Friday 8 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 699,001,023 reported cases and 6,948,566 losses of life.

3 years ago today, 90 year old Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK (and the world) to be vaccinated against COVID as part of a general immunisation rollout.
Last interview I can find with her was a few months ago, at which time she was healthy and well with no regrets. 

WHO COVID Isnt over get vaccinated text and image of lady

Junior doctors in England will continue to strike after government negotiations broke down. It will affect one of the busiest periods of the year. Strikes are planned for 7am 20th December to 7am 23rd December, and 7am 3rd January to 7am 9th January.

The UK Government have proudly announced they have employed an extra 50,000 nurses (full time equivalent). Yeeeay! Sadly over 40,000 left during the previous year, so the stats on that one may be a bit skewed.

The COVID Infection Survey is back (whoot!). It involves random testing of around 28,000 people from England and Scotland. Data suggests around 680,000 people had COVID in England during the last week of November, but all the stats won't be finalised until 21st December. It's better than nothing. 

081223Hospital admissions with COVID chart England

Following on from testing positive, hospital admissions with COVID are rising - up 10% week on week for the last week of November. 
"Admissions rose in all regions except NE&Yorks (-6%). Largest increases in the South West (+35%) and the East (+29%).
Acute bed occupancy is up by 4%."
Stuart McDonald, COVID Actuary.

"The CMI (Continuous Mortality Investigation) calculates 205,600 excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. That total has increased by 34,100 in 2023, with most of the excess deaths registered in the first 3 months.
Cumulative mortality rates year to date are 5.6% of a full year’s mortality worse than 2019."
COVID Actuary Stuart McDonald again.  

081223 cumulative mortality

The COVID Actuaries have been keeping count since the beginning of the pandemic, and have published some very sobering insights into excess deaths in England: 
"Newly published data shows that, from June 2022 to June 2023, excess deaths were highest for ages 50-64, at 15% above normal.
In comparison, excess deaths were 11% higher than expected for under 25s and 25-49s, and were 9% higher for over 65s.
For ages 50-64, deaths involving cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke were 33% higher than expected.
Other causes with significant excess deaths at ages 50-64 were acute respiratory infections (43% excess) and diabetes (35% excess)."
We are losing working age people who shouldn't be lost, and we need to look at this, not ignore it. Causes are likely to include delays in detection and treatment, NHS pressures during acute illness, and effects of COVID infection. The German Health Minister might have something to say...  

Excess mortality Stuart mcdonald quote

In a refreshingly honest change from the norm, yet realistically grim, Germany have gone public mainstream with the science on Long COVID. Health Minister Professor Karl Lauterbach did a very clear and concise 'pre-Christmas gatherings' presentation of facts, which hopefully won't come as a crushing surprise to anyone reading.
In precis (translated):
- More and more people are still developing Long COVID from catching the virus today.
- Vaccinations reduce risk, but even fully vaxxed, risk of developing Long COVID is around 3% EVERY time you catch COVID.
- Long COVID takes many forms and we do not have a cure. We know it is caused by mechanisms in the brain, blood vessels and immune system.
- Wider society should be concerned, because Long COVID can leave people with problems such as vascular (blood flow) diseases and disorders.
- Throughout Europe there is an increase in cardiovascular disease in the 25-50 age group. "This is associated with the consequences of COVID infections."
- "We also very often find cognitive impairment in older people." "Past infection affects how the immune system in the brain functions, as well as the brain's blood vessels."
(Around 20 years after the Spanish flu pandemic there was a significant increase in Parkinson's and dementia type illness.)
- Over 40% of people with 5 or more Long COVID symptoms are not better 2 years later. Long COVID doesn't just cure itself spontaneously.
- The worse your initial symptoms, the less likely you are to heal. 
- COVID IS NOT a cold.
- With colds we don't tend to see long term effects - with COVID we do. Changes in the blood vessels, autoimmune disease developing and neurological inflammation.
- "Currently the danger being posed by COVID is being underestimated."

