#AceNewsReport – Oct.09: The incident occurred on a Eurostar service that was traveling from Paris Gare du Nord to St. Pancras on Thursday afternoon but was halted in Lille after a train manager reportedly got into an aggressive argument with a man over his face mask, according to passengers.
#AceDailyNews says according to a RT News report: Armed police drag passenger off Eurostar train after staff member accused him of wearing the ‘wrong type of mask’ and it turned into an aggressive argument ….
Following the confrontation, the manager stated that they would be informing the police at Lille for his failure to follow Covid regulations, with the train making an emergency, unscheduled stop at the station where eight officers forcibly removed the passenger. As he left the train, the passenger, thought to be in his 40s, claimed he had been accused of “not wearing the right type of mask” and would now “be left alone in France,”calling it “very cruel treatment.”
Train manager told the police to arrest the poor guy and when asked by the press why they arrested him they said “Je ne sais pas”https://t.co/w7wHOqbceu— Bones Terwilliger 🟨 🟥 (@DrStedx) October 8, 2021
A spokesperson for Eurostar defended the response to the situation, claiming that “the passenger became aggressive and intimidating toward the on-board team” after they reminded him of their rule on mask wearing and, as a result, he “was asked to leave the train at Lille station.”In accordance with the company’s “normal procedure” police officers were called “to attend and assist.”
French police confirmed the man had been arrested over the incident on the train but provided no further update on the situation.
Eurostar states on its website that all passengers must wear a face covering on its trains, even if they have been fully vaccinated, with those who fail to comply potentially being refused travel. The company’s guidelines don’t state what type of mask is required, only that it must cover the mouth and nose of passengers.
#AceHealthReport – Oct.05: Researchers determined that the waning immunity had to do with the amount of time since an individual was given the second shot rather than due to the highly infectious delta strain.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – The Pfizer-funded study found that Pfizer’s vaccine was 88 percent effective in the first month after full vaccination but dropped to 47 percent effectiveness at about six months: The vaccine was also found to be highly effective against the delta variant, which was found to be over 90 percent effective in the first months before dropping to 53 percent effectiveness after four months…
“Our results provide support for high effectiveness of [Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine] against hospital admissions up until around 6 months after being fully vaccinated, even in the face of widespread dissemination of the delta variant,” the researchers wrote. “Reduction in vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infections over time is probably primarily due to waning immunity with time rather than the delta variant escaping vaccine protection.”
Protection against hospital admission remained high throughout, being 93 percent effective up to six months after administration.
For the study, researchers looked at the electronic records of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health care system, looking at all the system’s patients ages 12 and up. Researchers looked at 3.4 million people in the KPSC health care system that they studied from December 2020 to last August.
Researchers determined that individuals fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had an overall 73 percent effective protection against COVID-19 infection and a 90 percent effective protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization.
“Our results reiterate in a real-world US setting that vaccination with [the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine] remains an essential tool for preventing COVID-19, especially COVID-19-associated hospital admissions, caused by all current variants of concern,” they wrote.
The results of these studies reiterate findings from Pfizer and BioNTechthat were released in July. The preprint study found that the vaccine’s effectiveness reached a peak of 96.2 percent within two months after the second dose, with the shot’s effectiveness found at the time to decrease by about 6 percentage points every two months afterwards.
The results of this study come out just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration approved a booster dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for the elderly and those at high risk of infection, with the decision made in light of earlier data that suggested the vaccine efficacy fell after some months.
“We believe boosters have an important role to play in addressing the continued threat of this disease, alongside efforts to increase global access and uptake among the unvaccinated,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said at the time.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.01: Starting Friday, individuals in the city are asked to use 311 when reporting crimes that are either no longer in process, when the suspect is no longer on the scene, or when there is no immediate threat to life or property, according to the Austin Police Department.
#AceDailyNews says according to David Aaro of Fox News crimes that could be considered nonemergencies include, theft, and burglary of a residence, business, or vehicle, police said: Reports gathered by 311, or online at ireportaustin.com, will still be given to investigators – and detectives will follow up on them when they are able to do so, Chacon said in effort they say to reduce exposure to #Coronavirus
“Please understand, if somebody is in danger, we’re still going to send a marked unit and a uniformed officer to go handle it,” interim police chief Joseph Chacon explained Wednesday, according to KXAN-TV. “But for crimes that may have already happened and are now being reported, we are looking at alternative measures, and that’s what we’re working on now.”
Chacon said the changes come amid recent staffing challenges, reimagining public safety task force recommendations, and its review of its patrol COVID-19 mitigation protocols, which started May 2020.
The department said it was trying to reduce coronavirus exposure risk for the public and sworn police officers, who will no longer be responding to those nonemergency calls, FOX 7 Austin reported.
“I feel like, in many areas, not just obviously in our sworn officers on the street, but with our property crime technicians in forensics and in our Austin 311 call center, we are experiencing staffing shortages, and, so, I think that I’m going to ask for a little bit of patience. Many times people do have to wait on hold when they’re calling 311 in order to make that report,” the interim chief said.
“If an officer is not necessarily needed, in other words, this is a crime that obviously has already been committed, and we can still get a property crime technician there to take photos, to be able to gather the evidence and to provide a case number and a way to follow up to a victim of a crime, then that may be the most appropriate way, actually, to handle it so that I can free my officers up to keep answering the emergency calls for service where we have a violent crime and people that are actively engaged in criminal activity,” he added.
Crimes that could be considered nonemergencies include theft, suspicious person or vehicle, verbal disputes, prostitution, animal services, and burglary of a residence, business, or vehicle, police said.
“Again, if any on that list are still in progress, and there is an immediate threat to public safety, then a call to 911 is appropriate, and we will dispatch an officer,” Chacon noted.
Last month, a North Carolina man said his daughter was in Austin for a bachelorette party with friends when the home they were renting was burglarized, KXAN-TV reported.
“They proceeded to call the police and were referred to 311, who instructed them to start an online report. And no law enforcement official arrived at the location,” Darin Short explained.
After not hearing back for weeks, he said they received a call Wednesday afternoon saying an officer should contact them within 48 hours, according to the station.
He added that the nonemergency response could be reevaluated if the department is able to fill empty officer positions.
“We’re going to be seeking input into that area from our community stakeholders, from City Council, from community members at large in the coming months to see how they want those police services delivered, and then we’ll be able to determine how many officers we really need,” said Chacon.
If someone is unsure whether a specific call is an emergency, they should still call 911, the chief noted.
#AceHealthReport – Sept.11: Maura McGoldrick, 21, received her first dose in London and her second in Glasgow, where she lives: However, her vaccination record only shows her having received one dose: The fourth-year student at the University of Edinburgh is concerned others may be similarly affected: The Scottish government said it had been working to “align” vaccination data from across the UK.
With some saying they are double-vaccinated but can’t show the proof’ as a number of people including this woman who was vaccinated in England and Scotland says she cannot get an accurate vaccination certificate because of issues with data-sharing across health services.
It has only recently been made available in the form of a QR code – despite a digital passport being widely used across Europe for months.
