March 10 2021

Last night I had temporarily forgotten that we were about to start tests on school children en mass for Covid. It was not therefore surprising the figure for the tests done were several hundred thousand more than usual. My thanks to one of you for pointing that out. So today 1.37 million tests have been done and only 5,926 have tested positive. This is still a drop of 20% in the last 7 days, the rate of positive tests continues to drop and are now only 60.4 per 100k. this is particularly encouraging and suggests very few of the school children’s tests are coming back positive.

Deaths continue to fall with only 190 recorded today. This is a 35.4% drop in the last seven days. The death rate is only 1.8 per 100k of the population.

Hospital admissions continue to drop quite quickly now. Only 643 people needed to be admitted on the 6th March. There was a total of 9,435 in hospital on the 8th March. Only 1,293 were using a ventilator.

We managed to immunise a further 217,000 people yesterday so the cumulative total for the 1st dose is 22.8 million and for the second dose is 1.25 million.

We can see everything is still on target. I would like to see vaccines being given at 350,000 a day again. We must cope with the supply issues and maintain the high levels we initially set for ourselves.

Germany is still not immunising the over 65 age group despite it being authorised almost a week ago. It seems wheels can only turn slowly in the EU.

Some research said to come from Europe, Canada and Japans suggests there is very little evidence that supporting and supplementing vitamin D levels in patients affect the outcomes of Covid infections. This would seem to go against several studies which found it helpful. It makes the headline but there are no details of doses, blood levels or length of treatment So in my book it does not pass the first hurdle to be peer reviewed.

It is unlike the Daily Telegraph to publish a report that suggests a Covid Variant is “64% more lethal.” Can anyone explain how it can be more lethal? if you die, you die. Lethality does not come in stages.

This amounts to mischievous headline writing. The study compared 54,000 cases of the Kent variant with the same number of others infected with the original virus. The two groups were matched for other variables like age sex and ethnicity. With the original virus in that group of 54,000 there were 2.5 deaths per 1000. This compared with 4.1% deaths per 1,000 in the Kent variant group. These are both very small numbers. This study needs to include tests of significance as well as a procedure known as “numbers needed to treat”. It looks likely that people who have the Kent variant version of Covid are more likely to die. Sir Patrick Valance suggested about 30 percent greater chance, this study suggests a bit higher chance of dying.

I doubt many of you will know of Dr Wu Lien-teh. If he were alive, he would be celebrating his 142nd birthday. It was his invention over 100 years ago which has very significantly contributed to saving lives across the world. He was a Chinese/ Malayan doctor was working in North West China when the area was hit by an unknown epidemic. it was Dr Wu who identified it as pneumonic plague. He went on to become the first student of Chinese descent to earn a doctorate from the University of Cambridge. After his studies, he accepted a position as the Vice Director for China’s imperial Army College in 1908. Two years later the epidemic struck China. It eventually became known as the Manchurian plague and Dr Wu was appointed by the Chinese Government to investigate it.

He was allowed to conduct a post mortem on a Japanese lady who had died. Dr Wu concluded that it had spread from human to human through respiratory transmission. In response he developed and oversaw the production and distribution of 60,000 surgical masks. This was the first epidemic in history that saw widespread use of face masks. His masks were made of several layers of cotton and gauze to filter the inhalations. They were the precursor to the N95 masks so many of us have worn in this pandemic.

He also worked with the Chinese Government to establish quarantine stations and hospitals, restrict travel and apply progressive sterilisation techniques. His biggest step was to get Imperial sanction to cremate victims. Once this started the problem began to decline.

In 1915 Dr Wu founded the Chinese Medical Association. He also led the fight against the 1920-21 Cholera pandemic in NE China. He became director of the National Quarantine Service. In 1935 he was the first Malayan to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In 1960 he died aged 80.The world owes him a lot so join with me in saying—‘Thank you and Happy Birthday.’

No changes in the rules today so keep apart, wear that mask and stay safe.

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