“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” said spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer. “Also, a common nationwide approach would be important here.”
The differing rules across the country’s 16 states “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” she added.
Demmer told reporters that Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.
Germany: a patchwork of COVID-19 regulations
“At the moment, we don’t have a particularly good data basis as far as the numbers of new infections are concerned. But the number of occupied intensive care beds speaks a very clear language. It is increasing very much, very strongly and very much too fast. Intensive care physicians are worried.”
“The health system is under intense pressure,” she said, underlining a 5% increase in intensive care bed occupancy in just 24 hours.
“We need a stable incidence below 100,” she said, referring to Germany’s number of new COVID-19 cases over seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.
The national figure currently lies at 110.1, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.
Demmer told the reporters that the regional patchwork of rules was “not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment.”
Under Germany’s federal system, each state ultimately has the power to decide its own coronavirus rules. Some have failed to impose tougher restrictions despite case numbers that exceed a nationally-agreed “emergency brake,” and even gone ahead with a relaxation of the rules.
NRW Premier Armin Laschet: ‘We need a bridge-lockdown’
Among those calling for a short and tougher lockdown is Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, who said a “bridge lockdown” could be needed to keep cases down until more people have been vaccinated. He has also called for talks between the chancellor and other state premiers, scheduled for next Monday, to be brought forward.
Merkel has previously criticized Laschet — a potential candidate to replace her as chancellor — for resisting tougher measures in the past.
#AceHealthReport – Apr.04: Figures show that 23.5% experienced harassment, bullying or abuse during the #Covid19#pandemic: The report added that 3.5% of staff also reported abuse from colleagues:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – ‘Nearly a quarter of hospital staff in North Yorkshire have been abused by patients in the past 12 months, according to David Watson, from the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told a meeting that safety had become a priority in the wake of the Sarah Everard case, the Local Democracy Reporting Services said’
1 day ago
Hospital bosses in York said they were looking at what they can do to improve staff safety both at work and on journeys to and from hospital sites.
“I think it’s an important issue for our staff,” he said.
“We are looking at what we can do to enhance the safety of our staff, both at work and where we have some control on their commute – lighting of pavements between a car park and hospital premises, if there are cycle racks we will look at what can be done to make those safer.”
Nearly a third of employee sickness at the trust is down to mental health, the meeting also heard.
The reports said there had been a “very slight decrease in the number of absences due to mental health in January”, but added: “Although with a recorded absence rate of 28.8 per cent, mental health continues to dominate the primary reason for absences across the trust.
“The trust continues its programme of interventions to support staff mental health and wellbeing.”
#AceHealthReport – Mar.30: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppressive treatment including chemotherapy:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – New vaccine advice for adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed: ‘JCVI recommends that adults living with adults who are immunosuppressed should be prioritised for the #COVID19 vaccine’
Adults who are immunosuppressed have a weaker immune system, meaning they are less able to fight infections naturally. These individuals are more likely to have poorer outcomes following COVID-19 infection and recent evidence suggests that they may not respond as well to the COVID-19 vaccine as others.
There is growing evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines may reduce the chance of someone who has been vaccinated passing the virus on. Given this emerging evidence, the JCVI advises that those over 16 years of age who live with severely immunosuppressed adults are offered the COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6. This will help limit the spread of the virus to immunosuppressed adults.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation within the JCVI, commented:
The vaccination programme has so far seen high vaccine uptake and very encouraging results on infection rates, hospitalisations and mortality. Yet we know that the vaccine isn’t as effective in those who are immunosuppressed. Our latest advice will help reduce the risk of infection in those who may not be able to fully benefit from being vaccinated themselves.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said:
Our surveillance systems and research studies are showing that the COVID-19 vaccines can reduce asymptomatic infection and limit transmission of the virus. By vaccinating those who live with adults who are immunosuppressed, we can further help protect vulnerable people.
Household contacts considered as a priority would be those over 16 who share living accommodation with adults who are immunosuppressed. The JCVI does not currently advise vaccination of household contacts of immunosuppressed children, or household contacts of immunosuppressed adults who are themselves children.
Letter from the Health and Social Care Secretary to the JCVI: 24 March 2021
From:Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 39 Victoria Street London SW1H 0EU
To:Professor Wei Shen Lim Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Chair COVID-19 Immunisation (Nottingham University Hospitals)
24 March 2021
Dear Professor Lim,
Thank you for your letter on 24 March from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) with your advice about COVID-19 vaccination of adult household contacts of severely immunosuppressed adults.
I note your findings that early data indicate lower protection in vaccinated adults who are immunosuppressed and that those with severe immunosuppression are therefore more likely to suffer poor outcomes following infection and are less likely to benefit from the vaccines offered.
I also note your advice that there is now data indicating the potential for a reduction in transmission in those vaccinated. I welcome your advice that adult household contacts of adults with severe immunosuppression should be offered COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6 on the basis that this would in your view reduce the risk of infection in the immunosuppressed who may not be able to fully benefit from vaccination.
I am asking NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) to take this advice forward and prioritise household contacts of the severely immunosuppressed for vaccination as you recommend alongside priority group 6 in phase 1 of the vaccination programme.
My officials have also shared your advice with colleagues leading the COVID-19 vaccines programmes in each of the 4 nations of the UK.
Thank you for your continued advice and support for the vaccination programme and I look forward to receiving further advice and discussions over the coming weeks.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.28: The new requirement will not apply to truck drivers, cross-border workers, and people who live within 30km of the border.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – ‘Spain introduces test rules for land arrivals from France: ‘Anyone arriving by land from risk areas will have to present a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that was taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival’
The order will take effect three days after its publication in the Official State Gazette and until the government declares the end of the health crisis situation caused by Covid-19,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The rate, which is measured over the preceding 14 days, rose yesterday to 138.6 per 100,000 people from 134 on Thursday, the Health Ministry said: It reported 7,586 new cases, bringing Spain’s overall tally to 3.26 million. The death toll rose by 590 to 75,010.
Many French people, weary of their own lockdown, have been flocking over the border to enjoy open bars and restaurants in areas such as Madrid.
But Spain’s coronavirus infection rate has continued to climb steadily over the past week, suggesting a long decline could be in danger of reversing.
The Health Ministry said risk areas were those classified by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The centre’s map shows that includes the whole of France
“Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property,” Mr Johnson said in a tweet.
“The police and the city have my full support.”
Police in riot gear beat back crowds of protesters with shields and batons.
Bristol has been a centre of protests against a bill that would give police new powers to restrict street protests.
Last Sunday, two police officers were seriously injured and at least two police vehicles set on fire in the city after a peaceful protest turned violent.
Local police said the disorder last night followed a protest involving more than 1,000 people. Large gatherings are currently not allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“The majority of people acted peacefully, however there was a minority who showed hostility to officers,” said Bristol police commander Mark Runacres. He added that three of the ten people arrested were also detained in connection to last Sunday’s disorder.
