Friday 8 March 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th March 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th March 2024

World COVID Statistics: 703,975,702 officially reported cases and 7,004,515 losses of life.

4 years since most of the world went into lockdown, a sad milestone as over 7 million people worldwide have now officially died directly from COVID. The true figure is far, far higher, and we'll never know just how many more people did not die directly from acute COVID infection, but had their lives cut short because COVID exists. 
Sadly this is the sort of data that takes ages to compile, but in 2022 Scientists from Cornell University estimated worldwide deaths due to COVID existing, from the beginning of 2020 until the end of 2021 (the first 2 years of the pandemic), number 14.9 million people. During that time 5.42 million people officially died from COVID.


While we are on excess deaths, the lovely Stuart Mcdonald from the COVID Actuaries has been looking closely into how many people are currently dying each week in the UK, and we have very good news.
After 4 years of losing more people than we would expect almost every week, and with the new standardised and more accurate way of counting these things, we are now losing less people than you'd expect.
We have lost so many people over the last 4 years of COVID, you'd hope at some point that would start to level off, and it has.
During the first 8 weeks of 2024, the number of people dying in the UK is overall 7% BELOW what would be expected. All age ranges are losing less people, so this is, as Stuart says "a pretty consistent good news story across the age bands". 

In lighter news, COVID stats across the UK are going DOWN. Hospitalisations, positive tests and random sampling all show a steady decrease in infections and illness. With warmer weather approaching and our most vulnerable people having Spring booster jabs, unless some brand new scary variant emerges, it seems very likely that this slow and steady decrease will naturally continue for some weeks. Nice (but keep a finger crossed at all times). 
England, estimate on 21 February 2024 was 0.9%, equivalent to around 489,000 individuals or 1 in 111.
Scotland, estimate on 21 February 2024 was 0.7%, equivalent to around 36,000 individuals or 1 in 143.

080324 Excess mortality EU 2020 to 2023

Bad news as regards the UK Measles outbreak - seems the lower figures a couple of weeks ago were an error, late reporting, or an anomaly. 
Figures up to 4th March in ENGLAND ONLY:
"Since the last update a week ago, a further 83 laboratory confirmed measles cases have been confirmed in England. This brings the total number of cases confirmed since 1 October 2023 to 733."
(17 cases were reported in October, 42 in November, 158 in December, 276 in January and 239 in February and 1 so far in March 2024)
"In the 4 weeks since 5 February 2024, there have been 192 laboratory confirmed measles cases."
West Midlands - 34%, 66 cases
North West - 21%, 41 cases 
London - 19%, 39 cases
East Midlands 13%, 25 cases
Yorkshire and the Humber 7%, 13 cases 
"The majority (462 of 733, 63%) of these cases were in children under the age of 10 and 29.5% (216 of 733) in young people and adults over the age of 15."
As with COVID, this won't be everyone, just those people who got ill enough to see a doctor who then decided to test them.
Vaccination is 97% effective at preventing you even catching Measles, so it really is a no-brainer. I keep saying it, but if you or your child missed out on the MMR, you should really get in touch with a medical professional and discuss it. In the UK you can catch up at any time, and 2 doses will protect you for life - and unlike Measles infection, it won't destroy other immunity you already have. 
Vaccine coverage in many areas is well below the 95% needed for herd immunity. It's below 80% in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and notably in some London Boroughs is down below 70% - Hackney is below 60%. That doesn't protect our tiny babies and toddlers, and people of all ages who can't be vaccinated, or who cannot ever develop their own immunity.

080324 Measles reported last week PaulMainwood on Twitter

The UK Government have announced a "plan to improve NHS productivity", and a mahoosive £3.4 billion investment.
Yeeeay... oh, hang on a minute.
Sadly this isn't to pay for any more doctors or nurses, or even medical equipment - it's pretty much going to be spent on I.T. to upgrade computer systems. That'll fix it...
Interestingly, and I think not exactly surprisingly, Rishi Sunak's missus' firm Infosys seems to have a thumb in this pie... let's hope it doesn't have the profit margins and lack of actual results we saw with Baroness Michelle Mone's PPE deal... Did I say hope? I meant dream... 

Following on from the £3.4 billion investment announcement, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) on Wednesday reported on numbers of staff working within the NHS. 
It's great to see the increases in NHS employees over the last 10 years. Oh, hang on, let me rephrase that. It's disturbing and demoralising to see the increases in NHS admin staff over the last 10 years.
Infrastructure and Support Staff have grown far more in the last 10 years than any other section of NHS employees - and Ambulance Staff have actually decreased - so you have a better chance of having the admin done nicely, but you might have to make your own way to hospital and you can still join the 7.7 million waiting for your actual treatment from someone with medical qualifications. 