Cause of death chart mid 22 to mid 23 COVID Actuaries Stuart McDonald

Variant JN.1 (Junior Pirola) is running rampant (well, kinda). We did see this likelihood, but you can never tell if its going to explode or fizzle, until it does. This one has broken out, and not only in the UK.
We aren't sequencing many samples, but as of 4th December 2023, 302 UK sequences have been classified as JN.1, of which 223 were from England. (On 5th December 2023, 3,618 international sequences have been classified as JN.1 and uploaded to GISAID in total.)
I cannot find the Government data, but the numbers people are suggesting JN.1 now accounts for between 34% and 50% of UK cases. Much easier to spread and catch, so it's likely to cause a bit of a wave, but still no reason to assume it's any more dangerous than other variants.

Over 78,000 young children in the UK are waiting for appointments with a speech therapist. Being behind with communication holds children back in many ways - with confidence, self-esteem, making friends, education and more. Delays from COVID are wide ranging, and affect far more than physical health. 

Healthwatch England have been surveying patients and disturbingly discovered 1 in every 7 adults (14%) in England has been advised by the NHS to go private. 28% had actually paid for private treatment (including dental treatment). Long waiting lists and regional variations in availability and success rates mean for many money is the difference between putting your life on hold, or living it to the fullest you can.

Danielle Beckman COVID affecting monkey brains image
c/o Danielle Beckman

The image above is courtesy of Danielle Beckman, Neurologist at the Californian Primate Center, and shows the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), one of the olfactory (smell) regions of the brain, in a control and in a monkey infected with SARSCoV2. "The staining is for microglia (magenta) and astrocytes (green) and shows the extensive neuroinflammation happening in this brain region just one week after the initial viral infection".

The UK has detected our first human case of swine flu strain H1N2. It was picked up by routine surveillance and is a person with mild illness. Contact tracing was underway, as it is not a person who works with pigs, but so far no other cases seem to have emerged. 

UKHSA Weekly briefing chart of data

The UK COVID Inquiry continues. Truly it appears the UK Government didn't really get on or communicate well, were divided between saving lives and keeping everything open to keep the economy moving, and the Prime Minister was not at all interested. No real surprises then.

Here are a few lowlights:
“Can I just say how glad I am to be at this inquiry and how sorry I am for the pain and the loss and the suffering of the Covid victims.” 
Boris Johnson (previously Prime Minister) gave evidence at the COVID Inquiry on Wednesday and Thursday. Several papers went with "Johnson slips in at crack of dawn to avoid bereaved families". (Dawn will be getting a peerage in January I imagine.)
A lot of people do indeed blame Mr Johnson for the loss of their loved ones over the last 3 years, and 4 made it into the public gallery to heckle him during his testimony. Their message was "The dead can't hear your apologies". They were removed and the evidence continued.
- Boris Johnson says he read minutes from the copious meetings of the Government's scientific advisers (SAGE) "once or twice".
- Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock both stated that "The NHS wasn't overwhelmed." 
It really was - and is still struggling. 7 million people waiting for treatment, COVID positive pensioners being sent back to care homes to clear beds, no appointments unless you were actively dying, ambulances queued up outside A&E for over 24 hours. How would you define overwhelmed?
NHS staff have been giving their opinions in an anonymous survey conducted 8th-20th November, and they feel this amounts to a cover up and whitewash, and doesn't begin to consider the trauma they all faced. (Link to survey results in the blog version of this post.)
- Around 5,000 WhatsApp messages have become 'lost' from Mr Johnson's phone. He says this is a technical error, and they weren't deleted on purpose.
- Boris thinks media coverage of the parties at No 10 during lockdown is “absurd” and “a travesty of the truth”. (126 fixed penalty notices have been issued. One Hundred And Twenty Six.)
- Boris described 2020 as a "tragic, tragic year". (Yep.)
- Basically Boris was questioned on all the things people have said to drop him in it over the past few weeks. He says he didn't think like that, didn't do it, never happened, can't remember. A big boy did it and ran away.
Boris didn't really say anything unexpected, just frustrating. He didn't go to SAGE meetings, didn't listen to science, continued to party and assumed everyone else did too, and never moved quickly enough. 
Other people gave evidence too. 
Sadiq Khan (London Mayor) and Andy Burnham (Manchester Mayor) both testified that they weren't consulted about their own areas, had testing stations spring up in unsuitable places, weren't allowed in to meetings, and just had to try their best, despite never really knowing what was going on - and having HUGE populations. 
Sajid Javid (previously Chancellor and also Health Secretary) doesn't appear to be sure who was in charge. "It's not unusual to get a request from the PM. But a lot of the requests were not coming from the PM, they were coming from Dominic Cummings.. When I was talking to PM he would not know that some requests had come in his name"
Jenny Harries (previously Chief Exec of the UK Health Security Agency) in written evidence: "I believe the reality will be that we will need to discharge Covid-19 positive patients into residential care homes". She knew. She knew it was not wise and it would kill people, but felt clinically it was the thing to do to 'protect the NHS'. Matt Hancock knew too. His 'protective ring' was a figment of his imagination. 
Matt Hancock (previously Health Secretary and face of the UK COVID response) thinks we're being too harsh. “I think that the toxic culture that you’ve seen at the centre of government, that’s been the subject of much discussion, was unhelpful in assuming that when anything was difficult or a challenge, therefore there was somehow fault and blame.
That’s a part of the toxic culture that we have seen and some of these exhibits that you’ve just shown demonstrate a lack of generosity or empathy and understanding the difficulty of rising to such a big challenge.”
Errrr yeah. It was tricky guys, we should have more sympathy for them... 

