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Age standardised mortality: 2020 is only 9th worst year since 1971 – UK Column

Source: UK Column News, 18th January 2021
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News

25,000 Covid-19 victims were infected in hospital: One in six patients on wards caught coronavirus while being treated for other illnesses, figures show – Daily Mail

  • More than 25,000 patients caught coronavirus in hospital since second wave
  • One in six Covid-19 patients in NHS hospitals in England were infected while being treated for other conditions since September
  • So far this month, 5,684 Covid-positive in-patients out of 44,315 were infected after being admitted for other conditions

A specialist Covid nurse treating people at home said many of her patients had contracted the virus in hospital and were re-admitted when their conditions worsened.

The nurse said one elderly lady, originally admitted after breaking a rib in a fall, was now critically ill and had passed the virus on to two close relatives while at home.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210118024546/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9157627/One-six-hospital-patients-caught-Covid-19-treated-illnesses-figures-show.html

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News

COVID Lockdowns May Have No Clear Benefit vs Other Voluntary Measures, International Study Shows – Newsweek

A study evaluating COVID-19 responses around the world found that mandatory lockdown orders early in the pandemic may not provide significantly more benefits to slowing the spread of the disease than other voluntary measures, such as social distancing or travel reduction.

https://www.newsweek.com/covid-lockdowns-have-no-clear-benefit-vs-other-voluntary-measures-international-study-shows-1561656

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News

One in five in England have had Covid, modelling suggests – The Guardian

One in five people in England may have had coronavirus, new modelling suggests, equivalent to 12.4 million people, rising to almost one in two in some areas.

It means that across the country as a whole the true number of people infected to date may be five times higher than the total number of known cases according to the government’s dashboard.

In some areas, however, the disparity may be even greater. Parts of London and the south are estimated to have had up to eight times as many cases as have been detected to date.

The analysis, by Edge Health, reveals that the true number of coronavirus infections in England could be as high as 12.4 million, equivalent to 22% of the population, as of 3 January.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210110190150/https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2021/jan/10/one-in-five-have-had-coronavirus-in-england-new-modelling-says

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News

Hospital Bed Occupancy in England 2020/2021 is lower than last year – UK Column

Source: UK Column News, 8th January 2021
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News

How busy are hospitals in England? – BBC News

When announcing the national lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the NHS risked being overwhelmed if the measures weren’t taken.

But statistics suggest that the proportion of beds currently occupied by patients is actually lower than usual.

So how can both things be true?

…To create that wiggle room, there has been a big decrease in patients coming in for non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments, to ensure that space is there and pressures are not increased.

Even in September 2020, when hospitals were beginning to increase the number of operations carried out, these were still 25% lower than in previous years.

This also helps explain why there are also fewer patients in hospitals this year, as well as fewer beds.

The impact of this is a large backlog and the potential for certain treatments – such as cancer care – being delayed.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210107152338/https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/55536762

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Publications

Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19 – Wiley Online Library

Background and Aims
The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs).

Methods
We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons).

Results
Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons.

Conclusions
While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.13484

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News

Only 388 people under 60 without underlying health conditions have died of coronavirus in hospitals across England – The Sun

ONLY 388 people aged under 60 without underlying health conditions have died of coronavirus in hospitals across England, NHS data shows.

The figure is just 0.8 per cent of all Covid fatalities recorded in English hospitals between April 2 and December 23.

https://web.archive.org/web/20201227205622/https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/13584329/377-covid-deaths-under-60-underlying-health-conditions/

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News

Why ARE the Nightingale hospitals lying empty? London unit still only ‘on standby’ despite capital being thrown into Tier 4 measures and Christmas cancelled over rising cases – Daily Mail

Nightingale hospitals built during the first Covid-19 lockdown still remain ‘on standby’ despite parts of England being plunged under draconian Tier 4 measures.

