#AceNewsReport – Apr.16: On the day of the funeral, the Land Rover Defender will be used to carry his coffin to St George’s Chapel:
Land Rover hearse designed by Prince Philip unveiled: ‘The duke, who died at the age of 99 last week, worked on creating the bespoke hearse for 16 years, starting in 2003’ The Land Rover hearse was among the details of the ceremonial royal funeral released by Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
Prince Philip’s funeral will take place in the chapel at Windsor Castle at 15:00 BST on Saturday.
Images of a modified Land Rover designed by the Duke of Edinburgh to carry his coffin have been revealed: His modifications include the open top rear section, where his coffin will rest, and the military green colour.
How to follow the funeral on the BBC TV and radio details below:
The Funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh: BBC One, Saturday 17 April, 12:30-16:20 and 20:10-21:10: The funeral will also be broadcast on Saturday 17 April from 14:00-16:10 on Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service English, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Ulster: It will also be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales and BBC local radio with some variation in start times.
Codenamed Operation Forth Bridge – for the aftermath of Philip’s death have had to change due to the #coronavirus#pandemic, with the ban on mass gatherings and England in national lockdown, means the exact plans
Prince Philip dead:Duke of Edinburgh won’t have state funeral as he didn’t want ‘the fuss’ this is expected to have a royal ceremonial funeral in a socially-distanced service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The duke’s four children – the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex – as well as grandsons the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex, will follow the vehicle in a procession.
The Duke of Edinburgh began creating his own hearse in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82.
The duke, who served in the Royal Navy in World War Two, requested that the original Belize Green bodywork be switched to Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers.
He also designed the open top rear section where his coffin will rest, made to his exact specifications, including the rubber grips on silver metal pins known as the “stops” or “stoppers” which prevent the coffin from moving.
The vehicle also has matching green wheel hubs, a black front grille, a single cab and no registration plates.
The Defender was made at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull and the duke oversaw the modifications for several years, making the final adjustments in 2019, the year he turned 98.
Reuters: Defender was made at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull in 2003
The vehicle’s original role would have been to transport the duke from Wellington Arch in central London to Windsor, 22 miles away, but the coronavirus pandemic curtailed those long-held plans.
The duke used Land Rovers throughout his adult life and granted his Royal Warrant to Land Rover more than 40 years ago.
Tim GrahamPrince Philip was regularly pictured driving his Land Rovers
WPA PoolFormer US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have been among Prince Philip’s passengers
Prince Philip died at Windsor Castle on Friday 9 April. His body is now resting in the castle’s private chapel.
According to Buckingham Palace, the ceremonial parts of the funeral are in line with the duke’s wishes.
Coronavirus restrictions in England mean only 30 people, socially distanced, are allowed to attend funerals.
The mourners will be members of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s families, including three of his German relatives. The procession and service will be televised.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Remembered: BBC One, Friday 16 April, 19:00-20:05
“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.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.07: Argentina has approved an extraordinary levy on large personal wealth. The measure is meant to raise some $3.6 billion to fund recovery after the #Covid19#pandemic. Critics say it’s not an option for the stagnant economy:
The so-called “millionaires’ tax” was approved in the Senate late on Friday in a 42 to 26 vote. The measure targets Argentinian citizens with declared personal wealth of over 200 million pesos ($2.5 million). It will apply a progressive tax rate of at least 2 percent on their total fortunes, including assets they may hold outside the country.
The tax was earlier passed by the lower chamber of the Argentine parliament, with 133 votes for it and 115 against.
Proponents say almost 12,000 people qualify to pay the levy, with the 380 richest taxpayers expected to cover over half of the total sum.
The government hopes to raise as much as $3.6 billion, which is to be spent on medical supplies, support of small and medium-sized businesses, social projects, student scholarships and exploration of natural gas
The tax was floated by the leftist government of Alberto Fernandez and his Frente de Todos (Everybody’s Front) coalition and was described as an opportunity for rich individuals to show “solidarity and extraordinary contribution” to the nation. The spending will boost the ailing national economy, they argued.
Argentina went into recession in 2018, which was a major factor in why Fernandez last year managed to unseat his predecessor, Mauricio Macri, in a general election. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused almost 40,000 deaths in Argentina, further aggravated its economic woes.
