Today I will start with a news round up as the statistics are delayed yet again.
Acupuncture has been very important in Chinese culture and has been widely used for a long time. It seems especially used for inflammatory disease. During the Covid pandemic it has extensively been used as a complementary therapy for Covid 19 infections. Underlying mechanisms of acupuncture remain largely unknown. What are your experiences of acupuncture? Has anyone been treated for their Covid infection with acupuncture? Please share your experiences.
Scientists in Oxford have recently published in the Journal Nature Genetics. They had discovered a piece of DNA that doubles the risk of death from Covid if you are unlucky enough to have it. A gene which has been called LZTF1 seems to stop lung cells from fighting off Covid infection and this can lead to respiratory failure and death as the lung role in oxygen transport is interrupted. About 15% of Britons and Western Europeans could have this gene. In South Asia as many as 60% have this gene. This accounts for the disease often being seen as much more serious in South Asians.
If you have the Covid and you get very unwell, there is a 50% chance you would not be very ill if you had the lower risk gene. This means that those with the high-risk genotype will benefit greatly from a course of vaccine to protect them. In patients in the early stage of a Covid infection it would be possible to check the genotype and those of high risk can be predicted to become much sicker.
The famous Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge is in a crisis for beds. There are plans to move some patients to hospitals in London and Birmingham.
Austria has imposed a ban on unvaccinated individuals from using cafes, restaurants, and hairdressers. Number in Austria are rising rapidly.
In Australia Covid lottery has been set up by a group called the Million Dollar Vaccination Allegiance. Every body vaccinated gets a ticket. The first to win one million Australian dollars was a Chinese lady living in Sydney. There were also 100 gift cards each worth 1,000 dollars for each day in October. It seems to have been highly successful in increasing the numbers prepared to be vaccinated. Do you think this might work here?
Bosnia had severe problems, its only medicinal oxygen filling plant is out of action due to severe flooding problems and their reserves are being used rapidly. Shortages are being reported in many hospitals.
Comparing death rates from Covid in different countries has always been difficult but a new study just published compares death rates per hundred thousand of the population which should give a much clearer and more reliable figures. Way out in front is Peru with 608/100k of the population. Compare that with the UK figure of 1.7/100k. That’s around 300 times greater than the UK. Others include Bulgaria 359/100k. Bosnia Herzegovina 357/100k, North Macedonia 346/100k. Montenegro 342/100k, and Hungary 323/100k. You will realise that all these countries have an underdeveloped health service and very small percentages of the population immunised.
I keep an eye on other outbreaks with pandemic potential. I am concerned to note an outbreak of Zika virus in the Indian city of Kanpur. At least 79 cases have been confirmed. The Indian authorities have acted quickly to contain it. Pregnant women who catch the zika virus are very at risk from seeing hydrocephaly or small heads with immature brains in their babies. Fortunately, no effects have been found in the children of pregnant mothers who contract Covid. It is vital pregnant mothers are protected against Covid as the disease seems particularly severe during pregnancy. The vaccine is safe so every pregnant mother must be immunised. There have been a significant number of pregnant mothers dying.
Booster immunisation in the UK is ramping up with over 370,000 doses being given on Saturday and by yesterday 10 million have been given. This is still only 17.5% of those required. It is a good start but we must keep the momentum up to get much higher levels of immunity in the community.
There are no signs yet of today statistics being published or any indication as to when they may be ready.
Over the weekend there have been no updates on the number of tests done, only about 30,000 tests were positive each day. Over 7 days the number of positive tests has dropped by around 10%. The positive rate is still just over 400 per 100k tests. Monday’s figures will remain low because of the weekend effect. Tomorrow will give a more reliable picture.
As always there is no hospital data at weekends. The last daily admission figure was 2nd November at 1,055 patients.
I still think the pressure on the Health Service will push the Government to take action in the form of tighter restrictions, So please be prepared for it. There is no harm in continuing to wash your hands and surfaces regularly. There is no real hardship in wearing masks out doors or trying to keep 2 metres apart.
Ensure everyone in your family and circle of friends can get all the immunisations on offer including influenza. Many of you will be entitled to a one off injection against pneumonia. Talk to your practice about their policy. Whilst thinking about protection the Shingles vaccine can protect you from the prolonged pain of shingles.
Being ill or injured this winter may prove very difficult with long waits and a hospital bed far from home. There will be some acute staff shortages as the requirement for immunisation for staff in Care Homes takes effect. So it beholds us all to take every possible step to stay safe.
Do stay safe and feel free to comment, question or criticise.