February 28 2021

I was very saddened to hear of yet another fatal explosion in an ITU in the Ukraine at Chernivisti Hospital, one patient was dead, another injured and 20 others evacuated after what was described as an ’oxygen pipe flash’. Only a few weeks ago a doctor and 3 patients were killed in a similar explosion.

Oxygen is vital for ITU patients and almost all patients need it as part of their care. Its not without its risks. In the UK at least there are strict standards to be applied. The commonest risk is still someone trying to have a cigarette whilst having oxygen therapy. Another explosion risk is the use of any grease or oil around the fittings of a cylinder will make it liable to explode of if a washer is perished allowing leakage, all these issues are constantly checked when oxygen is in use.

There is news tonight of a rapid new test that can detect a variant of Covid 19 within 24 hours. The current method of detection involves lengthy sequencing of the genetic material over about one week. New research being undertaken by Novozymes in Denmark in conjunction with Oxford University to create a new test similar to the current PCR test. Up to 120 samples can be analysed in2 hours with specific variant identification in a further 40 minutes. Once fully tested and approved it will be distributed on a non-profit basis when the trials are completed.

The Variants of interest at the moment are;

The UK (Kent) variant B.1.1.7. this has been found to be 70% more transmissible and 30% more deadly. This seems to be the new dominant strain. Over 13,000 cases were detected last week, which was double the number of the previous week.

The UK (Kent) variant B.1.1.7. with an extra E484K mutation. 23 cases of this have been found in the UK, mostly in the SW. there have been no new cases for a week so hopefully this is dying out.

The South African variant B.1.351 also carries the E484K mutation This one can challenge the efficacy of some vaccines. There have only been 15 cases in the last week and does not appear to be spreading.

The Liverpool variant A.23.1. is a mutated form of the first Wuhan strain it also has the E484K mutation. There have been no new cases this week.

The UK has sequenced 11% of all cases, this new test will mean us being able to have a much greater chance of detecting a variant and much less chance of it slipping through the net.

There have now been over 20 million first injections given in England This is a figure to be proud of. The statistics show 20,089,551 first doses now given and 796,132 second doses. There were 731,410 Covid tests done yesterday and only 6,035 tested positive and demonstrates a 21.2% drop in the last 7 days. The positive rate is now 100.5/100k of those tested.

Bear in mind it’s Sunday, but deaths amounted to 144 which is a 33% drop in the last 7 days. The death rate is only 3.4 /100k.There are no new hospital figures but 14,808 were still in hospital with Covid.

The Chancellor is preparing his annual budget for Parliament for Wednesday. He has leaked that he is prepared to extend the furlough arrangements but will not be drawn on income tax changes. We will just have to wait and see.

San Marino, is a tiny independent state surrounded by EU members, they have signed a contract with Russia for supplies of the Sputnik 5 vaccine as their existing order from Pfizer has not been met. They have followed Serbia and Hungary by looking to Russia for their vaccine.

In the US the FDA have approved the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine for emergency use. This should ease some of the supply problems in the US. It is very easy to store.

2 more large illegal parties have been broken up in central London over the weekend. A number of large fines have been imposed.

With school returning, free rapid flow tests are to be supplied to all children, their families, teachers and others like school bus drivers. They can be collected from about 500 locations around the country.

The Isle of Man, thanks to its isolation and tight lockdown had been free of cases for a while, but they seem to have returned. Some at least, seem to have been caught in the community. There are about 9 new cases that cannot be linked to one another. Track and trace teams are working hard to control the outbreak.

With St David’s day tomorrow, we say goodbye to February and look forward to spring but to get there safely we all must stay at home, stay apart and stay safe. If you have oxygen at home for any reason remind yourself of the safety rules with no smoking anywhere near it.

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