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

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