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%).

Now that we are passing out of the main flu season, excess deaths in England and Wales are showing a 10% (or more) increase again. Darnit.
It looked like the 8% average weekly excess from last year had calmed down. Over the last couple of months it could in large part be attributable to post-pandemic high levels of flu, Norovirus and RSV. Those virus peaks have now calmed down, so it is very disappointing that in the week ending 18th March we had a 10% excess, and in the week ending 25th March, 13% more people died compared to the 5 year average for the same week. 
Latest stats are skewed because of Easter, and show a 21% increase over the 5 year average, so I'd hope that figure is really low next week. Year-to-date there have been 171,600 deaths recorded, 8% above the 5-year average.
Huge thanks to the COVID Actuaries for these figures. 

We are big fans of the COVID Actuaries here, and they don't just work in the UK. Australian end of year figures for 2022 found an estimated 12% excess deaths (above expected), which is 20,200 people. All age groups had an excess of at least 5%. COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death, behind ischaemic heart disease and dementia - both of which showed a big increase.

140423 Excess deaths COVID actuaries

Paul Mainwood, numbers bloke, is still keeping a close eye on England's ambulances for us, and it's not good. As he put it:
"Ambulance response times drifting back into crisis. A Category 2 call (the one you're put in for a suspected heart attack or stroke) should have an ambulance with you in a mean of 18 minutes. March's average was 39 minutes 33 seconds. One in ten took longer than 1 hour 26."
Yowch. The South West and East of England still seem to be performing worst - which could easily be population density, lowest staffing levels or all sorts of factors, and is NOT a reflection on ambulance staff. 

"The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that clinically vulnerable children aged 6 months to 4 years should be offered a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
Although young children are generally at low risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, infants and young children who have underlying medical conditions are over 7 times more likely to be admitted to paediatric intensive care units."
UK Government. NHS England has confirmed it will begin offering vaccinations to those eligible from mid-June. 

BBC presenter Lisa Shaw's widower is going to sue AstraZeneca, after she died from a bleed on the brain a week after her COVID vaccination in 2021. He says he has no choice, as he and all other families of vaccine-injured people are not getting a response or support from the UK government. They aren't even qualifying for the £120,000 payments from the Government Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme.
In the rare cases that medicine goes wrong, they can't bring that person back, but they should at minimum remove money worries for the family. It shouldn't take legal action to get anything done. The UK Government have a pot of cash ready and it was always inevitable that a few people would react really badly to COVID vaccination - but when weighed up against lives saved it was a gamble almost anyone would take. That doesn't mean we forget about those who lost, and were lost. Just be kind, apologise and sort it out. However brutal it may be to say it, losing someone unexpectedly is incredibly expensive and you are not in a place where you can focus on finances, budgeting, meal planning etc. You need and deserve help.

140423 end of year ONS all cause mortality
It's no surprise that it's actually really tricky to find out exactly how many people have lost their lives to COVID vaccine injury. Apparently the AstraZeneca legal case concerns 'just under 75' people who were given the AstraZeneca jab (according to the Daily Mail). That vaccine has been superseded and is no longer in use in the UK.
Latest UK Government monitoring with the current in-use (mainly bivalent) vaccines up until 8th March 2023:
"The MHRA has received 30 UK reports of suspected ADRs with a fatal outcome to the bivalent COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 42 reports of suspected ADRs with a fatal outcome for the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine Moderna. The MHRA has received no UK reports with a fatal outcome for COVID-19 Vaccine Novavax."
That's actually a lot higher than seem to have been confirmed in the USA, according to the CDC. 
"More than 672 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through March 1, 2023. During this time, VAERS received 19,476 preliminary reports of death (0.0029%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA clinicians review reports of death to VAERS including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records. Continued monitoring has identified nine deaths causally associated with J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccination."
If you take 672 million people and watch them for 4 weeks, it is sadly inevitable that some will die, regardless of any vaccinations. Although you'll be able to dismiss most of those 19,476 deaths immediately, sifting through the rest to find any with a direct link to their vaccination is the bigger task. 

Currently there is little understanding of Long COVID, and no treatment, but no-one is going to lose millions of people from the workforce and ignore it. 
There is some evidence that in Long COVID patients the virus targets mitochondria - the part of a cell which gives it energy and controls messaging, aging and decides when the cell has died. With damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria, we can develop loads of conditions such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 
University of Oxford and drug company Axcella last Autumn completed a trial of AXA1125 - a drug mainly comprised of naturally occurring protein building blocks, which was originally designed to treat (non alcohol-related) liver disease. It reduces swelling, improves cell "energetic efficiency" and can reverse mitochondrial dysfunction. The trial was specifically looking at post-COVID extreme tiredness (fatigue), and gave 41 patients either the drug or a placebo twice a day for a month.
They couldn't measure a notable difference in 'recovery rate after exercise' using chemicals in the blood, but the participants also answered questionnaires on mental and physical fatigue, and completed a 6 minute walking test, and the group who took the drug were considerably improved after the 4 weeks.
It really does offer a lot of hope this one, and they are currently trying to get it fast tracked for further large scale human trials in the UK and USA. 

