So what is Plan B if the vaccines fail with a new #coronavirus super-variant?

We’ve spent two days scouring the internet looking for Plan B for what happens in the event of complete Covid-19 vaccine failure. So what does happen if the vaccines fail? Here is what we have found so far:

Actually, we found no results. It seems that no one is even asking the question. Perhaps it’s time to start that conversation?

 

Global Covid-19 Map courtesy of John Hopkins University

UK: BMJ letter – “we need an urgent focus on mitigations in schools” for Delta #coronavirus variant

“On the 17 May 2021, the UK government removed the requirement for face coverings in secondary schools in England. Writing in The BMJ on 14 May 2021, we argued that this was ill advised given the clear evidence for the role of children and schools in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the rise of the new variant, subsequently designated as delta, which was already implicated in school outbreaks at the time.

There has been a lack of transparency from Public Health England (PHE) around the spread of the delta variant in schools. On 22 May, an article in The Observer reported that these data had been withheld by PHE at the request of 10 Downing Street. On 31 May 2021, The Citizens, a group promoting accountability in public life, and the data rights firm AWO sent a pre-action letter warning that they would seek judicial review unless PHE published the data on the grounds they it had acted “unlawfully” by withholding data on the spread of the variant in schools, and had “surrendered its independent judgement.”

Concerningly, even now, PHE has failed to release the full data. In a detailed technical report released on the 3 June, it only provided data on the number of “incidents” or outbreaks involving two or more students in schools.  It did not provide numbers of delta variant cases linked to schools, which had been specifically and repeatedly requested by unions and scientists, and specified in the pre-action letter. Despite including several complex analyses, the 66-page report presented no breakdown of cases by age group. However, even the limited data provided on school outbreaks raises concerns. According to the report, 140 outbreaks of the delta variant had been identified in educational settings up to 30 May, the largest number in any of the settings specified. The data on “common exposures” (defined as two or more infected children with sequenced virus) for the week ending 11 May, just prior to dropping recommendations for masks in schools, showed that there were over 1000 common exposures for children infected with the delta variant in educational settings. Additionally, data from PHE and Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the highest overall infection rates were among secondary school age children.

PHE has continued to put out contradictory claims. Just a day after reporting that infection rates were currently highest in 10-19 year olds, it claimed that cases among school-age children were low.  This contradicted other ONS data released the same day that showed rapid rises in prevalence in this age group, with this now being much higher than all other groups. A day later the health secretary Matt Hancock stated that a “huge proportion of latest cases are in children.” This is reminiscent of messaging by the government from autumn and winter 2020 where the mantra “schools are safe” was used repeatedly to rationalise the lack of mitigations in schools, right up to the point they were closed on 5 January (following a day when many schools reopened briefly). At that point the Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister described them as “vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

Back to the present, the government has finally acknowledged the high rates of infection and transmission in children. As with its many previous errors, there is no acknowledgement that it has not followed advice from its own advisors. The government has left children, staff, and communities exposed to rapid spread of a new and more transmissible variant, and at risk of long covid.  Yet, even as we see absenteeism related to covid-19 rising in schools, with 31% children absent from secondary schools in Bolton, the government’s messaging remains focussed on rapid tests. This is despite dropping uptake over time, and clear evidence that tests alone have not been able to contain spread in schools. Even after acknowledging the risks of infection and transmission in children, there is still no emphasis on urgent mitigations, including masks and ventilation, that are vital if schools are to remain open. While we welcome the health secretary’s announcement that children may be eligible to be vaccinated in August this does not help right now. According to SAGE modelling, the current wave is expected to peak in late July. By that time thousands of children and their family members will have been affected.

Data from Bolton, and several other places, where the delta variant gained dominance suggested early on that infection spread first among school age children, and then to other age groups.  It is likely that lack of mitigations in schools played an important role in this highly transmissible, more virulent, escape variant gaining dominance rapidly across England.  Spread of the delta variant is likely to have played an important role in the exponential rises we are seeing of cases in England, and hospitalisations in North West England.

During the current crisis the focus on the Stage 4 re-opening on the 21 June by government and media detracts from actions that need to be taken immediately to pre-empt the potentially devastating impact of a third wave. Our concern here has been with the actions that must be taken in schools to keep our children safe.

First, we must reintroduce masks both at primary and secondary levels and both in classrooms and communal areas. Unions have jointly called for an immediate re-introduction of masks in secondary schools and several local authorities have already reinstated these. This needs to be incorporated into Department for Education guidance as a recommendation for all schools.

Second, there needs to be central investment in ventilation and air cleaning in schools, including CO2 monitors, and air filtration devices, to supplement ventilation where needed. Risk can also be reduced by moving to learning outdoors, where possible, including physical education activities.

Third, there must be practical, financial, and remote learning support for families with children who are isolating. And lastly, the Government must provide adequate catch-up resources for children who have lost out on education over the past year, to bridge gaps and worsening inequities in education.

