The overwhelming majority of Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths continue to be preventable says a study published this week in the United States. 

Vaccines could have prevented roughly 90,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the USA over summer, according to the study. 

"From June through September 2021, approximately 90,000 Covid-19 deaths among adults would likely have been prevented with vaccination," concluded the analysis. Half of the deaths in the four month period occurred in September, when the delta variant was surging and as governments were "easing up on social distancing restrictions". Many young adults were not being vaccinated, the study added. Covid was the leading cause of deaths for adults aged 35 to 54 in that month.

Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death for most of 2020 but in December 2020 and early 2021, it became briefly the leading cause of death in the USA, far surpassing even cancer and heart disease in those months for all adults. The overwhelming majority of Covid-19 deaths in the USA has been among unvaccinated people.

More relaxations to the North’s Covid-19 restrictions have taken effect. The decision by Stormont last week allows up to 30 people from an unlimited number of households to meet indoors at a private home. Audiences at indoor venues will also no longer have to stay seated during performances. Nightclubs are due to reopen on 31 October, with the end of indoor social distancing rules for hospitality.

From then, the need to be socially distanced will move to guidance, with people asked to minimise face-to-face contact. Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill warned that Covid-19 still posed a threat to "lives, livelihoods and our health service".

"We have a collective responsibility to keep making the kind of choices that will keep our community as safe as possible," she said. There is no indication yet of willingness by the Executive to follow the lead of the Republic, Scotland or Wales to limit entrance to social settings to those who can prove they have been fully vaccinated — see Canadian news report on strict Italian measures introduced last week below. 

The Department of Health has reported eight further coronavirus-associated deaths and 1,367 new cases which remain high out of 4,149 tested. In the previous seven days 8,946 positive cases have been reported compared to 8,762 the previous week.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon area has the highest seven-day rates of transmission at 566.1 per 100k of population. The highest percentage of individuals testing positive in the past week were aged between 10 and 14 years at 21.5 per cent. The highest number of individuals with a positive test were females aged 10-14 at 1,622.
There have been 29 deaths in the last seven days, up from 24 in the previous seven days.

There are 347 Covid inpatients of whom 34 are in intensive care and 24 of these are on ventilators.The death toll from those who have tested positive is 2,629.

The wearing of face masks will remain as part of winter contingency plans. There may be many contingencies before this pandemic subsides.