The WHO are continuing their search for a better understanding of how this pandemic all began. An international team have been working in Wuhan for the last few weeks. They had to socially isolate before they could begin their work. Yesterday they announced they were confident that the pandemic was not caused by the virus ‘escaping’ from a Chinese laboratory, they are now changing the focus of their study to possible animal involvements from the live animal markets in that part of China. Several mammals are under close investigation. These include Pangolins, Bats and Chinese ferret-badgers. These can all be found for sale in the live animal markets and often live with a close relationship to humans in rice paddies or grass fields. Another suspect is the Chinese bamboo rat which can be as large as 16” long . These are common in the South and East of China. These were bred by farmers until Beijing banned their farming a couple of years ago.
Civet cats are also being investigated, these had been an early suspect. They are sold in the markets as they are considered a luxury food. When they were suspect many thousand were culled by the Chinese Authorities. Horseshoe bats were found to be carrying the virus in a deep freeze in Cambodia, and in Japan a coronavirus was isolated from bat droppings.
Reading between the lines this is proving very difficult. There seems to be lots of theory but little hard evidence. They are now concentrating their efforts on animals like mink that have been known to have caught Covid. Remember thousands being culled from farms in Scandinavia where they were extensively farmed. Ferrets are a common animal to use in laboratory work with Covid as they behave with the virus very closely to the way humans do.
Follow this with interest, I think there is much more to learn about possible vectors. Did it go from human to an animal and back to a human? Could it have started in an animal and spread to humans? Will practices of eating some of them change, will they be allowed to sell them in live animal markets? We shall know eventually.
There is one other theory linking pangolins to the pharmaceutical industry. Pangolins are the only mammal with tough highly keratinised scales on their skin. These are popular in Chinese medicine and the animals are widely trafficked.
There has been some backlash and strong debate that a 10 year jail sentence could be a bit steep for lying about a holiday in Portugal. The Government have clarified that they will be using existing legislation from the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act of 1981 to ensure the quarantine rules are complied with. To my mind you would not just be lying about your travelling but deliberately risking the lives of others by not going into quarantine. I welcome this tough stance and I hope you do as well. For once we have seen firm decisive action. Because it is all covered by existing legislation there will be no need to obtain parliamentary approval in a vote. So it is going to happen.
The squabble over vaccine for the elderly still continues. A WHO scientific advisor, Dr Alejandro Cravioto has made it very clear that the OAZ vaccine can and should be given to adults of all ages. Dr Cravioto is the chairman of the WHO Strategic Advisory group . He admits that the data shows a smaller participation of the over 65 age group . However, he points out there is a wide confidence interval in the data and that the results apply to all age groups. His groups’ thinking is completely at one with Dr Chris Whitty and colleagues. All opposition about the British stance is now political within the EU.
1 in 4 adults have now had the 1st vaccine in England and we have 5 days left to find the 2 million in the 70 plus age group . If you are over 70 and not been immunised please step forward and get it done tomorrow. If you can persuade anyone not sure about it to have one please do your best. There are still too many people believing conspiracy theories.
The statistics tonight continue to be encouraging . A total of 579,266 Covid tests were done and only 13,013 were positive. This is another drop of 27.7% in the 7 day average and brings the rate down still further to 190.6/100k.Only 1,872 new patients were admitted on 6th February, the last day figures are published. This shows a drop of 22.6% on a week ago.
With deaths, just over 1,000 today which shows a 25.9% drop in the last week ,the rate has dropped to 8.1/ per 100k.
Vaccinations continue rapidly now with over 13 million 1st doses given and 519,000 2nd doses given. Remember our target is 15 million by the 15th February.
All remains on target. We must just keep everyone on track. Please do all you can to help people feel confident and safe about it.
Keep up the hands, face, space routine. Better still in this cold weather hibernate at home and do not go out unless essential.
If you must go out stay safe and watch you do not fall on the ice.