While travelling to London over the summer, Ms McGoldrick said she heard news of the push for young people to visit drop-in vaccine clinics – and attended a local clinic the following day.
She said the medics at the centre were unable to find her NHS records, but took her name and address and gave her a card which stated the batch of the vaccine she had just received.
Maura McGoldrickNHS England issue patients with cards detailing the vaccine batch number
To be safe, Ms McGoldrick said she quickly phoned NHS Inform to let them know she had received her first jab outside of Scotland and was told her records would be updated.
However, when she received her second dose in Glasgow in August, she was told the first dose was missing from her medical records.
She requested her vaccine certificate by post and, again, the document showed one dose issued in Glasgow.
“Because there have been other things going on, it’s just compounded general stress and been emotionally draining,” said Ms McGoldrick.
“I know rationally it’s not the end of the world and I’m very privileged even to just have the vaccine.
“But I’m now at the stage where there is no-one else for me to call, no more leads for me to pursue – it’s a bit of a hopeless situation.”
Ms McGoldrick has spent more than two weeks calling NHS Inform and her GP in order to resolve the matter: She said her GP managed to acquire information on her vaccination in London.However, she said NHS Inform staff told her there was no data-sharing mechanism between them and NHS England and they would need to request the information from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.The Scottish government then refuted the claim about data sharing, saying it has worked to “align” vaccination records from different UK nations.A spokesperson said: “We are aware some people have encountered problems but it’s untrue to say there is no data-sharing and we are working closely with other nations to resolve the issue. “We have a process in place for sharing data between England and Scotland and continue to work with international stakeholders to improve the transfer of data across borders.”Updated NHS Inform guidance contains guidance on what to do if you have been vaccinated abroad or have been vaccinated in different parts of the UK.” What does the NHS say about vaccine status and the Common Travel Area?
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde gave the BBC contradictory information, saying that NHS Scotland certificates “can only contain information on vaccines administered in Scotland”.It has not responded to a further query.Ms McGoldrick is currently trying to get the health board to share her GP’s information with NHS Inform – but said other people in her position may not be able to chase it up.She said: “Selfishly speaking, I’m trying to sort this out for myself but I’m in the fortunate position where I have time to chase this up.”
But I know there are other people in the same position – NHS Inform said they had other people call about this but assumed they sorted it out: People have probably just given up as it will take more time and effort that they have to give right now.”
Vaccine certificates with QR codes are widely used across European countries: A a result of her vaccine status issue, Ms McGoldrick has postponed her October plans to travel to Copenhagen – partly for leisure, but also to do work experience related to her university course in international relations.She said she thought she was doing the right thing by getting her vaccine as quickly as possible, but the bureaucracy and cancelled plans that resulted had been a “bit of a blow”.”It’s the fact that we’ve been cooped up for so long,” she said. “I felt when I got two doses I had done everything I was supposed to do.”
#AceHealthReport – Sept.02: The plans will apply to indoor and outdoor events, and will need to be signed off by MSPs next week: Ms Sturgeon said the move was needed to help stem the recent surge in the number of cases…..
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that Nicola Sturgeon with support from Greens in their Power-Sharing have agreed to the need for vaccine passports for large events she said in Holyrood on Wednesday as a further 6,107 people have tested positive, with the number of people in hospital doubling in the past 10 days and several areas of Scotland are among the regions with the highest rates of the virus in Europe.
The new vaccine certification rules mean people over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to:
Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.
Unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience.
Unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience.
Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
He added: “It’s not clear what IT infrastructure will be in place, what time-scales clubs will be asked to work to, or what can be done for those without smart phones.
“And it’s not clear if it’s going to cut across terms and conditions of seasons tickets already bought by people across the land.”
Ms Sturgeon said the hospitality industry as a whole would not be included in the certification scheme – although that decision would be kept under review.
And there are no plans to include key services or settings where people have no choice over attendance – such as shops, public transport, education and medical services.
Anyone who has good reasons for not getting fully vaccinated – including children and people with particular medical conditions – will be exempt.
People can already request a paper copy of their vaccination record to allow them to travel, and from Friday they will be provided with a QR code so they can download a copy of the record to keep on their phone.
Paper copies of vaccine certificates are already available for people who have been fully vaccinated
A similar scheme will be introduced in England at the end of this month, with people needing to have a “Covid pass” to access “higher risk” settings such as nightclubs.
Several other European countries – including France, Italy and Ireland – have already introduced certification.
Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, said in July that he was “sceptical” about the case for vaccine passports, citing concerns that they “might increase the inequality gap, and there would be ethical issues”.
The country’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, also said he did not believe it was right to exclude people who do not want to be vaccinated after the UK government set out its plans to introduce passports in England.
In a statement at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that the certification scheme was now needed to “help protect individuals and the country as a whole and reduce the risk of further restrictions being necessary”.The first minister added: “Many of the events and venues that are covered by the certification scheme are important – they matter to our economy, and to our cultural and social life. “That’s why we want to enable them to stay open safely – but they are not essential services.”And the nature of them – which involves bringing many people together in relatively small areas – does mean that, despite their very best efforts, they can contribute significantly to the spread of the virus.”She also said it would be “grossly irresponsible” to rule out re-introducing further restrictions in the future.
The Scottish Greens are not keen on vaccine passports. The new minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, Patrick Harvie, has raised concerns about their introduction before.In July he argued vaccine certification “would deepen discrimination against those who have not yet been vaccinated”.
Today the party’s health spokesperson, Gillian Mackay, said it was essential the Scottish government ensures the introduction of vaccine certification doesn’t adversely affect disabled people, those with underlying health conditions and those from the global south who may not be able to access proof of vaccination. But the Greens are now in government. Vaccine certification isn’t specifically excluded in the co-operation agreement they signed with the SNP and so the Greens are bound by collective responsibility on this issue and will have to support it when it’s put to the vote at Holyrood.
The first minister said it was a “significant move” and would need to be signed off by MSPs, with a debate and vote to take place next week.However the SNP has a comfortable majority with the backing of the Scottish Greens – who have previously been opposed to the move – and the cooperation agreement between the two parties commits them to working together on Covid-related matters.
The Liberal Democrats were the only party to hit out directly against the plans following Ms Sturgeon’s statement, with leader Alex Cole-Hamilton saying vaccine passports were akin to “medical ID cards”, adding: “
This is an illiberal step”.Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the Scottish government had “wasted months” that could have been spent making preparations, and was now “introducing vaccine passports at the last minute”.He added: “It’s a striking u-turn from what John Swinney said last month, where he emphatically claimed vaccine passports were “the wrong way” to go. “We need businesses to get in-depth guidance around these certificates as soon as possible.
They should be involved in the process and the government needs to clarify whether they will be expected to police these new rules.”Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the virus was now out of control and Scotland – and claimed the government had no strategy to deal with it. Case levels in Scotland are 80% higher now than they were last week, and five times higher than they were four weeks ago.
