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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 4 July 2021

The Covid app many of us have on our mobile phones has been “tweaked” a little to make it less sensitive to Covid exposure. This means hopefully fewer numbers will be pinged into self-isolation. It is planned to replace self-isolation for those doubly vaccinated with daily testing. This will mean many more can stay at work.

China is so concerned about 3 cases of the Delta variant discovered in Wuhan this week that all 12 million of the population are to be tested for it. Up to now, there have been low levels of this variant identified in China. Only 414 in the whole country. As far as I can ascertain there is nothing to really be concerned about it. Vaccination should be effective, although it may be more virulent than other variants.

Scotland has announced that most of their remaining restrictions will be lifted on the 9th August but masks are still mandated “ for some time to come”.

Ireland has purchased 700,000 doses of vaccine from Romania who in turn had it from the EU. Joe Biden in the USA has now given 110 million doses of vaccine to the rest of the world, mostly Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The only European country to benefit is Ukraine who has been given 500, 000 doses.

There is ongoing debate about the need to immunise the under 18 year olds. The UK has already announced they are considering all vulnerable children over 12 years old and to include those in the same household as another vulnerable person. Today it has also been announced that all 16 and 17 year olds will be offered the vaccine. This makes sense as they are the group about to venture out into the world to work or to study at college or university.

The question of consent has been handled differently in different countries. In France, they have started immunising all children over the age of 12 and up to 2 million or 40% have already had the first jab. France experienced a lot of parental disputes about whether or not a child should be immunised and has recently had to legislate to say the child should be immunised as long as one parent consents.

The Netherlands has got around this problem by saying that from the age of 12 it is the child’s choice entirely and no parental consent is required. In some parts of Spain up to 40% of 12-19 year olds have had one dose but in other places, especially Catalonia, they have only managed 1%, having just started this week. Sweden is following the British line.

In the USA, 40% of 12-17 year olds have been given at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. However. the rates have slowed considerably since scare stories about a rare myocarditis or inflammation of the heart began circulating.

Turning now to the last 2 days' statistics. The number of tests done has fallen to around 720,000 per day. This I am sure is due to children not attending school and families going on holiday. The number testing positive yesterday was 21,691 and today a slight rise to 29,312. Looked at over the last week there has been a 25,000 reduction in the number of positive cases and the case rate per 100,000 of the population has dropped again to 275 per 100k of the population. Although there is day to day variations the overall trend is slowly downwards. We have not seen a dramatic rise the pessimist's forecast as the lockdown eased.

Turning to hospital data we can now see a downward trend in the number of patients being admitted to hospital. 731 were admitted to hospital on 30 July and 668 on 31st July. The total number in hospital has dropped also from 6,099 on 2nd August to 5,896 on 3rd August.

It is too early to be sure but it looks as though the seriously ill on a ventilator is also falling slightly. The figure was 895 yesterday and 887 today.

Deaths continue to be too high with 138 reported yesterday and 119 today. The highest figures are always on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The death rate has crept up to 0.8 per 100k of the population. I anticipate another 10-14days before this figure begins to decline.

The immunisation rates need to climb faster. There are now 46.72 million 1st doses or 88.7% of the adult population. 2nd doses are now at 38.73 million or 73.2% of the population. We should aim for both figures to be at 90% by the end of the month.

A word of warning, much of the statistical data being used comes from the 2011 census. As of tomorrow the system is to be changed and will now be based on population estimates done in the summer of 2020. This will make comparisons difficult between areas yet again.

We must not allow ourselves to be distracted in our efforts to get Covid antibodies in almost everyone by the end of August. We have a long way to go but we are winning. Please do not be downhearted, don’t believe everything you are told without question. Use common sense. Use a mask as necessary and enjoy the fresh air. It’s time now to book your seasonal flu jab. This is very important this year as cases are expected to be very high this year after several quiet years.

Let’s hear your news and views about things. I went to a Probus meeting today, the first one for 16 months. I was delighted that only one of us had caught Covid and he was fully recovered.

Stay safe everyone.

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