“Officers repeatedly encouraged people to disperse but once the atmosphere changed and people became physical it was necessary to take action.”
Philippine to reimpose stricter curbs in capital after surge in cases
The Philippines will reimpose stricter quarantine measures in the capital Manila and nearby provinces, a senior official said, as the country battles to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases that put a bigger strain on hospitals.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the measures would be in effect from 29 March to 4 April.
The health ministry reported 9,595 new coronavirus cases, marking the second straight day the daily jump in infections remained above 9,000.
The country posted a record rise in three of the past five days.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.27: This new funding will help local authorities continue to support those who are isolating as we begin to cautiously ease restrictions, going towards access to food, help with caring responsibilities and support for people’s wellbeing:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Government increases support for those self-isolating: ‘To help people overcome the practical challenges of being asked to self-isolate, government has today (Friday 26 March) announced an extra £12.9 million a month in additional funding to local councils to help them provide people with more support’
Improved support includes a free medicines delivery service backed by an extra £3.2 million per month, new practical support funding and enhancements to Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme
New ONS survey reveals nearly 90% of people are self-isolating when asked to
On top of this, £3.2 million per month has been allocated to a free medicines delivery service for people who are self-isolating and don’t have access to help in collecting their prescription. Community pharmacies and dispensing doctors are already funded to provide a medicines delivery service in instances where shielding advice is in place, and this system is being replicated to cover people who need to self-isolate.
This investment comes on top of increased funding of £20 million per month for local authorities, which covers the cost of discretionary support payments through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme (TTSP) for people on lower incomes, or facing financial hardship, who cannot work from home.
The TTSP scheme has also recently been expanded to cover parents or guardians who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. To date, the government has provided more than £176 million of funding to local authorities to meet the costs of the scheme. This will allow local authorities to continue supporting those on low incomes to stay at home and self-isolate when required to do so.
The announcement comes as a new set of statistics published by the Official of National Statistics (ONS) show that 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rules, and 97% of NHS COVID-19 app users started to self-isolate within 24 hours of receiving a notification.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
I am delighted that today’s statistics show the vast majority of people in this country are doing the right thing and following the rules to help protect the NHS, and save lives.
The government has increased funding for local authorities by over £30 million a month to give financial and practical support to those who have to self-isolate, helping them to avoid spreading the disease to their communities.
Around one in three have the virus without symptoms, so it is vital those who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace do so to turn the table on this terrible virus.
The statistics demonstrate that the majority of respondents also fully understood the self-isolation guidance. Of people who did not fully-comply, the most common breaches were to buy food, collect medicines or to attend medical appointments, which today’s funding will help Local Authorities to address.
Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Harding said:
It’s extremely encouraging to see that 86% of people testing positive for Covid-19 and 90% of contacts are fully complying with the self-isolation guidance, which is imperative to the success of NHS Test and Trace as we are reaching more people than ever before. The increased support is important to offer additional reassurance to people to come forward for testing and keep breaking the chains of transmission.
Local councils have a fundamental role to play in tackling outbreaks and we are supporting them by giving people the tools they need to stay at home.
It is vital that there are strong local, regional and national partnerships to support people to understand and comply with the guidance and regulations in place that protect their health and save lives.
This survey was specifically designed to obtain information on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at the end of their 10-day self-isolation period.
Estimates presented in this release are based on the 2,552 responses received and are not representative of the population testing positive for COVID-19 on the day of being sampled. Respondents were randomly sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. This list was created by NHS Test and Trace to record information about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.
The statistics presented are experimental statistics, so care needs to be taken when interpreting them. While the sample was stratified to be regionally representative of the population being sampled, people who did not respond to the survey may have been less adherent than those who did, leading to bias in the results. This has an impact on the level of certainty of this research.
Future waves of the survey will provide statistics that are weighted to be representative of the population testing positive in the month prior to the survey.
Funding unveiled today was set out in the roadmap.
It is a legal duty to self-isolate if you have been instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace. Any breaches of self-isolation may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice, ranging from £1000 to £10,000.
We are working with England’s 314 local authorities to monitor the effectiveness of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme – including any impact on groups who may be ineligible for it.
In conjunction with the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, local authorities can make additional discretionary payments to anyone facing financial hardship. Local authorities are responsible for the criteria used for discretionary payments in their area.
Four million people could be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, which is a targeted scheme to help people on low incomes who cannot work from home, if they are required to self-isolate when they test positive or are identified as a contact.
To be eligible under the expansion to a parent or guardian, applicants must need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating. They do not need to have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, but they must meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.
If an individual is eligible for either the Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment, they will receive the £500 payment as an up-front lump sum on top of any benefits and Statutory Sick Pay that they are currently eligible for.
When the scheme launched, the government made an initial £50 million available to local authorities to cover the cost of administering the scheme. This included £15 million for discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme but who will still face hardship if they have to self-isolate. To date, we have released a total of £176 million to local authorities to enable them to continue administering the scheme. This includes £75 million for discretionary payments.
People who are not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment may be eligible for other forms of support such as Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance.
The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is for England only. There are equivalent schemes in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we are working closely with the devolved administrations to share learning and monitor the impact of the financial support that is available.
We need all employers to act responsibly to help their employees work from home wherever possible, and where it isn’t to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. We are also rolling out rapid-testing helping workers who need to leave home for work during lockdown to continue to do so, while quickly identifying those who may be carrying the virus to stop the spread.
The Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) provides funding to local authorities (LAs) in England to be used for test, trace and contain activity in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus in their area.
This funding, worth over £225 million per month during the National Lockdown, can be used by English local authorities to fund local coronavirus response public health activities, such as additional contact tracing, testing for hard-to-reach groups, non-financial support for those self-isolating and public health communications.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.26: In total, more than 29 million people have now had their first dose of one of the available vaccines, while the number having gone on to receive their second has now passed three million:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Another 70 people die as 6,187 test positive for #Covid19 over the last 24 hours, the latest figures from the Department of Health show. This brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases to 4,325,315 with over half U.K.population now had there first jab according to the MetroUK today’
Friday: 26 Mar 2021 4:30 pm
The update comes after the Government insisted it has absolute confidence in UK vaccine supplies, with all adults still on track to receive a first dose by the end of July.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK’s vaccine programme will continue to be ‘world-leading’, despite a row with Europe over vaccine exports.
He told Good Morning Britain on Friday: ‘We are confident we have got the supplies that we need both to meet our mid-April target of vaccinating all the over-50s and those people with clinical vulnerabilities, and the bigger target, which is that every adult at least has had their first jab by the end of July.
‘Of course, anyone who has an appointment for a jab, either their first one or second one, there is no need to worry – those appointments will be honoured.’
