21st August 2021
UK COVID Deaths – Daily 104 / 7-Day average 100
Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 131,591
Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 154,811 (up to 06 Aug)
James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 641
All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 75
James Cook Critical Care
COVID cases – 8 (6 ventilated)
Non-COVID cases – 46 (21 ventilated)
This will be a brief update and the last one for a few weeks as Nicky and I have some time off. We’re aiming to forget about work for a while and enjoy a summer break. Things at the hospital have continued to slowly improve. We have got to the point where, currently, the number of people recovering to leave hospital each day is close to the number who are being admitted. It’s worth remembering that the daily number of hospital admissions always lags behind the daily number of new cases by two to three weeks. This means that we are currently seeing the effect of the fall in cases that took place at the end of July. Unfortunately it also means that, as the number of cases continues to slowly increase, we can expect to see more hospital admissions next month.
Our temporary Surge ICU remains open but we have had a number of long-stay COVID patients who have been reclassified as ‘recovered’. This means they can now be transferred to an amber non-COVID ICU. The end result is that we can now fit all our current COVID patients into a single red ICU. Once again we get to fog and flip ICU3 back into an amber unit. How long it will stay amber for is unknown but it would be churlish not to enjoy the moment.
A recent study of the vaccinated UK population has confirmed just how much the Delta variant has blunted the effectiveness of both the the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. However, it appears that the Government’s decision to extend the time period between the first and second doses of both vaccines was the right one; immunity appears improved as a result. Also of interest was the fact that, whilst the Pfizer vaccine is initially superior, there appears to be no difference between the effectiveness of either vaccine after five months. These facts may explain why we are doing better than other vaccinated nations such as Israel.
Unfortunately, the study showed that vaccinated people who catch COVID-19 still shed the same amount of virus when coughing and sneezing as unvaccinated people do. Sadly this is another nail in the coffin for herd immunity. It means that the virus will continue to circulate and will ultimately find its way to those who are not vaccinated.
Currently there is ongoing debate over the scale of any booster vaccination programme that may be rolled out next month. It looks likely that a third jab will only be offered to the most vulnerable. This is because there is still no sign that the protection against severe illness that is offered by vaccination is waning amongst the regular population. So, whilst COVID may not be going away, those that have opted to be vaccinated should feel reassured that they are still protected.