June 2 2021

A very welcome development from the WHO yesterday was when they renamed all the current variants of Covid 19 to avoid using names of countries in the names of the variant. The official names changed several times in the beginning and the name of the disease became different to the name of the virus causing it. Hopefully, as long as you know the Greek alphabet, you should find it easier. There has always been a risk of stigmatisation of a country if you named a disease belonging to a country.

Perhaps the classical example of this is the disease syphilis. Looking at the history of this disease, in the UK, Italy and Germany it was first known as “The French disease”. In France, they called it the “Neapolitan “disease. In Russia it was known as the “Polish Disease,” in Denmark and Portugal it was the “Spanish disease.” Don’t forget either the popular name for rubella is German measles.

It was Donald Trump who was instrumental in compounding this issue when early on he described Covid 19 as the Chinese Disease.

This list can serve as an aid memoire for you until you have learnt them. The disease is called Covid 19, the virus that causes it is call SARs COV2. If the molecular microstructure is modified it will be called a variant and will have a Greek letter of the alphabet assigned to it. .

ALPHA is otherwise known as B.117 the UK or Kent variant

BETA is otherwise known as B.1.351 or South African variant.

GAMMA is otherwise known as P1 or the Brazil variant.

DELTA is otherwise known as the B.1.6172 or Indian variant.

EPSILON is otherwise known as B.1.427-B.1.429 or USA variant

ETA is otherwise known as B.1.525 variant from multiple countries

THETA is otherwise the P3 variant from the Philippines IOTA is otherwise known as B.1.526 from the USA

KAPPA is otherwise known as B.1.6171 an Indian variant.

How many of you can complete the Greek alphabet without looking it up?

It would be a major achievement if the world can stop using country names as they have been so ingrained in our thinking. Spanish flu of 1918-1919 did not start in Spain but in the USA and taken to Spain by troops. Spain had been neutral in World War 1

More recently we have seen epidemics of West Nile Virus, MERS or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, SARS or South Asian Respiratory Syndrome., Ebola the name of a river in the Republic of the Congo, Zika the name of a forest in Uganda and Lyme disease is a town in Connecticut USA.

The PM has described the data as “ambiguous,” I cannot think of a better word. It seems as though Covid is sitting on the fence, we cannot safely give the go ahead to remove all restrictions as at the same time the data is giving cause for concern but has not clearly deteriorated yet in the way it could do.

The numbers being tested recently have fallen to around 660,000 a day whereas a week ago we achieved consistently over a million daily tests. Even allowing for coming out of a Bank Holiday weekend the number testing positive is steadily rising and today is 4,330 in the last 24 hours. This is significant now. It is a 34% increase in the 7 day weekly average. There have been 12 deaths reported today, compared with Zero yesterday. The media got excited about this forgetting its almost impossible to record a Covid or any other death on a Bank Holiday. Today’s figure really represents two days. The numbers are too low for statistics to have much meaning now.

We have had almost a week without the health data being refreshed which at this crucial period is not good enough. We do need accurate and completed data to identify quickly if things are going wrong. The number in hospital with Covid has risen significantly over the week end with 923 now in a hospital bed . The last daily admission figure released is 123. There are 136 people being ventilated compared to the last figure released of 120. This is the first rise seen for some considerable time.We are seeing an increase in the number of cases, they are mostly remaining out of hospital, but the number being admitted has stopped falling and begun to rise again. An increasing number are again needing intensive care facilities and in 7-10 days’ time, we will see a rise in the number of deaths.

The vaccination rate continues to grow 75% of our adult population have had 1 jab and almost 50% have had two. This still leaves 25% of the adult population unprotected, we all need to turn out attention to this group. They are the people who will be involved in the next wave of the pandemic. We need to see 95% of the population with at least one jab and eventually both jabs. Let me know if you have any creative ideas about how to get the sceptics immunised for all our benefit.

Remember the final rules still apply, please do not relax just yet. Keep the pressure off the NHS, wear your mask to protect others as well as yourself and remember the social distancing. The greatest risk is of a new resistant variant appearing is still very real. Remember your Greek alphabet as you come to terms with the increased potency of the Delta variant we are currently seeing.

Stay safe everyone.

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