Friday 21 June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 21st June 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 21st June 2024

"We've not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked."
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sky News
Errrm, no. 
The NHS waiting lists for planned treatment in England alone rose in April to 7.57 million. In March it was 7.54 million. This relates to 6.33m patients (it was 6.29m in March). 
With the longest waits it's a mixed story. The number of people waiting over a year is down to 302,500, but of those, more people have waited over 65 weeks - more than 50,000 of you. (I waited 21 months for my last operation, so you have my honest sympathy.) 
I don't think this story is entirely negative, let us not lose hope. The NHS and it's workers managed to reduce waiting lists for 7 months straight, and in latest figures yeah it's up, but it's a relatively small 0.4%. Fingers crossed we can get back into the groove again, and fix some more of those people who have had their life on pause for over 15 months... 

Text be a blood doner and save lives and image of reclined person donating blood

E-Coli Update
The UKs E-Coli outbreak should be pretty much over now. It was caused by lettuce, and really goes to show just how far food travels.
The lettuce was contaminated while being picked, washed and/or chopped up, and then it was sent out to factories which make sandwiches and pre-packed salads. The salads and sandwiches were then shipped all around the UK, including to most of the supermarkets, infecting people far and wide. Lots of products were removed from shelves and people were asked not to eat them, but by the time the source was identified, it was really a question of deep cleaning and being over-abundantly cautious. That horse had already bolted (been eaten or gone out of date and been binned). 
Samples from people with tummy bugs have had their genetics tested and 256 people are known to have been infected in this outbreak. All of them first became ill by 31st May.
Around 38% of people known to have been infected were admitted to hospital. A 'tummy bug' is something we should take more seriously. 1.5m people a year worldwide die from diarrhoea, mainly infants and young children.
UKHSA remind us again that if you are ill, don't prepare food for others, and stay at home when possible until 48 hours after symptoms end.

If you are one of the few in the UK to have been offered a Spring COVID booster, there are only a few days left to book.
Go online (nhs dot uk slash get-vaccine) or book via the NHSApp.

The UK COVID Inquiry drags on. It's becoming patently obvious it's unlikely anything will come of this other than 'advisories', even if we discover billions in contracts were given to mates who delivered nothing, and lives were discussed like empty cardboard boxes "pile the bodies high"... oh, hang on, those things did happen. 
From the inquiry we learnt that Charles Huang, founder of Innova Medical Group, collected £1.6bn in profits when his company was fast-tracked for contracts worth £4.3bn, because the British representatives sent a direct email to Dominic Cummings. For at least 4 months Innova was the only company licensed to supply the rapid lateral flow tests in the UK. Cushy deal that... Mr Huang is currently in big trouble, because directors say around $1bn has 'disappeared' from the business.... 

Hold the front page, I'm being unfair on the COVID Inquiry here. I hope you're sitting down. Someone might have just been arrested after evidence which all became public partly due to the inquiry. 
It isn't Baroness Michelle 'still on the yacht' Mone, nor is it a high ranking Tory cabinet minister, but it does involve the Baronesses 'husband's company', PPE Medpro. An unnamed 46 year old man has been arrested by the National Crime Agency on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The pile of sticks is tumbling... Fingers crossed he's the first of many... 

Remember last time I told you about a scientific paper on world excess mortality over the last 4 years which had been misreported? Well, it's all kicked off. 
Right near the bottom of the paper, in the 'discussion', it mentioned the entirely true fact that COVID vaccinations began around the same time as excess deaths. They also noted that excess deaths have continued in many countries, and should be investigated further. The study was very poorly worded. It randomly gave more importance to some aspects than to others, and took whole chunks of text from other work (including Our World In Data). It's not getting a great peer-review for writing skills. 
The Telegraph then took that study and reported it as "Covid vaccines could be partly to blame for the rise in excess deaths since the pandemic, scientists have suggested".
No they hadn't. If you can remember back 4 years, we all stayed home, wore masks to go out, washed our hands and were extra careful until we got vaccinated. You'd really hope that would make a difference. Only after vaccinations did we become more complacent, and more 'whatever will be' about COVID. As we 'learn to live with the virus', it continues to kill around 0.66% of the people who catch it (1 in 170). 
The scientific world was understandably mad about The Telegraph article, and the study publisher British Medical Journal posted a statement saying the study said no such thing. But it didn't stop there... 
The easily shocked public took to their keyboards and repeated the lie over and over. The scientific authors began to post their own comments and analysis of the whole 'media frenzy' situation. It wouldn't go away.
Then the centre where most of the study authors work distanced itself from the study. This is a serious move.  
Then the big guns who financed the study step back. They don't want to be associated with it. 
Then, just as Reuters get involved and publish a fact check on the media misrepresentation of the study, the British Medical Journal, who published the study for peer-review, finally act. They put a 'Note Of Concern' on the study.
This is why peer-review is important, and so is proper reporting that is for the good of the reader, to pass on real information, and not just to scare people for views. 
As a reminder:
If you make 96 out of 100 people wear a hard hat and drop bricks on them, most of the injured will have a hard hat on. It's pretty obvious. It helps protect you from more serious damage, but isn't actually magic, and won't stop the bricks bouncing off and hitting the next person. People vaccinated against COVID make up such a huge percentage of the population, that it'd be weird if they weren't getting hit. They aren't 100% protected by the COVID vaccination.
It has however been proven time and again that if you are vaccinated against COVID you are less likely to be seriously ill, need hospital, develop Long COVID, or die from COVID.
If you compare the extra number of people who have died over the past 4 years with the number of people who officially died from COVID, the charts match up pretty closely. COVID has killed people. 

