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Doc Hines - Covid News and Views - 13th December 2021

“Just Get boosted Now” is the message from just about every scientist consulted by the media. Our Prime Minister went on TV at 8pm on a Sunday to give the same message to us all. It was a busy weekend. The National Threat Level has been raised to four from three. The highest level is 5 and we were last there in early February of this year.

One of the reasons given for the rise in the Threat Level was the rapid increase in the number of cases. We were told last night they had started being admitted and that at least 10 are now in hospital. Tonight, comes the sad news of the first documented Omicron death in the UK. 633 new Omicron cases were reported on Saturday. By Sunday there were 1,239 more new cases in the UK. On Friday the figure for the UK was 448 new cases. You can see the rapid rise and why the Government took the steps they did.

The Worldwide data is grim, 269.55 million cases with 5.31 million deaths. 42 million people have recovered from Covid and 21.77 million have active disease at present. One sad consequence has been that 69,000 more people have died of malaria in this year as a result of healthcare disruption and delivery issues due to Covid.

The Czech Government have ordered mandatory vaccine for all working in hospitals and care homes as well as police, soldiers, and some other professionals as well as all citizens over the age of 60.

Israel has added the UK, Denmark and Belgium to their red list.

Tonight comes the news that Emma Raducanu and some Manchester United Footballers have tested positive.

Predictably there has been a lot of people trying to get a Covid pass online or to order more lateral flow tests. Both sites are reported to have crashed now leaving many people frustrated and unwilling to waste so much time trying to get online. Surely this should have been anticipated and could perhaps have been given some advance warning of the changes. It is not as though the news was unexpected.

By Wednesday anyone over the age of 18 with both Covid jabs, and the second one twelve weeks or more ago, can get a booster. This is essential. Do it now before Christmas. The target to do everyone requires a million jabs a day to be done between now and New Year’s Eve. It is twice as many as the daily average, but large numbers of NHS staff and volunteers will endeavor to achieve this.

The data for the last three days show over 1.25million tests have been done each day. We still need more done. Please now do a LFT every time you go out with strangers or visit a vulnerable person in their home. If you have symptoms, do not go but have a PCR test instead not an LFT. Only if negative should you mix now.

Hospital data is missing at the weekends. We have seen a small increase again. 926 were admitted on 7th December. By 10th December a total of 7,372 were in hospital and 901 were on a ventilator on the 10th December. As explained earlier these figures now include the first few cases of the Omnicom variant.

The standout figure from the vaccine data is that 41% of those eligible have had their booster jab. The race is on to get this figure as near 100% as possible by the end of the year. There is now clear evidence that for Omicron the effectiveness of two doses begins to wane significantly after three months, but a booster jab boosts the immunity again significantly. We do not yet know, for sure, how long but everyone hopes it will be six months or more. As time goes by this will become much clearer.

There is the ever-present threat of a further new variant but there is likely to be some protection from the existing vaccine, which will slow any spread and allow modifications to the vaccine which could be done quickly.

Unvaccinated children should take particular care over the holiday and avoid mixing in crowds. We must not forget the basics. Wear masks indoors away from home, stay a good social distance from others and arrange to work from home wherever possible.

To me there is no doubt we are going to see a lot more of the Omicron variant. I sincerely hope it's not a Tsunami that the Scottish First Minister predicted, but it will be significant and our health Service remains at risk.

It’s never too late to get jabbed, whether it’s a first, second or booster. That is your prime responsibility to protect others. Please use common sense, there is nothing new in my messages. I have said this for weeks now, but our Government and I implore you to listen. Get boosted now and stay very safe.

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