It has been suggested the hospitals are largely deserted, despite Boris Johnson’s dramatic decision to plunge a third of those in England under tough Tier 4 measures from Sunday. 

https://web.archive.org/web/20201220150458/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9071593/Nightingale-hospital-lies-standby.html

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Publications

COVID-19 in children: analysis of the first pandemic peak in England – BMJ

Children represented 1.1% (1,408/129,704) of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases between 16 January 2020 and 3 May 2020. In total, 540 305 people were tested for SARS-COV-2 and 129,704 (24.0%) were positive. In children aged <16 years, 35,200 tests were performed and 1408 (4.0%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2, compared to 19.1%–34.9% adults. Childhood cases increased from mid-March and peaked on 11 April before declining. Among 2,961 individuals presenting with ARI in primary care, 351 were children and 10 (2.8%) were positive compared with 9.3%–45.5% in adults. Eight children died and four (case-fatality rate, 0.3%; 95% CI 0.07% to 0.7%) were due to COVID-19. We found no evidence of excess mortality in children.

Children accounted for a very small proportion of confirmed cases despite the large numbers of children tested. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was low even in children with ARI. Our findings provide further evidence against the role of children in infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

https://web.archive.org/web/20201124224223if_/https://adc.bmj.com/content/105/12/1180

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News

Regulator criticises data used to justify lockdown – BBC

The government has been criticised by the official statistics watchdog for the way it presented data to justify England’s second lockdown.

The UK Statistics Authority highlighted the use of modelling at Saturday’s TV briefing showing the possible death toll from Covid this winter.

It said there needed to be more transparency about data and how predictions were being made.

The projections were out of date and over-estimated deaths, it has emerged…

It is understood the graph was used by the two senior advisers in meetings last week where the decision to impose a nationwide lockdown in England was made.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54831334

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Publications

Harms of public health interventions against covid-19 must not be ignored – BMJ

The harmful consequences of public health choices should be explicitly considered and transparently reported to limit their damage, say Itai Bavli and colleagues

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for governments. Questions regarding the most effective interventions to reduce the spread of the virus—for example, more testing, requirements to wear face masks, and stricter and longer lockdowns—become widely discussed in the popular and scientific press, informed largely by models that aimed to predict the health benefits of proposed interventions. Central to all these studies is recognition that inaction, or delayed action, will put millions of people unnecessarily at risk of serious illness or death.

However, interventions to limit the spread of the coronavirus also carry negative health effects, which have yet to be considered systematically. Despite increasing evidence on the unintended, adverse effects of public health interventions such as social distancing and lockdown measures, there are few signs that policy decisions are being informed by a serious assessment and weighing of their harms on health. Instead, much of the discussion has become politicised, especially in the US, where President Trump’s provocative statements sparked debates along party lines about the necessity for policies to control covid-19. This politicisation, often fuelled by misinformation, has distracted from a much needed dispassionate discussion on the harms and benefits of potential public health measures against covid-19.

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4074

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News

Death forecast used to justify national lockdown is based on old stats and may be four times too high, scientists say – The Sun

Death toll forecasts used by the government as grounds for another nationwide lockdown are out-of-date and could be four times too high, experts have said.

A Downing Street press conference led by Boris Johnson on Saturday included data suggesting that England could be seeing up to 4,000 deaths each day by early December.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/13082035/death-forecast-national-lockdown-four-times-too-high/

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News

Coronavirus second wave has claimed the lives of just 17 victims under 40: Official figures show the disease is 100 times as deadly for the oldest victims as it is for the young – Daily Mail

  • Only 17 people under 40 died with Covid between the end of August and the middle of this month.
  • Increased infections among children and young adults has not led to their hospitalisations or deaths.
  • One person under the age of 20, and another 13 under 40, have died with coronavirus in English hospitals since the start of September.
  • 1,425 patients over 80 have died over the same period, along with another 1,093 aged between 60 and 79.
  • 247 deaths among working-age people since the end of summer compared with 2,026 among pensioners

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8890811/Coronavirus-claimed-lives-just-17-victims-40-figures-elderly-risk.html

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News

How teenagers ended up operating crucial parts of England’s test and trace system – The Guardian

 workers at the call centre who have been “upskilled” to this level are mostly school-leavers and students, with no relevant qualifications. While the job is officially advertised at between £16.97 and £27.15 per hour, they are all being paid the minimum wage, which means £6.45 for the 18- to 20-year-olds (most of them) and £8.72 for over-25s.