The number of people in hospital has more than doubled since 20 August, from 312 to 629.Intensive care admissions have not risen as quickly, but have still gone up from 34 to 59 over the same timescale.Meanwhile 4,108,804 people have had a first dose of vaccine, and 3,691,066 have had two.That includes 95% of people over 40 who are now fully vaccinated, as well as 71% of 30 to 39-year-olds and 51% of 18 to 29-year-olds.The Federation of Small Businesses said the many affected firms would not welcome the certificate scheme – but would accept it as an alternative to stricter restrictions. But it said the system needed to be user-friendly for both businesses and the public, and warned against a “rush” to extend the scheme to other settings. The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) said the scheme was a “threat hanging over the whole of the hospitality industry”, while the UK Hospitality Scotland said the move would “cause dismay amongst businesses” that had only recently been allowed to reopen.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.23: Anyone over 18 will be able to opt in when having a PCR test from Tuesday – of those who test positive, up to 8,000 will be sent two home antibody tests. ….
#CoronavirusNewsDesk reports #COVID19Antibody tests are to be widely offered to the UK public for the first time in a new programme that aims to find out more about how much natural protection people have after getting #coronavirus.
On Sunday the U.K. reported see below for latest figures after coming out of lockdown recently as U.K. prepares to end furlough and everyone can return to normal life ?
The government scheme will offer tests to thousands of adults each day.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it would be quick and easy to take part.
The first of the finger-prick tests would have to be done as soon as possible after the positive result, so the body would not have time to generate a detectable antibody response to the infection.
The second would be taken 28 days later and measure antibodies generated in response to the infection.
The UK Health Security Agency is to run the programme and will work alongside NHS test and trace services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to use results to monitor levels of antibodies in positive cases.
Its chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said the scheme would help the UK gain “vital insight” into the impact of the vaccination programme and immune responses to different variants.
Mr Javid said it would build on the “massive wall of defence” that was the vaccination programme and getting involved would help “strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life”.
The Department of Health said as well as helping it improve understanding about antibody protection, the scheme could give information about any groups of people who did not develop an immune response after getting coronavirus.
Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed news of the study, saying: “It is vital that we have the fullest understanding possible of vaccine effectiveness and the immune response of the broader population.
“The rollout of this antibody testing study will help us achieve this and could play an important role in the battle to keep the virus under control.”
Antibody tests have been used previously in the UK during the pandemic but in limited numbers, largely on people involved in studies or surveys.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.22: Scammers are impersonating FTC Chair Lina Khan in a new phishing scheme. The email says the FTC wants to send you Coronavirus relief funds and tells you to send some personal information, like your name, address, and date of birth. The FTC is not distributing Coronavirus economic stimulus or relief money to people.
#AceHealthReport – Aug.13: Experts agree on several reasons why such a goal — where overall immunity in a population is reached and the spread of the virus is stopped — is not likely.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that Sir Andrew Pollard Head of Oxford Vaccine Group has said that ‘Herd Immunity’ from the #Coronavirus Plague’ is not possible with the Delta Variant according to CNBC and Holly Ellyatt
Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told British lawmakers Tuesday that as Covid vaccines did not stop the spread of the virus entirely — with vaccinated people still able to be infected and transmit the virus — the idea of achieving herd immunity was “mythical.”
“I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still infects vaccinated individuals,” said Pollard, one of the lead researchers in the creation of the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine.
“And that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated, at some point, will meet the virus. That might not be this month or next month, it might be next year, but at some point they will meet the virus and we don’t have anything that will stop that transmission.”
#AceHealthReport – Aug.08: Even people who have recovered from #COVID19 are being urged to get vaccinated, especially as the extra-contagious Delta variant surges, with a new study showing survivors who ignore the advice are more than twice as likely to get reinfected…..
The CDC recommends full vaccination, meaning both doses of two-dose vaccines for everyone: Cases & DataCases in US Last 30 DaysTotal Cases in US35,665,877Total Vaccines Administered350,627,188Deaths in US Last 30 DaysTotal Deaths in US614,291COVID DATA TRACKER
A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds to growing laboratory evidence that people who have had one bout of COVID-19 get a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells — and a bonus of broader protection against new mutants — when they’re vaccinated.
“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country.”
According to a new Gallup survey, one of the main reasons Americans cite for not planning to get vaccinated is the belief that they’re protected since they already had COVID-19.
From the beginning, health authorities have urged survivors to get the broader protection vaccination promises.
Scientists say infection does generally leave survivors protected against a serious reinfection, at least with a similar version of the virus, but blood tests have signalled that protection drops against worrisome variants.
The CDC study offers some real-world evidence.
Researchers studied Kentucky residents with a lab-confirmed coronavirus infection in 2020, the vast majority of them between October and December.
They compared 246 people who got reinfected in May or June of this year with 492 similar survivors who stayed healthy.
The survivors who never got vaccinated had a significantly higher risk of reinfection than those who were fully vaccinated, even though most had their first bout of COVID-19 just six to nine months ago.
A different variant of the coronavirus caused most illnesses in 2020, while the newer Alpha version was predominant in Kentucky in May and June, said study lead author Alyson Cavanaugh, a CDC disease detective working with that state’s health department.
That suggests natural immunity from earlier infection isn’t as strong as the boost those people can get from vaccination while the virus evolves, she said.
Scientists highlight ‘hybrid immunity’
There’s little information yet on reinfections with the newer delta variant.
But US health officials point to early data from Britain that the reinfection risk appears greater with delta than with the once-common Alpha variant, once people are six months past their prior infection.
“There’s no doubt” that vaccinating a COVID-19 survivor enhances both the amount and breadth of immunity “so that you cover not only the original (virus) but the variants,” Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, said at a recent White House briefing.
But in a separate study published Friday in JAMA Network Open, Rush University researchers reported just one vaccine dose gave the previously infected people a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells, more than those who had never been infected got from two shots.
Other recent studies published in Science and Nature show the combination of a prior infection and vaccination also broadens the strength of people’s immunity against a changing virus.
It’s what virologist Shane Crotty of California’s La Jolla Institute for Immunology calls “hybrid immunity”.
Vaccinated survivors “can make antibodies that can recognise all kinds of variants, even if you were never exposed to the variant,” Dr Crotty said.
One warning for anyone thinking of skipping vaccination if they had a prior infection: the amount of natural immunity can vary from person to person, possibly depending on how sick they were to begin with.
The Rush University study found four of 29 previously infected people had no detectable antibodies before they were vaccinated and the vaccines worked for them just like they work for people who never had COVID-19.
Why do many of the previously infected have such a robust response to vaccination? It has to do with how the immune system develops multiple layers of protection.
After either vaccination or infection, the body develops antibodies that can fend off the coronavirus the next time it tries to invade. Those naturally wane over time.
If an infection sneaks past them, T cells help prevent serious illness by killing virus-infected cells — and memory B cells jump into action to make lots of new antibodies.
Those memory B cells don’t just make copies of the original antibodies.
In immune system boot camps called germinal centres, they also mutate antibody-producing genes to test out a range of those virus fighters, explained University of Pennsylvania immunologist John Wherry.
The result is essentially a library of antibody recipes that the body can choose from after future exposures — and that process is stronger when vaccination triggers the immune system’s original memory of fighting the actual virus.
