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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 20th September 2021

A quiet weekend as far as covid statistics are concerned. We continue to do just over 1 million tests each day and over 30,000 testing positive everyday. There have been 36,100 positive results today. Over the last 7 days there have been 29k less positive results, that’s a drop of 12%. The positive rate continues to fall and is now 303.3 per 100,000 of the population. Death figures show the usual weekend variations, 164 on Saturday, down to 56 on Sunday and 49 today. I am sure tomorrow we will be back over 100. Overall, the death rate has stabilised with only a 0.4% rise in the last week. There number of deaths in the last 7 days is just short of 1,000.

Hospital data is not reported over the weekends. the latest figure for a single day admission was 930 on 14th September. By the 17th September 7,847 patients were in a hospital bed and only 1,011 were on a ventilator. It is encouraging to see all these figures a little lower than last week. I hope there is a trend establishing. The next two days will clarify this further. The vaccine figures continue to creep slowly upwards, there have been 48.53million first doses given a total of 89.4%. Second doses amount to 44.42 million or 81.7%. With third doses about to start I imagine figures will also be produced to monitor those progress. I shall report these as well once available.

The Government have given Local Council and Regional Medical Chiefs extensive new powers to implement Covid safety measures locally if the Local NHS are or are likely to be overwhelmed. This neatly avoid Central Government being the bad guy, the blame will fall locally. It does make sense that we try to manage future events on a more local basis. Face mask use can be enforced as well as Social distancing, but a total lockdown would not be possible. Local authorities will also have powers to close down large events if thought necessary. In England the first batch of invitations for booster vaccine have been sent out. There will be over 1 million for all the over 50s as well as those in younger groups who are vulnerable because of weak immune systems. At the same time in the USA the FDA has turned down a request to approve the Pfizer vaccine being given to every-one over 16. There are concerns about the common side effects in younger people. This is not a binding decision. The USA are keen to immunise everyone again and I anticipate this being reversed. The anxiety has been generated by a very small study in 300 people of side effects of the Pfizer vaccine given as a third dose to younger people. 64% of recipients reported fatigue, 485 had a headache and 39% had muscle aches. These are all subjective symptoms, and many people would have similar symptoms if given a placebo. A very much bigger double-blind trial needs to be done to properly assess the side effects. A new drug became available in the UK this week, known as RONAPREVE . It can be used for the most vulnerable to covid. Its cost is over £1,000 per patient. It has been approved in the US for a while and President Donald Trumps was famously treated with it. Its mode of action is to boost the body’s own antibody response. It is approved for the over 50s and those younger who are immune-compromised.

The world news may be quiet, but the pandemic still rages in many parts of the world with less than 2% immunised. ex- Prime Minister George Brown now works for the WHO and he has been campaigning hard for countries to support their efforts to bring millions of vaccine to those countries who cannot afford it. It is not just the cost of the vaccine but the preparation of a simple system to record who has been immunised and provide a workforce to do it safely and efficiently. Those of you who can, might like to consider a donation to one of many charities committed to this effort. We must ensure the huge surplus stores in the US, the EU and in the UK are not wasted as they reach the end of their shelf life.

Please let me know if you have a Covid topic you would like me to cover in these reports, I am beginning to need some new topics so that it does not become just a list of dry statistics. As always, your comments are most welcome. As we go forward let’s remain ahead of the game. We can use plan B before we are told we must. It is vital to protect yourself still, ensure you have your boosters and flu vaccine. Use open spaces and well-ventilated rooms Use your masks and stay apart. Above all stay safe

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