Meanwhile, the Government has denied reports from France that the UK could struggle to secure second doses due to the row in the EU.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re on track to meet our vaccination targets and everyone will get their second dose within 12 weeks of their first.’
It comes as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate around one in 340 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to March 20 – unchanged on the previous week, suggesting a levelling off.
The picture remains broadly similar in Wales and Northern Ireland, with a slight rise in infections in Scotland.
According to the latest Government figures, the reproduction number – the R value – across the UK is between 0.7 and 0.9. This is compared to 0.6 to 0.9 last week.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Germany to require #COVID19 tests on all flight arrivals everyone entering the country by plane to undergo a test starting on Sunday whereas previously it was, only travelers from high risk areas were required to present a negative test’
#AceHealthReport – Mar.26: The stricter rules were originally supposed to have been enacted on Friday. However, health officials said they would push them back to Sunday to allow passengers and airlines time to prepare. Travelers will have to pay for the tests themselves:
The German Health Ministry announced on Thursday that people flying into Germany will be required to undergo coronavirus testing as of midnight (2300 UTC) on Sunday, March 28: As German tourists flock to ‘pandemic safe’ Mallorca as
News of the changes were first reported by the tabloid newspaper, Bild.
The old rules had required tests only from travelers coming from high-risk areas. Now, travelers coming from popular vacation destinations with lower case numbers, like Mallorca, will need a negative test.
The testing requirements are expected to last until mid-May.
Airlines have said they will lay on hundreds of extra flights to cope with the surge in demand.
The number of virus cases per 100,000 population stands at 113 in Germany.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.25: Pressure is growing on the European Commission and EU member states to reconsider their staunch opposition to measures that could open the possibility of a massive increase in #Covid19 vaccine production worldwide.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – The EU Should Stop Blocking Efforts to Increase Global Vaccine Access: European Lawmakers Join Push for Waiving Intellectual Property Rules for #Covid19 Response: https://t.me/reuters_news_agency/69546 Reuters Wire News, [Mar 24, 2021 at 6:18 PM] UK and EU say looking to create ‘win-win’ situation on COVID-19 vaccines
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Commission said they are discussing how they can work together to create a “win-win” situation on COVID-19 vaccines after the bloc threatened to take tougher measures to curb the export of deliveries of shots: The European Commission has threatened to ban exports to countries like Britain that have higher vaccination rates but do not export shots to the EU. The aim is to safeguard supplies for the bloc’s own citizens as they face a third wave of the pandemic.: Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short-, medium- and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens,” they said in a joint statement: In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges. We will continue our discussions.”
The proposal would facilitate technology transfers so that Covid-19 medical products, including vaccines, could be produced quickly and affordably by manufacturers around the world, in line with a rights-based approach to the pandemic and growing calls for a “peoples’ vaccine” freely available to all.
As EU heads of state prepare to discuss the bloc’s response to the pandemic later this week, they should heed the calls coming from elected representatives and citizens and reconsider their opposition to the intellectual property waiver. As European lawmakers put it, “we will not defeat the virus until we defeat it everywhere.” And with new strains emerging all the time, we will hardly defeat it anywhere without a mass global vaccine rollout. The pandemic has already had an enormous human and economic cost. European leaders should stop standing in the way of a measure that could accelerate and increase global vaccine production and availability and bring us closer to ending the pandemic.
#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: The death toll from the coronavirus infection in the world topped 2.712 million on Sunday, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from federal and local authorities, media, and other sources: As of 19:30 GMT Sunday, the number of cases globally is 123,040,456, including 2,712,656 fatalities: The United States still has the highest incidence rate in the world, with 29,799,255 COVID-19 infections and, including 542,168 related deaths:
#Coronavirus News Desk Report: ‘Cases reach over 123-million with sadly a death toll 2.712-million on Sunday as US still has the highest incidence rate of nearly 30-million and sadly over 542,168 thousand related deaths according to Johns Hopkins University’
Palestine kicked off a mass vaccination campaign on Sunday, the Health Ministry said.
Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said that the use of the coronavirus vaccines developed by the UK-Swedish AstraZeneca and the US Moderna pharmaceutical companies may be authorized as soon as in May, as the firms filed for registration of their vaccines with the Japanese health authorities in February and March, respectively:
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), administered by the country’s Department of health, said it had approved local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, several days after its rollout resumed in the EU following its suspension in several European nations due to fears of side effects.
Francesco Vaia, the medical director of the Italian Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, said that the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the developer of Russia’s Sputnik V, will send three employees to Rome to join their Italian researches in studies of the Russian vaccine against the coronavirus: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he expected a rapid decision on the use of Sputnik V in the EU from the European Medicines Agency:
South African Health Ministry said that the country sold all doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus it had at its disposal: Initially, the doses were reserved for the national vaccination campaign but then suspended due to efficacy concerns against the South African coronavirus strain.
Russia registered 9,299 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 9,632 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,456,869, the coronavirus response center said, adding that 371 COVID-19 fatalities were also registered over the period, down from 392 the day before, raising the country’s death toll to 95,030. Total recoveries increased by 8,743 over the past day, down from 11,279 the day before, and reached 4,069,395, the center said.
Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said that the government was mulling the introduction of a new epidemiological rule, obliging all inbound travelers to take a test for the new coronavirus mutations.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly intends to extend the coronavirus-related measures in the country beyond this month.
Police in Amsterdam dispersed another unauthorized rally using water cannons while hundreds of protesters demanded the lifting of restrictive measures to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
According to the economists at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, cited by media, Japan would lose almost 150 billion yen ($1.4 billion) due to the decision to host this year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games without foreign spectators over the COVID-19-related concerns.
Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco said that its net income slid to $49 billion last year amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Almost 40 percent of Japanese citizens oppose holding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in the country’s capital of Tokyo this year, according to a fresh poll.
A separate survey conducted by the Japan Press Research Institute showed that the majority of respondents in several states worldwide, including 95.6 percent in Thailand, 94.7 percent in South Korea, 82.1 percent in China, 74.4 percent in the US, and 70.6 percent in France, spoke in favor of the cancellation and the postponement of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. In a similar poll in Japan, also conducted by the institute, 71.9 percent of those surveyed supported the cancellation or postponement of the Games:
#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: There is quite a bit of pressure on member states to obtain the vaccine for themselves,” she told Germany’s Funke Media Group over the weekend:
Coronavirus: EU ‘not ready’ to share COVID vaccines with poorer countries: Despite earlier promises, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the bloc will not share coronavirus vaccines with other countriesuntil it has “a better production situation in the EU.”
The announcement, which comes as the EU is facing a third coronavirus wave and renewed restrictions on public life, signalled an apparent reversal of the bloc’s earlier promises.
Von der Leyen had strongly campaigned for providing vaccines to people worldwide back in spring 2020. But most COVID vaccine doses continue to be administered in wealthy nations.