NHS Full time equivalent staff 2013 to 2023

There is a brilliant overview of Long COVID on the 'Science dot org' website/magazine this week, and it's made headlines in the US. Compiled by world leading medical science experts Eric Topol and Ziyad Al-Aly, they've put together the latest information (which has been coming thick and fast over the last couple of months) with the things we've known for a long time (and most Governments have chosen to ignore) and where we should go next. The language is a bit tricksy, but they summarise:
"Long Covid can manifest in people across the life span (from children to older adults) and across race and ethnicity, sex, and baseline health status. It is a complex nonmonolithic multisystemic disease with sequelae across almost all organ systems. Long Covid is likely a disease with many subtypes that may have different risk factors (genetic, environmental, etc.) and distinct biologic mechanisms that may respond differently to treatments. For example, the prototypical (classic) form of Long Covid (with brain fog, fatigue, dysautonomia, and postexertional malaise) is more common in younger adults and in females. Other forms of Long Covid, including those with cardiovascular and metabolic sequelae, are manifest more often in older adults and those with comorbidities. A common risk across all types of Long Covid is severity of acute infection; the risk—on the relative scale—increases according to the severity of the acute infection. However, despite the lower relative risk, more than 90% of cases occur in people who had mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, owing to the much higher prevalence of mild cases."
They want to see agreement on wording, quicker education and information-sharing about latest discoveries, large scale trials of treatments and therapies, and genuine attempts at prevention (e.g. better quality air filtration in busy places).
There is hope now, as we are finally seeing where COVID hides, what damage it does, how it affects different parts of the body. and what kind of therapies and treatments we should trial to improve the lives of the millions of people out there who are affected.
The article subheading itself says "Long Covid provides an opportunity to understand how acute infections cause chronic disease".
We can learn from COVID, and hopefully find some answers for other virus too.

080324 niniaandthebrain instagram deplatform disease measles risks
Ziyad Al-Aly, MD has made the front page of USA Today, talking about the lack of treatments for the 16 million Americans with Long COVID (including up to 4 million who are disabled because of it), and also has an article in The Conversation (US) explaining that we can see damage from COVID infection in the brain, with mild to moderate infection comparable to 7 years worth of aging, and severe infection (needing hospitalisation) causing changes equivalent to 20 years aging.

AstraZeneca have announced plans to invest £650m in a new vaccine manufacturing facility in Speke, Liverpool, and increase their presence in Cambridge. The UK Treasury are claiming this as their win, as part of their 'Plan For The Economy'.
Genuinely excitingly, the vaccine manufacturing facility in Speke will be "designed and built to be operationally net zero with power supplied from renewable energy sources". 

080324 niniaandthebrain instagram deplatform disease measles infection vs vaccination risks

Bird flu has reached mainland of Antarctica for the first time. Last week H5N1 virus was confirmed in two dead Skua birds found near the Argentinian scientific research station, Primavera Base. The strain of H5N1 Bird Flu is known as HPAI and it's highly dangerous, wiping out up to 60% of the flocks it infects. This really is tragic for wildlife and is being closely monitored, although there is very little that can be done aside from watch and wait, with your fingers crossed. 

If you haven't already read about him, a German man is making the news this week because he is 'hyper-vaccinated' against COVID.
He clearly has some mental health issues, but this otherwise healthy 62 year old gentleman has received 217 COVID vaccinations. At least 134 of the vaccinations are officially confirmed, with 8 different vaccines.
Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen have examined him thoroughly - and allowed him another 2 vaccinations to see what happened when he was given them -  and physically he's very healthy. He hasn't had any side effects from any of his jabs, and shows no signs of ever being infected with COVID.
Scientists weren't sure if his body would eventually lose immunity due to tiredness and boredom - the COVID signals just becoming something very blah and normal - but that hasn't happened, and he actually has a very high level of immunity, as you'd hope really. His immune system also behaves normally when it encounters a different threat, so as far as can be seen, he's suffered no negative effects (except maybe in his wallet). 
The researchers stress that he really doesn't need any more vaccinations, and 3 doses plus top ups for vulnerable people should be enough for any of us. 
These are the kind of science results you simply can't plan, and while it ended well in this case, don't try this at home kids... 

International Women's Day She's someone

It is International Women's Day. I'm a woman, so that makes it my day - although as a mother I think I may also be having a day on Sunday, so I feel very special. If you are a woman, or a mother, an honorary mother or you do the job of one, I hope you feel special too. If you are missing your mum, or Mother's Day makes you feel sad, please accept a hug from me. I hope you get through the day okay. 

Regardless of whoever you are, don't forget to be kind to yourself this weekend (or whenever your weekend is). You know you've earnt a treat, a break, time off from the ordinary and humdrum, so plan that thing and make sure you do it. Personally I will not be cooking, fetching in coal or lighting fires on Sunday, and I'll definitely be lounging around in my pyjamas all morning. I am looking forward to it already... 

Have an excellent weekend, give a hug to a strong woman in your life, maybe even make her a brew and tell her she's great. I'll be back in a couple of weeks...

Hug Your Mates, Wear A Hat, Save The NHS. 

Some people. They look like numbers here, but they are all people.
Country: Officially Reported Cases / Losses of life:
World: 703,975,702 / 7,004,515
USA: 111,612,534 / 1,216,965
Brazil: 38,452,504 / 709,963
India: 45,030,467 / 533,499
Russia: 24,009,604 / 402,399
Mexico: 7,702,809 / 334,958
UK: 24,902,971 / 232,112
Peru: 4,572,667 / 222,161
Italy: 26,719,511 / 196,348
Germany: 38,823,286 / 182,694
France: 40,138,560 / 167,642
Indonesia: 6,829,005 / 162,062
Iran: 7,626,527 / 146,799
Colombia: 6,400,173 / 143,200
Argentina: 10,094,643 / 130,733
Scarlet Fever
Children's mental health hubs
Image inc London boroughs - Paul Mainwood
NHS if we aren't vaccinated, we aren't protected
Measles image adverse events vaccine vs infection Ninia and the brain
International Women's Day image She's someone
Covid hospital admissions
UK EXcess deaths Stuart Mcdonald
Mean Squared Error (Paul Mainwood blog - Measles)
£3.4b for the NHS to make things faster. Turns out its all IT.
Admin bloat NHS
Long COVID Topol and Al-Aly
Long COVID front page USA Today
Topol Substack long COVID
Gut blood clotting
Long COVID Autoimmune
Bird flu in antarctica
The hypervaccinated man

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