Still with Long COVID, and a study released last week (not yet peer reviewed) has looked at the brain tissue of deceased humans, to see exactly where COVID has visited and left behind a part of itself - the spike protein. 
They found spike proteins accumulate in the skull marrow, brain meninges (outside membranes around your brain), and brain parenchyma (grey matter). So, pretty much everywhere then... 
"Furthermore, we observed the presence of spike protein in the skull of deceased long after their COVID-19 infection, suggesting that the spike’s persistence may contribute to long-term neurological symptoms"...
They examined the pathways used by the virus to get into the brain, and are hopeful this will be helpful with future methods of diagnosis and treatment - both for immediate and long term effects. 

WHO physical signs of stress

Sickeningly, the drop in life expectancy over the past 3 years has excited pensions investors. For every month less you live after retirement, they earn more. Oh joy.
Latest models by the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) suggest if you are 65 and retire today, you'll get to enjoy that retirement on average for around 8 months less than 3 years ago pre-pandemic. Even more tragic, that figure has been dropping since 2012, when the average retirement was 2 years and 1 month longer than today. 

A UK emergency alert test will take place at 3pm on Sunday 23rd April, when all mobile phones with signal (and some other devices, such as tablets) will emit a 10 second siren. 
There are many reasons why someone might have a secret phone. Most are criminal or sneaky in a naughty way, but some are to do with safety and wellbeing.
There are many reasons why someone needs to avoid a 10 second whiny alarm. They might be to do with Alzheimer's, autism, PTSD or other aspects of who you are. 
If you don't want the alarm to go off, turn your phone off during the test, or open "settings", then "notifications" and scroll right to the bottom, where (for almost every phone) there are options to switch wireless emergency alerts off or "advanced settings" - click that and you'll find it there.
Don't forget you've turned this off - you may want to turn it back on after the test. 

UK Gov Emergency Alert test

Australia is heading towards Winter and they're concerned about increasing levels of hospitalisations from COVID and medical staff testing positive. Although overall reported cases in the community are currently going down, I think by now we're all aware that depends entirely on how many people you test, and hardly anyone is getting tested nowadays, even in Australia. The Australian health authorities certainly understand it, and say as much. Refreshingly blunt and honest...
They are asking everyone eligible to get their flu and COVID jabs - which are both free for priority groups. 

The World Health Organisation are monitoring COVID subvariant XBB.1.16, which has been named Arcturus.
First spotted in January, this is a recombinant strain created when 2 Omicron BA.2 strains mixed inside someone's body. It's driving such a surge in cases in India, that some states have reinstated mask mandates, and they've just reported more daily cases than they have for the last 8 months.
Although it doesn't appear any more deadly, it seems to be about 20% faster than the previous speed champion, Kraken. Another feature is that it tends to much more regularly affect the eyes, causing soreness and conjunctivitis - especially in children.
The strain has already been spotted in 22 countries, including the UK, Singapore and Australia, so it's travelling, as you'd expect. The UK HSA say less than 100 cases have been detected here so far (66 as of 11th April). We don't test many people with symptoms, and don't check the lineage of all of those we test, which probably means we have realistically about 2,000 cases - so it's still not exactly sweeping through at a pace just yet. 

Hoax Of The Day:
So Byline Times had an excitable headline about a cover up of deaths of UK NHS and care workers - including the explosive "82% of NHS trusts in England and Wales didn't record a SINGLE COVID-19 infection let alone death in its workers". 
Now stop, just for a second. Clearly something is wrong here. Any data showing no infections among hundreds of thousands of employees is beyond believable. This has angered a lot of people, but the author has made a simple error, and used the wrong set of data. No-one ever said health and care workers weren't being infected. The UK Government's very own SIREN study specifically measured reinfection in healthcare workers. There's no cover up there, just someone looking at out-of-date sources of information. Eejits.

Talk pants image safety for kids

The UK have removed the requirement to take a COVID test before arriving from mainland China. There are no longer any specific COVID restrictions regarding travel to and from the UK from anywhere in the world. Always check for any restrictions with the airline and destination country - including layovers.