Critics from Macri’s Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) coalition said the move was “anti-investment, confiscatory and discriminatory”, and voiced concern that instead of being a one-time measure it would persist in some form.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.28: The darknet – a part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires a special browser to access it – has seen a 300% spike in ads for fake vaccines in the last three months under the guise of brands such as Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, and SinoPharm, according to Check Point Research (CPR), an IT security firm:
Fake vaccines, certificates being sold on darknet: ‘IT security firm reports 300% spike in darknet ads and Cybercriminals have begun to traffic in fake vaccines and certificates, according to a new report’
“It’s clear to us that the target audience for darknet vaccine vendors are actually dealers, not necessarily the public at large,” Ekram Ahmed, spokesperson at Check Point, told Fox News.
The vendors seem to be interested in setting up long-term relationships, where they deliver vaccines in large quantities over a long time period. Prices for the vaccines range between $500 and $600.
“The vendors want foot soldiers on the ground, in multiple geographies, to distribute the full-spectrum of coronavirus services: vaccines, vaccination certifications and negative COVID tests,” Ahmed said.
And the boom in vaccine-related business on the darknet is recent, according to CPR.
Check Point attempted to buy a vaccine. The vendor first insisted on using an end-to-end encrypted service. Then Check Point began a dialogue with vendor, who assured Check Point that they would get the vaccine and it would be temperature regulated during shipping.
Then the vendor asked for payment via Bitcoin. “We paid them. They gave us a FedEx tracking number. The transaction was made last week, and we have yet to get the vaccine we ordered,” according to Ahmed.
And activity on the darknet has expanded to include fake vaccination cards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for $200 per card, CPR said.
Other Darknet activity includes fake negative COVID-19 tests sold as “buy two get the third for free” deals and a do-it-yourself version of a negative COVID-19 test that can be generated in less than 30 minutes for $25.
One hacking forum indicated that “We do negative COVID tests for travelers abroad and for getting a job. Everything is done within 24 hours.”
Earlier this year the Federal Trade Commission issued an advisory on COVID vaccine scams.
“Don’t pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer,” the FTC said.
And always ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine because that’s simply not how you get the vaccine, the FTC said. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations.
#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.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.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.11: With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots:
#Coronavirus Report: Chinese vaccines sweep much of the world, despite concerns: ‘There vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press’
FILE – In this Dec. 23, 2020, file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a Sinovac worker checks the labeling on vials of COVID-19 vaccines on…
FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker administers a dose of China’s Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the vaccination…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, file photo, a teacher receives a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COVID-19, by China’s Sinovac Biotech, at Salv…
FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 file photo, President Sebastian Pinera speaks in front of the plane carrying the country’s first batch of the C…
FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 file photo, a worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for COVID-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing…
FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, Terezinha da Conceicao, 80, left, and Dulcinea da Silva Lopes, 59, become the first women in the cou…
FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, an elderly man looks at his vaccination card after getting a shot of the CoronaVac vaccine for COV…
FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, medical workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination in Jakarta, Indonesia. The c…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, file photo, a woman gets a shot of China’s Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine as part of a priority COVID-19 vaccination p…
FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a health worker holds a box containing a dose of China’s Sinopharm vaccine during the start of the …
FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 file photo, workers unload a container of China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines at the Belgrade Airport in Se…
FILE – In this July 15, 2020 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Sinovac staff members work in a purification area to be used in production…
People rest and are monitored for the possibility of side effects after receiving a dose of Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, We…
FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 file photo, Dr. Lili Rahmawaty, right, gives a shot of COVID-19 vaccine to a colleague at North Sumatra Univer…
FILE – In this Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 file photo, a health worker wearing a face mask and shield holds a sign as she and others call on the government …
A man receives a Chinese made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Budapest, Hungary on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. China is providing the vaccine to countries…
FILE – In this Monday, Feb, 15, 2021 file photo, an official from the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe holds a Chinese flag next to a plane carrying Sinoph…
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January, and Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, was beaming. “Today,” he said, “is a day of joy, emotion and hope.”
The source of that hope: China – a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a dearth of public data on China’s vaccines, hesitations over their efficacy and safety are still pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return for deliveries. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines already have begun in more than 25 countries, and the Chinese shots have been delivered to another 11, according to the AP tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements.
It’s a potential face-saving coup for China, which has been determined to transform itself from an object of mistrust over its initial mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak to a savior. Like India and Russia, China is trying to build goodwill, and has pledged roughly 10 times more vaccines abroad than it has distributed at home.
