January 23 2021

Tonight, let’s have a quick look around to see how the UK is managing compared to other countries. Every country is battling hard to control the global pandemic.

FRANCE: The third wave of the pandemic may be less severe but the number of daily new cases are rising and the vaccine roll out has only just started. Only 833k have been done. France still has a 6pm curfew but not the full lockdown we are coping with.

GERMANY : Seem to be driving the new cases down again, but like us the number of daily deaths remain very high. There were over 1,000 deaths in 24 hrs on 21st January. Vaccination is beginning to build with 1.3 million 1st doses given. They look like remaining in lockdown for the foreseeable future.

SPAIN: The number of daily deaths is dropping here with only 80 reported in the 24 hrs of 19th January. There is a curfew at 10pm but no formal lockdown. Vaccine rollout has begun with 77,000 in the last 24 hours.

ITALY: is also it seems coping better with the 3rd wave. They still had 521 deaths on the 21st January, but only 14,000 new cases in 24 hours. They have managed 1.3 million doses of vaccine to now but now face a supply shortage which has led to threats from the Italian government to take Pfizer to court over the supply problem.

Do remember as you look at these country’s figures that we have to rely on reports from them. There is no independent verification for each country and definitions like a ‘death due to Covid’ varies from country to country.

Looking at the statistics in the UK tonight I am pleased to report that 3 of the 4 markers of progress continue to go in the right direction. Sadly, we have to wait another week or so (or 8-10,000 more deaths) before that figure also will begin to fall, largely as a result of the lockdown, but immunisations are beginning to play a part. There were 1,348 deaths in the last 24 hours which is a 13.2% rise in the average over the last 7days, the rate is 11.9 per 100k of the population.

There were 33,552 positive tests recorded today which is a 23.5% or almost a quarter less than the 7 day rolling average. The positive rate has fallen to 421.3 per 100k. Some 665,330 tests were done yesterday. This fall is consistent now for over a week. The R or reproduction rate is now thought, across the country, to be just below 1.0 .This is important because it indicates that every person infected affects only one other and the pandemic may be beginning to subside. It is early days and things could change but never-the- less a promising sign.

It looks as though hospital data is at least plateauing and may be on the turn. 37,899 are in hospital with 4,125 being admitted on 19th January. Just over 4,000 require a ventilator.

Immunisation is progressing very well with some 5.8 million first doses given, as well as 468,000 2nd doses. This would seem to be some 5 times more than the other European countries, but we did have nearly a three week start.

In more general news a military barracks in Kent containing asylum seekers has had a major outbreak . 120 people have tested positive amongst the 400 held there. Many had attempted to cross the channel in small boats and had been rescued.

The Government have confirmed they are looking at the possibility of using empty hotels to house those required to quarantine for 10 days when entering the UK. The individual would have to pay the costs but it would help ensure quarantine rules are followed properly.

The Lancet reports a small Long Covid study of just 55 patients. 60% of them had persistent symptoms at 3 months and 70% had abnormal lung scans mostly due to a fibrosis like scaring on the lungs, causing some shortage of breath. Studies like this help to confirm anecdotal impressions of patients with Long Covid and as a pointer to future much larger studies to confirm the preliminary findings. The Lancet has a good peer review system and we can be sure these findings are robust.

There has been some mischievous reporting that ‘scientists are recommending health and Social Care professionals are vaccinated with only the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine rather than the Oxford Astra-Zenica version’. This is actually the personal recommendation from one researcher based on his one research paper. It is not the general view of scientists in this country. He is right on one thing that no vaccine alone will completely halt this virus. We know nothing can guarantee to stop it. Interestingly the work in the paper is based on mathematical modelling rather than clinical observation. This story will run as the media try to set one expert up against another. Look at the arguments carefully and critically.

Another key report shows that when 4.04 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, that one based on RNA, were given there were only 10 severe allergic reactions recorded. 5 patients had a history of previous anaphylaxis to vaccines. All recovered with no long-term problems. This is an incredibly small number, but is why every vaccination centre will ask about allergic reactions. They will want you to rest under observation for up to 30 minutes if a reaction is anticipated. All drugs and resuscitation equipment will be on hand.

As always, your comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome. Our discussions can be very helpful.

We are still progressing along a well predicted path. Vaccinations are progressing well despite a few teething problems. New cases are coming down, it looks as though hospital admissions will fall now and deaths in another 7-10 days. The end is in sight. We must not allow ourselves to relax.

Stay vigilant, stay positive, support one another, remember the basics but above all stay apart and stay at home.

Whether or not you have had a vaccine you must still follow the lockdown rules and stay safe

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