For a few years there have been 4 strains of Avian flu which caused concern for human health, mostly for people with farmed birds. This Spring we've seen the first potential mammal to mammal transmission in animals including mink and sea lions, and China has now recorded the world's first human death from Avian flu strain H3N8, the 5th variant to kill a human. There are always a few human cases of Avian Flu each year, and the lady who died wasn't in the best of health, so this is nothing far beyond usual - except for the new strain. Anything new has the scientists twitching, as it can indicate a 'human body friendly mutation' - and we aren't in the mood for another pandemic just now... No known contacts have become ill, so we can hopefully tick this one off as a random event and move on. 

Still with Avian Flu, and in the UK captive birds have had to be held indoors since November 7th last year. DEFRA have now decided that bird flu risk levels have reduced to levels whereby poultry and other captive birds in England & Wales can be let outside from Tuesday 18th April, unless you are in a 3km protection zone. Biosecurity preparations must be taken first - including cleaning and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents. Some risk remains.
Home grown free range eggs will be back on the shelves shortly...  

140423 Bird flu farmed birds can go outdoors again

Fancy a new exciting virus? Your luck could be in. Ticks aren't something most of us come across unless we work, cycle or ramble in long grass, woodland or other greenery. Your chances of being bitten aren't any greater than they used to be, but now some UK ticks are carrying tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) as well as Lyme Disease (1,156 cases in 2021, England and Wales).
TBE is common in ticks elsewhere, but has only been seen in the UK since 2019, and the first infection of a human was last year. Already detected in places including Norfolk, Dorset and Yorkshire, it seems likely to be throughout the UK.
Ticks are teeny tiny ant-like insects with a great big backpack. Remove the backpack and they'll just make a new one, so grab the whole insect head and body with thin tweezers to remove it, and make sure you get it all. If you become generally unwell, have symptoms like meningitis, the wound becomes hot and infected or you.just eant a second opinion, seek medical attention. Pharmacists are great for things like this. And if you're planning a day skipping about in the wildflower meadows, consider wearing long trousers and insect repellant containing DEET, and check yourself when you get home.
P.s. like headlice, ticks cannot fly or leap - they just fall off onto you, or grab on as you brush past. They're pretty rubbish actually. 

Junior Doctors in England went on strike on Tuesday and return to work at 7am tomorrow (Saturday) morning. They are asking for a 35% pay rise, which would bring wages back in line with where they were in 2008.
Nurses from UNISON union have accepted the latest pay offer, while RCN members have not, and will strike from 8pm on 30th April to 8pm on 2nd May. 

When I wrote about the UK NHS setting a target of no-one waiting longer than 18 months for elective treatment by this Summer, I had a personal reason to be pleased, as that was going to include me. I've actually been waiting for major surgery now for almost 2 years, and my ticket has come up. If there is news next Friday, it'll only be because something went wrong and my surgery was delayed (in which case no-one say anything).
A huge thank you to all of the medical workers who have already played a part in my care, and to those who I've yet to be thankful to (even if they never actually see me in person). I will be back, (with my intestines on the inside) hopefully in 2 - 3 weeks, but I can't say for sure when I'll be up to (or capable of) writing again (in sentences that make actual sense) - that'll depend on how many exciting painkillers I'm on, and if I'm bored to tears of lying in bed... 

Look after yourselves, be sensible, make people smile and don't lick strange lamp posts. And always, ALWAYS, remember you have a right to treat yourself, at least once a week. You have earned it after all. 

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

Some numbers. They're all people, and they are all much more like you, than not like you...

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

World 685,420,906 (+72,758) 6,841,278 (+401)
S. Korea 30,956,026 (+11,596) 34,361 (+5)
India 44,797,269 (+11,109) 531,064 (+29)
France 39,878,141 (+10,678) 165,916
Japan 33,556,679 (+9,128) 74,182 (+18)
Russia 22,742,716 (+7,892) 397,718 (+37)
USA 106,455,745 (+5,525) 1,158,017 (+63)
Australia 11,377,670 (+4,124) 20,032 (+16)
Germany 38,380,356 (+2,700) 171,896 (+148)
Austria 6,050,380 (+1,643) 22,228
Poland 6,506,813 (+1,089) 119,453 (+21)
Chile 5,276,669 (+1,089) 64,497
Indonesia 6,754,583 (+990) 161,096 (+14)


Beginning quote - no space for this. Soz Dr T

ONS End of year mortality 2022

Year to date excess COVID actuaries:
Week 1
Week 0
Week 2

Australian COVID actuaries. 



Vaccine deaths:
Table 12 covid vaccination deaths (can't find that in latest issue)
ICD-10 code U12.9

Long COVID Axcella

Brain meninges

Life expectancy after retirement

Emergency alert



Hoax of the day


Bird Flu


COVID-19 origins wet market:

Evergreen offer image:
WHO signs of stress
Talk pants image NSPCC

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