Friday 12 April 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th April 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th April 2024

World COVID Statistics: 704,749,430 officially reported cases and 7,010,624 losses of life.

Hiya! Welcome back. Not a lot of COVID news this week, it's especially quiet because a lot of regular sciencey folk have taken time off, so no big COVID news means no disasters, which is always a good thing.

120424 Biggest 5 month drop in waiting lists ever

Great news in the UK regarding waiting lists:
"Overall NHS waiting lists have decreased by almost 200,000 since September.
This is the biggest 5-month fall in over 10 years outside the pandemic.
Made possible by the hard work of NHS staff, who are helping us make access to care faster, simpler and fairer for patients."
Department of Health & Social Care

Long COVID Assessment data
1,379 people from England were accepted for referral to Post COVID (Long COVID) Assessment Clinics in February according to NHS data. (Exactly 1,500 were originally referred, which seems to suggest a maximum rather than a clinical need.)

Latest mortality figures in the UK are back to pre-pandemic levels and looking very 'normal' indeed, but if you look a little more closely, it does come with a caveat. Stuart Macdonald of the COVID Actuaries:
"The significant improvement in mortality rates has been primarily driven by older ages, where most deaths occur. Death rates in the working age population remains higher than than pre-pandemic. For example, age 20-44 death rates are worse than all years except 2021 and 2023."
These figures are adjusted to account for the rising population and other changes, so there are 2 things to note. Firstly we are losing more young and middle aged people early, which really isn't good, and we need to find out if we can fix that. Secondly, any conspiracy theorists still blaming vaccinations for excess deaths can shut the heck up - the most vaccinated people are not dying more quickly than expected. 

120424 cumulative mortality monitor chart UK

Consultant NHS doctors in England have agreed the latest Government offer for revised pay and conditions, and ceased strike action. Hurrah! This brings them into line with Scotland, where a separate offer was accepted back in July last year, and Wales, where an offer was accepted in February this year. I believe Consultants in Northern Ireland have yet to come to an agreement after rejecting an offer in February. 

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine have estimated that more than 250 people each week are dying in England because of long waits for A&E care. Grim statistics indeed.
Modelling from a study by Emergency Medicine Journal suggests that:
"For every 72 patients waiting between eight and 12 hours from their time of arrival in the Emergency Department there is one patient death."

Around 1 in 8 new students are not protected against 4 deadly types of meningitis

Bird flu H5N1 is the BIG virus story right now. Last year we saw mammals (including groups of seals and sea lions) who were likely transmitting bird flu amongst themselves, and this infection of mammals has taken a very sinister turn.
Bird flu is now spreading among herds of cattle in the United States.
Back in February some farms reported finding sick and dead cats, as well as dead migratory and local birds. The cow's milk was also found to be unusually thick, and this led to the testing of both the cows and their milk.
The amount of bird flu virus found in the milk is substantially higher than what is found in the cows nose, which was a real shock for everyone, as usually flu viruses stay where they are in the respiratory system. 
On 25th March the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an announcement that they were investigating the outbreak, including genome sequencing (virus family tree) to determine exactly how spread is happening and locate where it is travelling from and to. They also reassured the public that H5N1 is a virus, so it is killed by the intense heat used in pasteurisation.
"At this stage, there is no concern about the safety of the commercial milk supply or that this circumstance poses a risk to consumer health. Dairies are required to send only milk from healthy animals into processing for human consumption; milk from impacted animals is being diverted or destroyed so that it does not enter the food supply. In addition, pasteurization has continually proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses, like influenza, in milk. Pasteurization is required for any milk entering interstate commerce."
It is generally sensible not to consume unpasteurised (raw) milk or raw milk products, especially if you are young, sick, fragile or pregnant.
Since 25th March the situation has progressed quite rapidly, and as of yesterday, a total of 8 US states had reported infected cattle herds. According to figures from Helen Branswell (infectious diseases and global health reporter at Stat News), these include Texas (10 different herds affected), New Mexico (5), Kansas (3), Michigan (2), Idaho, Ohio, North Carolina & South Dakota (1 apiece).
As so many animals are affected, spread from cattle to cattle can't be ruled out. Another possibility is that feeding cows on "poultry litter" may be a cause. Poultry litter is possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever heard of, so I hope you aren't eating. It's floor scrapings. Floor scrapings from poultry farms, and while I believe in using things whenever you can, this should never be considered "food". Thankfully it is far less likely to be used in the UK or EU, as we tightened up rules after mad cow disease back in the 1990's.
Because the virus is present in the cow's milk, it's also possible its spreading through milking equipment, or it could be as simple as the wind blowing infected poop and dust. More studies are obviously ongoing.   
Ignoring the fact that many infected animals become very sick and die, the major worry for a lot of scientists is that H5N1 will continue to spread and infect farmed pigs. Pigs are much closer to humans, and if H5N1 manages to spread between pigs, it would have ample opportunity to mutate in ways that are detrimental to humans, including mixing with other flu strains and becoming more effective at transmission... and it would move to the top of the list for our next human pandemic. 
As of now, one US dairy worker has been confirmed to have become infected. 

