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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 1st November 2021

Over the course of the weekend the UK passed 9 million Covid 19 infections with positive tests, and there have been over 140,000 deaths in the UK compared with 5 million worldwide.

Booster vaccination for those eligible ( over 50 or immuno- compromised etc) will now be given on demand at the walk in centres. There is no longer a need to wait for an invitation. At the same time because demand has been dropping of vaccine centres have been given permission to reduce their opening hours.

I always thought a vax was a brand of vacuum cleaner but today it has been announced as the word of the year as it is added to the Oxford dictionary, other associated words like anti-vaxxer have also been added.

In California a nurse has been escorted from the hospital she works at and placed on unpaid leave. Her crime was to refuse to be immunised against Covid because of sincerely held religious beliefs. I am wondering just what her sincerely held religious beliefs are as I am not aware of any mainstream religions that have this as a belief. She is of course totally entitled to hold that belief but she cannot nurse sick and vulnerable patients that she could infect with the virus. In any hospital there will be patients who are immunosuppressed and extremely vulnerable. They must be able to believe that everything possible has been done to prevent them being exposed to Covid. The first step is to be certain that staff have full immunity and proper protective immunity. We are bound to hear more of this as mandatory immunisation becomes required in the health care sector and our NHS.

Some interesting figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics. They conclude that the risk of death from Covid is 32 times greater in those not vaccinated compared with those double vaccinated. The figures were adjusted for age and the figures are based on per 100,000 person years. The cases studied were between 2 January and 24 September this year. For the unvaccinated the death rate was 849.7/100k person years and for those double vaccinated only 26.2/100k person years .

Two examples of a prompt response to an outbreak. Tonga, a tiny group of islands, really only known by rugby fans, had its very first case last week. It had been brought to the island by a visitor who flew in from New Zealand. By the next day the whole island was in lockdown for a week. Schools, bars and restaurants were shut. Night-time curfews in place and people told to isolate at home. They could only leave home to buy groceries, deal with banking or to get medical help and prescriptions.

In Disneyland in Shanghai, they discovered a single positive case. They immediately shut down the venue with over 33,000 visitors inside. A whole army of officials in full PPE descended and began testing everyone. No one was allowed to leave until testing negative. The park will remain closed for a few days for deep cleaning.

The United States are all set to start immunising the 5-12 year olds from 9th November subject to the final go ahead. The children will be given one third of the adult doses in two jabs 3 weeks apart.

Israel is welcoming tourists who have been double vaccinated less than 6 months ago. If more than 6 months they need to prove they have had a booster.

Thailand has also relaxed it entry requirements and fully vaccinated tourists only need to have a negative test on arrival in the country.

There is yet another hold-up with today statistics so I will look at the figures for the weekend only. There are still only 875,000 tests reported from 28th October with 41,000 positives on Saturday and 38,000 positives on Sunday. I really need to see today’s figures. I suspect this is a weekend effect but just could indicate a peak of new cases.

Deaths certainly suffer from the weekend effect, 166 on Saturday and 74 for Sunday. Tomorrow’s figure is certain to be high again.

Hospital data is never reported at weekends. The daily admission figures were over 1,000 last week and I doubt they have improved.

As for immunisation statistics, Sunday showed 49.95 million or 86.9% for first jabs. Second jabs stand at 45.69 million or 79.5%. The all important third or booster jab stands at 7.92 million or 13.8%. in total there was a 10% lower number of tests done in the last week. If third doses are only going to increase by 0.5%per day it is going to take along time. The most important message is still get your boosters. If you have a change of heart, you can also get any jabs you may have missed.

It is still quiet on the influenza front, but almost every day one or more hospitals have declared a critical incident. It's not over yet and the mutation worries are still there but have been out of the news for a while.

You know what you have to do to keep us all as safe as possible. UPDATE Tonight’s statistics are finally released but death reporting from England is probably incomplete.

50 000 tests were done, an improvement on recently, this may be because some schools have returned today after half term. There were 40,077 positive tests. This is 28 thousand less in the 7-day period and is a 8.9% reduction. I do not think it is clear whether this does represent a reduction of cases or just a reduction of those found after testing.

The death figure reported at 40, but the total in the week is now 1,101. The actual rate of death per 100,000 remains at 1.4%

The number of single day admissions on 26 October was 1,090, 50 more than on 25th October. There are now 9,065 people in hospital with Covid and 962 are on a ventilator. These continue to climb slowly.

Immunisation figures for first and second have hardly changed. For the 3rd or Booster, the numbers are rising with 8.11 million done, that’s 14.1% of the total.

Nothing startling today, all much as expected We cannot relax yet.

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