Commentary

Doc Hines - Covid Summary - 24 May 2021

England passed 60 million doses of Covid vaccine given over the weekend with 750,000 being done on Saturday and over 6 million in the last 7 days.

Unfortunately, and as predicted, the number testing positive is consistently over 2,200 per day. Today’s figure was 2,439 which equates to a positive rate of 23.2 per 100k and is a rise of 17% in the seven day rolling average.


Deaths being reported are now consistently in single figures, just 3 in the last 24 hours. Or 40 in the last 7 days. Percentages are not much use with such small figures.


The hospital statistics have not been properly reported over the weekend. The last daily admission number was 122 on 18th May. There are 908 patients in hospital on 20th May. A total of 703 have been admitted in the previous 7 days. And 124 were on a ventilator on 21st May.


Remember we can only proceed to further reductions in restrictions next month providing there is no evidence of increasing pressure on NHS resources. We need to watch the hospital data very carefully this week to make sure the definite number of increased cases is not affecting a greater need for hospital beds.


The number of immunisations continues to impress 38.07 million 1st doses and 22.89 million second doses have been given now.


It is anticipated that the over 30s will be invited to come forward this week, currently it’s the over 32s who can book their 1st jab. In Scotland it’s the over 30s, in Wales the over 18s and in Northern Ireland the over 25s. Remember the devolved nations have a very much smaller population than England. It is a pity the devolved nations cannot agree to work to the same age bands, it would save a lot of confusion.


A recently announced PHE study suggested that there was only about 33% efficacy after the 1st vaccine (OAZ and Pfizer) rather than the 50% + previously estimated. No details of this study have been released , so it is not clear how and what has been measured. It does however confirm the need for a second dose and may be the reason this report has been released.


A fascinating study in scent detection has reported that dogs can be trained to detect the scent of a Covid infection accurately in 94% of cases. That is as good as a lateral flow test. Volunteers with Covid provided pairs of unwashed socks to be used to train the dogs. Labradors and other gun dogs can be used. This does have possibilities at airports where an aircraft full of passengers could all be sniffed at in about 30 minutes . It would save the expense and trouble of all the testing. I have experienced sniffer dogs being used at airports to detect explosives very efficiently. A number of my readers have a close affinity with dogs, is this an idea for you to develop with your dogs?


The situation in India remains very critical. A photograph taken from the air over the weekend shows the huge number of makeshift graves in the sand banks of the River Ganges. The river regularly floods in heavy rain and there will be a real risk of these bodies being washed away by the river. There have already been reports of bodies floating in the river.

The confusion about foreign travel continues. Since mu last report the EU have said that British citizens can travel to the EU without restriction. The Prime Minister has said please do not unless absolutely essential, yesterday Germany unilaterally went against the EU policy and plans to quarantine all travellers from the UK for 14 days. There is also a great deal of confusion about which tests are approved for travel and which are not. You must pay privately for a test and those done by track and trace or by employers such as the NHS are not acceptable. Many passengers from the UK to Dublin were not allowed to fly because they had unauthorised PCR tests. If you are travelling, please keep checking and double checking the requirements, they are changing daily.


There are 49 people under investigation with what appears to be a new variant of Covid with 3 mutations. There is no evidence of a problem yet and it remains under observation. It is a reminder of the potential harm a resistant mutation can bring.


In Bolton surge testing has revealed that 1,500 residents travelled from Bolton to S Asia in February and March this year, and then raced to get back to the UK before the Red list was established. This may account for the high numbers of the Indian variant in the area. It is also made worse by a larger than average numbers of people declining to be immunised.


A memorial Garden for Covid victims has been opened in the Olympic park. Over 19,000 Londoners have died. It consists of 33 blossom trees one for each Borough.


Please let me know your thoughts and comments about our recovery from Covid. We remain at a critical point. We must hurry to finish immunisations and use that abundance of caution in all that we do. Please all stay safe and stay apart.


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