In sum, schools are the place where infections are rising fastest. Yet schools are a place where the basic mitigations of face coverings, space, and fresh air are not simply missing, but—in the case of masks—have actually just been removed. This makes no sense. The government must act urgently to protect and support its children at this critical juncture.”

Deepti Gurdasani, senior lecturer in machine learning, Queen Mary University of London.

Hisham Ziauddeen, consultant psychiatrist, Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

Stephen Reicher, professor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews. Member of Independent SAGE and the advisory group to the Scottish chief medical officer.

Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Member of Independent SAGE.

BMJ letter

 

UK: Dominic Cummings – Herd Immunity was always the official #coronavirus plan

 

 

On 16th March 2020 the first UK national lockdown was announced

 

 

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

UK: Hospice doctor – “Matt Hancock *has* lied during the pandemic – and I can prove it”

Well done @doctor_oxford. There are undoubtedly thousands more people in Britain in medicine and the care home sector who could tell a similar story but are too afraid to speak up.

UK: one week until B.1.617.2 Delta #coronavirus variant takes off

If the previous waves of Sars-CoV-2 in the UK are anything to go by, Britain is less than one week away from the B16172 Delta variant exploding into another full-blown national health crisis. The country’s current coronavirus case rate is roughly the same as it was on the 26th September 2020. Just five days later, on October 1st, the third wave of infections moved into a different gear entirely, swamping hospitals and causing thousands of deaths. 

It’s time to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

 

 

10th June 2021:

UK: Dominic Cummings – Herd Immunity was always the official #coronavirus plan

38/”Media generally abysmal on covid but even I’ve been surprised by 1 thing: how many hacks have parroted Hancock’s line that ‘herd immunity wasn’t the plan’ when ‘herd immunity by Sep’ was *literally the official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings* until it was ditched

39/ Yes the media is often incompetent but something deeper is at work: much of SW1 was happy to believe Hancock’s bullshit that ‘it’s not the plan’ *so they didn’t have to face the shocking truth*. Most political hacks believe in ‘the system’…

40/ In week of 9/3, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan wd lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B. But how ‘herd immunity by Sep’ cd have been the plan until that week is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster

42/ No10 decided to lie: ‘herd immunity has never been… part of our coronavirus strategy’. V foolish, & appalling ethics, to lie about it. The right line wd have been what PM knows is true: our original plan was wrong & we changed when we realised

30/ Crucial data generally ignored by those who want to downplay covid danger, many 1000s will have serious health problems for years because of our failure to act faster/harder in Feb/March & Sep. Those who predicted this issue wd be ‘Gulf War syndrome bollocks’ were wrong

37/ If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3. Given the plan was AWOL/disaster + awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown1 became necessary

 

 

From @coronaheadsup March 13 2020:

From @coronaheadsup March 15 2020:

 

From @coronaheadsup May 20 2020:

France: Loss of smell is associated with lasting presence of #coronavirus in the olfactory epithelium

Loss of smell, or anosmia, is one of the earliest and most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, the CNRS, Inserm, Université de Paris and the Paris Public Hospital Network (AP-HP) determined the mechanisms involved in the loss of smell in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 at different stages of the disease. They discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infects sensory neurons and causes persistent epithelial and olfactory nervous system inflammation. Furthermore, in some patients with persistent clinical signs, anosmia is associated with prolonged epithelial and olfactory nervous system inflammation and lasting presence of the virus in the olfactory epithelium.

This study unexpectedly demonstrates that nasopharyngeal swabs may test negative by standard RT-qPCR even if the virus is still present at the back of the nasal cavities, in the olfactory epithelium.

Inserm Press Release

Research paper – COVID-19-related anosmia is associated with viral persistence and inflammation in human olfactory epithelium and brain infection in hamsters

 

Singapore: B.1.617.2 has a higher viral load in the respiratory tract of patients and stays for longer

 

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Former #coronavirus patients have a 60% percent higher risk of death between one to six months after infection compared to non-infected people

In addition to the already known long Covid symptoms, the researchers also found evidence of increased mortality among those who recovered. The former corona patients therefore had an up to 60 percent higher risk of death between one to six months after infection than non-infected people. 1672 of the 73,345 patients (almost 2.3 percent) died between one and six months after the infection. The risk of being dependent on outpatient medical care in the first six months after infection was also increased by 20 percent, according to the study.

Nature article – High-dimensional characterization of post-acute sequalae of COVID-19

See also: Study: COVID-19 Can Kill Months After Infection

 

 

 

Photo by brut carniollus on Unsplash

Boris Johnson: “many more people will lose loved ones to #coronavirus”

12th March 2020 – Boris Johnson: “many more people will lose loved ones to coronavirus” (Guardian).       

