Friday 22 December 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd December 2023

World COVID Statistics: 700,057,262 officially reported cases and 6,958,594 losses of life.

Seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone, helpful hints from UK NHS

"UKHSA estimates that prevalence of COVID in England and Scotland has nearly tripled in the month since the ONS restarted its COVID infection surveillance."
John Roberts, COVID Actuary.
We expected a rise, but yowsers. Aren't we glad we got our surveillance data back... erm... hmm. 
Here from the UKHSA:
"There has been an increase in prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England and Scotland during the 2 weeks leading up to 13 December 2023."
- England, estimate 4.3%, equivalent to 2,333,000 individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. Around 1 in 24 people. 
- Scotland, estimate 4.1%, equivalent to 215,000 individuals. Around 1 in 24 people.
- Prevalence was higher for individuals aged between 18 to 44 years than for those aged over 65, and was estimated to have increased across all age groups in the 2 weeks up to 13 December 2023.
- In some areas of London prevalence looks like it might (last week) be as high as 1 in every 12 people.

More people infected has an obvious knock on effect, and hospital admissions with COVID in England increased by 22% in-week. This actually suggests that we don't have any more dangerous variants (or else hospitalisations would be through the roof), current strains are just incredibly catchy. Really we all still need a couple of weeks to be certain of anything, as obviously hospitalisations follow cases, and COVID moves through age groups after it begins to widen it's spread.
Admissions rose in all English regions. Largest increases were in the Midlands (30%) and the North West (30%). Acute (unplanned) bed occupancy is up by 13%.
Current variants don't seem kind. Just about everyone I know with COVID recently is saying it's been particularly nasty to them this time. 
Flu is also rising fairly rapidly - this adds extra pressure to the NHS, and as we know very well, you DO NOT want to catch COVID AND Flu together. You would likely be very poorly. 

221223 prevalence English regions chart

COVID variant JN.1 continues its march across the Northern hemisphere. The offspring of BA.2.86, it has now been officially declared a variant of interest by WHO, because it can move so fast. Unofficially known as Pirola Junior, JN.1 still doesn't show any signs of being more dangerous or deadly, in fact hospitalisations with COVID continued decreasing just about everywhere until the last week or so - although so did testing (the Donald Trump method of reducing positive cases).
Interestingly some media (the BBC) are reporting that the UK Health Security Agency say it accounts for around 7% of sequenced cases in the UK. Errrrm what? Maybe a month or so ago, but not any more. It defies logic that it can increase rapidly yet remain at 7%. Go back and count properly. Numbers bloke Paul Mainwood estimates around 40%, and that tallies with other people who actually keep an eye on such things (and haven't let me down in the past).

Lawrence Dunhill of the Health Service Journal reports that hospital trusts in Cheshire & Merseyside have been told by regional NHS chiefs that patients waiting on trolleys for over 12 hours in A&E is an “acceptable compromise” in order to avoid ambulances queueing outside.
That'll fix it. Still, at least you might get an ambulance within 3 hours... 

221223 England hospital admissions with COVID chart

Good news if you have been vaccinated with the specially formulated XXB.1.5  vaccines (that is most of the Autumn boosters, including in the UK). A new not-yet-peer-reviewed study from the Netherlands has looked at 2,050 people aged 60 or over who were hospitalised with COVID between 9th October and 5th December, and found vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation was 70.7%, and against ICU admission was 73.3%. Bearing in mind a huge percentage of the vaccinated and unvaccinated will have previously caught COVID, so that's on top of any infection-induced immunity. Bonza.

Seems quite a significant amount of the UK population don't object to COVID restrictions. The folk at MoreInCommon re-polled with different wording because they were so stunned by the results.
Right now (last week) 45% of people polled would support reintroduction of face masks on public transport, and 29% support closing nightclubs (I've a strong suspicion most of those people aren't regular visitors to nightclubs). 20% of people polled supported only leaving the home for work, shopping and an hour of wandering the local streets peeping through everyone else's windows under the guise of "exercising".

UKHSA chart showing weekly update

Junior Doctors, or more politely 'Doctors in Training' (some of these people are in their 50's!) in England are currently on strike (until 7am tomorrow), and have another really long strike planned for 7am on 3rd January until 7am on 9th January 2024. 
In Wales strikes are planned for 3 days beginning 15th January, and in Northern Ireland 
Doctors in Training are going to vote soon on whether they'll strike. Scottish Doctors in Training came to their own pay agreement with Scottish Government some while ago, and will not be striking (that's not actually why I moved, it's just another bonus).
Quite scarily, Doctors in Training account for around half of the NHS medical workforce - which really shows just how dreadful we are at retaining experienced staff. 

