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... 

COVID variant EG.5.1 has got a new name. It's now being known as Eris, and has been on the radar since first noted in June because it had a speed advantage. The latest surveillance for England from UK HSA shows it accounting for around 14.6% of cases (1 in 7) last week. It's a bit nippy, and it is being in part blamed for the recent apparent surge in cases. 
We shall soon find out... 

The ex face of UK COVID, Matt Hancock, complained that the Daily Mirror had described him unfairly. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) have said it's fine, because it's "not inaccurate". 
So may Mr Hancock forever more be known as:
“a failed health secretary and cheating husband who broke the lockdown rules he wrote, doubled down on the lies he told, helped enrich his mates via the infamous VIP PPE lane, and couldn’t resist monetising the infamy he acquired as a result of his ineptitude at managing the pandemic.”
You Sir, have your place in history secured. 

Ridiculous image whereby tons of NHS employees stand in strict lines and look up to an image of Matt Hancock on the telly, with a comedy "hot water" pipe above. And it's genuine.

Leprosy isn't just an olden days disease from the past, it still exists, and is caused by a bacterial infection that is really human-specific (it's possible armadillos can also be infected). Only 1 in 20 people infected with the bacteria develop Leprosy, and to pass it on is tricky. You'd probably need to sneeze or cough in someone's face, and be unlucky in that you had unattached active bacteria in your upper airway (the droplets are huge, so fall to the ground very quickly). Leprosy damages eyes, airways, skin and nerves. Nerve damage can lead to loss of sensation, so you can't tell when you burn, cut or otherwise injure yourself, leading to infections and amputations. It IS treatable, but takes 6-12 months of medication.
Most of around 200,000 worldwide cases reported annually are in very poor populations in hot climates, and Leprosy has shown a blip in Central Florida - with data from 2020 showing that somewhere around 32 of the 159 cases across the entire US were in that area. Almost always US cases are holiday gifts people bring back, but research shows at least 1/3 (around 10) of those in Central Florida had almost definitely acquired their Leprosy locally. We need to see more up to date figures on that one, although COVID measures may well have nipped it in the bud. 

Call DEFRA if you find 1 large dead bird

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (actually his name, I'm not being rude) has lifted the State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19, and people will no longer be required to wear masks on public transport.
There can't be anywhere else left still with an emergency still in place. Surely? 

Trump Of The Week:
Not the UK PM, even though he keeps trying to tell us about his 'home' in North Yorkshire. It's not the POTUS Biden (Democrat). or even ex-POTUS Trump (Republican), even though he's been indicted on a host of new charges he claims he didn't do or see happen. Close though, it's Trump's supporters - for placing political affiliation over health. 
A US study has looked at excess death rates in Florida and Ohio during the pandemic, and which party those deceased people voted for. 
Instantly I think we have to consider that there will be other differences in these people, aside from political affiliation or decisions based upon it (e.g. we know in the UK that you're more likely to be left wing if you are younger, right wing older). This is not an exact science... however... 
Between March 2020 and December 2021 "excess mortality was significantly higher for Republican voters than Democratic voters after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults, but not before. These differences were concentrated in counties with lower vaccination rates, and primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio".
Yowch. The study included 538,159 deaths in individuals aged 25 or over. 
They found a 20.5% increase in weekly death counts in both Florida and Ohio from March 2020 to December 2021, compared to expected levels.
In Winter 2020 there was a sharp rise in excess deaths among all voters, however by Summer of 2021, when vaccines were widely available, the voters start to part and Republicans are dying in greater numbers. That gap widened through Autumn and Winter 2021, so that by the end of the year, Democrats were losing an extra 18.1% people, and Republicans were losing an extra 25.8% people.
This is partly because the media and social media told them scientists lied, or it was a conspiracy to control you, or bleach and light could be cures... COVID never went away, and it didn't get less dangerous if you don't have access to vaccines and/or healthcare. . 

Call DEFRA if you find 1 dead waterbird

Talking of excess mortality (the extra people who have died since the pandemic began), latest stats for the UK are far lower than we had last year. Compared to 2019, in the week ending 21st July, we lost an extra 2% people. Throughout 2022 we lost an extra 8%.

Bird Flu anyone? 
Remember when we were all wondering whether seals and sea lions were actually passing bird flu among themselves? Bad news x 2. 
Finland has a substantial outbreak of Avian Influenza among mammals. At least 22 fur farms have become infected since the first reports on 14th July (super quick). Animals involved are foxes, mink and raccoon dogs.
Analysing the variant shows that it is from the HPAI H5N1 branch of the family tree, and looks to be a descendent of infection in gulls found around that area. 
It is near impossible to completely segregate fur farmed animals from wild birds without horrendous conditions or immense expense. 
And in Poland, they have discovered that a surge in sick domestic cats in the last 8 weeks is also due to Avian Flu.
The sick cats first came to the public's attention on social media, and were a mystery to everyone initially. Over a 3 week period vets were asked to send swabs for any unusual cat cases they saw.
The results published by Eurosurveillance show that 25 of 46 swabs tested positive for bird flu from the same origins - the same branch of the (HPAI) H5N1 family tree. Bizarrely even though the cats lived all over Poland, their infections could all have begun when a single cat was infected by a specific bird.
Worryingly this branch of the HPAI H5N1 family tree does appear to have mutations that make it better suited to mammals - and sadly I can't tell you how closely related it is to the variant in Finland, but it seems likely they're brothers. 