With the Delta variant’s super infectiousness, getting vaccinated despite a prior infection “is more important now than it was before to be sure,” Dr Crotty said.
“The breadth of your antibodies and potency against variants is going to be far better than what you have right now.”
Johns Hopkins Doctor says #COVID19 vaccines ‘should not be required for all Americans’ as Unvaccinated people “pose no public health threat to those already immune.”
A professor at Johns Hopkins University is arguing that the one-size-fits-all approach to universal vaccination being pushed in the U.S. is misguided and based on bad science.
Marty Makary, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, said in U.S. News and World Reports that “the notion that we have to vaccinate every living, walking American – and eventually every newborn – in order to control the pandemic is based on the false assumption that the risk of dying from COVID-19 is equally distributed in the population.”
“It’s not,” he continued. “We have always known that it’s very hard for the virus to hurt someone who is young and healthy. And that’s still the case. While vaccine requirements for health care workers make sense, we would never extend those requirements outside of health care for, say, the flu shot.”
Makary further pointed out that at least some individuals have already acquired natural immunity to COVID.
“Requiring the vaccine in people who are already immune with natural immunity has no scientific support,” he argued. “While vaccinating those people may be beneficial – and it’s a reasonable hypothesis that vaccination may bolster the longevity of their immunity – to argue dogmatically that they must get vaccinated has zero clinical outcome data to back it.”
“The goal of our pandemic response should be to reduce death, illness and disability,” he said, “but instead what you’re seeing is a movement that has morphed from being pro-vaccine to vaccine fanaticism at all costs.”
Malaysia: Has now become one of the hotspots in Asia, and saw a record of 17,786 new cases on 31 July and daily deaths at a record high of 219 on 2 August.The country has been experiencing shortages of beds, ventilators and oxygen.Despite being in lockdown, some citizens have taken to the streets to protest at the government’s handling of the pandemic.At the end of June, around 70% of the samples sequenced in Malaysia were linked to the Delta variant, according to Our World in Data………The proportion of Malaysians fully vaccinated is higher than in some of its neighbours – but is still at only 21% of the population.
Bangladesh: which has a long border with India, has experienced an upward trend in cases since mid-May.The Delta variant was detected in 100% of the tests sequenced in the country up to 12 July.Amid rising cases, the country had lifted curbs and lockdown ahead of a major religious festival in July.It re-imposed a stricter lockdown after the festivities, but has relaxed it again.July saw the highest number of cases and deaths since the pandemic began.Although it was earlier than many other countries in starting vaccinations, the rollout in Bangladesh has generally been slow: return to the capital, Dhaka, as restrictions easeIn April, Bangladesh was forced to suspend vaccinations because exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India were halted.The rollout has now resumed with supplies of China’s Sinopharm and the Pfizer vaccine provided through the global Covax vaccine sharing scheme.Less than 3% of the population of Bangladesh had been fully vaccinated as of 1 August.
Thailand: The country’s daily cases and deaths were at a record high on 31 July. The recent rise in cases and deaths in Thailand has been attributed in part to the Delta variant.The Thai government recently said that 60% of cases were linked to the Delta variant with the figure as high as 80% in the capital, Bangkok. The country had recently opened up to tourists, but the government has now announced strict curbs which will be imposed from 3 to 19 August in 29 provinces……………Health officials have said that 90% of hospital beds in Bangkok and 80% of beds nationwide are occupied, and the authorities are keeping increasing numbers of people in isolation at home if they have mild or no symptoms: Hospitals in Thailand are overwhelmed: Vaccinations rates have also remained low with at least 25 vaccination centres shutting due to shortages of vaccine supplies: Only a little over 5% of the population was fully vaccinated as of 25 July.
Pakistan: Case numbers have been rising sharply as the country undergoes another coronavirus surge, fuelled in part by the Delta variant.At the end of May, about a third of cases sequenced during the previous two weeks were recorded as being the Delta variant.The exact spread of the variant is difficult to map as Pakistan does not have the capacity to do lots of sequencing of coronavirus tests.The UK is offering support to Pakistan and other countries so that they can carry out more sequencing……..Some parts of the country have imposed lockdowns, but Pakistan has low levels of vaccination, allowing the virus to spread more easily.Less than 3% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Vietnam: The country had managed to keep Covid-19 under control through testing, effective contact tracing and border restrictions until April this year when the Delta variant was detected.Until early July, Vietnam had reported less than 100 deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020, but that had risen to more than 1,300 by 1 August: Reuters: Vietnam has put restrictions in place in Ho Chi Minh and other citiesAround 85% of total coronavirus cases were reported in just the last month. The health minister recently said that that the Delta variant was “destroying all anti-pandemic achievements” – but it is unclear how many cases are linked to the Delta variant: Despite restrictions in place, cases continue to rise, with Ho Chi Minh City the worst affected area…..
The vaccination programme has moved very slowly with only 0.68% of the population fully vaccinated as of 1 August: Read more from Reality Check
However, the site suffered a security glitch on 22 May which enabled people to alter details on the document.
A fix was implemented on 25 May, which meant people in Scotland could only request the document be sent to them by post.
In Wales, public health advice still states that residents should “avoid international travel” but this is guidance rather than a ban.
At that time, the Welsh government advised people to register to download the digital pass at least two weeks before they were due to travel abroad.
Unlike England however, residents in Wales cannot use the NHS app to access the NHS Covid Pass.
Instead, they need to register for an NHS login which requires submitting photo ID such as a passport or driving licence.
Passport for access
First Minister Paul Givan has said he is cautious about introducing vaccine certification to allow people to gain access to public or private services.
He said it was a discussion the executive would have, but they would need to “weigh up the proportionality” before putting in this requirement.
He claimed it could lead to the exclusion of some people who for whatever reason through health or other genuine concerns do not receive a vaccine.
“I think we need to be careful that we don’t then have a society where these people are unable to access either public or private services and that’s a discussion we’ll have as an executive going forward, ” added Mr Givan.
He also said he was not a believer in “mandatory” vaccinations, but he said the issue of “incentivisation” was one they could look at.
#AceHealthReport – July.25: We’ve had an oxygen shortage since July 14 and it’s getting critical by the day because of a surge in new cases,” Ketut Suarjaya, the head of Bali’s health agency, said as quoted by Antara state news agency as saying on Friday.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says there’s an oxygen crisis in Bali.” As Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has had more than 3 million #COVID19 infections and 80,598 deaths according to official data the spread being driven by the Delta variant, has shown no sign of slowing acording to Telegram Reuters Wires…
Reuters Wire News, [Jul 24, 2021 at 09:19:
Research organisation Our World in Data said the country had a death rate three times higher than the global average.
The debate over coronavirus restrictions has pitted health experts, who say it is premature to ease curbs during the surge of infections, against employer groups that have warned of mass layoffs unless the curbs are relaxed.
Suarjaya said patients in Bali needed 113.3 tonnes of oxygen on Thursday, while hospitals only had 40.5 tonnes. He was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.
Oxygen shortages have also been seen on Java. The government has begun to import oxygen supplies from countries such as the United States and China.
