January 18 2021

The good news is that from today some areas are able to begin immunising the next two priority groups, the over 70s and the clinically very vulnerable. Over 4.5 million immunisations have been given now, which is more than twice any other country in the world. That is over half the numbers of people over the age of 80 and about half of all care home staff. Some areas have done better than others and one area, Slough in Buckinghamshire, has immunised all care home residents. Parts of London have only achieved 30%. Different areas will inevitably move at slightly different rates. Most people over 70 and those who are extremely vulnerable will receive their letter offering a free NHS vaccine in the next week or so. Please take it as soon as it’s offered.

Ten more mass immunisation centres have opened today and at some there are to be trials of keeping them open 24 hours a day. I am not sure of the wisdom of this and wonder what others think? It may be possible to stay open from 7am to 10pm and staff it in 2 shifts. To run for 24 hours would require a third team of staff and may be difficult to achieve. I am concerned that our elderly, many of whom have not left home for months, really want to go out at 2am. It would be kinder to use any spare staff for extra jabs during the day light hours and leave the evening more for health care staff. That way staff would have a night’s sleep.

I was intrigued to hear the whole army of volunteers giving the immunisations are called “Jabs Army”.

It is not clear yet just how much of a problem the warning of a shortage of the Pfizer vaccine is going to be for us in the UK. I suspect there is a degree of media hype about this. We must wait and see.

In a league table of deaths per million of the population a new reports puts the UK at the top of the list with 16.55/million and the Czech Republic close behind at 16.32 /million. Assessing and comparing death rates is complex and this over simplifies it. The population density is very relevant and small countries with a high population are most at risk. There is also a lot of doubt about the accuracy of data released by some countries. Do not put too much weight on these charts.

Research at Leicester University shows a third of patients who have been in hospital with Covid are likely to be readmitted in the following 5 months with Covid related complications including heart conditions, diabetes and chronic liver or kidney disease. Up to 1 in 8 of these patients go on to die. As their deaths come more than 28 days after the positive Covid test they are not necessarily labelled as Covid deaths. The data from the study has not yet been peer reviewed but I would be surprised if this does not get confirmed and published soon.

Having trained at the Royal London Hospital I pricked my ears up on the 6 o’clock news tonight with a grim and moving report from there. They have no beds and 420 patients with Covid. The ITU can take no more, it is over flowing. Staff were visually distressed at what they were trying to manage.

There is to be a rapid roll out of self -administered lateral flow tests and in some areas any one can be tested if asymptomatic without appointment. There are plans to provide testing to police, teachers, shop assistants and other key staff as well in the near future Matt Hancock reminded us that the UK is the biggest financial supporter of a global roll out of vaccine and will continue to do so.

Tonight’s statistics showed 37,535 positive tests, remember this includes much of Sunday in the last 24 hours, it is a 22.2% fall in the last 7 day rolling average. The rate is 485 per 100k. The number of tests done was 417,329 yesterday a rise of 2% on the 7 day rolling average. The daily number was over 600,000 on several days last week. Deaths remain very worrying, 599 in the last 24 hours also showing a week end effect. It will be higher tomorrow night. It represents a 21.8% rise in the 7 day rolling average. The death rate is 10.1/100 k. In total the number of deaths will pass 90 ,000 by tomorrow night.

There is no new data on hospitals tonight, almost 4000 people were admitted on the 14th January. I am sure it will be worse again tomorrow.

We can see both the Bright and the Bleak in equal measure today. Bright with immunisation and testing new cases , but remaining very bleak on the hospital front.

If like me you live in Lincolnshire please be aware of the larger number of flood warnings in existence and heavy continuous rain expected. Be prepared and review your plans if likely to be affected.

We must all continue to follow the rules, its predicted to be 10 more days before the hospital admission rate drops. Thanks to the lock down. We can only stop this pandemic with vaccine and at the moment by staying at home and staying apart, Remember to have well ventilated rooms, use your viricidal sprays regularly.

If you must go out, wear a face covering.

Please just stay safe and have your jab or a test if offered to you.

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