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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 14 January 2022

Did the leading tennis player in the world really expect that Australian officials would accept a name like Novak without checking his vaccine status. His poor parents must be wishing he had been given another name.


Today’s figures continue to be encouraging. There were 1.57 million tests yesterday and 1.4 million today. These figures are about 9.8% less over the week compared with the very high level of tests the week before. Th number of positive tests has dropped just below 100, 000 for the first time this year. There has been a fall of 29.5% of the number of positive cases compared to the week ago. This is now clearly a real drop. I know there are sceptics who believe less tests were being done due to lack of LFTs. If that were the case the number of positive cases and the number of tests would fall in the same percentage. In fact, there is a 3-fold difference in the rate of drop.


The rate of positive cases is now down to 1,585 per 100k of the population. A week ago, the figure almost reached 2,000/ 100k.


The last figure for the number admitted to hospital on oneday was 2,423 on 10th January. This figure remains relatively static between two and 2 and a half thousand per day. The number of currently in a hospital bed remains below 20,000 and has dropped slightly over the last few days. The number on a ventilator continues to fall but this does not any longer reflect the number seriously ill as I have already explained. Only 770 are on a ventilator. In France they, physically count the numbers in their ITUs. We should be doing the same if we want an accurate picture on the pressure on our ITUs in the UK.


The vaccination statistics still creep forward. 90.5% of first vaccines now done include about 20, 000 new first doses. For third doses we have got to 62.7% done that’s 36.07 million. We must push on until the number with 3 doses catches up with the number with one dose.


A short technical paragraph, for the pharmacologists amongst you. The WHO are recommending 2 further drugs. The first is called BARICITINIB. It is the first of a new class of drugs called Janus Kinases or Jak inhibitors. It suppresses an over stimulation of the immune system. It should be given with cortico-steroids for severe disease. It is given orally. It is already being used in severe active rheumatoid arthritis. It is an alternative to Interlukin 6 receptors previously used. The second drug is SOTROVIMAB which is a monoclonal antibody drug for mild or moderate disease, especially for those older immune-compromised patients especially those with diabetes, hypertension and obesity.


Wales has relaxed its restriction on outside events. From tomorrow the numbers go from a maximum of 50 to 500 and then from 21st January there will be no restrictions, but Covid passports may be required.


The Government briefings will not be the same after JVT leaves his post as deputy chief medical officer. He will remain famous for his football analogies. He is to return to academia as the Pro Vice Chancellor of Nottingham University.


In France where they do count numbers in their ITUs, despite a rise in the number of new cases the ITU cases are dropping. suggesting that the disease may be less severely affecting people.


Back to the UK, of the children hospitalised 1 in 4 are under the age of 1. None of those aged 12-17 in ITUs had been immunised.


Economics are not my forte, but I understand the UK has regained its pre-pandemic level of GDP, long before Germany, Italy or Spain and before the Eurozone as a whole. The UK was also ahead of both Japan and Canada. This was much better than had been forecast and suggests the balancing done by our Government has been effective.


I am sure now my optimism is justified, but this is still far from over. Over 300 deaths a day and nearly 20,000 in hospital means the NHS pressure remains very great. The reduction of the time for isolation to 5 full days may help get some staff back to work quicker, we must accept however that those off sick with Covid must not be pressured to return to work before they are well enough.

Some years ago, I worked in the occupational health service for the NHS. It was part of my job to ensure all staff were as fully protected from sick patients and at the same time patients were protected from sick staff. It meant that everybody should be fully immunised, free from tuberculosis and so on. There were minimum requirements before staff were allowed to work. Objections about mandatory immunisation are a new phenomenon, linked more to do with civil liberties than occupational health. Are we going to see someone sue the NHS because they caught covid while at work? Back in the day when smallpox was rife and killing large numbers it was a compulsory vaccination for NHS staff every 3 years, In the early days there are reported cases of people being imprisoned for refusing immunisation. It was required for everyone not just health workers. Its worth noting that universal immunisation successfully eradicated this disease world- wide. It is still the only disease eradicated. We did get close to doing so with Polio, but civil wars prevented access to some children. It remains still a problem in some areas. Before vaccine I remember a close childhood friend contract polio


Stay positive, support your friends and neighbours, hand hygiene, fresh air. Masks and social distancing are all essential, but your best protection remains 3 doses of the vaccine. Its probable we may need a fourth before this all settles down. Please keep asking questions or commenting. I apologise for the odd typo, as my brother so helpfully pointed out. I need a proof-reader. Please all stay safe over the weekend.

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