March 11 2021

Dr Melissa Heightman is a member of NHS England’s Long Covid task force. She commented to confirm some new evidence emerging that patients who are hospitalised with covid 19 and then recovered are more likely to avoid any of the Long Covid after effects. It seems up to 1/5th or 20% of patients may develop Long Covid, particularly those who start with asymptomatic or mild Covid may go on to have Long Covid. Much more research is required but Long Covid is responsive to treatment.

In another collaborative study involving Imperial College London, Edinburgh and Liverpool Universities they have demonstrated a significant rise in the blood level of a key protein in the blood. It is a cytokine called GM-CSF. This is one of a large group of proteins called cytokines. They demonstrate its level rises to the highest level in those with severe or fatal Covid 19 infections. There can be as much as a 10 fold rise in severe Covid compared with mild disease. The researchers went on to study 39 mild cases of Covid 19 and compared the response seen in the store sera of patients with fatal episodes of H1N1 influenza from the 2009/10 epidemic. The looked at 33 different inflammatory markers and found increased levels of all the markers associated with common respiratory diseases. Amongst these inflammatory markers is another Cytokine which is elevated in mild and severe Covid as well as influenza.

These cytokines are fascinating. You may have heard of a cytokine storm as a response to infection. There is so much more we have yet to learn.

Jeremy Hunt is the latest politician to go down with Covid and is now socially isolating at home having been contacted by Track and Trace. He developed the illness 4-5 days after having his first vaccine which was very bad luck. As a former Health Secretary, he has been quite critical of the testing and track and trace system but had to admit it worked well for him.

The EU regulator has just approved the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine for use in EU countries. Although they continue to approve the OAZ vaccine despite the recent fatality from a blood clot on the lungs or Pulmonary Embolus. Denmark. Norway, Iceland and Italy, however, do not want to resume without further evidence of safety. A new drug to treat covid has appeared and is claimed to reduce admissions and deaths by as much as 80%. It is claimed to work against all known variants. It works by aiding the production of monoclonal antibodies. It is given as a single intravenous dose. Look out for more about what sounds a promising drug.

Four new cases of the Brazilian variant are reported in the UK. Three are in South Gloucester and one in Bradford. All are connected with other cases. All close household contacts have been found and isolated. Track and Trace are very hopeful the outbreak is contained.

A Nepalese restaurant in Lewisham is set to day to deliver its 100.000th. free meal to the nearby Royal Artillery Barracks. A remarkably generous gesture.

So finally, the facts and figures which continue to show we are slowly moving out of trouble.

A further 1.55 million tests were done today with 6,753 being positive. This still represents a 13.8% drop over the last 7 days. The positive rate is down to 60 per 100k of the population.

Deaths amounted to 181 which again is a 35.9% drop in the last 7days and the rate down to 1.7 per 100,000 of the population. This is a remarkably low death rate. It means we are much more likely to die of something unrelated than we are from covid 19.

In the hospitals 8,177people were occupying a hospital bed on 9th March, with a further 532 admitted on the 7th March. Now only 1,237 are being treated on a ventilator.

Vaccination continues steadily. Over 23 million first doses have been given and 1.35 million second doses.

Its vital as schools are back that we do not allow the figures to rise again, particularly the new infections and hospital admissions. With over 500 new admissions every day we must pull out all the stops to get vaccinations done and ensure we are still staying at home and wearing one of Dr Wu’s masks in a public place.

Please continue to stay safe.

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