The daily statistics are probably the best indicators of our slow progress to survive and come through this pandemic.
Only 839,954 covid tests were done in the last 24 hours, this is a bit lower than usual but still an incredible number. There is no indication as to the reason it’s lower than normal, it could be accurate or could reflect some missing data from one part of the UK. I discovered the reason the vaccination statistics were not right last night was because initially the figures from Northern Ireland were added much later after I had published. Of the tests done in the last 24 hours we still are seeing over 5,000 a day. The figure is stuck around this level but there was just a 3.3% fall. It is going to take far too long if we only manage 3% per day.
Only 360 patients were admitted to hospital on the 20th March, 20% lower than the last 7 day average figure. This means there are only 5,407 in hospital on the 22 March. 711 patients are on a ventilator. These figures continue to fall in an encouraging way.
Deaths are back under 100 again, just 98 were recorded which is a 34.6% drop in the last 7 day rolling average. The death rate currently stands at 0.8 per 100k of the population.I was admonished for leaving out vaccine statistics yesterday, so here they are for today. 28,653,523 first doses have been done and 2,532,839 second doses. The predicted shortages do not seem to have developed yet. As April begins, we shall see a lot more second doses being given.
France has been facing a rapid rise of new cases particularly in the Paris area. Figures released today show that 68% of arrivals from France are exempt from Quarantine Regulations, most of them are lorry drivers bringing food and essential goods to the UK. France is seeing large numbers of cases of both the Brazilian and South African variants and if we are to avoid a third peak, we must keep them out of the UK. One suggestion is to add France to the UK Red list. At present there are no European countries on our Red list. I doubt it is practical to stop all movement from France without food shortages. There are other plans to do rapid Covid testing on all lorry drivers each time they cross the English Channel.
Pfizer has started a new stage one clinical trial on an oral tablet that the company believe patients with Covid 19 can take as soon as they have symptoms. This could be the early treatment that is so needed. The drug is a protease inhibitor. This means that it binds to a viral enzyme called protease within a cell and therefore preventing replication.
In a rather bizarre move Italy have raided the Agui OAZ vaccine factory, responding to rumours that were totally false. They believed that millions of doses of vaccine were hidden there destined for the UK. They found no such consignment. They did find 29 million doses in preparation for developing countries and for some EU countries under the Covex programme. The vaccine had been made outside the EU and taken to Agui. so it could be put into vials. Another 16 million doses were undergoing quality control before being shipped to EU countries. None were destined for Great Britain.
Angela Merkel made a dramatic apology and a U turn in her plans to deal with the pandemic in Germany when she effectively cancelled the planned lockdown over Easter saying it was unworkable to arrange it quickly. It would seem she conceded to pressure from other politicians. This is a highly unusual step from her and one wonders on the motive. Germany has a huge problem with a developing 3rd wave They are inclined to blame the UK for it because of the Kent variant being common in Germany. They also have increasing numbers of South African and Brazilian Variants.
Here in the UK Boris admits that in the early days we did not get our response quite right but compared with the key players in the EU we have done remarkably well.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced a new Health Agency dedicated to further tackling Covid 19 and preparing the UK against future pandemics. Dr Jenny Harries will lead the new UK Health Security Agency from 1st April. It will bring together Public Health England, Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre. It will be named in its abbreviated form UKSA.
We were aware of this plan but its strange that the Agency has been renamed even before its starts work. Dr Harries will take over as head of the testing programme from Baroness Dido Harding.
UKSA should have a permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent, and respond to the external threats to health.
Belgium has introduced new lockdown arrangements. Schools except kindergartens are to close. Most nonessential businesses are to close. There has been a 40% increase in the number of positive cases and more than 25% rise in hospital admissions after being stable for some time. They have planned to resume schools from after the planned Easter holiday. They still only have about a 10% immunisation rate.
So, progress at home, with a clear exit strategy mapped out for us. Dark clouds nearby across the EU with people losing their sense of reason and squabbling about vaccine supplies. We must remain focussed. Get as many people immunised as possible and try to prevent the third wave getting here with tight measures to secure our borders. With still over 5,000 cases per day, we must not relax our social distancing. Far too many are not complying and we must find a way to get others to comply.
We are still supposed to stay at home. More of us need to do this much more of the time.
Please Stay Safe