It isn't just farm animals and migratory birds who are suffering because of H5N1 bird flu. Tragically a scientific expedition by Federation University Australia has discovered over 500 dead Adelie Penguins in Antarctica. Field tests were inconclusive, so samples have been forwarded for further testing, but it seems likely they died from bird flu, and that there are thousands more beyond the reach of this expedition.

The science of mRNA vaccines UK HSA NHS

The UK can stand down slightly after the recent humungous leap in Measles cases was found to be a lab error. We DO have a big outbreak, but it has levelled off significantly, and in some areas may well be dropping, rather than exploding. Either possibility was (and is still) plausible, as we have pockets of population with very low vaccination rates. Really this is a warning we should pay attention to, as just a couple of cases which manage to infiltrate a low vaccinated school, nursery or childcare setting can suddenly cause a big outbreak which will stretch local healthcare and put a lot of people at risk - including those who don't have Measles.
Remember over 1.5 million people in the UK can't get immunity from vaccination, including many children with Cancer, and our tiniest babies haven't yet been vaccinated. It isn't just yourself or your healthy children rolling that dice if you miss a jab, and Measles is 97% preventable by vaccination - for life. 

Many parts of the world are seeing a big rise in Measles cases, with countries including Yemen, India, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan all badly affected.
During 2023 Europe and Central Asia reported 30,601 Measles cases, compared to 909 in 2022, and the USA has seen a significant rise in cases this Spring.
Kyrgyzstan is really suffering, with a massive outbreak. They had reported 7,864 cases as of April 8th. The population is just under 7 million people, which means in this outbreak alone, 1 in every 887 people has caught Measles, and the vast majority of those are young children and infants. 
Disinformation has been rife over the past few years, a lot of people have become wary of vaccinations. Low vaccination rates are the direct cause. 

Measles NHS if we are'nt vaccinated we are'nt protected

Alaskapox has changed it's name. The state of Alaska was unhappy and the CDC and WHO have agreed that to avoid stigma it needed to be changed. Bizarrely they've chosen Borealpox, which implies trees and forests, so in that respect it works, although it has nothing to do with plant life. 

If you thought mpox (previously monkeypox) was over, think again. From the beginning of the year up until 23rd March, 576 cases had been detected in the USA - that is twice as high as this time last year and implies people are not being as careful or sensible as they were. Come on, you can get a perfectly good vaccination against this one too! Look after your own health, and if you get a distinct rash, stop sharing bedsheets with other people and get it checked out. 
I hope everyone had a good Easter and/or Ramadan, and a break! We cleared out our old house and moved everything we own from Manchester to Scotland, which was a 10 day massive job followed immediately by a return to work and school, so everyone here is shattered! I can't really complain though, as we got to see a lot of all of our big grown up kids over the last 3 weeks, and it was worth it for that. This weekend I'll be treating myself to a definite lie in and a lounge in front of the telly, with no packing of boxes or 'empty house' cleaning in sight - bliss! I hope you have something nice to do, and you didn't forget to treat yourself over the past couple of weekends (aside from eating your own bodyweight in chocolate bunnies). We need things to look forward to, and we need time off. It's a luxury, but it's mental health and wellbeing time very well spent, and not to be overlooked. Your head is every bit as important as your body.  

I'll be back again in a couple of weeks, until then... Wear A Hat, Don't Drink Raw Milk, Save The NHS... 

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

Country: Officially Reported COVID Cases and Deaths in the last 7 days (not all countries report weekly). 

USA: 16,791 / 188
Australia: 5,235 / 4
Germany: 1,352 / 59
Hong Kong: 804 / 36
India: 576 / 11
Italy: 504 / 21
Macao: 370
Afghanistan: 318
Romania: 315 / 3
Lithuania: 120
Serbia: 107

Meningitis jab image

Fall in waiting lists
Long COVID assessment
excess deaths
Scottish consultants.
Junior doctors in Scotland accepted a pay deal in August 2023 
Dying in A&E
Bird Flu H5N1
Jon Cohen Science dot org
Barf - cattle feed
Usda fda cdc announcement
Goat kids???? Minnesota 


Measles stats UK 
Measles misreporting - down by 83 cases?!?

Also Kazakhstan 

Alaska Borealpox

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