WHO Womens health after childbirth text and drawing of person with baby, plus smaller images of people suffering symptoms such as secondary infertility, pain, fear, incontinence etc

More and more often I'm reading reports and being told about people in the UK being admitted to hospital with "a severe cold", chest infections, respiratory problems and other familiar symptoms and not even being tested for COVID. The reasoning seems to be that the treatment wouldn't change, so there's no point testing for COVID, but it does give a squinty view of reality. 

Whooping Cough is on the rise in the UK. Characterised by a seal-like whooping cough which can carry on for weeks or months, it's another product of lower infant vaccination rates, and especially dangerous for little babies. Symptoms can include pain, hernias and ear problems, and it's really not pleasant. 

Image explaining that Christmas isn't about being perfect and having everything in the correct place and photo ready. Be chill
c/o Alyson Meadowcroft

No numbers today because it's a massive report already! I hope you aren't too stressed about Christmas and all of the pressure it can bring. We've all learnt what's really important over the past 3 years, so don't lose sleep over those things you can't control, or niceties which aren't actually vital. Tasty food comes in all shapes, decorations are pretty and can be made with scraps of paper and time, and game night can create just as many memories as an expensive trip out. Do you, and enjoy everyone else's efforts, but don't feel you have to match them all - you don't. 

I will be back once more before Christmas - and hopefully I'll even have bought some presents and wrapped them by then! See you in 2 weeks....

Remember To Open A Window Often, Spend Smiles Not £££s, Save The NHS. 


JN.1 and images

Monkey image and text 

Image childbirth 
WHO vaccine COVID image 
Image Christmas
Domestic violence WHO Image
Excess deaths images
Ukhsa stats
Cmi image
Brian Cox image 
Covid stats hospital images

Margaret Keenan

Junior doctors 

50,000 more Fte nurses in the NHS.

COVID Infection Survey 
COVID Infection Survey


Excess deaths England 
More about excess mortality

German Health Minister COVID update

Covid kids unable to speak 

One in seven adults in England advised by NHS to go private

Swine flu in UK human for first time 

COVID testing

Whooping cough 

Covid inquiry
'We don't want your apology,' protesters tell Johnson after being removed from Covid inquiry
Sage minutes:
Boris Johnson says he 'hated closing schools' when quizzed on opening pubs first - upday News
Covid inquiry wfh malingerers
Long thread COVID Inquiry recap
Covid inquiry Excellent Kit Yates thread
Questionaires of NUS staff re. Overwhelmed NHS

Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan
Michael Gove
Sajid Javid covid inquiry 
Covid inquiry Jenny Harries
Matt Hancock

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!