#AceHealthReport – July.25: Infections are rising, particularly in Europe and the western Pacific region. Some Western countries have started to ease restrictions as death rates have dropped. But those without access to vaccines or with a slower vaccine rollout are facing a deadlier threat…
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – #Covid19 Delta variant spreads globally as cases soar across 124 terrortories worldwide and its expected to become the dominant variant globally in the coming months, with the WHO predicting that there could be more than 200 million confirmed cases within a matter of weeks Read More Here:
Reuters/BBC/Indonesia Media: Indonesia has seen cases soar in recent weeks after the Delta variant arrived in the country
Here, BBC journalists around the world give a sense of the toll the Delta variant is taking and what impact its spread could have:
Valdya Baraputri, BBC News Indonesia: Demand for funerals soars with more than 1,300 deaths in a day, Indonesia has become Asia’s new Covid epicentre. Hundreds of people have died in self-isolation – possibly because they could not get immediate treatment or were turned away by overwhelmed hospitals.Wirawan, a firefighter in the capital city of Jakarta, sees the worsening crisis first-hand. He and his team are tasked with picking up bodies from homes before finally delivering them for burial. Before the latest spike in cases, he arranged two or three funerals a day. Now, he gets calls for up to 24 funerals a day.That’s more than he can handle, so the bodies need to wait.
Dying alone in Indonesia’s grim battle with Covid-19 that is recording more than 50,000 new daily cases, and the government is keeping emergency restrictions until at least the end of this week. It is likely to extend the measures on Monday.As the new highly transmissible Delta variant, which was first detected in India, continues to ravage the country, Indonesia is racing to vaccine its people. From 208 million people eligible for vaccines, only around 16 million have received both doses.What is the Delta variant?
By Michelle Roberts, BBC Health Editor: First cases were identified in India, but it has been reported in lots of countries around the world It is a variant of concern, meaning it has undergone some genetic changes that are potentially worrying in terms of transmissibility and vaccine escapeIn some countries, including the UK, Delta has become the dominant type of Covid circulatingExperts say vaccines still work well to protect against severe disease caused by this variantTunisia – Pizza offers for vaccine registration.
By Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent: Tunisia is now witnessing the most devastating impact of Covid since the global pandemic took hold. It’s not known whether most of the new infections are the Delta variant specifically, but case numbers grew after its known arrival here. Hospitals across the country are completely overwhelmed, with some medics filmed crying over a shortage of oxygen concentrators as they are forced to decide who lives and who dies. Getty ImagesIn July a health ministry spokeswoman described the Covid situation in Tunisia as “catastrophic”Infection rates are soaring, and the vaccination campaign has been very slow with less than 8% of the population fully jabbed. Rights organisations have accused the government of mismanaging the crisis, and on Tuesday the health minister was sacked. In recent days, Tunisia’s national telecoms agency has offered 1GB of free internet for those who follow a mobile text prompt to register for a vaccine. At least one known pizza place in Tunis offered a 10% discount if customers showed proof of vaccine registration.The situation could turn a corner next month after Tunisia received donations of vaccines, oxygen tanks and other medical supplies from European and Arabic countries, with several countries pledging to deliver more aid.Mexico – People tire of the crisis.
By Marcos González Díaz, BBC Mundo correspondent: Mexico is facing its third wave of the pandemic. The number of infections has risen to more than 15,000 a day, reaching the peak we saw at the beginning of the year.Authorities are concerned about the advance of the Delta variant, which in the capital Mexico City already accounts for around 60% of cases.The government admitted that the spread of this variant in Mexico and the US is the reason they have extended the closure of the land border between the two countries to non-essential travel.Most of those affected in Mexico are young and unvaccinated people. Only one in four over 18 year-olds in the country are fully vaccinated: The Mexican villages refusing to vaccinate but with 65% of beds available, hospitals do not show for now the collapse seen in the worst moments of the pandemic.In the streets, the feeling is almost of apparent normality among a population exhausted by this crisis. Many of them must leave home daily to work selling food or in other informal jobs, in order to earn the money they need to survive.This is why the government does not plan to increase restrictive measures or shut down economic activities once again, despite the risk of Delta.
Samba Cyuzuzo, senior digital journalist for BBC Great Lakes recently, Rwanda had been praised for its swift and strong measures to contain the virus.But since mid-June, the virus has hit harder. Cases and deaths have spiked to record highs week after week. By early July, all Covid treatment centres were said to be full.”We have never been here before in this pandemic,” the health minister told the state broadcaster on 6 July. Two days later he confirmed the arrival of the faster spreading and deadlier Delta variant.On 17 July, the country announced a 10 day lockdown in the capital Kigali and eight districts to try to halt virus. Cases and casualties, however, remain relatively high.More than 400,000 people are fully vaccinated – around 3% of Rwanda’s population.
#AceNewsReport – July.25: This report was provided. By BBC Trending on the effort to use disinformation on vaccines with public, do what’s right in your heart always ….
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot and the The BBC reports they have made multiple attempts to contact AdNow by phone, email and even a letter couriered to their Moscow headquarters, but they have not responded.
By Charlie Haynes and Flora Carmichael BBC Trending
“It started with an email” says Mirko Drotschmann, a German YouTuber and journalist.
Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other.
An influencer marketing agency called Fazze offered to pay him to promote what it said was leaked information that suggested the death rate among people who had the Pfizer vaccine was almost three times that of the AstraZeneca jab.
The information provided wasn’t true.
It quickly became apparent to Mirko that he was being asked to spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in vaccines in the middle of a pandemic.
“I was shocked,” says Mirko “then I was curious, what’s behind all that?”
Mirko DrotschmannMirko Drotschmann was offered money to spread disinformation on his social media accounts
In France, science YouTuber Léo Grasset received a similar offer. The agency offered him 2000 euros if he would take part. Fazze said it was acting for a client who wished to remain anonymous.
“That’s a huge red flag” says Léo.
Both Léo and Mirko were appalled by the false claims.
They pretended to be interested in order to try to find out more and were provided with detailed instructions about what they should say in their videos.
In stilted English, the brief instructed them to “Act like you have the passion and interest in this topic.”
Léo GrassetLéo Grasset was horrified by the attempt to recruit him
It told them not to mention the video had a sponsor – and instead pretend they were spontaneously giving advice out of concern for their viewers.
Social media platforms have rules that ban not disclosing that content is sponsored. In France and Germany it’s also illegal.
Fazze’s brief told influencers to share a story in French newspaper Le Monde about a data leak from the European Medicines Agency.
The story was genuine, but didn’t include anything about vaccine deaths. But in this context it would give the false impression that the death rate statistics had come from the leak.
The data the influencers were asked to share had actually been cobbled together from different sources and taken out of context.
It presented the numbers of people who had died in several countries some time after receiving different Covid vaccines. But just because someone dies after having a vaccine doesn’t mean they died because they had the vaccine. They could have been killed in a car accident.
In the countries the statistics were from, greater numbers of people had received the Pfizer vaccine at that time, so a higher number of people dying after having a Pfizer jab was to be expected.