“The EU has invested €2.2 billion ($2.6 billion) in this initiative. COVAX has already delivered 30 million doses of vaccine to 52 countries,” she said.
EU slams AstraZeneca
EU-based manufacturers have shipped 41 million vaccine doses to 33 countries since early February, von der Leyen said on Saturday, making the bloc one of the world’s largest export regions for coronavirus vaccines.
“I can’t explain to European citizens why we are exporting millions of vaccine doses to countries that are producing vaccines themselves and aren’t sending us anything back,” she said.
Several European countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccine
The EU has set up special mechanisms to limit vaccine exports. Manufacturers contracted to supply member states must declare if they intend to export doses outside the bloc.
The EU chief threatened to suspend exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines if the bloc did not receive its promised deliveries first.
“We have the option of banning a planned export. That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries,” von der Leyen said, adding that the Anglo-Swedish pharma company had delivered only 30% of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.
UK warns against EU vaccine export ban
In response to the threats, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Sunday that “the world is watching” how the EU responds to AstraZeneca’s shortfall in deliveries.
“It is counterproductive (to halt exports of vaccines) because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacture is that it is collaborative,” he said.
“They (the EU) would undermine not only their own citizens’ chances of having a proper vaccine programme, but also many other countries around the world with the reputational damage for the EU which they would find very hard to change over the short-term,” he added.
The EU has accused the UK of imposing its own de facto export ban. The claim was vigorously denied by the UK, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the UK has exported any COVID vaccines at all, as it relies on complex legal arrangements with manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the EU has exported at least 8 million doses to the UK.
EU plans vaccine passport, vaccinations still slow
#AceHealthReport – Mar.12: The cases in South Gloucestershire are all close or household contacts of the 2 existing P.1 cases in the area: They were offered testing in response to the initial cases:
U.K.GOV #Coronavirus Report: Confirmed cases of #COVID19 variants identified in UK: ‘Latest updates on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in U.K. Four more cases of Variant of Concern VOC-202101/02 (P.1) found in England’
Specialist contact tracing teams have undertaken a comprehensive investigation to identify any further contacts and additional testing has been in place since the initial cases were identified.
The individual in Bradford tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in late February after travelling back from Brazil via Paris on 14 February 2021. Subsequent genomic sequencing confirmed the case as the P.1 variant. Contact tracing teams have followed up close contacts of the individual and advised them to isolate and get a test.
The latest cases bring the total number of P.1 variant cases in the UK to 10 – 7 in England and 3 in Scotland, all of which have links to travel or to a previously confirmed case that has travelled to Brazil.
New Variant Under Investigation (VUI) designated in UK
A new variant identified in the UK has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England.
VUI-202103/01 (lineage B.1.324.1) was designated a VUI on 4 March after 2 cases were found in the South East of England in individuals who had recently travelled to Antigua.
The variant contains the spike mutations E484K and N501Y, both usually associated with Variants of Concern (VOC), however it does not feature specific deletions that would lead to a designation as a VOC.
Contact tracing teams have completed thorough investigations to identify and follow up any close contacts and no additional cases have been found to date.
Friday 5 March
Contact tracers successfully identify sixth case of P.1 Variant of Concern
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace teams have successfully located the third individual in England who tested positive for the P.1 Variant of Concern that originated in Manaus, Brazil.
Tracing teams narrowed their search to a small number of households in Croydon, South London, when an individual from the borough made themselves known by responding to calls made by specialist contact tracers.
NHS Test and Trace were then able to match the barcode from the individual’s testing pack to the variant test result.
PHE is now carrying out enhanced contact tracing with the individual and other members of their household. The case had been in contact with an individual who travelled from Brazil in early February.
Although investigations are ongoing, current early indications are that all members of the household isolated for the correct amount of time after the traveller returned and after the case developed symptoms.
Doctor Fu-Meng Khaw, Strategic Response Director for PHE and Deputy Chief Medical Adviser for Test and Trace, said:
The identification of this individual is the result of an enormous collaborative effort between specialist teams at NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England.
Staff have been working around the clock to pursue every line of investigation and this is a fantastic result that enables us to fully investigate the circumstances around the case and reduce the risk of onward transmission.
As an additional precaution, we’re working closely with Croydon Council to put in place further testing in the area.
We are continuing to monitor all variants closely and the best way to protect against all COVID-19 infections is to remember the basics of Hands, Face, Space.
Thursday 4 March
New Variant Under Investigation designated in the UK
Sixteen cases of a new variant, VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), have been identified in the UK. The variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England (PHE).
Cases of this variant, understood to have originated in the UK, were first identified on 15 February through genomic horizon scanning. All individuals who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate.
Following assessments, the variant was designated a VUI on 24 February. It contains the E484K mutation, which is also found in 2 existing VUIspresent in the UK, but does not feature the N501Y mutation, present in all variants of concern (VOCs).
The addition of this variant as a VUI means there are now a total of 4 VUIsand 4 VOCs currently being tracked in the UK.
Cases with no travel links
As of 3 March:
a total of 59 cases of the variant VOC-202012/02, first detected in South Africa, have been found in England where no travel links could be established
a total of 26 cases of the variant VUI-202101/01, the P2 variant first detected in Brazil, have been found in England where no travel links could be established
Tuesday 28 February
Cases of Variant of Concern first detected in Manaus identified in the UK
Up to 6 cases of the Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1) have been detected in the UK. Public Health England (PHE) has identified 3 of these cases of the Variant of Concern in England.
Two of the cases in England are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil and there is a third, currently unlinked case.
The cases in South Gloucestershire were rapidly followed up by the PHEHealth Protection Team – cases and their contacts have been identified and retested. One case that had travelled to Brazil has been isolating at home with their household since returning to the UK.
PHE and NHS Test and Trace are following up with all passengers on Swiss Air flight LX318 travelling from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landing in London Heathrow on 10 February, to provide public health advice and test them and their households. Anyone who returned to the UK at that time should have gone home immediately from the airport and isolated for 10 days.
If you were a passenger on the flight and have not been contacted, please call 01174 503 174 to arrange a test for you and your household contacts.
Although the risk to the wider community is considered low, as a precaution, PHE, working in collaboration with South Gloucestershire Council and NHS Test and Trace, is taking swift and decisive action to deploy surge asymptomatic testing as well as increasing sequencing of positive samples from the area. Residents of South Gloucestershire should visit the council’s website for more information on testing. The most important actions are identifying cases and their contacts and supporting these individuals to isolate effectively.
Further investigation is underway regarding the third case in England. The individual did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are not available. We are therefore asking for anyone who undertook a test on 12 or 13 February and hasn’t received their result or has an uncompleted test registration card, to call 119 in England or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland for assistance as soon as possible.
