Day: 30 July 2021

Confusion Over Whether Cases Are Rising or Falling

According to MailOnline, daily Covid cases in the U.K. fell for the ninth consecutive day in a row today.

Britain’s daily covid cases fell again today for the ninth day in a row, amid mounting confusion over true state of the third wave.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,622 cases – down 18.6% on last week.

In another glimmer of hope, hospitalisations (927) and deaths (68) appear to be slowing down – with both measures up just 6% on last Friday.

However, it cannot be true that daily cases have fallen for the ninth day in a row since they stood at below 25,000 on July 26th and now stand at 29,622. It appears that MailOnline means that this is the ninth day in a row in which the daily toll is less than it was exactly one week before.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s Guardian reported that daily cases had gone up for the second day in a row:

The daily number of Covid cases reported in the U.K. has risen for the second day in a row, although experts have cautioned against drawing premature conclusions from the fluctuations.

On Thursday, 31,117 cases were reported in the UK, up from 27,734 the day before, which marked the first rise in cases since July 20th.

To further complicate matters, the ONS published its weekly infection survey today and reported that the percentage of the population testing positive has increased slightly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland compared to the previous week, although it’s fallen in Scotland:

Tens of Thousands of Brits Won’t Tell NHS Test and Trace Who They’ve Come Into Contact With

Almost a quarter of Brits contacted by Test and Trace in the week up to July 21st refused to disclose their recent close contacts, as reports suggest that people are beginning to revolt against the ‘pingdemic’. MailOnline has the story.

The controversial contact tracing system made 250,000 calls in the seven-day spell ending July 21st, making it the busiest week since the darkest period of the second wave in January.

But nearly a quarter of infected people who were contacted didn’t cooperate, in a signal that people may now be trying to protect family, friends and colleagues from having to self-isolate.

The rate of Covid-infected people who’ve avoided naming close contacts has risen consistently since the third wave started to gather steam in June, from 14.1% to 23.1%.

Government data yesterday underlined just how bad the ‘pingdemic’ has become, with a record 1.5 million quarantine instructions sent out in the same week. 

Millions of workers have been unable to do their jobs because they’ve been told to isolate, leaving supermarket shelves empty, pubs and restaurants shut, and trains cancelled across the country. …

The £37 billion Test and Trace programme – set-up last May – has been branded a monumental waste of money by politicians for failing in its only goal to stop another lockdown.

Since it was set up 14 months ago, England has faced two more national lockdowns and two Covid waves. …

If NHS Test and Trace contact tracers are unable to reach infected people, their details are passed on to local authorities to follow-up.

Of the 251,190 people asked to provide close contacts in the most recent week, just 193,000 provided the names and numbers of those who they may have passed the virus onto.

More than 58,000 refused to do so.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Admits 25% of Patients With Covid Were Admitted For Something Else

We’re publishing a guest post today from our in-house doctor, a senior clinician in private practice who used to work for the NHS. This one’s a bit of a shocker.

On Thursdays, the NHS releases the weekly summary data in relation to Covid patients. Normally this is a more granular version of the daily summaries – it has some hospital level detail and figures on non-Covid workload for comparison. Usually interesting but not especially informative.

Yesterday was an exception. Placed down at the bottom of the page, almost like a footnote, was a ‘Primary Diagnosis’ Supplement. Graph 1 shows the information contained in that spreadsheet. I find it astonishing. In essence it shows that since June 18th, the NHS has known its daily figures in relation to ‘Covid inpatients’ were unreliable at best and deliberately untrue at worst.

The yellow bars are what the NHS has been telling the nation were Covid inpatients. The blue bars are the numbers of inpatients actually suffering from Covid symptoms – the difference between the two are patients in hospital who tested positive for COVID-19 but were being treated for something different – where Covid was effectively an incidental finding but not clinically relevant.

For example, on July 27th, the total number of beds occupied by Covid patients was reported as 5,021. However, until today, we were not allowed to know that only 3,855 of those were actually admitted with Covid as the primary diagnosis. There has been a fairly consistent over estimate of the true number by about 25% running back to mid-June – figures before that date are “not available”.

“For All I Care, You Can Die Anytime”: Philippine President’s Message to the Unvaccinated

If you’re unvaccinated and live in the Philippines, the message is (for once) clear: if you leave your home, the police will escort you back, and your President doesn’t care if you die. In a televised address, President Rodrigo Duterte said “walking spreaders” should be confined to their homes, adding: “For all I care, you can die anytime.”