“If you don’t have any scientific training, you could just say, ‘oh, there are these numbers, they are really different. So there must be a link.’ But you can make any spurious correlation as you want really,” Léo says.
The influencers were also provided with a list of links to share – dubious articles which all used the same set of figures that supposedly showed the Pfzer vaccine was dangerous.
When Léo and Mirko exposed the Fazze campaign on Twitter all the articles, except the Le Monde story, disappeared from the web.
By any measure the disinformation campaign was bungled.
Since Léo and Mirko blew the whistle at least four other influencers in France and Germany have gone public to reveal they also rejected Fazze’s attempts to recruit them.
But German journalist, Daniel Laufer, has identified two influencers who may have taken up the offer.
Indian YouTuber Ashkar Techy usually makes jokey videos about cars and dating and Brazilian prankster Everson Zoio, has more than three million Instagram followers.
Each of them posted uncharacteristic videos in which they pushed the same message as the Fazze campaign and shared the fake news links from the agency’s brief. Both had also participated in previous Fazze promotions.
After Daniel Laufer contacted them, Everson Zoio and Ashkar Techy removed their videos but didn’t answer his questions. The BBC tried to contact both influencers, but they didn’t respond.
Ashkar TechyAshkar Techy shared the dubious data in his video
We tried emailing the people who approached Mirko and Léo. The emails bounced back, not from Fazze, but from the domain of a company called AdNow.
Fazze is a part of AdNow, which is a digital marketing company, registered in both Russia and the UK.
Eventually we managed to contact Ewan Tolladay, one of two directors of the British arm of AdNow – who lives in Durham.
Mr Tolladay said he had very little to do with Fazze – which he said was a joint venture between his fellow director – a Russian man called Stanislav Fesenko – and another person whose identity he didn’t know.
He said that he hadn’t been a part of the disinformation campaign. He said he hadn’t even known Fazze had taken on the contract before the story broke. He couldn’t enlighten us on who the mystery client was.
He said that in light of the scandal “we are doing the responsible thing and shutting down AdNow here in the UK”. He said Fazze was also being shut down.
We have tried to get Mr Fesenko to talk to us but had no success.
Both the French and German authorities have launched investigations into Fazze’s approaches to influencers.
But the identity of the agency’s mystery client remains unclear.
There has been speculation about the Russian connections to this scandal and the interests of the Russian state in promoting its own vaccine – Sputnik V.
Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for the German Green party has suggested looking to Moscow for the motivation behind the Fazze campaign.
He said: “Bad-mouthing vaccines in the West undermines trust in our democracies and is supposed to increase trust in Russia’s vaccines, and there is only one side that benefits and that is the Kremlin.”
But in a statement the Russian embassy in London said: “We treat Covid-19 as a global threat and, thus, are not interested in undermining global efforts in the fight against it, with vaccinating people with the Pfizer vaccine as one of the ways to cope with the virus.”
While Fazze’s campaign was a flop, Léo Grasset believes it won’t be the last attempt to use the power of social influencers to spread disinformation.
“If you want to manipulate public opinion, especially for young people, you don’t go to TV” says French YouTuber Léo Grasset.
“Just spend the same money on TikTok creators, YouTube creators. The whole ecosystem is perfectly built for maximum efficiency of disinformation right now.”
#AceHealthReport – July.23: He dismissed the lab leak idea as a rumour that runs counter to common sense and science….
#AceHealthDesk says WHO’s plan to probe Wuhan lab leak theory ‘impossible’ for China to accept, says Chinese health official ………Zeng Yixin, the vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said on Thursday he was “rather taken aback” that the plan includes further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.
“It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan,” he said at a news conference called to address the COVID-19 origins issue.
The search for where the virus came from has become a diplomatic issue that has fuelled China’s deteriorating relations with the US and many American allies.
The US and others say that China has not been transparent about what happened in the early days of the pandemic.
China accuses critics of seeking to blame it for the pandemic and politicising an issue that should be left to scientists.
#AceHealthReport – July.19: Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the #coronavirus…
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says PARIS: Thousands of people marched around France to protest mandatory vaccinations for health care workers and #COVID19 passes that will be required to enter restaurants and other venues acording to AP
ABC News By CONSTANTIN GOUVY Associated Press: 17 July 2021, 21:47
CDC director: COVID-19 spreading among unvaccinated
In Paris, separate protest marches by the far-right and the far-left wound through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in Strasbourg in the east, Lille in the north, Montpellier in the south and elsewhere.
Thousands of people answered calls to take to the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician and former right hand of Marine Le Pen who announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election. Gathered a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum, protesters chanted “Macron, clear off!”, “Freedom,” and banged metal spoons on saucepans.
While Philippot has organized small but regular protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Saturday’s demonstration drew a larger and more diverse crowd of people broadly disaffected with politics: yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff and royalists.
They denounced the government’s decision on Monday to make vaccinescompulsory for all health care workers, and to require a “health pass” proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in order to access restaurants and other public venues. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is presenting a draft law Monday to enshrine the measures.
“I will never get vaccinated,” Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councilor who lives on the outskirts of Paris. “People need to wake up,” he said, questioning the safety of the vaccine.
While France already requires several vaccinations to enter public school, Auquier pledged to take his two children out of school if the coronavirus vaccine became mandatory. “These new measures are the last straw,” Auquier said.
The government warned of the continued spread of the delta variant, which authorities fear could again put pressure on hospitals if not enough people are vaccinated against the virus. The pandemic has cost France more than 111,000 lives and deeply damaged the economy.
During a visit to a pop-up vaccination center in the southwest, Prime Minister Jean Castex exhorted the French to stick together in order to overcome the crisis.
“There is only one solution: vaccination,” he said, stressing it “protects us, and will make us freer.”
At the Paris protest, a manual worker in his sixties expressed bitterness about jobs in his sector sent offshore. A 24-year-old royalist said he was there to demand “the return of God and the King.”
Lucien, a 28-year-old retail shop manager, said he wasn’t anti-vaccine, but thought that everyone should be able to do as they please with their own body. “The government is going too far,” he said. His 26-year-old friend Elise said, “I am vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. But the COVID vaccine is just too experimental.”
While a majority of French health care workers have had at least one vaccine dose, some are resisting the government’s decision to make vaccination compulsory for all staff in medical facilities.
At Saturday’s Paris protest, a 39-year-old green party supporter and hospital laboratory worker said she might resort to buying a fake vaccination certificate to avoid losing her job. A health care worker dressed as the Statue of Liberty called it “act of violence” to force people to get vaccinated.
In Montpellier, more than 1,000 people marched to the train station, chanting “Liberty!” and carrying signs reading “Our kids aren’t Guinea pigs.” Security officials closed the main entrance to travelers and a dozen police officers took posts in front.
The Interior Ministry said 114,000 people took part in protests nationwide.
Overnight on Friday, vandals ransacked a vaccination center in the southeast. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asked prefects and police chiefs to reinforce security for elected officials, after several complained they had received threats in recent days over the latest anti-COVID measures.