The P.1 variant has been designated ‘of concern’ as it shares some important mutations with the variant first identified in South Africa (B.1.351), such as E484K and N501Y. It is possible that this variant may respond less well to current vaccines, but more work is needed to understand this.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE strategic response director for COVID-19 and NHS Test and Trace Medical Advisor, said:
We have identified these cases thanks to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.
The important thing to remember is that COVID-19, no matter what variant it is, spreads in the same way. That means the measures to stop it spreading do not change. Stay at home and if you do need to go out for essential reasons, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands thoroughly and keep your distance.
We ask that individuals come forward for testing through the symptomatic and asymptomatic test sites across the countries in order to continue to drive down cases in the community.
Three cases of the variant have also been identified in Scotland but these are not linked to these 3 cases in England.
Tuesday 16 February
Public Health England (PHE) has identified 38 cases of COVID-19 which genomic sequencing has shown to feature a specific set of mutations which are currently being referred to as lineage B.1.525. The set of mutations includes the E484K spike protein mutation, which is present on a number of other variants of concern and variants under investigation.
This variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) and will be referred to as VUI202102/03.
The variant has been detected in other countries, including Nigeria, Denmark and Canada.
Cases are geographically dispersed across England. Enhanced contact tracing and genomic sequencing is underway to monitor the situation as it develops.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said:
PHE is monitoring data about emerging variants very closely and where necessary public health interventions are being undertaken, such as extra testing and enhanced contact tracing.
There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.
The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to follow the public health advice: wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. While in lockdown, it is important that people stay at home, where possible.
Regular updates of confirmed variant cases will be provided on this page.
Friday 15 January
As of Thursday 14 January 2021, 35 genomically confirmed and 12 genomically probable cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant which originated in South Africa (called VOC202012/02 in the UK, also named B1.351 and 501Y.V2 internationally) have been identified in the UK.
Two variants of interest have also been identified in Brazil. The first variant is variant under investigation (VUI) 202101/01 – this variant has a small number of mutations. The spread and significance of this variant remains under investigation. In partnership with COG-UK, 8 genomically confirmed cases of this variant have now been identified in the UK. All necessary public health action is being taken to follow-up the cases.
The second variant has been designated a Variant of Concern by NERVTAG, now termed VOC202101/02, and this variant has more mutations. We have NOT detected this second Brazil originated strain in the UK– this has been detected in Manaus and travellers arriving in Japan.
Laboratory work has begun on the VOC 202012/02 in the UK and is routinely undertaken on all variants under investigation or of concern once samples are available.
Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID Strategic Response Director at Public Health England, said:
We are continuing efforts to understand the effect of the variants on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
For now, our advice remains the same following detection of a Brazilian variant in the UK, even though this is not the variant detected in Manaus with more mutations: the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. Whilst in lockdown, it is important that we also stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out.
Through COG-UK, the UK is a global leader in SARS-CoV-2 genomics, providing around 48% of the genomic data supplied to GISAID, the scientific initiative which allows global, real-time surveillance of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WGS is vital to the global response to the pandemic, allowing us to monitor and understand the evolution of new COVID-19 variants and respond with timely public health interventions.
The restrictions follow new data on the steep rise in incidence of the B1.351 variant, which has vastly increased the risk of community transmission between these 9 southern African countries, as well as the Seychelles and Mauritius which have strong travel links with South Africa.
From 15 January 2021, the DfT has also imposed a subsequent travel ban to the UK from several South American countries and countries with strong travel links to Brazil. Passengers who have been in or transited through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.
British and Irish Nationals (and or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK) who have travelled from or transited through these countries must self-isolate for 10 days, as must members of their household. Contact tracing and testing of close contacts of confirmed cases will be used to identify and manage potential transmission. The decision to impose these restrictions has been taken to prevent the spread of the variant of coronavirus, known as VOC202101/02, into the UK.
The Isolation Assurance Service (IAS) will be contacting all returnees from all southern African countries, Mauritius and Seychelles to reinforce the advice to self-isolate, to encourage testing even if asymptomatic and to inform anyone treating/testing them of their recent travel.
Wednesday 23 December
The 2 cases were identified in the UK on 22 December 2020 and both have been in contact with someone who has travelled from South Africa. PHE’s Health Protection Teams have followed up with both cases and contact tracing is underway.
The new variant named B1.351 (also referred to as 501Y.V2) was first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, in samples at the beginning of October. Molecular dating suggests that it could have been in circulation from the end of August.
The rapid spread of the variant in South Africa could be an indication of increased transmissibility but this is not yet confirmed. PHE is investigating this variant and will share its findings in due course. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. Epidemiological and virological investigations are also ongoing in South Africa.
It is not uncommon for viruses to undergo mutations; seasonal influenza mutates every year. More than 4,000 variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in the UK and variants have been observed in many other countries.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to PHE & Test and Trace, said:
We are investigating this new variant of SARS-CoV-2 which originated in South Africa. Viruses often evolve and this is not unusual. We are carrying out work as a priority to understand the potential risk this variant may cause. It is important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
The best way to stop infection is to stick to the rules – wash our hands, wear a face covering and keep our distance from others.