USDA (US Department for Agriculture) scientists in Michigan studying the Avian Flu H5N1 in US cattle have found that:
“Based on the epidemiological findings, the majority of links between affected dairy premises, and between dairy and poultry premises, are indirect from shared people, vehicles, and equipment.”
They point out that even if the cows and poultry aren't moving from farm to farm, everything around them is. Farmworkers, vets, tractors, salespeople, buyers, hay and feed, milk tankers etc etc. Farms are busy places. They recommend enhancing biosecurity (wash more, visit less) to reduce spread from one premises to another.
The USDA have also said that they'd like to put a curb on sales of raw milk because of the H5N1 (which loves milk, and thrives in it, but is killed by pasteurisation). This has not gone down well with the type of conspiracy theorist who thinks the Government won't let them have raw milk because it's too good for you... ermmmm yep. 

As of yesterday evening, the USDA had confirmed 116 herds affected by H5N1 Avian Flu across 12 states. (They still haven't managed to convince dairy farmers that they should random test.) 

Remember that some scientists were going to give cows in a German lab H5N1 Avian Flu to see what happens? Preliminary results are out. 
They found that infecting cows via the udder made them ill in exactly the way you'd expect when a cow gets any flu (e.g. a sharp drop in milk production, changes in milk consistency and fever).
In fact, so far they find nothing really unusual about H5N1, except that this is the first time we've spotted that cows have passed avian flu on to other cows (and into their milk in such quantity. It loves milk).
Could this be a freak occurence (possibly even infection via the udder) that was always inevitable eventually, unless we had taken more precautions? 

While we're on Germany, they're being proactive. So far 350 milk samples and 1400 cow serum samples have all tested negative for avian flu antibodies.

Canada are also still ahead of the Avian Flu game. They've now tested a total of 600 samples from Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Quebec and Western provinces, and have found ZERO fragments of H5N1 virus. Nothing alive or dead.
It was World Blood Donor Day last week. The UK has a shortage of blood right now because a cyber attack on hospitals meant blood types couldn't be matched, and for safety patients had to have O Negative - which can be given to anyone. This has left us short. (O Positive is also a great standby, as it can be given to 76% of the UK population.) If you've been thinking of giving blood, or used to and haven't been back for ages, please consider it. Each pint can save up to 3 lives, and it costs you just half an hour. 

A not-yet-peer-reviewed paper has been published in The Lancet which looks at long term effects of mild or moderate COVID infection in US Marines. 
They defined long term effects (PASC or post acute sequelae of COVID) as occurring at least 4 weeks after diagnosis or start of symptoms. 
A total of 197out of 798 (24.7%) study participants developed PASC. Among these, the most prevalent symptoms were 
- loss of taste and/or smell 82 (41.6%)
- shortness of breath 74 (37.6%)
- cough 45 (22.8%)
Those with PASC had higher rates and severity of physical symptoms, anxiety and depression.
"Compared to a historic cohort of Marines, participants with PASC scored worse on their physical fitness assessments due to slower run times... Those with PASC continued to have decreased physical performance one year after completing initial training." 
So yeah, not great.
"In this population of healthy young adult US Marines with mostly either asymptomatic or mild acute COVID-19, one fourth reported physical, cognitive, or psychiatric long-term sequelae of infection." 
Don't lose hope. It will improve over time... a lot of people are working on this.  

It really is nothing at all compared to the deadly high temperatures in countries like Egypt or India last week, or even the heatwave sweeping across the USA this weekend, but England has a 'heat health alert' next week.
"Yellow heat health alerts issued for most of England
We expect the hot weather to have minor impacts across the health and social care sector for every region in England except the north east. The weather health alerts will be in effect from Mon 24 June until Thurs 27 June for all regions affected."
The yellow heat health alert means they expect it will be hot enough in places to cause problems for people who are more frail, ill or elderly, so please keep an eye out for those who are more vulnerable than you. 

It's the weekend, and some football on the telly to keep a lot of us busy in Europe - playing outdoors or gardening for the rest. Don't forget to do something nice for yourself, you've earned that treat. You did it yet again. You win. 

I'll be back in a couple of weeks... 
Wear A Hat, Drink Plenty Of Water, Save The NHS. 


Give blood images WHO

COVID Spring vaccinations last few days image 

Waiting lists

E-Coli Outbreak May and June 2024
Sandwiches with salad leaves
Officials say no evidence that recalled products are contaminated but retailers want to minimise risk to customers." 
Recall of sandwiches, wraps and salads after E Coli warnings has been made by manufacturer Greencore. They say Ecoli not been detected in products but they are being recalled as a precaution. It covers some sold by Aldi, Asda, Boots, Co-op , Morrisons, Sainsburys, Amazon.
Ongoing E.coli outbreak – what has happened so far? - upday News

Rapid covid tests uk govt

man arrested in PPE Medpro probe

BMJ contentious paper
Telegraph article
BMJ no such thing
Last week's post
BMJ thread misinformation with substack link 
Stuart McDonald of the COVID actuaries 8th June

BMJ misinformation evidence thread 9th June
Vaccine disinformation debunked 

Vaccine BMJ misinformation again Christina Pagel 10th June

BMJ vaccine misinformation centre distances itself from study 12th June

More distancing from COVID vaccine BMJ study by 'financiers'  12th June

Vaccine misinformation Reuters factcheck 13th June
Vaccine stats 
BMJ place Note Of Concern on artcle 13th June
Latest - BMJ place 'note of concern' on contentious article
Retractionwatch The BMJ is putting a note on contentious misinformation BMJ misinformation paper

H5N1 biosecurity Michigan
Bird flu death FDA want to limit raw milk sales
German study

Avian flu APHIS


Heat health alert

US marines long term after effects of COVID

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