I apologise that tonight’s report may be a little delayed as I wanted to listen carefully to the Prime Minister’s briefing this evening to try and make sense of some of the alarming media headlines. Over this last year you will have learnt to look at the validity of so-called new evidence, whether it has been peer reviewed or reproduced in different studies.
There MAY be emerging evidence that the so call “Kent” variant of Covid 19 MIGHT be slightly more likely to cause death than the original version of the virus. The figures are only slight, for instance showing a rise from 10 deaths per thousand cases to 13 or 14 per thousand. You will note my careful use of the Words ‘May’ and ‘Might’. It has yet to be confirmed, and a great deal of research is required, and that is happening right now. There is now a high level of certainty that the present approved vaccines will work normally to prevent a high percentage of the new Kent variant. We also know with some certainty that it is up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus. We also know certainly that the number of active cases remains far too high. As far as the South African and the Brazilian variants are concerned there has been much less time to study them. It is thought they MIGHT be a little more virulent and the degree of transmissibility still needs to be further assessed. Rest assured all around the world a great deal of high quality research is being done and we cannot expect definitive answers very quickly. We do know the Covid 19 virus will mutate frequently , most will have no clinical consequence, a few may work to our advantage making the disease less of a problem and a few could make things worse. It is reassuring that if or when the vaccine needs to be modified it can be done within a few weeks.
To help break misinformation I can tell you there is no egg, or pork or any animal product in the Pfizer vaccine. No religious group need be barred from having the vaccine on religious grounds.
Boris denied the rumours last night about a £500 payment to anyone testing positive in return for self- isolating. This has not been under consideration at all. There are now full border closures. It is not possible to travel to the UK without a pre travel negative test within 72 hours, and the right passenger location paperwork. You then have to isolate for 10 days (reduced to 5 if you pay for another test) . There are no exceptions to this now. Given the concerns above about variants the Government are determined to do their best to keep the new variants out of the UK. Whether they can is entirely dependent on us reducing the opportunities to spread it. We must follow all the rules.
A study from the University of East Anglia has suggested the Oxford Astra-Zenica vaccine is not as effective as the Pfizer or Moderna jab. This view has come from mathematical modelling rather than clinical observations. It has not been peer reviewed or replicated by other researchers so I am at this stage very open minded about it.
There has been a sad outbreak in a Care Home in Worcester. They had stayed Covid free until last month but then lost 15 patients in quick succession. 33 staff were also affected but all are recovering.
Police were surprised to find a barbecue high up in the moors in a blizzard. Three families were involved with several children. 5 adults have each been given a £200 fine.
Portugal is seeing an increasing crisis as well. Schools have closed again for the first time since March. There are 13-14 thousand daily cases in a total population of only 10 million. There are around 400 deaths per day. They are running out of hospital beds in both public and private hospitals. There are long delays off- loading ambulances at hospitals. Sounds rather similar does it not?
Finally, the daily statistics. The good news is that the number of new cases testing positive each day is continuing to fall thanks to lockdown measures. 665,330 tests were done yesterday with 40,261 testing positive. This represents a 25% drop in the 7 day rolling average, and the rate has dropped to 439/100k.
The better news is that for the first time there has been a drop in the number of new patients admitted. There were 4,034 people admitted which is a 3.2% drop in the 7 day rolling average. We had predicted that the peak in admissions would come about now. Let us hope this is the point. We will not know until after the weekend because of the effect weekends have on the data. There are still 28, 560 in hospital, and nearly 4,000 on ventilators.
So the not so good news is that these last two figures are very high which in turn is reflected on the 1,401 deaths in the last 24 hours. This is a rise of 16.4% on the 7 day rolling average and the rate is still 11.6/100k.
So mixed news about the virus and its mutations, overall we are doing ok and the current mutations can be coped with without too much worry. With over 5 million first immunisations done they are going to slowly help us get this under control. I now have mine all booked!
Meantime we must all follow all the rules, stay at home, sanitize all you can, stay apart, wear your face covering whenever out.
We sill have some months to go so go on finding creative things to do, support and help one another and above all stay safe.
And share your stories, it helps others to know they are not in this alone.