The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the new variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the restrictions, including ‘Hands, Face, Space’ and limiting your number of contacts. DfT have announced new restrictions for everyone arriving in the country from South Africa.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.28: North Korea conducted a cyberattack on companies connected with vaccine development, an official in South Korea has said, citing intelligence report: The lawmaker who is a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, said the NIS did not specify which company had been targeted, but there was no damage from the hacking attempts:
US-based cyber security firm Cybereason said earlier this month a group of hackers from North Korea was targeting companies working on the research and development of Covid-19 vaccines, and similar claims were made by Microsoft: https://t.me/c/1099420761/2094372
The software giant made allegations against Russian hackers as well: However, Russian officials previously said they did not see any reason for such cyber intrusions, as the country is developing several vaccines by itself:
Pyongyang did not comment on the recent allegations: In May, it denounced the accusations of cyber warfare made by the US as a smear campaign: North Korea announced in July that it was developing its own vaccine for Covid-19.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.26: US COVID-19 Deaths Top 260,000 – Johns Hopkins University: WASHINGTON, November 25 (Sputnik) – The number of US deaths caused by the novel coronavirus disease #COVID19 has exceeded 260,000, John Hopkins University data revealed: The United States has confirmed more than 12.6 million cases of COVID-19 since the first infection was detected in late January, the data showed on Wednesday. The death toll now stands at 260,065, according to the data: It took the US a single week to add another 10,000 to its coronavirus death tally according to @Sputnik 25 November 2020 14:58:
The UK government is providing 280 billion pounds ($373 billion) to help the country meet the epidemiological and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: @Sputnik 25 November 2020 20:00
#AceHealthReport – Nov.24: Texas National Guard Deployed to Help El Paso With Morgue Overflow: The Texas Division of Emergency Management said in a statement that “after completing an assessment of the situation on the ground in El Paso County this week, the state has mobilized a team of 36 Texas National Guard personnel to provide mortuary affairs support beginning at 0900 tomorrow,” CBS’ El Paso affiliate reported Friday:
#Coronavirus Report: National Guard troops deployed to El Paso to help with ‘ morgue operations ‘ as surge of #COVID19 cases surge according to a statement …CBS.Com/
The city’s mayor, Dee Margo, said on Twitter Friday that a “rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations” has brought on a “spike in deaths.” The Texas Military will now provide “the critical personnel” to carry out the city’s “fatality management plan.” El Paso city and county have secured a “central morgue location to further support the Medical Examiner’s Office, funeral homes and mortuaries with additional capacity,” he said:
#AceHealthReport – Nov.24: Millions of Americans are already travelling home to celebrate Thanksgiving, despite warnings from health officials amid a significant wave of coronavirus cases and deaths: Thanksgiving, traditionally a large family get-together that rivals Christmas in size, is on Thursday: Three million people are reported to have already travelled through US airports from Friday to Sunday: But the number is around half the usual figure for Thanksgiving travel:
#Coronavirus Report: Millions travel for Thanksgiving despite warnings but figures are only half of the usual number for this celebration …. BBC.Com/
Three million people are reported to have travelled through US airports from Friday to Sunday
The fall coronavirus surge in California entered a critical moment on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, with the state shattering a daily record for new cases: The state recorded 20,654 cases Monday, significantly surpassing a previous record of 13,400. Hard-hit Los Angeles County recorded more than 6,000 new cases, which was also a daily record: Officials are hoping restrictions imposed over the last week will slow the unprecedented spread of the virus and that residents will avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings that experts fear could spread the virus further: Last week, state officials announced a new order prohibiting most nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in counties that are in the strictest “purple” tier of the state’s color-coded reopening road map. Roughly 94% of Californians — including all those in the southern third of the state — are subject to that order, which lasts until Dec. 21, though it could be extended. Read the full story on LATimes.com.
The number of people admitted to hospital with the virus has increased by nearly 50% in the past two weeks, while more than 257,000 have now died of Covid-19 nationwide:
There are concerns in Los Angeles that some hospitals could run out of beds as the pressure of patients infected with Covid-19 becomes too much
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has caused controversy by tweeting an illustration of a turkey with the words “come and take it”, with the Republican adding: “Wait till they find out we won’t give up Christmas either”. This comes as huge queues have formed at food banks, and morgues in the state become overwhelmed with bodies
A large Pentecostal church in California ignored public health orders on Sunday by staging packed indoor services with conservative activist Charlie Kirk. Very few wore masks at the event
#AceHealthReport – Nov.23: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that upcoming Christmas would not be normal, but that the UK had turned a corner in the fight against #COVID19 and the escape route is in sight, after confirming that the current national lockdown will be lifted in England next week: This will be still a hard winter, Christmas cannot be normal, and there is a long road to Spring: But we have turned a corner: and the escape route is in sight,” Johnson told Parliament via a videoconference as he unveiled his COVID-19 Winter Plan, which he said had been designed to “carry us safely to spring.”
National restrictions to end on 2 December, with England returning to local tiers
Shops, gyms, personal care, and leisure to reopen, whilst collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume
Tiers toughened in some areas to safeguard gains, and ensure testing and vaccines can have maximum impact
Prime Minister to announce on Thursday which area will be in each tier, based on latest data
The Prime Minister has published the government’s COVID Winter Plan, setting out the end of national restrictions and the steps ministers will take to help bring life back to normal by Spring: The plan seeks to bring R below 1, find new ways of managing the virus and enabling life to return closer to normal, and minimise damage to the economy and society: The collective effort during national restrictions has brought the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressure on the NHS – meaning national restrictions will end on 2 December.
Across England, this means the ‘stay at home’ order will end and shops, gyms, personal care, and the leisure sector will reopen: Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and people will not be limited to seeing one other person in outdoor public spaces. Instead, the rule of 6 will again apply.
However, the virus is still present and the Prime Minster, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor agree that without targeted measures in areas where it is most prevalent, it could again run out of control: That would jeopardise progress made, and risk intolerable pressure on the NHS: England will therefore move back into a regional, tiered approach – safeguarding the gains made, and using scientific advances in vaccination, treatments and testing to enable life gradually to return closer to normal by Spring.
Some restrictions will be amended, given lessons learned from previous tiers. For example, the hospitality curfew has been modified to last orders at 10pm and closing time at 11pm, allowing customers to depart in a staggered way: In tiers 1 and 2, spectator sport can also resume outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing consistency with theatres and concert halls:
But SAGE are clear that, while previous tiers reduced the R rate, they were not enough to bring it below 1: That is why all tiers will be toughened:
Tier 1 people will be encouraged to minimise travel and work from home where possible:
In tier 2 alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.
In tier 3 hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, and indoor entertainment venues, such as cinemas, casinos and bowling alleys, must also close.
These tiers will be uniform, without negotiations on specific measures, and will be based on the following criteria:
Case rates in all age groups;
Case rates in the over 60s;
The rate at which cases are rising or falling;
The number of cases as a percentage of tests taken
Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.
Tiering allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, and tiering regulations will expire in law at the end of March:
Ministers continue to work with the Devolved Administrations on plans for temporary relaxation over Christmas and will set out details shortly, including for the clinically extremely vulnerable: Given how tough these measures are for tier 3 areas, the government will rapidly extend community testing in those areas.
Following the example of Liverpool: Tier 3 areas will be able to participate in a six-week community testing programme to identify asymptomatic cases, and ensure they self-isolate:
The government also plans to introduce frequent testing as an alternative to the need for self-isolation for people who have had close contact with a positive case: Instead, contacts would have regular tests during the isolation period and only have to self-isolate if they test positive:
This will be trialled in Liverpool first: If successful, will be rolled out across the NHS and care homes in December, and to everyone else from early next year. We will set out full details of our plans shortly:
#AceHealthReport – Nov.23: On Sunday, Health Minister Hala Zayed held talks with the heads of the Egyptian Drug Authority and the Unified Medical Procurement Authority on the need to review strategic stocks of drugs and medical supplies in a bid to meet the country’s needs amid #COVID19
#Coronavirus Report: Egypts cases of #Covid19 rise to 113,027 with over 6,000 deaths sadly as the country enters the ‘ second wave ‘ according to Arab Health Ministry on Sunday …according to Sputnik.Com/
” The session has discussed the availability of drugs and medical supplies, taking into account the outbreak of the coronavirus second wave,” the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Mugahed said “
Among other things, the Egyptian health officials also discussed measures against pharmaceutical sales through social networks and online drugstores: The minister has called on citizens to purchase medications in pharmacies and authorized drug stores:
To date…………Egypt has registered 113,027 cases of the disease since the start of the pandemic, with around 102,000 recoveries and 6,548 fatalities: On Sunday the health ministry reported 351 new cases and 13 COVID-19-related deaths:
#AceHealthReport – Nov.23: The government today (Monday 23 November) welcomes the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) review of data from Pfizer/BioNTech to determine whether its vaccine meets robust standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness:
“ Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: It was “incredibly exciting news” and that while there were still safety checks to come, “these are fantastic results”
#Coronavirus Report Government welcomes the MHRA review into Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as Oxford Vaccine shows its highly effective at stopping people developing #COVID19 symptoms
UK’s independent regulator to evaluate latest data from Pfizer and BioNTech to ensure the quality, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine meets the standards required.
