March 6 2021

Several interesting snippets of general interest first today. Bell’s palsy (a temporary weakness of the facial muscles on one side of the face which usually clears after a few weeks) has been added to the list of possible vaccine side effects. In a recent study there were 7 cases found in 40,000 people recently vaccinated against 1 case in 40.000 unvaccinated subjects. It remains a poorly understood condition with various theories as to its cause.

I remember making this diagnosis once in General Practice. The rather anxious patient was just leaving my room when they turned back and asked “was it due to kissing someone?” I did not know the answer to the question but the patient certainly had a guilty conscience! Vaccine side effects may be up to 3 times more common if you have already had a Covid 19 infection. A new study from Zoe on Prof Tim Spector’s app demonstrated this, thus confirming an earlier study result. Prof Spector’s results suggest that this difference might be more obvious in the Pfizer bioNTech vaccine.

As schools go back, this a most critical time to follow all the social distancing rules and to stay well apart, preferably out of harm’s way at home. Where in the country would you like to suggest the first outbreak in a school will happen and how long before it happens?

I noticed a WHO report of an outbreak in a school in Milan. 45 children and 14 staff have tested positive. The whole school and contacts have been quarantined. I am sure we shall see this once or twice here once schools are back. Remember it only needs one individual with no idea they have the disease, without symptoms, to spread it throughout the school.

There is concern that testing all school children every week will also bring a number of false positives which will throw schools into quarantine unnecessarily. I recognise this could be disruptive but I would rather a false alarm than a big outbreak in a school. If the rapid flow test is positive a more accurate PCR check will follow before closing everything down. If saving lives is our top priority then we have no option to go this way and accept an occasional false alarm.

Europe as a whole saw a 9% rise in the number of daily new cases in the last week. It now stands at close on 1 million new cases per day in Europe. There is concern still about the situation in Brazil. I have mentioned before the high daily death rate of 1,250 per day. Some estimate this could rise to 3,000 deaths per day before falling back.

In the UK, those aged between 56 and 59 are now being called for their first jab.

Another reassuring study published in the British Medical Journal about catching Covid in Pregnancy showed there was no evidence that catching Covid 19 was associated with a still birth or neonatal death. It did however slightly increase the risk of a preterm delivery from a background risk of 7.5% to 12% in a study of 1,606 patients pregnant and having caught Covid. There is increasing evidence that the vaccine is safe in pregnancy. it is not formally approved but can be given on a case-by- case basis to people at high risk. So far, I understand there have been no adverse reports. It has to be requested by the responsible clinician.

Tonight’s statistics continue to be positive and encouraging. Almost a million Covid tests were done yesterday, 992,812 tests and only 6,048 were positive. This is another 7 day average reduction of 34% and the positive rate has fallen again to 73.1 per 100k of the population.

Only 10,898 people were in hospital on 4th March with 1,542 on a ventilator. Only 826 new cases were admitted on 2nd March, a drop of 29% in the last 7 day average.

Deaths have fallen considerably with only 159 recorded today. This is a 34% drop in the last week and the death rate is now only 2.4 per 100k of the population.

Vaccinations continue to rise. As of 1st March 21,796,278 1st doses have been given and 1,090,840 second doses; we are still well on track to complete the vaccines on time.

All looks good, we are set for Monday, please make sure school opening goes well. Please play your part in keeping schools infection free. Get your vaccine when offered otherwise stay at home.

The rules about staying at home have not changed so please don’t risk further problems. Stay safe everyone.

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