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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 7 July 2021

It is often said, there are only two things certain in his life, that’s death and taxes. What it seems this country cannot cope with is uncertainty. There has certainly been plenty of that since the PM announced the planned ending of restrictions in mid-July. There have been numerous statements from politicians and scientists expressing opposite opinions. One major issue seems to be that people have not listened to what was being said.

It has been made very clear that this Covid pandemic is not going away any time soon and as the PM, rather bluntly, said we have to learn to live with it. It does seem that with our high and still rising, immunity levels we have substantially disrupted the link between infection and death. We have not severed it completely and are not likely to be able to do so. The Prime Minister has said we could have 50,000 cases per day by the 19th July and perhaps double that in a further month. The death rate is currently around 30 per day and rising slowly.

To get our economy going again we need to restore as many people as possible to tax-paying status, that is in employment and with business booming. We can continue to take many precautions but inevitably it will have major effects on all our lives as the unemployment issue becomes significant and a full-blown recession hits us. This does mean we have to take action soon. The Government’s thinking is, if it’s done now, we have a good chance of getting the worst over before the winter comes again. Winter pressures are well known to disrupt our National Health Service. Unless we are able to run a very robust influenza vaccination programme we are likely to see a lot more flu cases in the winter months. There have been very few for the last few years, so people’s immunity to it will have dropped. There are large numbers of admissions each winter for diseases like pneumonia and bronchitis.

There are millions on hospital waiting lists we need to begin to clear. If we can keep the NHS from being under extreme pressure for the rest of the year we can begin to reduce the lists.

We are awaiting decisions on several issues. We may have to implement a booster programme from September. No decision has been announced yet. We may decide to immunise children over 12, again the decision will not be made until it is certain it would do no harm.

Then there is a question of possible new variants emerging. I mentioned the Lamda variant previously, I think we may hear more of this. There is work being done to modify vaccines to accommodate the new variants emerging. Minor adjustments to the vaccine should be possible to deal with those in any booster doses. The threat we have to live with is a new strain that is completely resistant to vaccines. This is a risk, but relatively small. We cannot deal with it until we know what it is.

The Prime Minister made it very clear that he is not saying we should stop using masks or respecting social distances. He says we should be using our own judgement and common sense. It is common sense that seems to be missing in so much of the individual thinking and media coverage at present.

It would seem that the Government are very relaxed about rules being imposed by transport companies or businesses. If a bus company wish to insist on masks being worn on a bus, or a restaurant wants to respect social distancing, that is entirely up to them. It can vary around the country and be changed easily due to local conditions.

What is changing is instead of national directives we can have more local targeted arrangements to suit the local conditions.

The announcement of the end of school bubbles in August will make going to school in September much easier. Instead of isolating a whole year they will in future be kept at school and tested daily. Obviously, if they test positive they will have to self-isolate but not if they are only a contact.

Thank goodness I do not live in India. This posting would probably get me thrown in prison. Two men have been arrested and jailed so far for 45 days for publishing that cow dung and urine cannot cure Covid as has been suggested by their Prime Minister. I have seen the tragic effect of using cow dung in medicine. In parts of central Africa, it was a way of treating the umbilicus of newborn children. Several developed neonatal tetanus, a terrifying and nearly always fatal disease.

India has 30 million current cases, but only 5% of the population are immunised. At the same time, they have one of the most productive vaccine companies in the world.

Cricket enthusiasts will be distressed that the whole England team have to self-isolate as 7 members of the party have tested positive. It means we have to find a completely new team. Questions must be asked as to how this can happen.

The New Zealand Prime Minister is one of those angry with Boris. She has threatened to put the UK on their no-fly list if cases here continue to rise. I am sure they will. She has been widely praised for her Covid management. There are only 5 million in New Zealand but they have only had 26 Covid deaths in the whole pandemic.

Details are still to be released but those travelling from amber countries with a double vaccination record, with the second at least 2 weeks previously will avoid self-isolation on arrival in the UK. Track and trace testing will be used instead.

The statistics on Wednesdays and Thursdays are probably the most accurate reflection of the week. Today, on a Wednesday, nearly a million tests have been done and 32,548 were positive. There are 192k new cases in the last 7 days, a rise of 42.8%. The positive rate is now 256.2 per 100k, rising from 244.3 yesterday. Deaths were at 33 today. There were 161 in the last 7 days, a weekly increase of 45. 2,446 are in hospital on 6th July, up from 2,140 the day before. 386 people were admitted on 3 July, and 393 are on a ventilator on 6th July, up from 369 the day before.

The figures are clearly rising; the predictions are accurate. The top priority is now to get everyone immunised, 86.4% of adults have now had 1 dose and 64.6% have had both. That means 35% of our population are still not fully protected. We need many more to be given very quickly. 14% of the adult population have still not had the first jab. There are very very few people who should not be vaccinated. If you are still not vaccinated please ask for help to be brave enough to have it done.

I recognise this is causing a great deal of heartache and fear with families divided. This is not really a political issue. We all want it over and done with. With all that is planned, we can reduce it to a minimum with maximum use of common sense and 2 doses of vaccine.

Keep to the rules, for now, they are there to help us plan our own rules for the future. Share your thoughts and comments, even anxieties. There are plenty reading this willing to help. If I have ruffled feathers, I am sorry, but we need to be realistic as we move on.

Please keep safe. I have both a mask and a flack jacket!.

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