“We’re seeing certainly real-time vaccine diplomacy start to play out, with China in the lead in terms of being able to manufacture vaccines within China and make them available to others,” said Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University. “Some of them donated, some of them sold, and some of them sold with debt financing associated with it.”
China has said it is supplying “vaccine aid” to 53 countries and exports to 27, but it rejected a request by the AP for the list. Beijing has also denied vaccine diplomacy, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said China considered the vaccine a “global public good.” Chinese experts reject any connection between the export of its vaccines and the revamping of its image.
“I don’t see any linkage there,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Centre for China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank. “China should do more to help other countries, because it’s doing well.”
China has targeted the low- and middle-income countries largely left behind as rich nations scooped up most of the pricey vaccines produced by the likes of Pfizer and Moderna. And despite a few delays of its own in Brazil and Turkey, China has largely capitalized on slower-than-hoped-for deliveries by U.S. and European vaccine makers.
Like many other countries, Chile received far fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine than first promised. In the month after its vaccination program began in late December, only around 150,000 of the 10 million Pfizer doses the South American country ordered arrived.
It wasn’t until Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. swooped in with 4 million doses in late January that Chile began inoculating its population of 19 million with impressive speed. The country now has the fifth highest vaccination rate per capita in the world, according to Oxford University.
Chilean Vilma Ortiz got her Sinovac shot at a school in Santiago’s Nunoa neighborhood, along with about 60 other people. Although she considers herself “kind of a skeptical person,” she said she researched the Chinese vaccines on the Internet and was satisfied.
“I have a lot of faith and confidence in the vaccine,” she said.
In Jakarta, the sports stadium was abuzz as masked healthcare workers filed in to receive their Sinovac shot. Wandering the rows of vaccination stations was Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the first person in the Southeast Asian country to get the Chinese shot, 140 million doses of which he has ordered for his people.
Among those at the stadium was Susi Monica, an intern doctor receiving her second dose. Despite questions over its efficacy, getting the shot was worth it to her, particularly because she didn’t have any adverse reactions to the first dose.
Besides, she said, “Do I have another choice right now?”
The choices are limited for Indonesia and many other low- and middle-income countries clobbered by COVID. Vaccine deployment globally has been dominated by wealthier countries, which have snapped up 5.8 billion of the 8.2 billion doses purchased worldwide, according to Duke University.
China’s vaccines, which can be stored in standard refrigerators, are attractive to countries like Indonesia, a sweltering nation that straddles the equator and could struggle to accommodate the ultracold storage needs of vaccines like Pfizer’s.
The bulk of Chinese shots are from Sinovac and Sinopharm, which both rely on a traditional technology called an inactivated virus vaccine, based on cultivating batches of the virus and then killing it. Some countries view it as safer than the newer, less-proven technology used by some Western competitors that targets the coronavirus’ spike protein, despite publicly available safety data for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines and none for China’s.
“The choice was made for this vaccine because it is developed on a traditional and safe inactivated platform,” said Teymur Musayev, an official with the Ministry of Health in Azerbaijan, which has ordered 4 million Sinovac doses.
In Europe, China is providing the vaccine to countries such as Serbia and Hungary — a significant geopolitical victory in Central Europe and the Balkans, where the West, China and Russia are competing for political and economic influence. This stretch of Europe has offered fertile ground for China to strengthen bilateral ties with Serbia and Hungary’s populist leaders, who often criticize the EU.
Serbia became the first country in Europe to start inoculating its population with China’s vaccines in January. The country has so far purchased 1.5 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, which makes up the majority of the country’s supply, and smaller amounts of Russia’s Sputnik V and Pfizer’s vaccines.
Donning heavy coats against the winter chill, masked-up Serbians have been waiting in long lines for their turn to get the vaccine.
“They have been vaccinating their own people for (a) long period, I assume they have more experience,” Natasa Stermenski, a Belgrade resident, said of her choice to get the Chinese shot at a vaccination center in February.
Neighboring Hungary, impatient over delays in the European Union, soon became the first country in the EU to approve the same Chinese vaccine. On Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban got the Sinopharm shot, after recently saying he trusted the Chinese vaccine the most.
Many leaders have publicly supported the Chinese shots to allay concerns. Early on, “people had all these microchip theories in their heads, genetic modification, sterilization, running around on social media platforms,” said Sanjeev Pugazhendi, a medical officer in the Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles, whose president recently received a Sinopharm shot on camera. “But the moment we started giving out the vaccines to leaders, religious leaders and health workers, that started to subside.”
Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy efforts are good for both China and the developing world, experts say.
“Because of the competition for influence, the poor countries can get earlier access for vaccines,” said Yun Jiang, managing editor of the China Story Blog at the Australian National University. “Of course, that’s assuming that all the vaccines are safe and delivered in the right way.”
China’s vaccine diplomacy will only be as good as the vaccines it is offering, and it still faces hurdles.
Ahmed Hamdan Zayed, a nurse in Egypt, was reluctant to receive a vaccine, especially a Chinese one. The frontline health worker would be among the first in the country to get Sinopharm’s shot as part of a mass vaccination campaign. Over 9 million Sinopharm shots have been given outside China.
“We had concerns about vaccines in general,” the 27-year-old father of two said in a phone interview from the Abu Khalifa hospital in the northeastern part of the country. “The Chinese vaccine, in particular, there was insufficient data available compared to other vaccines.”
But Zayed ultimately decided to get the shot after conducting more research. A doctor at his hospital called colleagues in the United Arab Emirates, which had approved the same shot, and they met with Egyptian health officials.
Sinopharm, which said its vaccine was 79% effective based on interim data from clinical trials, did not respond to requests for an interview. Sinopharm’s chairman has said they have not had a single severe adverse event in response to their vaccine.
Chinese vaccine companies have been “slow and spotty” in releasing their trial data, compared to companies like Pfizer and Moderna, said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the U.S. think tank Council for Foreign Relations. None of China’s three vaccine candidates used globally have publicly released their late-stage clinical trial data. CanSino, another Chinese company with a one-shot vaccine that it says is 65% effective, declined to be interviewed.
China’s pharmaceutical business practices also have raised concerns. In 2018, it emerged that one of China’s biggest vaccine companies falsified data to sell its rabies vaccines. That same year, news broke that a Sinopharm subsidiary, which is behind one of the COVID-19 vaccines now, had made substandard diphtheria vaccines used in mandatory immunizations.
With Chinese vaccines, “for a lot of people, the first thing you think about is ‘Made in China,’ and that doesn’t give you much assurance,” said Joy Zhang, a professor at the University of Kent in the UK who studies the ethics of emerging science.
Russia and India have faced similar skepticism, partly because people have less trust in products made outside the Western world, said Sayedur Rahman, head of the pharmacology department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Bangladesh.
“China, India, Russia, Cuba, whenever they develop a vaccine or conduct research, their data is questioned, and people say their process is not transparent,” he said.
A December YouGov poll of 19,000 people in 17 countries and regions on how they felt about different vaccines found that China’s received the second-lowest score, tied with India’s. In the Philippines, which has ordered 25 million Sinovac doses, less than 20% of those surveyed by a research group expressed confidence in China’s vaccines.
Those concerns have been exacerbated by confusion around the efficacy of Sinovac’s shot. In Turkey, where Sinovac conducted part of its efficacy trials, officials have said the vaccine was 91% effective. However, in Brazil, officials revised the efficacy rate in late-stage clinical trials from 78% to just over 50% after including mild infections.
A senior Chinese official said Brazil’s numbers were lower because its volunteers were healthcare workers who faced a higher risk of infection. But other medical experts have said exposure would not affect a vaccine’s effectiveness.
Sinovac’s trials were conducted separately in Turkey and Brazil, and the differences in efficacy rates arise from differences in the populations, a spokesman for the company said in a previous interview with the AP. The company declined to be interviewed for this article. An expert panel in Hong Kong assessed the efficacy of the vaccine at about 51%, and the city approved its use in mid-February.
Globally, public health officials have said any vaccine that is at least 50% effective is useful. International scientists are anxious to see results from final-stage testing published in a peer-reviewed science journal for all three Chinese companies.
It’s also unclear how the Chinese shots work against new strains of the virus that are emerging, especially a variant first identified in South Africa. For example, Sinopharm has pledged 800,000 shots to South Africa’s neighbor, Zimbabwe.
There are concerns among receiving countries that China’s vaccine diplomacy may come at a cost, which China has denied. In the Philippines, where Beijing is donating 600,000 vaccines, a senior diplomat said China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, gave a subtle message to tone down public criticism of growing Chinese assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
The senior diplomat said Wang did not ask for anything in exchange for vaccines, but it was clear he wanted “friendly exchanges in public, like control your megaphone diplomacy a little.” The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue publicly.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publicly said in a news conference on Sunday that China did not ask for anything, as the donations were flown in.