13th April 2021 – Boris Johnson:  “sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths” (Guardian)

16th December 2020: Jacinda Ardern reveals the moment she chose her Covid-19 elimination strategy for New Zealand

 

Italian study: 66.6% of children of had at least one persisting #coronavirus symptom between 60 & 120 days after infection (13 had one or two symptoms, 7 had three or more)

Twenty out of 30 children (66.6%) assessed between 60 and 120 days after initial COVID-19 had at least one persisting symptom (13 had one or two symptoms, 7 had three or more); 35 of 68 children (27.1%) had at least one symptom 120 days or more after diagnosis (21 had one or two symptoms, 14 had three or more). 29 out of the 68 (42.6%) children assessed >120 days days from diagnosis were still distressed by these symptoms.

Wiley.com: Preliminary Evidence on Long Covid in children

 

 

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Imperial College: Lung damage occurs in approximately 20% of #coronavirus patients discharged from hospital

Early evidence indicates that lung damage occurs in approximately 20% of patients discharged from hospital, but the effects on people who experience long-Covid in the community are currently unclear.

A new study, called the UK Interstitial Lung Disease Long-COVID19 (UKILD-Long COVID) study, will investigate whether post-COVID-19 lung damage will improve or worsen over time, how long it will last, and the best strategies for developing treatments.

Matthew Gordon, 44, from Bristol, who was hospitalised with COVID-19 in January 2020, said of his experience: “Nearly two months on, I’m slowly recovering. The coughing has stopped, which is the greatest relief, and it’s no longer a struggle to breathe. However, my muscle strength is still very weak and doing mild exercise such as jogging, or even walking while talking, can make me short of breath. My latest review with the respiratory consultant a couple of weeks ago found there was still some slight crackling on my lungs and my lung capacity was reduced but had improved since January.

Imperial.ac.uk report

 

Image by oracast from Pixabay

ONS: Prevalence of Long Haul symptoms following #coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK

Among a sample of over 20,000 study participants who tested positive for COVID-19 between 26 April 2020 and 6 March 2021, 13.7% continued to experience symptoms for at least 12 weeks. This was eight times higher than in a control group of participants who are unlikely to have had COVID-19, suggesting that the prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus infection is higher than in the general population.

Over the four-week period ending 6 March 2021, an estimated 1.1 million people in private households in the UK reported experiencing long COVID (symptoms persisting more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) episode that are not explained by something else).

The estimates presented in this analysis relate to self-reported long COVID, as experienced by study participants, rather than clinically diagnosed ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 syndrome. There is no universally agreed definition of long COVID, but it covers a broad range of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, and difficulty concentrating.

Self-reported long COVID symptoms were adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 674,000 people in private households in the UK, with 196,000 of these individuals reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been limited a lot.

Of people with self-reported long COVID, 697,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously, and 70,000 first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least one year previously.

Prevalence rates of self-reported long COVID were greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, those living in the most deprived areas, those working in health or social care, and those with a pre-existing, activity-limiting health condition; however, it is not possible to say whether these patterns are because of differences in the risk of coronavirus infection or susceptibility to experiencing long COVID following infection.

These estimates provide a measure of the prevalence of self-reported long COVID across the whole population, and reflect both the risk of being infected with coronavirus and the risk of developing long COVID following infection; to investigate the second of these components, we examined the duration of self-reported symptoms following confirmed infection.

Of study participants who tested positive for COVID-19, symptom prevalence at 12 weeks post-infection was higher for female participants (14.7%) than male participants (12.7%) and was highest among those aged 25 to 34 years (18.2%).

ONS Study

 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

UK: 122,000 NHS personnel and 114,000 teachers have Long Covid

At least 122,000 NHS personnel have Long Covid, the Office for National Statistics disclosed in a detailed report that showed 1.1 million people in the UK were affected by the condition. That is more than any other occupational group and ahead of teachers, of whom 114,000 have it.

Guardian report

 

 Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Over a million people in Britain are living with long-Covid.

More than a million people in the UK were experiencing “long Covid” in a recent four-week period, according to new survey figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Statisticians estimate that 1.1 million people in the community had ongoing symptoms in the four weeks to 6 March after contracting the disease at least three months beforehand.

Ben Humberstone, the head of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said an estimated 674,000 people felt their symptoms had “negatively impacted” their ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Nearly 200,000 of these said their symptoms impacted on their day-to-day activities a lot.

The Guardian report

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Italy: #coronavirus lockdown extended for another month but schools REOPEN in red zones

Italy in lockdown for another month

Until April 30th no region or province can return to the yellow zone . There will be only red or orange areas

Kindergartens, elementary and middle school open also in the red zone after Easter.

The ban on movement between regions also extended. It will be possible to cross borders only for “proven needs”- reasons of work, health and urgency,

Bars and restaurants will remain closed – with only take-out and home delivery allowed

The new cases recorded yesterday in Italy were 23,839 with 380 deaths.

IlGiorno.it report

 

Image by Samuele Schirò from Pixabay