Serco issued an internal notice explaining this change, which was leaked to the press. From 21 October, it said, “a number of experienced agents from Serco and Sitel will assist with index case tracing”.

What it didn’t say is that some of these “experienced agents” are 18 years old. The “appropriate training” for the magical transformation to “experienced clinician”, my contact tells me, lasted four hours. It was conducted remotely, as they now work from home, and consisted of a PowerPoint presentation, an online conversation, a quiz, some e-learning modules and some new call scripts.

…People ask me, “is this a cockup or a conspiracy?”. The correct answer is both. The government is using the pandemic to shift the boundaries between public and private provision, restructure public health and pass lucrative contracts to poorly qualified private companies. The inevitable result is a galactic cockup. This is what you get from a government that values money above human life.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/28/england-coronavirus-covid-test-and-trace-teenagers

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News

Coronavirus not among 10 most common causes of death in September – Sky News

There were 2,703 excess deaths across England and Wales in September, official figures show – but coronavirus was not in the 10 leading causes of fatality.

The leading cause of death in September for both nations was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-not-among-10-most-common-causes-of-death-in-september-ons-12111980

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News

Covid: Deaths near lowest level since March – BBC

Coronavirus accounted for 1% of all deaths in England and Wales in the second week of this month.

That’s among the lowest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) since March when the pandemic took hold.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54248150

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Opinion

Covid-19: Does Sweden have herd immunity? – Sebastian Rushworth M.D.

  • Sweden never went in to full lockdown. Instead, the country imposed a partial lockdown that was almost entirely voluntary.
  • The only forcible restriction imposed by the government from the start was a requirement that people not gather in groups of more than 50 at a time.
  • People followed the voluntary restrictions pretty well at the beginning, but that they have become increasingly lax as time has gone on.
  • After an initial peak that lasted for a month or so, from March to April, visits to the Emergency Room due to covid had been declining continuously, and deaths in Sweden had dropped from over 100 a day at the peak in April, to around five per day in August.
  • Dr. Rushworth hasn’t seen a single covid patient in the Emergency Room in over two and a half months.
  • COVID has killed under 6,000 people.
  • On average, one to two people per day are dying of covid in Sweden at present, and that number continues to drop.
  • In the whole of Stockholm, a county with 2,4 million inhabitants, there are currently only 28 people being treated for covid in all the hospitals combined.
  • Sweden seemed to be developing herd immunity, in spite of the fact that only a minority had antibodies, was due to T-cells.
  • Immunity may be long lasting, and probably explains why there have only been a handful of reported cases of re-infection with covid, even though the virus has spent the last nine months bouncing around the planet infecting many millions of people.
  • Almost all cases of reinfection have been completely asymptomatic.
  • People develop a functioning immunity after the first infection, which allows them to fight off the second infection without ever developing any symptoms.
  •  England and Italy have mortality curves that are very similar to Sweden’s.
  • Lockdown only makes sense if you are willing to stay in lockdown until there is an effective vaccine.

https://sebastianrushworth.com/2020/09/19/covid-19-does-sweden-have-herd-immunity/

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News

How Bolton only has TWO Covid-19 patients in hospital despite being England’s locked-down virus hotspot – and there are 141 people on wards across all 18 ‘intervention’ areas – Daily Mail

Public Health England has listed 18 areas of intervention with stricter rules

They had only a combined 141 people in hospital as of September 3, NHS shows

One person in hospital for every 38,000 in a population of over 5.4million 

Despite an infection rate of more than 120 cases per 100,000 people and local lockdown rules preventing people from meeting anyone they don’t live with, fears about the virus spreading translate to only two people in hospital.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8744625/How-locked-Bolton-TWO-Covid-19-patients-hospital.html

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News

England death count review reduces UK toll by 5,000 – BBC

A review of how deaths from coronavirus are counted in England has reduced the UK death toll by more than 5,000, to 41,329, the government has announced.

The new methodology for counting deaths means the total number of people in the UK who have died from Covid-19 comes down from 46,706 to 41,329 – a reduction of 12%.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53722711