Meanwhile, opposition legislators in Turkey are accusing Ankara’s leaders of secretly selling out Uyghurs to China in exchange for vaccines after a recent shipment delay. The legislators and the Uyghur diaspora community fear Beijing is trying to win passage of an extradition treaty that could see more Uyghurs deported to China.
Despite all the worries, the pandemic’s urgency has largely superseded hesitations over China’s vaccines.
“Vaccines, particularly those made in the West, are reserved for rich countries,” said one Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. “We had to guarantee a vaccine. Any vaccine.”
Gelineau reported from Sydney.
Associated Press researcher Chen Si in Shanghai, and AP reporters Patricia Luna in Santiago, Chile; Sam Magdy in Cairo; Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines; Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia; Aida Sultanova in London; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia; Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya; Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Diane Jeantet in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
#AceHealthReport – Feb.17: On 17 February, the Commission presented the “HERA Incubator”, new European bio-defence preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants. The Incubator will bring together science, industry and public authorities and pull all available resources to prepare Europe for this challenge:
#Coronavirus Report: Safe #COVID19 vaccines for Europeans & Preparing for variants and securing additional vaccines from various sources’
On the same day, the Commission also secured 300 million more dosesof the proven safe and effective vaccine from Moderna, enlarging the EU’s vaccine portfolio to 2.6 billion of doses.
How do vaccines work?
How are vaccines developed, authorised and put on the market?
COVID-19 vaccines: making sure they are safe
Questions and answers about vaccines and vaccination
Securing doses of future vaccines
The European Commission has been negotiating intensely to build a diversified portfolio of vaccines for EU citizens at fair prices. Contracts have been concluded with 6 promising vaccine developers, securing a portfolio of more than 2.6 billion doses. The Commission has also concluded exploratory talks with Novavax with a view to purchasing up to 200 million doses, and with Valneva with a view to purchase up to 60 million doses.
The Commission has so far given 3 conditional marketing authorisations for the vaccines developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca following EMA positive assessment of their safety and efficacy.
Pharmaceuticalsadenovirus1 dose400 millionUnder evaluation by EMASanofi-GSKprotein2 doses300 millionDevelopment ongoing
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) released on 29 January its first safety update on a COVID-19 vaccine — Comirnaty, a vaccine produced by BioNTech and Pfizer. It concluded that safety data collected on Comirnaty use in vaccination campaigns was consistent with the known safety profile of the vaccine, and no new side effects were identified.
Reports of suspected severe allergic reaction have not identified new aspects regarding the nature of this known side effect.
No specific safety concern has been identified for vaccine use in frail elderly individuals.
Its benefits in preventing COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks, and there are no recommended changes regarding the use of the vaccine.
Disinformation on the coronavirus is thriving. It is important that you get updated information from authoritative sources only. We suggest that you follow the advice of your public health authorities, and the websites of relevant EU and international organisations: the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC ) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
You can also help by not sharing unverified information that comes from dubious sources.
With the EU Vaccine Strategy, the EU is supporting efforts to accelerate the development and availability of safe and effective vaccines in a timeframe between 12 and 18 months, if not earlier. Delivering on this complex task requires running clinical trials in parallel with investing in production capacity to be able to produce millions, or even billions, of doses of a successful vaccine.
#Coronavirus Report: ‘U.K. Government to introduce tougher measures and enforcement rules for quarantined passengers’
Tough new enforcement measures – from fixed penalty notices to imprisonment – Under the changes announced, from 15 February all arrivals at English ports will be required to undertake 2 mandatory #COVID19 tests – on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine includingcharges
From Monday, anyone arriving who has been in a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the previous 10 days will be required to purchase a quarantine package. Bookings will be made through a dedicated online portal and will include:assigned government transportation
Guidelines for travellers will be published on GOV.UK and the booking portal will go live on Thursday.
The charge for a single adult will be less than £1,750.
