Friday 24 May 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

"COVID19 ranked among the top 3 leading causes of death globally in 2020 and 2021, responsible for 13 million lives lost.
In most regions of the world, it was among the top 5 causes of death. In the Americas, it was the number 1 cause of death."
The World Health Organisation

COVID no 1 cause of death 2022 23

In the aftermath of COVID breaking out, the 196 members of the World Health Organisation have decided on some changes to International Health Regulations.
“The IHRs focus on building countries’ capacities to detect and respond to public health events which could take on international dimensions, whilst the draft pandemic accord focuses on a coordinated international response to pandemics, with equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics at the centre."
They haven't yet agreed on the wording for the Pandemic Accord, but discussions are at least ongoing and it's all become very civil.

Image of nurse and list of better conditions because of investment in nursing

GP leaders in England have voted to ballot on potential protest action. They are unhappy over Government funding allocations, and are suggesting limiting the number of patient appointments per GP per day to a maximum of 25. If the majority vote in favour, action could begin without warning.
Junior Doctors discussions are still ongoing and mediators have been brought in.
Specialist (SAS) doctors are going to vote on their latest offer - 9.5-19.4%, in addition to an exra £1,400 to each pay point for SAS doctors on closed contracts.
(Huge thanks to Hugh Pym of the BBC for keeping us informed on this)

"Last year, the NHS set out its Long Term Workforce Plan, backed by more than £2.4 billion in government funding. It outlines how the NHS will recruit and retain hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years – delivering the biggest training expansion in the health service’s history.  
One of the key commitments is doubling the number of medical school places in England to 15,000 by 2031, and levelling up the geographic training of places to help tackle unequal access to services." 
350 extra places will be allocated across the country in the academic year 2025/26.  
Biggest increases are in Sunderland (17), Leeds (16), East Anglia (27), Anglia Ruskin (28), Bristol (17), Plymouth (17), Southampton (17) and Surrey (34). The University of Surrey is also receiving government-funded places for the first time. 
There is no denying the UK has been reliant on importing medics for far too long. In the current climate we simply don't pay enough or offer enough to entice them over, and taking medics from other nations has always been a really cheeky move - they pay to train them and then we pinch them, leaving some poorer countries out of pocket and reliant on charity for their own medical care. 

UK Government image with a collage of people in medical roles and text explaining 350 more medical places

"We are providing the NHS with record funding, an increase of 13% in real terms compared to 2019-20, which will help build the NHS of the future."
The UK Government, Department of Health and Social Care.
"NHS spending has risen more slowly than planned at the last election despite the pandemic and record waiting lists."
The Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Latest stats show England and Wales are still getting around 900-1000 cases of Whooping Cough a week, and 200-250 Measles cases. Mumps is also higher than normal, averaging over 100 cases a week. I think we can see why this might be... All of these diseases can kill or permanently harm, and have very effective vaccinations available freely via the NHS. 

Image of smiling nurse in centre, with text around saying all the jobs nurses do

Remember the UK COVID Inquiry? It's still going on. Simon Case (previously top civil servant and Cabinet Secretary) has been giving evidence. He's an important witness who was in the thick of it, but has been medically unwell for some time, which delayed his evidence. Here are a few of his best moments from messages at the time:
- "the most awful governing I have ever seen" (re. the exam results being decided by algorithm and then changing to previous performance after a massive backlash)
- “Your call about not including Patrick & Chris was genius” (re. excluding the Chief Medical Officer and Scientific Adviser from meetings discussing lifting lockdown)
- "I've never seen a bunch of people less well-equipped to run a country"
- "the real person in charge" (re. Carrie, Boris' current wife)
and in verbal evidence to the inquiry: 
- “No, I wasn’t aware of Eat Out To Help Out until it was announced… It didn’t come through the Covid Taskforce”

The UK's Yellow Card data for the COVID-19 vaccines was read out at the UK COVID Inquiry this week by Anna Morris KC:
- 468,250 reports
- 300,000 serious reports
- 2,688 fatalities
Remember yellow card reports include ANYTHING that happened in the period after a jab that could possibly have something to do with the jab - sometimes it's found to be something else, and sometimes you'll really never know if it was coincidence or not. It includes sore or numb arms and fainting, and moves up in seriousness from there. I am truly sorry that 2,688 families lost someone, and still believe any which cannot be proven to be unrelated to vaccination should receive a heartfelt apology and proper financial recompense. We owe them. 

Image of tick in the centre, with advice for removal using tick remover around

The scientific world, and the public, are still getting very little information about bird flu in US cattle from reluctant dairy farms and public health monitoring bodies. Clearly a positive test is not great for business, but neither is anything that looks like a cover up or reluctance to admit there's a problem. Current rulings say that each herd being moved across state lines needs 30 cows (as chosen by the farmer) to be tested, but aside from that, there is no compulsion to test, and there's no potential benefit to any farmer who does test. 
Latest figures show 58 affected herds across 9 states: Michigan 19, Texas 14, Idaho 8, New Mexico 8, Kansas 4, Colorado 2, North Carolina 1, South Dakota 1, Ohio 1