To those people who do not want to be vaccinated, I am telling you ‘don’t go out of your house’, because if you do go out of your house, I will tell the police to return you to your home. You will be escorted back to your house because you are a walking spreader.

AP News has more.

Rodrigo Duterte is warning that Filipinos who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus will not be allowed to leave their homes as a safeguard against the more contagious Delta variant.

Duterte said in televised remarks Wednesday night that there is no law mandating such a restriction but added he is ready to face lawsuits to keep people who are “throwing viruses left and right” off the streets. …

However, more than public hesitance, the Philippines has been grappling with vaccine shortages.

Nearly seven million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated and more than 11 million others have received their first dose. That is a fraction of the Government’s target of 60 million to 70 million people.

Worth reading in full.

Brits Must Get Vaccinated ”If They Want to Travel Internationally Again”, Says Grant Shapps

Dominic Raab wasn’t kidding when he said vaccine passports are intended to “coax and cajole” people – especially young people – into getting vaccinated against Covid. This campaign has been upped again today, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warning that “if [people in their 20s] want to travel internationally again”, they must get ‘jabbed’. “It’s quite clear now,” he added. The Sun has the story.

The Transport Secretary told young people they should get double-jabbed to regain the freedom to cross borders. …

Mr Shapps said the U.K. is getting back to normal because “fortunately in this country we have very little vaccine hesitancy”.

He said a whopping 90% of Brits have now received a jab but conceded that take up has been lower amongst younger adults.

The Transport Secretary suggested that ministers are relying on the lure of foreign hols to persuade people in their 20s to get vaccinated.

He said: “They will need to get vaccinated if they want to travel internationally again. It’s quite clear now.”

Double-jabbed Brits returning from amber list countries – which includes almost all of Europe and the U.S. – now don’t need to isolate.

The new policy, which comes into force on Monday, will open up hassle-free hols to millions of Brits for the first time in two years.

A number of the popular countries with British tourists also now demand proof of vaccination to enter.

They include favourite destinations on the continent like Portugal, Malta, and France.

Meanwhile double-jabbed visitors to Spain and Greece are able to avoid the cost and uncertainty of needing to provide negative tests. …

Mr Shapps also predicted that having to be double-jabbed to return to the office will become the norm for some workers.

He said it would be a “good idea” for all Brits to get vaccinated before ending working from home.

The cabinet minister insisted there are no plans for the Government to make it compulsory but “some companies will require it”.

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up

Is Christopher Snowdon an Anti-Vaxxer?

Christopher Snowdon is plainly an anti-vaxxer, however well he tries to hide it. “Existing Covid vaccines are simply not good enough at preventing transmission and infection,” he writes. Hasn’t he read the trial results, showing 95% efficacy against infection for the Pfizer vaccine and 74% for the AstraZeneca vaccine? Or the large population study from Israel showing Pfizer’s 92% efficacy? Or the study from Public Health England showing 67% and 88% vaccine efficacy against the Delta variant for AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines respectively?

On what does he base his bald assertion that they are “not good enough at preventing transmission and infection”? Clearly not the science. He doesn’t appear to feel it necessary to give a single scientific reference for a claim that flies in the face of all these respectable studies, leaving the baffled reader assuming he must have picked it up in some article he read on an obscure website somewhere, presumably by a pseudo-scientific sceptic in denial.

This, of course, is not the way to go about intelligently criticising someone’s viewpoint. Which is precisely my point. As it happens, I agree with Christopher that the current vaccines are not very good at preventing infection or transmission, particularly now the Delta variant is in town. But I’m also aware that that is not the current mainstream scientific position (though it is based on recent official data and reports). Rather, it is currently a claim being circulated among the very networks that Christopher pillories in his recent piece in Quillette, naming and shaming the “coronavirus cranks”.

It seems, then, that Christopher is not averse to a spot of ‘crankery’ himself. But how helpful really is all this name-calling, mudslinging and smear by association? Science does not advance by consensus, by everyone agreeing, or by closing down dissenters. Christopher himself is evidently sceptical of one of the key mainstream vaccine claims – that they are highly effective against infection and transmission – so inadvertently places himself within the ambit of his own polemic. Indeed, at one point he fires a shot at the ‘smileys’, as he calls sceptics, for being sceptical of the vaccines, arguing the jabs “have been tested in clinical trials and have demonstrated their safety and effectiveness beyond reasonable doubt in recent months”. Yet he himself goes on to doubt their effectiveness!