Heavy financial penalties and potential jail time for non-compliance
All passengers travelling to England to take mandated COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine
Those who have been to a ‘red list’ country required to purchase ‘quarantine package’ covering hotel and testing
16 hotels contracted so far for an initial 4,600 rooms
The new measures build on those already in place, which include refusing entry to non-UK residents from ‘red list’ countries: All passengers, no matter which country they have travelled from, are already required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure and must self-isolate on arrival. A passenger locator form must also be completed with fines for those who fail to comply:
To ensure compliance, fines will be issued and will range from £5,000 rising to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel: A £1,000 penalty will also be given to any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, followed by a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test: This will be accompanied by an automatic extension of the quarantine period to 14 days:
Passenger locator forms will now not only detail their travel journey but also their quarantine and testing package: Anyone attempting to conceal that they have travelled in a ‘red list’ country on their form could face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to 10 years in prison:
The Health and Social Care Secretary said:
Our fight against this virus has many fronts and, just as we’re attacking this virus through our vaccination programme, which is protecting more people every day, we’re strengthening our defences through these vital measures so we can protect the progress that we’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
The compliance and enforcement regime is end-to-end, and all passengers should expect to be checked at various points throughout their journey, such as:
by carriers at the time of departure
by airport staff throughout their journey
by Border Force officers on arrival
spot checks by police, where appropriate, for those quarantining at home
Government has been working closely with the aviation industry and the country’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham to designate arrival ports: These airports account for the vast majority of international arrivals into England and will allow for close monitoring. Anyone arriving at a non-designated port who has visited a ‘red list’ country will receive a fixed penalty notice and still be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine facility. Government has so far contracted 16 hotels with 4,600 rooms and more will be secured as needed:
There will be a security presence throughout, with personnel directing travellers on arrival, in transit and on arrival at the managed quarantine facilities: Security will also be present to ensure passengers remain at their facility and, where necessary, police will be called upon to provide additional support:
Any passengers travelling back to England from countries not on the travel ban list will be required to quarantine at home for the same period (10 days) and abide by the same stringent testing regime: In both cases, tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers. Test to Release will continue to be in operation – however, arrivals will still be required to purchase the 2-testing package:
Summary of how the current rules for passengers are enforced:
firstly, passengers must show proof of a negative test in the 3 days before departure
they must also complete a passenger locator form in the 2 days before arriving in the UK
carriers must check both of these for every passenger before they board the plane
passengers are then checked again by frontline airport staff and Border Force upon arrival – passengers arriving without a completed form and negative test face a £500 fine and the airline faces a £2,000 fine
if they have been in a red-listed country in the past 10 days, they will be denied entry to the UK unless they have a residency right
all passengers must then self-isolate at the place they are staying for 10 days after they arrive – we have enhanced these spot checks to make sure people are self-isolating and they may be referred for police action including a fine of up to £10,000
we have also increased checks for those self-isolating and by police at ports and airports
House-to-house testing will take place and extra test centres have been opened: Community leaders said some people were “frightened”.
Charles Kwaku-Odoi, 42, chief officer at the Caribbean and African Health Network, said: “Obviously there is real concern: “ When such news breaks out it is not unusual that people are concerned. We will be reassuring people.”……….He said health professionals could help by reassuring people about the steps they could take to limit the spread of the virus.
Caribbean and African Health Network: Charles Kwaku-Odoi said people need more reassurance: House-to-house testing is taking place in the Fallowfield, Hulme, Moss Side and Whalley Range districts.
Manchester City Council has urged residents to get tested and said while the variant is more transmissible there is no reason to be concerned it is any more severe than others: The authority said those people without symptoms could get tested at Our Lady’s Presbytery on Raby Street or Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara on Monton Street. Manchester’s Director of Public Health, David Regan said two more testing sites will soon open
Manchester’s director of public health, David Regan, said on Wednesday the Islamic Cultural Centre On Bedwell Street would also become a testing site, followed by Moss Side Leisure Centre on Thursday: He said the council will also be doing targeted door-knocking to deliver testing kits to vulnerable households, schools and businesses: “ It’s a mass case-finding exercise [as] the government is really keen that we keep a step ahead of this virus,” he said: “ It will mutate, but vaccines are still effective and we are still encouraging the public to get their vaccine, even in the affected zone.”
Labour’s Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said: “I know residents in my constituency will be anxious and worried about that: “ But people shouldn’t worry too much about it and should go: “ There will be lots of local testing sites and door-to-door knockings will be happening so people can get a test on their doorstep.”