The UK's COVID Inquiry is bringing up more questions, including 'lying or dementia?'. 
Rishi Sunak says he doesn't recall the 5pm meeting which agreed to the first lockdown, and which was followed just 3 hours later by Boris' announcement to the nation. 
Boris Johnson says he did not say "let the bodies pile high". (He's taken a long while to deny that.) 
Rishi Sunak says he did not say that it was "ok" to "just let people die of COVID". (He's taken a little less time to deny that.)
Rishi did say Eat Out To Help Out saved jobs. (Ermmm yeah, but it cost lives Rishi. What was wrong with take away and home delivery?)
Both Rishi and Boris did say "oh no, I have accidentally deleted all of my WhatsApp messages and burnt my old phone in an explosion while it fell off a yacht, and the messages (stored online) can't ever be recovered, what a shame". 
(Or some similar words.)

All On THe Board notice stating that if you are looking for a sign it'll be okay, this is your sign

Trump Of The Week:
Baroness Michelle Mone is having a blue Christmas. Not only is she a Tory, she's being investigated by the National Crime Agency. She suggested her husband's swiftly formed company, PPE Medpro, could supply the UK Government with over £200m of PPE. This gave her and her hubster an utterly astounding £60m of taxpayers money in profit, and the PPE they supplied was mostly substandard and unable to be used. Media quizzed her and she didn't feel like telling the truth, so threatened them with legal action to shut them up.
Now the facts are out, and she defended herself on telly by saying it isn't a crime to lie to the media, she was protecting her family (obviously realised she was morally dubious. A profiteer. A robber. Someone who saw a pandemic as an opportunity to make more zeros to put in the bank). 
The Good Law Project and New European newspaper aren't impressed, and are intending to sue Sir Lord Michelle in return. Oopsies.
P.S. We'll take a cash refund please Shell.
P.P.S. She also claimed Einstein lived in her house. Random and amusing, but not true.
P.P.P.S. Whenever you see any negativity about people on benefits, bear in mind £60m would be enough to pay 1,000 people jobseekers allowance of £84 a week for over 13 years. 

Baroness Mone wasn't the only one using her position to organise interesting PPE deals. Priti Patel and Matt Hancock were both very pally with the folk running a company called Pharmaceuticals Direct. They were awarded a contract to supply £102.6m of face masks - costing a whopping £5.13 each. The average we were paying at the time from other suppliers was £2.69.
Some companies might have tasty incentives for a deal like that... free bobble hat? Keyring and pen? Super yacht? 

The Samaritans are open over Christmas 24/7 call free 116123

Politico have done the maths, and discovered EU countries have dumped at least 215 million doses of COVID vaccine, with a value over $4 billion (£3,161,920,000). They over-ordered, and didn't allow long enough for the logistics involved to be able to donate the doses to African and other poorer nations. Such a waste.

It's Christmas time, and actually this is a bloody hard time of year for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. I've been a little absent over the last couple of weeks because I just lost my Grandma, and our table at home will always have an empty chair for one of our children who died when she was 16. Money is tight for everyone, as is time. You are never on your own. Lots of people out there feel just like you, and they understand. If you are finding it too hard, there is always someone to talk to. Don't expect too much of yourself, focus on what really matters, and all the important stuff will fall into place. YOU are always the most important gift you can ever give.

If you have flu symptoms stay home NHS

Tis the season for spreading virus. Look after yourself and those you care for over the holidays. It isn't anyone's fault if you do leave your Nan with a gift you didn't intend to pass on, but some common sense can make that far less likely. You've learnt a lot over the past 3 years, and now is the time to use that knowledge to your advantage. Make the most of outdoors, and all of those bodies heating up the room, and open windows often. If you are ill, then stay home if you can, and spread Christmas out a bit. Two Christmasses really isn't the worst that can happen.  

I wish you all the very best holiday you can have, and I will be back in 3 weeks time - once the kids are back at school, the mince pies eaten, and the decorations are back in their boxes. From me and mine, to you and yours, a very Merry Christmas. 

Wear A Smile And A Hat, Ventilate Often, Save The NHS.

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

Countries / Official COVID Cases / Losses of life:
World: 700,057,262 / 6,958,594
USA: 110,005,366 / 1,189,923
Brazil: 38,130,675 / 708,237
India: 45,007,212 / 533,328
Russia: 23,537,803 / 400,864
Mexico: 7,649,199 / 334,472
UK: 24,812,582 / 232,112
Peru: 4,524,326 / 222,161
Italy: 26,530,885 / 194,064
Germany: 38,721,994 / 179,294
France: 40,138,560 / 167,642
Indonesia: 6,816,938 / 161,921


Image christmas 
Image christmas flu
Screenshot this 111 NHS
WHO image universal healthcare
All on the board you are not alone 

Stats images
Nhs image stroke
UKHSA estimates that prevalence of COVID in England and Scotland has nearly tripled in the month since the ONS restarted its COVID infection surveillance. 
Hospital admissions


Hospital trolley waits
Ambulance handovers

Bivalent vaccines

Moreincommon poll
Doctors in Training

COVID Inquiry
Rishi Sunak begins Covid evidence with apology to victims - BBC News
Michelle Mone
Priti Patel and Matt Hancock

COVID vaccine overordering

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