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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 12 July 2021

The football may be all over but the Covid pandemic most certainly is not. The Prime Minister tonight confirmed that the planned relaxation of legal restrictions will go ahead on 19th July. Whatever the date chosen it was going to cause difficulties. There will be an inevitable exit wave of increased cases. The 19th July allows the schools to close for the summer holidays and allows for the exit before the winter viruses and influenza start to show their face.

It is vital that we continue to exercise extreme caution. For most of us, we will continue in much the same way as we have been doing for some time.

The Government is encouraging you to continue to wear masks indoors and in confined spaces such as shops and crowded public transport. Just because the law is changing you do not have to change. Use your common sense and only very slowly relax what you are doing. If you are alone in an empty train carriage you may feel you do not need to wear a mask, but if the train is crowded then you clearly will want to wear one.

Remember the benefits of meeting outside are considerable, or if you must be indoors, open the windows and increase the vaccination.

Some further 7 million doses of vaccines will have been given in the 4 weeks we have delayed relaxing the rules. This singularly now is the most important action. Please make sure you have all had a first and second dose of the vaccine.

Remember the low tech methods of frequent hand washing and using an alcohol-based hand wash regularly. Wiping down working surfaces and door handles continue to be excellent methods of protecting yourself from the virus.

Event organisers and others are now encouraged to use Covid passports to gain access to events. It is now easy to prove double vaccination, negative tests or recovery from a Covid infection.

People will no longer be told to work from home, but please do not all rush back to the office overnight. This needs to b a careful and slow return.

I sense some concern from those considered extremely vulnerable. I am concerned that they have not had very much guidance, we were all reassured that it is coming from the Government soon. In the meantime, I strongly suggest that you ensure you are fully immunised and stick to the same levels of protection you have been doing. Use your masks, only meet others outdoors, avoid public transport and use a lot of common sense.

The rules about foreign travel do not change on 19th July. There are changes in the pipeline. British people travelling back to the UK from an amber list country are likely to be able to avoid compulsory isolation on return, providing they can prove they are double vaccinated and have a negative test just prior to travel. One issue yet to be clarified is the suggestion that for this relaxation to apply both vaccine doses must have been given in the UK, and not locally where they have been. Some countries are feared to be using sub-optimal locally made doses. The red list countries will continue with the current rules.

We are now much clearer about the possibility of one person transmitting the virus to another after being immunised. Studies now show that you are 75% less likely to be able to transmit the virus after full vaccination. This means 25% can transmit so this remains a significant concern, and isolation remains necessary if in contact with a positive case even if immunised.

Dr Chris Witty used his slides to show how the four tests set out previously can now be met. He reminded us of the weakening of the link between infection and hospital admissions and deaths.

It is predicted that during this exit there will be as much as 100, 000 new cases a day before if drops again. This would mean unfortunately that up to 100 people would die a day.

At the beginning of the pandemic, 1 person in 100 died of Covid whereas now thanks to improved treatments it is only 1 in 1000 deaths.

Anecdotally, there are reports of people deleting the NHS app from their mobile phones. Just why would you do that?

Some new research on long Covid from Imperial College seems to be suggesting a unique autoantibody has been identified; it might be possible to create a diagnostic test to diagnose this early.

Another fine of £10,000 has been levied on a man who ran an illegal house party.

The EU now state they have sufficient vaccine for all member countries to immunise 70% of their populations. This is still well below the UK figures.

The statistics continue to show that over the last few days we have consistently been doing 1.1 million tests each day. Today 34,471 were found positive. There have been 50,000 positives in the last week. That is a positive rate of 311.7 per 100,000 of the population. Deaths have normally averaged around 30 per day but recording and reporting issues meant only 6 were reported today. I fear tomorrow’s figure will be higher than usual as the statistics catch up. With 200 deaths in the last 7 days, the death rate has risen by 72 or 56% in the last week.

The hospital data has not been published over the last few days, but the latest figures show 563 people admitted on 6th July and there were a total of 2,731 in hospital beds on 8th July. 417 people were being ventilated. There should be more up to date figures tomorrow.

45.92 million 1st doses have now been given and 34.87 million 2nd doses: the percentages are 87.2 % for 1st doses and 66.2% for 2nd doses.

These figures continue to demonstrate the trend we have seen for a while now.

It is generally accepted in the medical community that now is the best chance to move forward. We MUST go cautiously, there must be no rush. If, you are not ready, feel frightened or are clinically very vulnerable please continue to take all precautions and shield as necessary.

People complain about fears of a Nanny state, so now is the time to step up and prove we can be trusted to act responsibly. A small number of football fans clearly cannot, but surely the rest of us can. For the next few days, the rules remain, after then, treat them as guidelines. You will not be prosecuted for hugging your granny but work out for her and you, is it wise?

Go slowly, Be cautious and all stay safe.

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