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
#AceHealthReport – Feb.09: Good afternoon and welcome back to Downing Street for today’s coronavirus briefing: Before I update you on our coronavirus response, I’d like to take you through the latest data:
GOVUK #Coronavirus Report: Health and Social Care Secretary’s statement on #COVID-19 :8 February 2021 I’m joined by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, and by NHS England’s Medical Director for Primary Care Dr Nikki Kanani.
Speech by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing: There are still 29,326 patients with COVID in hospital across the UK – still more than at either the April or November peaks: And sadly, 841 deaths have been reported on average each day over the past week.
My thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one to this deadly disease.
Today, I’d like to update you on 3 important parts of the coronavirus response.
First, the next steps on the vaccination programme.
It’s now 2 months since that wonderful day when Margaret Keenan got her first jab, the first person in the world to be vaccinated with a clinically authorised vaccine for coronavirus.
We’ve now vaccinated as of today more than 12.2 million people.
That’s almost one in 4 of all adults across the United Kingdom.
Take-up of the vaccine so far has been significantly better than we hoped for.
Based on the work we’d done before the vaccination programme started, and looking at the surveys, we knew that the UK had one of the most positive attitudes to vaccine uptake.
But even so, we thought we’d get take-up of around 75%.
I’m really pleased to be able to tell you that, as of midnight last night, among the over 80s, we’ve now given a first dose to 91%; among those aged between 75 and 79, it’s 95%. And almost three-quarters of those aged between 70 and 74, who were the most recent group to be invited.
We’ve also visited every eligible care home with older residents, and offered vaccinations to all their residents and staff.
So among eligible care home residents, the take-up is 93%.
But we’ll not rest until we vaccinate all those in the most at-risk groups.
Because vaccines save lives. They protect you, and there’s increasing evidence they protect those around you too.
The fewer people who are left unprotected, the safer we’ll all be and the more securely we’ll be able to release restrictions when the time is right.
I’ve been thrilled to see so much enthusiasm about coming forward for a jab, and I’m just so pleased that take-up has been so high.
But we’re not going to rest until all those who are vulnerable have been protected.
So the NHS, and local authorities, and the teams working with them are doing everything they can to reach the remaining people in these groups and we’ll keep on searching for those final few per cent, even as we expand the offer of a vaccine to younger age groups.
I’m going to ask Dr Kanani to say a few words more about this project in a moment.
We’re on track to meet our goal of offering a vaccine to everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 by the 15th of February – one week today – before moving onto the other JCVI priority groups.
The NHS has worked hard to contact everyone in groups 1 to 4.
But we want to be certain.
So, from today, I have a message for everyone aged 70 and above.
Until now, we’ve said please wait for the NHS to contact you.
But now that message is changing.
If you live in England, and are 70 and over, and have not yet got an appointment to get vaccinated please contact the NHS.
The easiest way is to do this is through the National Booking Service, online at nhs.uk.
Or if you can’t get online then you can call 119 or you can speak to your local GP practice.
If you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we are also on track, working together to meet the goal by the 15th February, and your local health team will be in touch.
I’m so grateful to the whole team who are delivering this vaccination programme so brilliantly across the whole United Kingdom.
And to everyone who’s doing their bit, by baring their arms, and getting the jab.
While we use our vaccination programme to go on the offensive against this virus, it’s very important we keep our defences up as well.
Our testing programme has also grown at a blistering rate.
We’re now carrying out, on average, 4.5 million tests every single week.
NHS Test and Trace is returning 97% of in-person test by the next day contact tracing is performing incredibly well, reaching over 97% of contacts where details are given – and 98% of those they’re reaching within 24 hours.
I want to say a massive thank you to the NHS Test and Trace, who have built this extraordinary capability almost from scratch.
Even in lockdown, testing to find out where the virus is, is critical to break the chains of transmission and to find those positive cases so people isolate and stop the spread.
Today I’m delighted to be able to announce another step forward, to bolster our on-shore test manufacturing capacity.
We’re joining forces with the Derby-based manufacturer Surescreen, to deliver 20 million rapid tests, which can produce results in 30 minutes.
They’ll be used in our asymptomatic testing programme to identify the around one in 3 people who get the virus without any symptoms at all yet can still pass it on.
This expanded capacity means we can offer more regular testing to even more people.
Many employers are already taking up our offer of rapid, regular workplace testing which has protected critical workers like in the NHS and schools, so they can keep going.
