April 25 2021

Yet another catastrophic fire in a hospital called Ibn Al-katib hospital in Baghdad Iraq. At least 82 people have died, and death toll could well be a lot higher. It started in the intensive therapy unit and first suggestions are it was a faulty procedure in changing oxygen cylinders. How many more times is this going to happen during this pandemic. What can be done to prevent such accidents? Removing all naked flames and cigarettes from the wards might be a start.

There is very exciting news coming from Oxford University, this time about exciting results on early trials of their new antimalaria vaccine. One study in their phase two trials shows that the vaccine code name R21 is 77% effective. This could be even more of a life saver than the Covid vaccine. Malaria kills 400,000 mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa every year. The majority of malaria deaths are in children. The only other vaccine to be produced against malaria proved not to be very effective. It did not work well enough to justify its use.

I am delighted to see a response to the calls for help in India have been heard, equipment has today been flown there from Singapore and the UK. 9 airliners packed with aid are on their way. This includes 495 oxygen concentrators and 120 non invasive ventilators. I hope this is the beginning of a daily shipment. It is such a vast country, this is a good start but only a drop in the ocean of what is needed.

Germany does not expect its lockdown to ease further before June, cases are still rising despite quite strict restrictions. Here in the UK the roll out of vaccines continues, by the end of next week it is hoped to be able to offer vaccine to everybody over the age of 30. Next it will be the 18-29 year olds. We will then have to review all the trials of the vaccine on children and as a nation make decisions about immunising children and at what age we should start vaccines. So far there is no cause for any concern about extra safety issues in children.

The Press Association report that Scotland will move from level 4 to level 3 restrictions tomorrow. This means more venues can open again. Cafes, restaurants, beer gardens can all sell food and drink outdoors. Non-essential shops, libraries and museums can open again, as well as gyms and swimming pools for individual exercise. Driving lessons and tests can resume and so can travel out of Scotland to England and Wales. Scotland plans at present to move again to level 2 on 17th May, level 1 on 7th June and level 0 by the end of June.

The UK health regulator has expressed some concern about the way mass testing is being used. There has been a shift of emphasis from detecting new cases to being able to give a green light to an activity if the test is negative. There is also concern at the number of false negatives showing up particularly in self testing systems. The Government has brought many millions of tests, but the independent regulator does not like their use as a green light when it was only intended as a red light to identify new cases.

As we look at our encouraging statistics remember in India the number of new cases has broken their record number for 4 consecutive days.

On 22nd April, the last day numbers are available showed 1,111,876 tests done and 1,712 were found positive today . This number continues to drop slowly by 4.6% in the week and the positive rate is 24.7 cases per 100k of the population.

There have only been 11 deaths reported but remember, it’s a Sunday. Working with the 7 day rolling average it is a drop of 12.6% and the overall death rate is now 0.2 per 100/k or put another way one death in every half a million cases.

1,781 people were in hospital on 22 April, a further 132 were admitted on 20 April. Only 243 are still requiring a ventilator. Not all these figures are updated on a Sunday and some are a few days old. We can safely say the pressure has eased considerably on hospitals. Several hospitals no longer have any patients in their ITUs or on a ventilator. They can begin to bring in urgent waiting list patients for investigations or procedures.

Our methods to contain this virus are working. The combination of lockdown restrictions, mass vaccination and travel restrictions are working well. We must maintain pressure in all 3 areas, support others in trouble to the best we can and be super vigilant for more virulent or resistant mutations.

Please all stay safe.

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