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

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