Vaccine hesitancy is considered widespread in France, though appears to have faded somewhat as 36 million French people have gotten coronavirus vaccine doses in recent months. Millions more have gotten injected or signed up for vaccinations since Monday’s announcement.
French health care workers have until Sept. 15 to get vaccinated. The requirement for COVID passes for all restaurants, bars, hospitals, shopping malls, trains, planes and other venues is being introduced in stages starting Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the French government announced tightened border controls starting Sunday, but also said it would allow in travelers from anywhere in the world who have been fully vaccinated.
That now includes people who received AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine. The move came after a global outcry over the fact that the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate only recognizes AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe.
Elaine Ganley in Montpellier and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – PM statement at coronavirus press conference: 12 July 2021 as he confirms ending England lockdown on July 19 with #COVID19 cases estimated to rise to 100,000 but are as of todays date 14th July standing at …..
Today's update to the #COVID19 Dashboard is experiencing a delay.
On 14 July 2021, 42,302 new cases and 49 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK.
46,037,090 people have now received the 1st dose of a #vaccine. 35,155,767 have received a 2nd dose.
On July 19 a raft of #Coronavirus restrictions are set to be lifted including legal requirements on wearing masks and the ‘rule of six’ for meeting indoors and signatories said in the statement that the planned relaxation ‘involves recklessly exposing millions to the acute and long-term impacts of mass infection.’
A ban on nightclubs opening is also set to be scrapped.
It comes amid a surge in new infections with the highest daily rate seen since January, when the nation was once again plunged into lockdown.
With just days to go before the relaxation of more restrictions a group of doctors and health experts wrote to medical journal The Lancet to raise their concerns over the planned changes.Most lockdown restrictions will end on Monday(
The group said: “We believe this is a terrible mistake.
“This strategy is already putting intense pressure on struggling healthcare services and will lead to many avoidable deaths and long-term illness.
“The narrative of ‘caution, vigilance and personal responsibility’ is an abdication of the government’s fundamental duty to protect public health.
“‘Personal responsibility’ does not work in the face of an airborne, highly-contagious infectious disease.The group warned easing restrictions now was ‘a mistake'(Image: Getty Images)
“Infectious diseases are a matter of collective, rather than individual responsibility.”
More than 1,200 scientists have signed a letter to the Lancet setting out why they believe allowing mass infection in the summer is a ‘dangerous and unethical experiment’.
Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, called a strategy of letting infection spread through a population “moral emptiness and epidemiological stupidity”.
Latest government figures reveal that more than 36,000 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, with daily cases numbers topping 30,000 every day over the last week.
It’s the highest tally since January. There were 50 deaths recorded yesterday, which is a relatively lower figure than from earlier this year.
Confirming the planned relaxation earlier Health Secretary Sajid Javidtold MPs there will “never be a perfect time” to lift the restrictions, and added: “To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?'”
Despite admitting cases could soar to 100,000 per day later in the summer, Mr Javid said the vaccine programme would prevent a surge in deaths and hospitalisations.
Nearly 46 million first doses of a Covid vaccine have so far been administered, as well as nearly 35 million second shots.
#AceHealthReport – July.11: Starting on Monday, #coronavirus curbs will be tightened to the strictest level possible in Seoul and neighbouring regions for the first time:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that Seoul is preparing for strictest measures and lockdown starting on Monday after the country reported 1,378 new #COVID19 cases as of midnight on Friday, up from Thursday’s record of 1,316 and rising for the first time in neighbouring regions with about 11% of 52 million people having completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for vaccines requiring two doses, while 30% have received one dose, KDCA said in a statement according to Telegram Reuters Wire report
People wait in line for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site which is temporarily set up at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2021. REUTERS/ Heo Ran
South Korea has so far fared better than many industrialised nations in infections and deaths, with a mortality rate of 1.22% and the number of severe cases at 148 as of Friday, which is much lower than the previous peak in late December.
However the rising trend has prompted a warning that new case numbers may nearly double by the end of July.
That has led to tougher curbs by the government including people being advised to stay home as much as possible and social gatherings restricted to two people after 6pm from four earlier in the day.
The country aims to reach herd immunity before November by inoculating 70% of the public with at least one shot by September.
South Korea’s total Covid-19 infections to date stand at 166,722 with 2,038 deaths.
#AceHealthReport – July.06: I want to set out what our lives would be like from the 19th of this month – which is only a few days away – if and when we move to step 4 – a decision we will finally take on the 12th – and I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over and it will certainly not be over by 19th.
#AceHealthDesk reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement at the #coronavirus press conference and said as we predicted in the roadmap we’re seeing cases rise fairly rapidly – and there could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th and again as we predicted, we’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from #COVID19.
In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there is only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step 4 – in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further – and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine roll-out.
When we paused step 4 a few weeks ago, we had two reasons. First, we wanted to get more jabs into people’s arms – and we have, with over 45 million adults now having received a first dose and 33 million a second. That is a higher proportion of the adult population of any European country except Malta, and our expectation remains that by July 19 every adult will have had the chance to receive a first dose and two thirds will have received their second dose.
And second, we wanted a bit more time to see the evidence that our vaccines have helped to break the link between disease and death. And as the days have gone by it has grown ever clearer that these vaccines are indeed successful with the majority of those admitted to hospital unvaccinated, and Chris and Patrick will show the data highlighting the greatly reduced mortality that the vaccines have achieved.
So, as we come to the fourth step, we have to balance the risks. The risks of the disease which the vaccines have reduced but very far from eliminated. And the risks of continuing with legally enforced restrictions that inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods – on people’s health and mental health. And we must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?
And to those who say we should delay again; the alternative is to open up in the winter when the virus will have an advantage or not at all this year. And so again without pre-empting the decision on 12th July, let me set out today our five-point plan for living with Covid in the hope that it will give families and businesses time to prepare.
First, we will reinforce our vaccine wall, reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to 8, so that everyone over 18 should be double jabbed by mid-September, in addition to our Autumn programme of booster vaccines for the most vulnerable.
Second, we will change the basic tools that we have used to control human behaviour. We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus. From Step 4, we will remove all legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors. We will allow all businesses to re-open, including nightclubs. We will lift the limit on named visitors to care homes, and on numbers of people attending concerts, theatre, and sports events. We will end the 1 metre plus rule on social distancing, and the legal obligation to wear a face covering, although guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so, especially when cases are rising, and where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed places, such as obviously crowded public transport.
It will no longer be necessary for government to instruct people to work from home, so employers will be able to start planning a safe return to the workplace.
There will be no Covid certificate required as a condition of entry to any venue or event, although businesses and events can certainly make use of certification and the NHS app gives you a Covid pass as one way to show your Covid status.
Third, we will continue from Step 4 to manage the virus with a test, trace and isolate system that is proportionate to the pandemic. You will have to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace. But we are looking to move to a different regime for fully vaccinated contacts of those testing positive, and also for children. And tomorrow the Education Secretary will announce our plans to maintain key protections but remove bubbles and contact isolation for pupils.
Fourth, from Step 4 we will maintain our tough border controls – including the red list – and recognising the protection afforded by two doses of vaccine, we will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country and the Transport Secretary will provide a further update later this week.