With a lack of support from dairy farmers, scientists and others are taking matters into their own hands.
Chiara Eisner, a reporter with NPR, was frustrated by the fact raw milk and raw milk products are still available for sale in areas where H5N1 Avian Flu has been found in cattle. She went to 4 farms in Texas and bought raw milk, then drove it to 1 of 4 labs authorised to test. 
Chiara was contacted by the lab to say none of the 4 farms gives permission, so it won't be tested. Double-checked with the USDA, and no permission was ever needed.
This is the Donald Trump method - don't test, don't have a problem... except you do.
Four years of COVID and we really have learnt nothing. 
Stat News is reporting that scientists from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center fortunately have their own lab, and have been testing store bought pasteurised milk. There is still nothing to suggest H5N1 can survive pasteurisation, but they managed to collect enough dead fragments of virus to do genetic sequencing, and think this could be as good as wastewater to monitor how the outbreak is progressing. 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a press conference where they discussed the H5N1 Avian Flu infections in cows and whether the meat supply is safe.
No known sampling from shops has as yet found H5N1 in consumer beef (slaughterhouse beef muscle tissue is being sampled and tested - results to follow) and they don't give any test results from cows known to have Avian Flu, as those animals don't go into the food chain. Instead they injected virus into regular ground beef patties (burgers sliced into strips):
"They mentioned no virus being present at 160°F and 145°F. Only later when someone asked, they mentioned that at 120°F there was some virus left."
Kai Kupferschmidt, Science Journalist (summing up the press conference).
This is internal temperature of the cooked meat, and basically amounts to 'medium to well done are okay, rare is not'. Standard health advice is to cook more on the well done side anyway, so that advice hasn't changed. 

Drawn image of huge stack of burgers inside a bun, seen from side to show different colours of cooking at different stages

mRNA vaccination may be new and exciting, but where did it start? In 2022 in Europe Moderna sued Pfizer and BioNTech for stealing their technology, which they'd been working on for some time, and had patented.
Pfizer and BioNTech countersued, saying they were also working on it for ages, and they have just lost.
Disputes and court cases over patents will continue in individual countries, including the USA, but thankfully it will NOT affect current manufacture and distribution of vaccines, including COVID vaccines. 

Deplatform Disease have been reminding us of some numbers regarding Measles and measles vaccination. 
For every 1 million children infected with measles, around 300,000 would have complications. 
- 1 in 5 hospitalisation
- 2 in 25 diarrhea 
- 7 in 100 middle ear infection
- 1 in 20 pneumonia
- 1-3 in 1000 encephalitis (brain swelling)
- 2 in 1000 death
- 1 in 1000 encephalomyelitis (brain and spinal cord swelling that damages nerves)
For every 1 million children vaccinated against measles, around 34 would have complications.
- 3.3 in 100,000 thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets)
- 1 in 100,000 significant allergic reaction
- 1 in 5 million encephalitis (brain swelling)

Group of 6 circles each showing text with an issue the UK public feel is of uppermost importance, plus the percentage of people concerned by it

UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden on Wednesday unveiled a new Government website to help us prepare for emergencies. They used that line already in 2018, so this time they're just calling it "Prepare"... hmmm
They're hoping to make the UK public a bit more resilient in the event of a crippling cyber attack, massive solar flare, pandemic, Martian invasion, earthquake, avalanche etc. and want everyone, at all times, to have 3 days worth of what you need to survive.
Saying "no stockpiling" is like requesting you don’t buy 400 loo rolls before lockdown, but please don't, or you'll end up wasting money and probably foodstuffs, and the supermarkets will be empty for those who need it.
The basics are things like toilet paper, plus water, ready to eat long life food, torch, batteries, copies of important documents in a waterproof bag, sanitary towels, pet and baby supplies, first aid kit, wet wipes and essential medicines. Check it once a month and swap out things getting close to use by date.
You only have to ensure you have 3 days worth for every person in the household - by that time help should have arrived, floods dropped, electricity turned back on, or the aliens will realise we already broke everything and go home.
For more information search "preparing for emergencies". The Red Cross have an excellent list if you can't see the (almost identical) list from your own Government. 

We have a UK General Election coming up! I posted on Wednesday with links to how to register to vote, how to get valid voter I.D. if you don’t have a driving licence or passport (out of date is fine for voting), how to arrange a postal vote, and a reminder that 4th July is at the start of the school holidays for many families in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It's also a time when uni students may have finished and gone home for Summer. If you might be travelling or busy, arrange a postal or proxy vote asap, as you've only got 5 weeks. 
According to latest ONS polling, the issues the UK public are most worried about, and will therefore be key topics for discussion, are:
- the cost of living (87%)
- the NHS (85%)
- the economy (68%)
- climate change and the environment (61%)
- crime (59%)
- housing (58%)
- immigration (54%)
- international conflict (50%)
- education (46%)

Image of drawn person sitting in a chair looking at a telephone in their hand

We just had Mental Health Awareness Week, which is as good a reminder as any to look after yourself and those you care about. Reach out to someone and check in on them, and pay attention to what they say. If you are having a hard time, reach out - we're all very good at polite replies and not wanting to bother other people, but the majority of us wouldn't flinch if we were asked for help. Much as we'd like to think we can cope all by ourselves, sometimes we all need a hand. 

It's the weekend. Treat yourself, do something nice and take time out for you. Have a bath, go for a walk, plan a movie night, but make it something to look forward to, and enjoy the time. You've earnt it. 

I'll be back in a couple of weeks... 

Get Your Ability To Vote Sorted, Play Outdoors, Save The NHS... 


Important issues UK ONS image
Measles vaccination images
Perfect burger cooking temps and colour
MHAW image UK NHS 
Medical places UK image
Nurses day images WHO

International Health Regulations

Gp limit of 25 patients per day.
Independent mediator brought in for junior doctor talks
Sas doctors

Medical places UK 


NHS spending has risen
Oh yes it has
Oh no it hasn't.

UK COVID Inquiry Simon Case

Yellow card data 

Avian flu labs not testing private requests without permission

H5N1 milk virus fragments

Beef safety H5N1
Science on heat killing flu virus 

MRNA Patent rights

Measles vaccination

Prepare for emergencies

Key issues

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