February 25 2021

A recent US study from Harvard and Yale Universities suggest it may take 30% longer to be clear from an infection when it is a variant of Covid 19.

The Deputy Chief Medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, has suggested that, if necessary the quarantine period may have to be lengthened to cope with this. This study is not yet peer reviewed but it suggests that someone infected with the Kent variant strain might take up to thirteen days to be free from infection again.

There are numerous studies of the various variant strains, with the UK leading the global way in ascertaining the characteristics of both the variants of interest, and those of special concern. The international travel compulsory quarantine for 10 days and 11 nights is based on an assumption it will last for 8 days. It will have to be lengthened if this study is confirmed perhaps 15 days

80% of the Covid 19 vaccine delivered to the EU has yet to be injected into a patient. Angela Merkel admitted there was an acceptance problem which they were having difficulties overcoming. This has arisen from the initial questioning of the safety of the OAZ vaccine despite the European Medicines Agency approving it for all age groups. Several counties will not approve it for the over 65s. All scientists agree that it is safe and efficient for all age groups. The psychological damage was done by the politicians and they have a massive task to overcome the concerns of the public. There are estimates of 4.5 million doses ready and distributed to 27 countries but not yet administered. The short-term lack of the Pfizer vaccine due to the refurbishment of the factory in Belgium should now be over. French GPs have been given the OAZ vaccine to try and raise the uptake

The UK National Covid threat level has today been officially downgraded from the highest level 5 back down to level 4. It had gone up to 5 in early January this year. A level 4 is defined as ’ Covid 19 is in general circulation and transmission is high’.

Todays statistics confirm the encouraging trend continues. Over 18.5 million first doses of the vaccine have been given. With over 400,000 given today. Just over 700,000 2nd doses have been given.

Covid 19 tests done yesterday amounted to 740,717. Only 9,985 were positive . This is a further 16% drop in the last 7days and the rate of infection has fallen to 115,3/100k of the population.

In the hospitals, there were 16,059 in a hospital bed on 23rd February a drop of over 20% in the last 7 days. Admissions were only 1,142 on 23rd February. And only 2,118 are being treated with a ventilator. The number of deaths is falling still with 323 in the last 24 hours. This is 30% less than a week ago. The death rate has fallen to 4.2/10k of the population.

Remember all your legal requirements to stay at home and not to mix socially still apply you must stick with them with this number still in hospital. We dare not relax in any way.

Returning to the issue of facemasks, thank you for your varied and interesting comments last night . Dr Paul Hunter ,Professor of Medicine at Norwich Medical school, and one of the WHO mask guidance reviewers has said. “ I think we would have done a lot better last year if we had paid more attention to WHO guidance than if we tried to make it up ourselves’. The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment when asked by the BMA whether our government was going to recommend masks in an out door setting. Prof Hunter said “ If you are outside in a big queue , and people are not properly socially distancing around you I would put one on. But if I am just walking along a not overly busy high street or going for a walk around my village, then I would not wear one.“ He went on to warn not to allow masks to get wet, especially if they are going indoors wearing the same mask.. If its cold outside and your breath makes it wet it means air cannot get through the mask so it becomes much less effective. Of course the same applies to rain on a mask.

One study suggests in a study of 710 US residents a face covering blocked between 62.6% and 87.1 % of fine (not defined) particles whereas surgical masks protected against an average of 78.2% and N95 masks blocked 99.6 % No where in this study is the particle size discussed. This makes it of limited value.

I consider the mask is only one of a variety of tools in our armament, They must be used properly. The problem with home made masks is the difficulty with quality control . The problem with disposable surgical masks is the frequency of changes and clean disposal with higher spec FF2 masks its about keeping clean and changing the filter.

Which ever you use do your best to stick to all the guidelines and stay safe.

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