Last, we will continue to monitor the data and retain contingency measures to help manage the virus during higher risk periods, such as the winter. But we will place an emphasis on strengthened guidance and do everything possible to avoid re-imposing restrictions with all the costs that they bring. As we set out this new approach, I am mindful that today is the 73rd anniversary of our National Health Service and there could not be a more fitting moment to pay tribute once again to every one of our NHS and social care workers.
And the best thing we can do to repay their courage and dedication right now is protect ourselves and others and to get those jabs whenever our turn comes.
#AceHealthReport – July.06: Mr Speaker, I’m extremely grateful to you for accommodating the timing of this statement today. I’d like to update the House on the pandemic, and our roadmap to freedom.
#AceHealthDesk reports ….Update on the #pandemic and the roadmap to freedom and oral statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on step 4 of the roadmap and the vaccine roll-out.
Mr Speaker, this morning I joined some of the remarkable people who have been at the heart of our pandemic response at a service to mark the NHS’s 73rd Birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral. Together we reflected on a ‘year like no other’ – for the NHS and for our country.
I know Honourable Members on all sides of this House will join me in celebrating the decision by Her Majesty the Queen to award the NHS the George Cross. I can think of no more fitting tribute to the NHS. I know that everyone in this House – indeed, everyone in this country – will celebrate this award.
Mr Speaker, there’s no greater demonstration of our high regard for the NHS than the manner in which we all stepped up to protect it. Now it is thanks to the NHS and many others that we are vaccinating our way out of this pandemic – and out of our restrictions.
86% of UK adults have had at least one jab, and 64% have had two. We’re reinforcing our vaccine wall of defence further still.
I can tell the House we are reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to 8… which will mean every adult should have the chance to be double jabbed by mid-September.
And those vaccines are working. The latest data from the ONS shows that 8 in 10 adults have the COVID-19 antibodies that are so important in helping our body fight the disease. When we look at people over 50 — the people who got the jab earlier in the programme — that figure rises to over 9 in 10.
Mr Speaker, allow me to set out why all of this is so important. Before we started putting jabs in arms, whenever we saw a rise in cases, it would inevitably be followed by a rise in hospitalisations and, tragically, a rise in deaths too. Yet today, even though cases are heading upwards in line with what we expected, hospitalisations are increasing at a much lower rate and deaths are at a low level at just 1% of the figure we saw at the peak.
Our vaccines are building a wall of protection against hospitalisation – and jab by jab, brick by brick – that wall is getting higher.
And for those people who sadly do find themselves having to go to hospital, we have better treatments than ever before. Last week, on my visit to St Thomas’ Hospital, clinicians were telling me just how transformative dexamethasone has been for their live-saving efforts. Taken together, the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is being severely weakened – and this means we can start to learn to live with COVID-19.
As we do that, Mr Speaker, it’s important we’re straight with the British people. Cases of COVID-19 are rising – and will continue to rise significantly. We can reasonably expect that, by the 19th of July, the number of daily cases to be far higher than today.
Against this backdrop, I know that many people will be understandably cautious about easing restrictions. After many months of uncertainty, this is entirely natural.
But we can now protect the NHS without having to go to the extraordinary lengths we’ve needed to in the past. That’s not to say this is going to be easy, Mr Speaker. Of course the pandemic is not over. The virus is still with us, it hasn’t gone away – and the risk of a dangerous new variant that evades vaccines remains real.
We know that with COVID-19, the situation can change – and it can change quickly. But we cannot put our lives on hold forever.
My responsibility as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care includes helping to us turn and face the other challenges that we know we must also address, from mental health to social care to the challenges of long-COVID.
I’m also determined to get to work on busting the backlog this pandemic has caused – a backlog we know is likely to get worse before it gets better.
As I set out to this House last week, Mr Speaker, I remain confident we can move to Step 4 in England on the 19th of July and the government will make its final decision on this on the 12th of July.
Today, Mr Speaker, I wish to set out further details of what Step 4 will look like.
In essence, our national response to COVID-19 will change, from one of rules and regulations, to one of guidance and good sense. We will revoke all social distancing guidance, including the 2-metre rule, except for in some specific settings, such as ports of entry and medical settings, where it makes sense for those to continue.
It will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings in any setting, including on public transport – although we advise this as a voluntary measure for crowded and enclosed spaces.
It will no longer be necessary to work from home. There will be no limits on the number of people you can meet. There will be no limits on the number of people who can attend life events, like weddings and funerals – and no restrictions on communal worship and singing.
We will remove legal requirements on how businesses operate. Capacity caps will all be lifted, and there will no longer be a requirement to offer table service. All businesses forced to close their doors because of the pandemic will be able to open them once again.
And we will lift the cap on named care home visitor numbers, so that families can come together in the ways they want to once again.
Mr Speaker, ministers will provide further statements this week on self-isolation for fully vaccinated people, including for international travel, and on restrictions in education settings – including the removal of bubbles and contact isolation.
Today, I can also confirm to the House that we have completed our review of certification. While already a feature of international travel, we have concluded that we do not think using certification as a condition of entry is the way to go.
For people who haven’t been offered a full course of vaccination, and for businesses, we felt the impact outweighed the public health benefits.
Of course, Mr Speaker, businesses can use COVID-status certification at their own discretion…… and from Step 4 onwards, the NHS Covid Pass will be accessible through the NHS app and other non-digital routes.
This will be the main way people can prove their COVID-19 status – a status they will achieve once they have completed a full vaccine course, a recent negative test, or by some other proof of natural immunity.
Mr Speaker, taken together, Step 4 is the biggest step of all. A restoration of so many of the freedoms that make this country great.
We know that as a consequence, cases will rise – just as they have done at every step on our roadmap. But this time, our wall of protection will help us. While Step 4 will be the moment to let go of many of restrictions, we must hold on to those sensible everyday decisions that can keep us all safe.
The responsibility to combat COVID-19 lies with each and every one of us. That means staying at home when you’re asked to self-isolate. It means considering the guidance that we’re setting out. And it means getting the jab – both doses – when you’re offered it, something that is still the single biggest contribution anyone can make to our national effort.
And it may even mean three jabs in a single year for some of us. Last week, the JCVI provided interim advice on who to prioritise for a third dose – and our most vulnerable will be offered booster COVID-19 jabs from September, in time for the winter.
And preparing for the winter ahead is not just about COVID-19, but flu as well.
Because of the measures in place this winter, almost nobody in the UK has had flu for 18 months now. That’s obviously a good thing, but it means our immunity will be down.
This winter’s flu campaign will be more important than ever – and we’re currently looking at whether we can give people their COVID-19 booster shot and the flu jab at the same time.
Mr Speaker, Step 4 is the next step on our country’s journey out of this pandemic.
I know that after so many difficult months, it is a step that many of us will look upon with a great deal of caution. But it is one we will take together, with a growing wall of defence against this virus – a wall that each and every one of us can help to build higher.
It’s vital that each of us plays our part – to protect ourselves and to protect others – into better days ahead.