The UK has ordered 40 million vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech – enough for up to a third of the population
Initial data shows the vaccine is 94% effective in protecting people over 65 years old from coronavirus and clinical trials have not reported any serious safety concerns
The companies have reported data that indicates their vaccine is 94% effective in protecting people over 65 years old from COVID-19, with trials suggesting it works equally well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities: As the first country to pre-order the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, the UK is expected to receive a total of 40 million doses by the end of 2021, enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses anticipated in the first half of next year:
The COVID-19 vaccine will only be authorised for supply by the UK’s independent regulator the MHRA if it meets strict standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness, and if they are satisfied the vaccine can be consistently manufactured:
Today marks the next step forward for the vaccine following the MHRA’s confirmation that it has received the necessary data to progress their review into whether the vaccine meets the required standards:
Despite encouraging data about this vaccine, people must continue to follow public health advice to keep themselves and their loved ones safe; regularly washing their hands, wearing a face mask and making space.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
The whole country will be cheered by the news that Pfizer/BioNTech have formally reported the data from their clinical trials for their vaccine to the regulator. This is another important step on the road to recovery. We must now allow the MHRA’s renowned teams of scientists and clinicians to make an independent assessment of whether it meets their robust standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness.
If approval is granted, the NHS will be ready to deliver. The NHS has vast experience in delivering widespread vaccination programmes and an enormous amount of work has taken place to ensure we have the logistical expertise, transport and workforce to roll out a vaccine according to clinical priority, at the speed at which it can be manufactured.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
Today, we have renewed hope that we are on the brink of one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time, as we reach the crucial last stage to finding a COVID-19 vaccine.
While this news is a cause for celebration, we must make sure that this vaccine, like all new medicines, meets standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness. I urge the public to be patient while we wait for regulators to do a thorough assessment.
Finding a vaccine is not going to end the pandemic overnight, but we are hopeful of being one step closer to defeating this terrible virus.
Final deployment plans will depend on decisions by regulators but preparations have been underway for months and are in place to ensure that:
the NHS will be ready to begin vaccinating as soon as the first vaccine is approved and delivered to the UK
GPs have already been signed up to take part in the programme when an appropriate vaccine is ready
dozens of hospitals across the country will lead co-ordination on behalf of neighbouring hospitals, community trusts and local health groups in vaccinating staff and other priority groups
there will also be vaccinations sites across the country
The government has purchased 7 different types of vaccine in advance and procured 355 million doses: This includes 100 million doses of the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford: The UK government is working closely with the devolved administrations to ensure an aligned approach to COVID-19 vaccine deployment across the UK:
Chair of Vaccines Taskforce, Kate Bingham, said:
We are moving ever closer to having the means with which to help end this pandemic but we must wait for the outcome of the MHRAassessment before we will truly know if we have our first approved vaccine.
Irrespective of the outcome, which we all hope will be positive, this is a tremendous day for science. It is testament to the Herculean efforts of the scientific and biopharmaceutical community and it makes me immensely proud.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses, manufacturing and storage
Pfizer has said that based on current projections it expects to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020: The UK is currently in discussion with Pfizer/BioNTech on how many doses could be provided to the UK by the end of the year: The vaccine will be manufactured in BioNTech’s German sites, as well as Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium. The government is working closely with partners across the health system to put in place robust measures for the end of the transition period to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine can be delivered across the country wherever it is needed. This includes putting in place robust contingency measures to ensure that vaccine freight will continue unimpeded: All vaccine candidates for supply and onward deployment have clear supply chain plans, including materials, manufacturing, transport, storage and distribution. The government, through its Vaccines Taskforce, has conducted a supply chain risk assessment and is working with the vaccine suppliers to understand the optimal logistics and timings to deliver vaccines. Capacity has already been reserved by the suppliers where their programmes are mature and detailed plans are in place for all early candidates:
‘ The government is confident that the cold supply chain needed to distribute the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will not cause any problems and will make no difference to the speed at which the UK will receive its doses ‘
Pfizer has years of proven experience in cold supply chain management and delivering temperature-controlled vaccines to locations across the world: Pfizer has developed packaging and storage innovations for the vaccine and has specifically designed, temperature controlled thermal shippers that use dry ice to maintain recommended temperature conditions (-70°C ±10°C). They can be used as temporary storage units for 15 days by refilling with dry ice. The thermal shippers also have GPS-enabled thermal sensors in every thermal shipper that will enable their location and temperature to be tracked across their pre-set routes: When the vaccine is stored in a fridge, it has an effective life of up to 5 days at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees, which allows it to be easily stored at distribution centres across the country:
The MHRA is the UK’s independent regulator, globally recognised for requiring the highest standards for quality, safety and effectiveness: Until the end of December, and as part of the transition period, vaccines must be authorised via the European Medicines Agency and that authorisation will automatically be valid in the UK:
However, if a suitable COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with strong supporting evidence of safety, quality and effectiveness from clinical trials becomes available before the end of the transition period, EU legislation which we have implemented via Regulation 174 of the Human Medicines Regulations allows the MHRA to temporarily authorise the supply of a medicine or vaccine, based on public health need: After the transition period ends in January 2021, the MHRA will have new powers to approve medicines, including vaccines, and will have greater flexibility to do this in a shorter time, while maintaining the highest standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
Vaccine prioritisation and deployment
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the government on which vaccines the UK should use and provide advice on who should be offered the vaccination first: The committee’s interim advice is that a COVID-19 vaccine should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 and health and social workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk:
‘ There are currently no plans for a COVID-19 vaccine to be compulsory ‘
Vaccination will be managed by the health services in each nation: NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland.
