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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 23 June 2021

Today’s latest statistics strongly support the view that we urgently need to get the whole adult population double vaccinated as quickly as possible. This was also the theme of the briefing from the Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, this evening. As I have said recently, the mid-week figures are usually the most complete.

821,585 tests were done today and 16,135, tests were positive. There have been almost 80,000 new positives in the last 7 days, but this figure is about 50% higher than any recently. The rate continues to grow, and the rate is now 97.5/100k of the population.

Thanks to the vaccination programme, although the new cases are growing exponentially, the hospital data is only just creeping up more slowly again. There are 1508 patients in hospital with Covid on 21st June. 225 were admitted on 16th June and 211 on 17th June. 250 patients are being treated on a ventilator.

The number of deaths per day remains very low. The way of recording them when they are registered makes day-to-day comparisons useless. There have been just over 100 registered in the last 7 days.

43.48 million 1st doses have now been given and 31.70 2nd doses. You can see how concentrating on getting second doses given has narrowed the gap between the two figures. Remember anyone over 18 can now be immunised and those over 40 can bring their second dose forward to 8 weeks after the first. To do this ring 119 to arrange to change appointments.

I have mentioned the newly identified Delta plus variant before. (It is the Delta variant with an additional mutation known as K417N- first called the Nepal variant because the first 13 cases were found in Nepal). As of the 18th of June, PHE has confirmed 36 cases and in tonight’s briefing, the figure today was 41. It is being watched carefully because the extra mutation is the same one that is found in the Beta or South African variant. there is a suggestion that this variant is a little more resistant to vaccines. However, there is no current cause for concern, with very little spread.

Scotland has also recorded a high number of new cases, 2969 today. It is suggested a lot of surge testing may have caused this rise.

In the briefing tonight Mr. Zahawi was ably supported by Dr. Mary Ramsey, head of immunisations, and Dr. Nikki Kanani, Director of Primary Care.

Mr Zahawi made the point that in the 6 months since we gave the world’s first public vaccination, we have come a long way. In the UK. Now 82% of all adults have been immunised at least one and 60% twice. 33% of those aged 18-24 have already had a 1st vaccination , which is incredible. We have all seen the queues of young people waiting patiently. I am told that 17 year-olds, not quite 18, and who are going to University this year are also being squeezed in. If this applies to a young person in your family send them to a walk-in centre and plead the case that they want two jabs before going to university.

The number of immunisations now given is estimated to have saved 44,500 hospitalisations in England alone.

There has been a big push to immunise those previously hesitant. Two weeks ago 2 million over 50 year olds were not immunised . Today that figure has dropped to 900,000.

At present 2.3% of School children are off school because of Covid or self isolation.

We need to aim for at least 9/10 of all adults willing or at least wanting to be vaccinated twice.

London has one of the lower rates of immunisation and a conference or summit of all stake holders is being held on Friday to try and find ways to combat hesitancy. Organisations representing the BAME Community and the disadvantaged will be well represented.

The message is strong that we are not safe until we are all safe. We can all play a part in being encouragers and demonstrating that there is not much to having a jab when you review the benefits.

We were reminded that covid vaccination has preoccupied all of us but there are other routine important vaccinations that are needed. Perhaps the most important is the meningitis vaccine for school leavers and the Shingles vaccine for 70 year olds. Then there is the MMR vaccine for babies which is so important and the HPV vaccine for 13 year olds to prevent Cervical cancer. Please do not miss any of these Contact your GP practice to arrange these. Then of course there is seasonal influenza. We have seen very little influenza in the last two years. This may well be because of social distancing and masks. We could very easily see a rebound epidemic. So get a jab if you are eligible. It would be a disaster to have Covid and Influenza epidemic at the same time.

Another issue discussed tonight was how to deal with the proliferation of completely wrong information about vaccines often propagated by the “anti-vaxers”. An example that has been rife in the BAME community is that the vaccine will stop you from having children. There is absolutely zero evidence for this and is a malign myth, which must be stopped. The UK government, as part of its leadership of the G7, is committed to preventing disinformation across the world. Their message is the Covid vaccine is not only safe its lifesaving.

The Hands Face Space message is still simple and clear. Please do not take risks. As our footballers discovered despite being double vaccinated and testing negative you must still respect social distancing if not in a bubble together.

Stay positive, support one another, gently encourage the hesitant. We are getting there slowly. More of the same and stay safe

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