February 6 2021

Another week seems to have gone by very quickly, we continue on track to escape the worst of this pandemic by the summer.

The weekend influences the data for today, Sunday and Monday, but by looking at the last 7 day averages we can smooth the data and make it more realistic. Deaths are particularly affected as people tend not to formally register deaths at weekends. A total of 783,851 Covid tests were done in the last 24 hours, a rise of 7.6% compared with a week ago. Only 18,262 were reported as positive. Again, this is a 25% reduction compared with a week ago. It is not that long ago this figure was over 30,000.

Only 828 deaths have been recorded. This figure has also fallen by 20.9% in the last 7 days. The death rate is back below 10/100k, at 9.7 per 100k.29,326 people were in hospital yesterday, it’s good to see this figure below 30,000 again. 3,505 were being treated on a ventilator.

The NHS remains under severe pressure, but every day reveals a further slight easing. There is no time to relax. we need to keep going as we wait for the whole country to be immunised. The Associated Press has released details of a huge overhaul of how the NHS is run, revealed in a leaked document. You can never trust the accuracy of leaks or the details but it does perhaps suggest the way current thoughts are going. The NHS have been submitted to change after change since its inception in 1948. In many areas it’s still the envy of the world. The document reveals plans to reverse some of the 2012 changes made by David Cameron’s coalition Government, and slims down the role of private providers.

The Health Secretary would be responsible for setting priorities in health care such as fluoride in tap water and changing labelling of fatty foods. The functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups run by groups of local GPs would largely transfer to an integrated health and social care system. Local Councils and Health Care providers will be required to cooperate together and move away from competition.

For the first time in the history of the world there are more people over 65 years old than under 5 years old. Health needs are changing all the time.

We already know that Public Health England is to be abolished this year and replaced with something similar. It seems to me the wrong time to be looking at fundamental changes to the NHS in the middle of a pandemic. It is a well-established rule to wait until after the crisis is over before making major changes. The pandemic itself has caused some parts of the NHS to perform very well, and others not so well. We should have been much better prepared but no one had thought to plan for a pandemic that did not behave like influenza. Vaccine production has been quite incredible. The NHS work force has been enlarged in a remarkable way.

The Prime Minister is rightly cautious of acting too quickly to ease lockdown restrictions. He walks a tightrope, being dammed if he does and dammed if he does not. He has promised to start looking at how this might happen at the review on 15th February. Recent modelling at Warwick University and commissioned by SAGE suggests that removing the lockdown completely in the summer could still lead to another wave of Covid even with a successful role out of vaccine to every adult. It is possible that we could again see 750 deaths per day and 20,000 positive cases a day despite 95% uptake of vaccine, even if we continue to do 3 million a week from now on. This must not be allowed to happen so many restrictions will have to remain for most of the year.

There have been 10 deaths in a Covid cluster in a Care home in Fife, 25 residents and 43 staff members have tested positive. The outbreak now seems to be over as no new cases have been found in the last 14 days.

It’s a year since the tragic death of the young consultant in Wuhan who acted as a whistle blower to warn the world of Covid . He has been honoured in his hospital with many flowers laid in respect.

In the Netherlands a national lockdown has been called for the weekend. Not because of Covid but because of the weather. In the first red warning for 9 years, 8 inches of snow and 50mph winds are forecast for the whole country. It seems the weather can force a lockdown better than any government.

It is a little worrying to see such widespread variations in the local efforts to roll out the vaccine programme. There is up to a 4 fold variation in different areas Most London Boroughs have now immunised 4 times more of the over 70s compared to Devon where figures remain low. Extra efforts will be made this week to iron out problems and try to get these figures more equitable.

It has actually been quite hard to find Covid related news tonight. This is a good sign because most of the news is positive and that does not attract readers. You know the orders of the day, follow all the rules, stay at home and stay apart; we all need the good news to continue. Do not relax when you have a jab. Remember it has no benefit for 3 weeks so do not surrender now.

There is always plenty to discuss and I welcome your ideas and thoughts. Many remain very frightened, I have spoken to several today, please check regularly to see if your friends and family are ok.

A lot of you have lost loved ones in the last few weeks, in the most trying of circumstances. You all remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Please continue to stay safe.

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