Avian flu is a very hard virus on the cats and other mammals. We don't yet know if these outbreaks occurred together, independently or coincidentally, but a worry has always been that Avian Flu would mutate to become more easily passed on to mammals, especially humans. So far none of the owners or any other people appear to have become infected by these mammals, and the only known transmission to humans is rare, and by birds.
DO NOT GO NEAR DEAD OR SICK BIRDS without adequate PPE. Don't allow your pets or children near dead or sick birds. Do not eat random dead things you find. Contact DEFRA if you suspect bird flu or find any dead bird of prey or large water bird, or 5 or more birds of any type. 
This is new and changing news, so we may well see more on this later... or we could be really lucky and never hear of it again... 

Call DEFRA if you find 5 dead birds of any type

During the pandemic online fraud increased, and according to latest data from the ONS, this has now levelled off. What is really notable though, is that in the UK at least, scammers have changed tactics. Six times as many people are being scammed into paying upfront for goods that never arrive than in 2020.
Think carefully and do your checks before you hand over your money. Beware any company with brand new social media (check the photos are not all from last week, or they didn't change company completely by altering an old account). Read reviews on other websites, and if you feel pressured, ask why that is?

Captain Sir Admiral Tom Moore's daughter and her husband have attempted to defend their decision to redesign and change their newly built building -  from Captain Tom Foundation offices to home spa pool. They've appealed against a court-ruled demolition. They say it won't be any taller, so they can't see the fuss. Well, let's be honest. No-one is actually that bothered whether it's 1ft6 high and you have to crawl through it. We're bothered because it appears from this angle that you may have been a little grabby and selfish off the back of donations from other people, that we kind of expected to go to the NHS. Allegedly.

measles is common abroad get vaccinated

The Guardian has a great piece on some genuine research from The Netherlands. Researchers wanted to discover if you are more likely to test positive for COVID if you touch your face a lot. The research was done on healthcare workers, noting factors such as beards, glasses, nail-biters etc. Astoundingly, when they altered the maths to account for time in full PPE and other factors, they discovered the medical staff were 3 times as likely to catch COVID if they were a regular nose-picker...
See kids, it can make you ill...
Of course, being a person who picks your nose may make you more likely to do other things which also increase your risk of catching COVID, whereas being an incredibly hygienic person will lower it. 185/219 healthcare workers questioned admitted to being (at least occasional) rummagers.

It is the weekend, and a busy one for me. We just got back from a fabulous holiday with no phone signal. It was the laziest holiday I've ever had, and the first 'go away and stay in a booked somewhere else' holiday for 6 years. Well overdue... That was a real biggie (huge thank you to my partner's parents), but I hope you guys are remembering to do something nice for yourselves too - you have earnt it. We can all enjoy the big things, but we also need the little things, to bring us an extra smile and remind us we're great. 

Have a good weekend yourselves, I'll be back sometime over the next 3 weeks, but I will be super busy, so I'm not promising Friday in 2 weeks time! 

Stay Sensible, Wear A Hat, Save The NHS. 

Very few countries now produce daily or even weekly COVID information, and even less share it while it's still relevant. Nowhere routinely tests large numbers of their population, few test all healthcare workers, or all sick people. Test figures, and mortality figures, are not accurate, but better seen as an indicator. These are latest figures up until midnight UK time last night, according to Worldometer. 

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

Countries / Cases (+last 24 hours) / Losses of life (+last 24 hours):

World / 692,600,386 (+5,226) / 6,904,483 (+32)
Philippines / 4,173,477 (+164) / 66,622 (+10)
USA / 107,542,897 (+2,956) / 1,169,999 (+7)
Israel / 4,831,302 (+569) / 12,592 (+7)
Australia / 11,735,791 (+732) / 22,357 (+6)
Guatemala / 1,271,969 (+320) / 20,237 (+2)
India / 44,995,802 / 531,918
France / 40,138,560 / 167,642
Germany / 38,428,685 / 174,352
Brazil / 37,728,415 / 704,794
Japan / 33,803,572 / 74,694
UK / 24,651,375 / 228,429


Avian flu




Hat Mancock

Marcos lifts COVID-19 state of public health emergency

Democrats Vs Republicans

UK Excess mortality
and COVID update


Captain Tom's family defend home spa

Nose picking

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