments since its launch in January 2021. 
The system is changing on Sunday, and you will no longer be able to book booster jabs unless you are in a vulnerable group (or in some circumstances live with / care for those who are). If you haven't had your booster and want one, you have until SUNDAY 12th February to get it done. The primary 2 vaccinations we were promised will ALWAYS be open to you, whenever you are ready. 

Variant Watch:
"XBB.1.5 and CH.1.1 (and associated sublineages) continue to show growth advantage in England in all models. It is likely that the growth of both CH.1.1. and XBB.1.5 are contributing to the current increase in COVID-19 incidence and that they will continue to increase overall transmission as they become more prevalent."
From UK sequences collected 23rd to 30th January 2023:
37.5% were V-22OCT-01 (BQ.1) - down from 51.3% a month earlier
28.3% V-22DEC-01 (CH.1.1) - up from 19.5% a month earlier
15.3% V-23JAN-01 (XBB.1.5) - up from 4.5% a month earlier
5.5% V22JUL-01 (BA.2.75)
4.4% VOC-22APR-04 (BA.5)
3.4% V-22OCT-02 (XBB)

The US CDC has added COVID vaccinations to the regular suggested vaccine schedules for children and adults. This makes COVID vaccination more of a standard rather than a special. Recommendations are for a primary course of Pfizer or Moderna 2 dose vaccination and a single bivalent (2-pronged original and Omicron) booster, for everyone aged 6 months and over (over 12 years can opt for Novovax). Immunocompromised people get a 3rd initial dose. 

100223 86 million COVID vaccinations booked in UK

There are a couple of Pfizer stories doing the rounds again:
Firstly that there's a link to increased risk of strokes if you are vaccinated. Yes that's true, but it's very tiny, and it's a substantially lower risk than catching COVID unvaccinated, so overall (even if only half the people catch it) a vaccinated population with free-roaming COVID will have considerably less people developing strokes.
The second is that the Pfizer CEO broke the Code Of Practice last year. They did. On the BBC website was an interview where they weren't aware of changes to the UK vaccination schedule, and had a tone which was very much 'advertising'. They basically were promoting more vaccinations to groups which the UK agencies had said didn't need them. 
Neither of these are new stories, but they go around as if they are, and often aren't clearly reported, so "Pfizer breaks code of practice" becomes a brand new headline to scare people... again...

Vaccinating farmed birds against Avian Flu is currently being debated, as is human vaccination. Professor of Vaccinology at Mount Sinai and Avian Flu expert, Prof. Florian Krammer, has been answering questions as he sees it. He says: 
- We should be making human flu vaccines which work on a broad swathe of H5N1 part of the bird flu family tree (like our Omicron-specific COVID vaccines). He believes this is well in hand, with the US CDC  and Biomedical ​Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). 
- We need to find out if infection or vaccination with current human flu vaccine helps protect humans against H5N1 bird flu at all. He believes this is hopeful, as the 'N1' part of the bird flu is something a lot of us have been exposed to in a variant of human flu, so our bodies might recognise the threat and remember how to fight it. 
- Doctors need to keep an eye out for any 'atypical flu', and check it isn't a human infection with bird flu. 
- The public need to be reminded DO NOT TOUCH ANY DEAD OR SICK BIRDS, or their poo, feathers, nest, etc. 
- We need to discuss safe farming practices, and vaccinating farmed poultry. It's not done in the USA, but it did work effectively in China against variant H7N9, so can't be dismissed.

Bird Flu dos and don't UK Gov

There is an excellent article in Stat News featuring some more of the world's most notable bird flu virus experts. General consensus is that we regularly see big bird flu outbreaks in birds, who occasionally pass it to humans and a range of other animals, and sometimes it has seemed like it's about to do something big and maybe even make the leap to human pandemic, and then it goes quiet again.
The experts all agree that they've been watching this for decades, and haven't ever stopped being concerned, but they could still be in the same position in another 20 years.
"What has become clear to me over time is that the big challenge is not the viruses. That’s not what gives me a pit in my stomach... The real challenge is whether people, whether governments, whether policymakers have the ability to actually address the challenge in the way that needs to be done."
Influenza Epidemiologist Keiji Fukuda (former Assistant Director-General of WHO from 2009 to 2016).

"We've announced the 75 local authorities in England getting funding to roll out family hubs & help more families give their baby the best start.
Family Hubs & Start for Life includes support for mental health, strong relationships & infant feeding."
The UK Department for Health and Social Care.
Wow, what a great idea... and if it sounds familiar, remember all those Sure Start Centres this very Government closed 10 years ago? I despair.

