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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 15th October 2021

With almost 45 thousand positive tests today and just over that figure yesterday, we are seeing the highest figures since last winter. A little under 1 million tests were done yesterday. There have been 29, 000 more positive tests in the last 7 days compared to the week before. This represents an 11.5% increase. The positive rate is creeping up again and now stands at 387.5 per 100k of the population.

There were 157 deaths reported yesterday and 145 today. There have been 40 more deaths in the last 7 days which is a 5.1% increase. The hospital data continues to go up and down but largely with stable figures. The one-day admission figure was 827 on 11th October and 719 on 10th October. Being nearly one week ago, they are of limited value. The total numbers in hospital are a better indication of change. There were 7,024 in hospital on 13th October and 7,086 on 14th October. Those on a ventilator were 873 on 14th September and just two less the day before.

The immunisation figures are for 1st doses 49.29 million or 85.1%, for second doses 45.29 million or 78.7% of the eligible population. Just a reminder that the figures include all over the age of 12 now.

Still no signs of numbers having 3rd doses. I suspect not as many are getting done as hoped for but more and more people are reaching six months since their second dose. The figures show that we are soon going to reach the peak of the second wave we saw last winter. Currently I in 60 people are infected. At last winter’s peak it was 1 in 50.

The news tonight is overshadowed by the tragic and appalling news of another MP being stabbed to death in his constituency office. We do not yet know the background to this, but I fear could well be evidence of further failure of our mental health services.

Other news is the discovery that 43,000 PCR tests conducted by the Imensa Health Clinic at its laboratory in Wolverhampton gave false negative results after LFT tests had been found positive. All these errors occurred between 8th September and 12th October. Everyone involved will be contacted and further tests arranged to include your close contacts. Outside those dates the tests were all being worked accurately so there is no concern. The Prime Minister is right when he says there is no need to be unduly worried by this. The number involved is less than one day’s worth of positive cases and will have little overall effects on the population. Clearly this should not have happened. All work has been suspended in the clinic and laboratory whilst an investigation is undertaken. It is thought that this was a technical issue, possibly a human error. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the tests as far as I can tell.

At Eton College there is a problem outbreak involving 50 boarders. They are all confined to their boarding house and will only have virtual teaching. The rest of the students will still be taught in class but will undertake daily tests. School assemblies are cancelled for the time being.

A lot of concern exists about our NHS staff and their ability to do much more. The backlog of work is increasing all the time. In September alone there were nearly 1 million 999 emergency calls to the Ambulance service. This is an all-time record for a September. Accident and emergency departments also experienced their busiest September. This is all the more important in accident departments because ambulance services now treat and leave at home many people that in previous years would have automatically been taken to hospital.

Just two items from abroad. In Italy they are bracing themselves for protests and riots. Covid passes have been introduced and made mandatory. Everyone going to work is expected to produce a Covid pass, otherwise no work and no pay. Widespread strikes. protests and resignations are expected.

India has opened its borders again today for those with visas booked on chartered flights.

Lastly an interesting study in “World Psychology” suggests that those with a Substance Misuse Disorder or SUD were 8% more likely to get Covid and to have adverse outcomes than those without substance abuse. The substances considered cannabis, alcohol, cocaine, opioids and tobacco. I am glad to say not coffee! It’s coffee that keeps the NHS going!

The study involved a huge number of subjects, over 579,000, and 30,000 of these were diagnosed with SUD. All were fully immunised. 6.8% of tobacco dependent patients caught Covid, 7.8% cannabis dependent also caught Covid. In the large group without a SUD diagnosis only 3.6% became infected despite being fully immunised. I suspect the explanation lies in the fact that the patients with a substance Misuse Disorder were likely to have a significant co-morbidity.

I fear this winter’s peak is going to be higher than last years. As Chris Whitty has said this winter is going to be tough. We need to plan now to have a flexible Christmas, perhaps different to usual, to ensure we take every precaution to stay safe ourselves and to support others, be they neighbours or friends. Remember that if you are fully immunised your risk of being seriously ill or dying from Covid is very small

Go forth, be sensible and Stay Safe. There will be better times again next spring.

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