February 15 2021

An impressive Israeli study run by their biggest health care provider Clalit, compared 600,000 Israelis who had been vaccinated with 600,000 who had not been vaccinated. There was a 94% drop in symptomatic infections and a 92% drop in serious cases in the vaccinated group. Efficacy was preserved in all age groups especially one week after the second dose. Israel has a population of about 10 million. More than a quarter or 25% have had 2 doses of the Pfizer BioN Tec. 44% have had one vaccine.

I understand there was the inevitable levels of confusion on the first morning of the quarantine hotels rules. Following my concerns yesterday about the number of available rooms I understand another 58,000 rooms are held on standby. There seemed to be a general acceptance of the scheme.

If you are arriving back to England you can only land at certain airports. These are Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Farnborough or any military airfield. This means that no civilian airport north of Birmingham is involved.

It seems that some people risk everything for love. A man in an isolation hotel in Singapore risks up to 6 years in jail and a substantial fine for leaving his hotel room to go to another room in the hotel his fiancée had booked in order to see him.

Down in Devon 5 birdwatchers have been threatened with fines for going out trying to photograph a mockingbird that had been spotted. It is some years since one was seen in England.

Scotland reported zero deaths yesterday. It is the first time on a Sunday there were no deaths reported for a month.

An Oxford University study has demonstrated that the Covid death rate has fallen by 50% in the over 80s but less than 15% in the under 65. The first group have been protected with vaccines whereas the second group have not yet. The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine suggests there is now tentative evidence that the vaccination programme for the elderly is linked to the falling death rates.

Mutations and variants continue to be reported all the time. The US claim to have identified 7 new home-grown variants. They are all very similar and cause alterations to the spike protein on the virus which is now known as Q677. I understand it was first noticed in October, but now amount to about 2% of the samples tested particularly in Louisiana and New Mexico but also 6 other states.

Edinburgh University report a further variant labelled B1525. It would seem to be similar to the original so called Kent variant. There is no reason to be unduly worried by these variants. They are all covered by the first generations of vaccine and will also be covered by the second generation going into production soon. Mutations are nearly all minor and will continue to come and go. We need to be vigilant there is not a new nasty variant that could be much more virulent.

A health Centre caught fire in Thames Ditton today. One of the doctors became a hero when he re-entered the building to retrieve the fridge full of vaccine. He was successfully able to bring the fridge out to safety and all the vaccine was saved. The fire service put out the fire, and the Health Centre will be able to open again tomorrow to continue the vaccination programme which had to be suspended today.

India has sent Mexico 870,000 doses of the OAZ vaccine.

I mentioned last night that Ebola has re-emerged in Guinea in Africa, there are 7 cases reported so far, 3 of whom have died. Experts and NGO teams have responded quickly to try to prevent the spread.

I am sure it did not pass you by that I had a significant birthday yesterday but am much the same still today. I was struck by two humorous birthday cards sent by my family with a Covid theme. One based on Dads Army. The picture of them being trained with the caption Britain needs you……….to stay at home! The other, a doctor in full PPE shouting at a patient not to blow his birthday candles out for fear of spreading the virus. It did not take long for people to be able to make money from the pandemic with special cards.

The French company Sanofi have announced they will not be able to produce a vaccine this year. This is a real set back for the French President Macron.

New Zealand has had a small outbreak of the English variant in Auckland which has prompted a 3 day emergency lockdown last night . One of the lines of enquiry is whether the infection was spread on an airline uniform being cleaned by a laundry company.

Monday statistics are still influenced by the weekend effect. The number testing positive has dropped below 10,000 for the first time in a long time. 539,630 tests were done in total. This shows a drop of 35.9% over 7 days and represents a positive rate of 149.7 per 100k of the population.

There are no new hospital figures apart from 1,641 admissions on 11 February.

There were only 230 deaths recorded, a 26% decrease in the last 7 days and the rate is now only 6.3/100k of the population.

15,300,151 first immunisations have now been done with 539,630 second ones.

All continues to move in the right direction. The vaccine effect as well as the lockdown should combine to get figures still lower. We all need to stay vigilant.

As my birthday card said Britain needs you to stay at home, please just carry on, enjoy the warmer weather and stay safe

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