UK vaccine procurement
Through the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to over 355 million doses of 7 of the most promising vaccine candidates, including:
BioNTech/Pfizer for 40 million doses
Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses
Moderna for 5 million doses
GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses
Novavax for 60 million doses
Janssen for 30 million doses
Valneva for 60 million doses
The results will be seen as a triumph, but come after Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed 95% protection: However, the Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two: So the vaccine will play a significant role in tackling the pandemic, if it is approved for use by regulators:
” The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [the virus],” said the vaccine’s architect, Prof Sarah Gilbert: The vaccine has been developed in around 10 months, a process that normally takes a decade so how did they make it so quickly? “
‘ The UK government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and AstraZeneca says it will make three billion doses for the world next year ‘
There are two results from the trial of more than 20,000 volunteers in the UK and Brazil: Overall, there were 30 cases of Covid in people who had two doses of the vaccine and 101 cases in people who received a dummy injection. The researchers said it worked out at 70% protection, which is better than the seasonal flu jab: Nobody getting the vaccine developed severe-Covid or needed hospital treatment.
Prof Andrew Pollard, the trial’s lead investigator, said: He was “really pleased” with the results as “it means we have a vaccine for the world” ………..However, protection was 90% in an analysis of around 3,000 people given a half-sized first dose and a full-sized second dose……………..Prof Pollard said the finding was “intriguing” and would mean “we would have a lot more doses to distribute.”…..The analysis also suggested there was a reduction in the number of people being infected without developing symptoms, who are still thought to be able to spread the virus:
After Pfizer and Moderna both produced vaccines delivering 95% protection from Covid-19, a figure of 70% is still highly effective, but will be seen by some as relatively disappointing: But this is still a vaccine that can save lives from Covid-19 and is more effective than a seasonal flu jab: It also has crucial advantages that make it easier to use. It can be stored at fridge temperature, which means it can be distributed to every corner of the world, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which need to be stored at much colder temperatures.
The Oxford vaccine, at a price of around £3, also costs far less than Pfizer’s (around £15) or Moderna’s (£25) vaccines: The Oxford technology is more established so the vaccine is easier to mass produce cheaply and AstraZeneca has made a “no-profit pledge”
#AceHealthReport – Nov.22: Twelve more people succumbed to their injuries sustained in the Wednesday and Thursday protests, police spokesman Fred Enanga said: Authorities said at least 75 people were injured with bullet wounds, tear gas canisters and hit-and-run attacks. “We would like to inform the public that a total of 28 people have died following the violent political demonstrations in multiple areas since Wednesday,” Enanga said:
Uganda police say death toll in violent protests rises to 28 Bobi Wine arrest on Wednesday in the eastern district of Luuka for allegedly flouting #COVID19 guidelines sparked sporadic protests in some parts Uganda
“ The confrontations began after the arrest of Kyagulanyi due to his continued blatant disregard of the Electoral Commission guidelines, which were further escalated, after bloggers posted fake news that he had been killed,” the spokesman said: A total of 577 suspects have been arrested across the country, Enanga said, adding that bows and arrows, “piles of stocked tyres, bottles, drums of fuel, and evidence of mobile money transactions funding the rioters” were seized: “ The violent demonstrations were being coordinated by a group of 300 ring leaders who were actively coordinating the distribution of tyres to their flash points and hotspots, using motor vehicles and boda bodas (commercial motorcycles),” he said:
Kyagulanyi’s arrest on Wednesday in the eastern district of Luuka for allegedly flouting COVID-19 guidelines sparked sporadic protests in some parts of the east African country: “ We will continue to work with all partners, to enforce laws prohibiting acts of violence,” Enanga said: “ The joint task force is committed to ensuring that all Ugandan’s freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner,” he said, referring to a multi-agency organ set up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic: We would like to warn those that are already drawn into the violent protests and those that are intending to join to reject such calls and remain law-abiding,” Enanga said:
Electoral Commission in Uganda earlier this month cleared 11 presidential candidates, including incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, to run in the 2021 general elections: The electoral body urged candidates to follow the strict COVID-19 guidelines, such as keeping the size of campaign rallies to no more than 200 people, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.22; Level four rules for 11 council areas came into force at 18:00 on Friday, when travel curbs in level three and four areas also became law: Non-essential shops, hospitality, hairdressers and gyms will remain closed until 11 December: Less than five weeks before Christmas, main shopping streets were unusually quiet:
#Coronavirus Report: #Covid19 in Scotland: Streets empty on day one of level 4 lockdown until Dec.11: just 14 days before ChristmasDayaccording to BBC Scotland
The Scottish government has said the restrictions are necessary to drive down stubbornly high rates of the virus: Saturday’s daily coronavirus figures showed 887 positive cases and 37 newly-reported deaths in the past 24 hours. Across Scotland, 100 patients were in intensive care, a rise of 12 since Friday: Of the new cases, 234 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 246 in Lanarkshire, and 140 in Lothian.
‘Risks are not zero’
Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that while infection rates have stabilised in recent weeks, they remained at a stubbornly high level in some areas: She said the new restrictions would help infection rates come down further before the Christmas period, paving the way for a possible easing: “ The fact is the fewer people who are in the population who have Covid by the time we get to Christmas, the lower the risk of people being infected with it during that period,” she said: “ It’s very important for me to be clear that the risks would not be zero – which is why we must be very careful about any relaxation over Christmas and people will have to think carefully themselves, even with any relaxation, about what they want to do or not.”…………
On Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said the chief medical officers of the UK nations had been tasked with developing a “concrete” proposal for household mixing at Christmas, details of which could be revealed next week: Ms Sturgeon also said the new travel restrictions were “vital” to ensure there is no need for a national lockdown.Staff outnumbered passengers at Queen Street Station as travel restrictions took effect: People in level three and four areas must not travel outside their council area, except for essential purposes such as work and healthcare, and people living elsewhere must not travel into these areas except for essential purposes: She urged Scots to abide by the new regulations, which could see a £60 fine levied against those who violate the rules unless they have a “reasonable excuse”, such as caring responsibilities or a hospital appointment:
National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said the actions people in level four areas take now will dictate which restrictions are in place in the new year: He said: “When you think about Christmas you should also think of the consequences that will have for January. If the virus spreads between households on Christmas day and Boxing day or whenever, of course, that will have a run-in effect to January: “ People will catch the virus at Christmas and then some of them will be hospitalised and be in intensive care in January. That’s what we need to avoid. The principal way to avoid that is to get prevalence down and have a safe Christmas.”
The stricter rules apply to 2.3 million people across East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian: Virus rates in these areas last week ranged from 158 new cases per 100,000 people in West Lothian to 277 in Glasgow – all of which were above the Scotland-wide rate of 140 cases per 100,000.
The UK government-funded centre will be operated by facilities company Mitie in the St Francis Community Centre in the Gorbals: It is the third to open in the city, and one of 14 operating across Scotland out of 22 promised by Westminster:
As bars and restaurants closed their doors once again under virus measures, opposition parties called for more support for the industry to help save jobs: Nicola Sturgeon has promised a £30m fund for businesses in level four areas: But Labour jobs spokesman Alex Rowley said the proposals fell short of what was required and he urged the first minister to bring forward proposals for more extensive support next week.