UK Government:
"With the approval of His Majesty The King, the Prime Minister has announced the creation of four new departments. 
These departments will ensure the right skills and teams are delivering for the British people."
The new Government Departments are:
- Energy Security and Net Zero "securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation". (We can hope.)
- Science, Innovation and Technology to "drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy". 
- Business and Trade will back "British businesses at home and abroad, promoting investment and championing free trade".
- Culture, Media and Sport will "build on the UK’s position as a global leader in the creative arts".
- Rebranding and Goalpost Moving will "repeatedly create new departments and logos, and new ways to measure things, rather than actually doing something to fix anything".
(I added the last one.)

The UK Budget day is 15th March, and civil servants will be striking. Very clear quote from PCS union General Secretary Mark Serwotka on Sky News - 
"Rishi Sunak doesn't seem to understand that the more he ignores our members' demands for a pay rise to get them through the cost-of-living crisis, the more angry and more determined he makes them.
"PCS members are suffering a completely unacceptable decline in their pay. By April, one third of HMRC staff, for example, will be earning just the minimum wage. 40,000 civil servants have used a foodbank. It's an appalling way for the government to treat its own workforce."
RMT (trains) and ambulance workers have both announced new strikes in the last couple of days. 
UK workers striking at some point next week include civil servants, physiotherapists, ambulance, university and Royal Mail staff. 

National HIV Testing Week Photo of jaunty smiley man

Some countries have been more cautious than others. On Monday Singapore will drop their requirement to wear a mask on public transport and end the need for travellers to take pre-departure COVID tests if you haven't been fully vaccinated.
Lunar New Year and the reopening of China haven't caused massive waves, so they see the situation as more stable. 
“Our population has developed a high level of hybrid immunity. The risk of infections leading to severe illness or deaths is very low — comparable to other endemic respiratory diseases like influenza.”
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. 

A virus which still remains a pandemic and is currently infecting over 36 million people worldwide is HIV. This week in England it's National HIV Testing Week, and for the first time you can get a free at-home HIV test, with a 15 minute result. Without treatment HIV is fatal, but with treatment the expected lifespan for people with HIV aged 15-59 is now the same as the general population, and levels of virus are so low they're undetectable, and you can't pass it on. Around 5,000 people are suspected to be living with HIV unawares in England. 

It is the weekend! Whoot. I am such a wild party animal that I always spend my Friday evening excited about my lie-in on Saturday! Don't forget to take time out from doing things for other people, to treat yourself to something nice. 
A special mention today for anyone who has COVID and is poorly, including my partner's parents, who had avoided it for 3 years. Latest COVID variants often give people a sore throat that keeps them up at night, but mostly advice remains the same - paracetamol and sleep, and if you have unusual difficulty breathing or walking upstairs, make sure your oxygen levels and chest are checked out. Get well soon, and have the best weekend you can. 

Some people. They look like numbers here, but they are all people who are much more like you, than not like you. 

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

World 677,101,442 (+150,032) 6,779,202 (+996)
Japan 32,879,625 (+32,969) 70,185 (+223)
Taiwan 9,753,998 (+20,912) 16,894 (+45)
USA 104,731,504 (+18,717) 1,139,675 (+276)
S. Korea 30,311,979 (+14,664) 33,680 (+34)
Germany 37,893,892 (+14,178) 166,660 (+134)
Russia 22,035,133 (+12,301) 395,447 (+41)
Brazil 36,917,623 (+9,733) 697,620 (+37)
Austria 5,812,694 (+5,294) 21,773 (+4)
Mexico 7,395,741 (+4,839) 332,521 (+38)
France 39,555,761 (+3,653) 164,517 (+17)
Australia 11,327,851 (+2,491) 19,035 (+34) 


Türkiye and Syria

WHO warning on bird flu

Zoe App.

And Actuaries report address:

COVID hospital admissions


US CDC vaccine schedule

Avian flu Florian Krammer, human Epidemiologist. 

Avian flu STAT News:

New York Times have attempted China mortality modelling

Pfizer vaccines rehashed stories

UK family hubs


UK Government shake up / strikes
The London Declaration with Zelenskyy


HIV testing UK


If you think it's only the UK having problems retaining and recruiting for underpaid, overworked medical staff, think again. This is a problem worldwide. Klang hospital in Malaysia closed to non-critical cases last week, due to staff shortages and high patient load.

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!