Commentary

Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 5 January 2022

Really, for the first time since before Christmas, the daily data probably is the most accurate and reflects more clearly the position we are in.


Over 2 million tests were done today, I believe the highest number yet done in a day, but there may be some earlier unreported cases inflating the figures. 194,747 were positive today and 218,724 yesterday. More tests and positives will arise as children have gone back to school.


The death figure is high because of a backlog of reporting. 334 were reported today but only 48 reported yesterday. Smoothed out over 7 days there have been 1,195 deaths in the last 7 days. This is a death rate of 1.2 per 100,000 and remains static.

Where figures are increasing is in the hospital sector. 2,258 people were admitted on one day on the 28th December, compared with 1,924 the day before. The current number in a hospital bed is reported as 17,276, compared with 14,126 on 31st December. The numbers on a ventilator in an ITU hardly changes, 911 reported yesterday and 883 on New Year’s Eve. There were very similar figures one month ago.


Remember a year ago we had 39,000 patients with Covid in hospital. Reuters report that now 1 in 15 people are currently infected with Covid in England, with as many as one in ten in hots spots such as London.


There is no doubt that thanks to vaccinations we are in a much better position than a year ago, but it is far from over. With 110,000 NHS staff off sick and over half of those due to Covid, we still have a big problem.


There has been a change in the testing requirements on a temporary basis. If you test positive with an LFT and do not have symptoms you no longer have to do a PCR test. These tests are in short supply. The infection is so common it can be presumed, and the days counted in isolation from the first positive LFT test. This should get those who remain well back to work up to two days earlier.


Many hospital trusts are now declaring critical incidents. Many have closed to normal visiting but are making exceptions for children, maternity and the terminally ill. If you plan to visit a hospital please check before you go, and if allowed make sure you have a negative LFT before you leave home.


If we look at all the patients in hospital with a Covid diagnosis 60% of them have not been fully immunised (3 jabs). If we look at those in the ITUs the figure rises to 97% not fully immunised. This proves that the vaccine is safe and that it works remarkably well. It not too late to get the vaccine. Every dose helps us as a nation to get away from this pandemic.


Israel has announced that a 4th jab is to be offered to everyone and they have demonstrated a 5-fold increase in the immune defences after a 4th dose. It will not be practical to go on re-immunising every 3 months, but I think it likely that at least the over 50s in the UK may be offered a 4th dose in the spring. Thereafter, the hope is an annual flu jab with added Covid protection as well.


The USA have just seen 1 million new cases in 24 hours, remember their population is huge compared to ours. Their restrictions vary from State to State but are generally less than ours.


Our vaccination stats are impressive but could be so much better. 51.84 million have had aa first jab. that is 90.2% of the eligible population. 82.6% have had a second jab and 60.1% or 34.58 million have had the third or booster jab. Remember you can catch Covid more than once if your antibody and t cell defences are low. Sir Kier Starmer is the latest to catch it twice.


The new Nightingale hospitals are being built . This time they are different. They are largely in hospital grounds and will be used by those patients with Covid who need hospital care, but not ITU services. This means their level of nursing care required is lower so more can be managed with self-help, mutual aid, and volunteers. Medical and nursing staff are always available on the premises. It again reflects the change in the types of patient that are in hospital. There remains a concern that this variant may make a change of direction again and more people over 50 become infected. If this does happen the NHS is on the look out and will change strategy yet again to keep on top of the virus.


Please keep reporting your stories and experiences. It helps to put our own experiences in perspective, we realise we re not alone. I value your other comments and questions. If you are retired and contemplating returning to work in the NHS whether ambulance or hospital care, please also share your experiences, perhaps to encourage others to do so.


By now you all know the measures we need to keep us all as safe as possible. As we settle into the New Year let us encourage and support one another. A phone call can mean a lot to someone alone in isolation.


I was pleased to see much better mask wearing in Boston this afternoon. Please all stay safe.

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