Commentary

Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 25 May 2022

The statistic show we continue to improve our position in respect of Covid. It has not gone away yet but today in the UK things are almost back to normal. For most people, if you do contract it, its very mild thanks to immunisation. The numbers requiring hospital admission have plummeted. Having said that, two close friends are currently positive but with only mild symptoms. I wish them both a speedy recovery.


The figures released yesterday showed only 44,143 positive cases reported in the week ending 19th May. This really tells me nothing, as the majority of people have given up testing, and most are not significantly ill even when positive.


If accurate the number of people admitted to hospital in the week to 22 May was 3,664. A drop of 805 over the previous week. The actual number in hospital with Covid was 4,639 of which only 142 are on a ventilator. A week ago, over seven and a half thousand were in hospital.


The number of deaths recorded was just 469 in the week ending 19th May. A death rate of 0.8 per 100,000. this compares to 986 in the previous week.


The Vaccine figures pleasingly continue to climb by 0.1% per week. The figures are now 92.9% for 1st jab, 86.7% for 2nd jab and 68.1% for the third jab. There are reports that the youngsters becoming due for a third jab are becoming complacent and not bothering. It is vital we get the 3rd dose figures above 90%. Please do not give up immunising yet and encourage your youngsters to do so.


We are seeing no figures yet about take up for the 4th or spring dose. I think at last I have discovered why. In several areas, notably Wales people were given a spring dose in error when they did not strictly meet the criteria. This may have been as many as 10,000. At the same time, it is ridiculous we are not yet giving 4th dose to NHS and Care staff who are more than 6 months since their third but are not themselves vulnerable.


I have talked many times about the misuse of statistics. Here is another example from a Government website I noticed this morning; It read “A decrease of -15.1%. “ This is a double negative and when I went to school a double negative meant positive. There certainly was not a rise of 15.1% so they must have meant a fall of 15.1%. A discussion this morning on radio 4 discussed the problem with death rates. We know that excess deaths are the best way to monitor the impact of Covid but has proved almost impossible to judge the accuracy of such figures.


Unless you have been hibernating you cannot fail to notice the media fuss over Covid rules being broken at Downing Street parties. They cannot define a party. Let alone excess deaths!


In about 2 years time and hopefully no more, there will be a further Government inquiry published about the handling of the Covid pandemic. I hope that will highlight the problems of getting timely accurate statistics which do not change regularly with the method. of collection. It should praise the speed and roll out of vaccine. I doubt we will be able to make comparisons easily with other Countries, WHO has found getting accurate data impossible. In some countries many deaths go unreported or recorded.


London Transport have released data, which shows that between 24th February 2021 and 27 January 2022 they issued 3,996 fixed penalty fines for not wearing face coverings on the London Transport network when they were mandated to do so.


You will be horrified if you read what is happening today in North Korea. They have no vaccine and a rapidly rising number of cases. They have rejected offers of vaccine from both China and South Korea. The official treatment suggested is herbal tea and salt water gargles. There is no evidence that either will help reduce the effects of the virus or prevent infection. It is reported that 1,000 tonnes of salt has been sent to Pyonygang to make an antiseptic solution for gargling. There is always a risk of salt overload and poisoning if swallowed.


State TV has been suggesting ibuprofen or paracetamol for the fever and an antibiotic ampicillin to kill the bacteria. The fever relief may be appropriate, but amoxicillin is for bacterial infections not viruses. All that will do is increase the problems of bacterial resistance.


Things remain tough in China with their very strong zero tolerance campaign. There are frequent beatings and other punishments just for leaving home. The stark warnings continue and now come reports of dogs and cats being removed from those with Covid and then destroyed.


I think the time has come now for me to stop these regular reports. I fully expect things to steadily improve here now. Interest is dropping as illustrated by my peacock picture had twice as many acknowledgments than the Covid report. I can keep the comments and answers going after this report. So please ask questions or make comments. If something happens to change things I promise to start up again.

One final point you will have heard the media trying to create panic over the monkeypox outbreak. It is highly unlikely to become pandemic and if it did would case very few deaths. Remember the other childhood disease hand foot and mouth also has tiny vesicles involved. Monkey pox is much more like chicken pox but the spots have a pattern more like smallpox to which it is closely related. The vesicles are common on the hands in monkeypox, not so with chicken pox. Those of you born before 1971 are likely to have had a vaccination against Smallpox. Very few of you will have had boosters in the last 50 years so protection is minimal if any. Public health policy is to immunise a ring of people around a case with smallpox vaccine. Please have it if you find yourself being asked. The main contraindication is severe eczema. If you have big blisters on your hands seek help quickly and isolate for 21 days.


Thank you all for your support and encouragement to write for the last few years. I am not going away, please stay safe, avoid Covid and monkey pox. Use all that common sense and stay safe.

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