Employers who’ve introduced workplace testing tell me that they find it useful for early identification of people who have COVID and so the number of outbreaks reduces as time goes on and so lowers the number of people who are off work with COVID. This is a really important part of what we want to do.
Now, from today, we’re expanding the offer of regular workplace testing to all businesses with over 50 employees, in sectors that are currently open.
Testing will become even more important as we exit lockdown, when the time is right.
For now of course, you must work from home if you can.
But if you can’t, we want to make sure we’re providing as much certainty and confidence as possible. I’d urge all eligible employers to take up this offer. You can go online to the portal at gov.uk/coronavirus.
And this will all help to keep vital services going, and to keep the virus on the back foot.
The third thing I want to touch on is our work to tackle new variants.
All viruses mutate over time. And part of controlling any virus is responding to new variants as they arise.
We do this every year with flu, for instance.
Knowing this, we invested in genomic sequencing capability right at the start of this pandemic genomic sequencing is how you identify new variants giving the UK one of the biggest genomic sequencing capabilities in the world.
In fact we’ve provided almost half of global COVID sequencing.
This genomic capacity has allowed us to spot variants here at home and is allowing us to support others to detect variants in other parts of the world.
We musn’t let a new variant undo all of the good work that the vaccine rollout is doing to protect people.
Now, the first line of defence is to spot and suppress new variants aggressively wherever they’re found.
Hence the tougher measures at the border and the firm action we’re taking in those small number of areas where variants of concern have been found in the community Including door-to-door communications, and enhanced testing and sequencing.
At the same time, since the emergence of variants of concern late last year, we’ve been working on how vaccines can be used to tackle them.
It is imperative that our vaccination programme keeps pace with any changes to this virus.
And Professor Van-Tam will be saying a little bit more about what we’re doing.
The work has 3 parts.
First, the evidence is that the existing vaccines have some effect against new variants particularly preventing serious illness and mortality so the existing vaccine rollout is mission critical for tackling new variants too.
Second, we’re working with the existing vaccine suppliers on potential booster jabs, targeted specifically at the new variants, to strengthen this protection further.
Third, we’re building on-shore UK capacity, including cutting edge mRNA technologies to give us the ability rapidly to develop and deploy vaccines against any new variants, or similar new diseases, in the future.
We’ve entered into a new partnership with the vaccine manufacturer CureVac to develop vaccines that can be quickly adapted as new strains are identified just as we do for the flu vaccine every year.
I’m determined that we build this capacity right here securely here in the UK.
To protect everyone across these islands, not just from new variants but for the long term too.
We’ve agreed an initial supply of 50 million doses, to add to the 400 million doses that are already in our vaccine portfolio so we’ll be prepared for whatever the future might bring.
Of course, the fewer new cases of coronavirus that we have, the lower the chance of a new variant appearing domestically.
So the essential message to stay at home and follow the social distancing rules is our best defence right now.
Taking all this together, what I want to say is this.
The number of people in hospital is still far too high, but it is falling. The number of deaths is far too high, but that is falling too. We’re turning a corner in our battle against coronavirus.
The vaccine rollout is going well – and if you’re aged 70 and over and haven’t been contacted yet, please get in touch now.
And all the time, we must be vigilant and do what it takes to tackle any new variants that arise.
For now, the most important thing you can do is: get the jab when your time comes.
#AceHealthReport – Feb.04: The Federal Government had already purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine, which was approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration last week: People will need two doses of the vaccine, roughly two weeks apart:
#Coronavirus Report: Australia secures millions more doses of Pfizer #COVID19 vaccine to be rolled out by end of the month: Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government, on advice from health experts, made sure it would be able to order extra doses of the vaccine when it signed its agreement with Pfizer.
Updated: 8h ago
“They advised from the outset that we should build an option … into our contract to purchase additional doses if the TGA were to approve the use of Pfizer,” he said.
“We did that quietly behind the scenes.
“Once the TGA approved the Pfizer vaccine, we triggered that option.”
The Pfizer vaccine will be the first to be rolled out in Australia, with frontline health and quarantine workers and those in aged care set to receive it by the end of the month.
Mr Hunt said he spoke to both AstraZeneca and Pfizer Australia today to confirm the rollout was on schedule.
“Both have reconfirmed that, at this point in time, the vaccine rollout remains on track, respectively for the last week of February for Pfizer and the first week of March for AstraZeneca [subject to TGA approval], subject to shipping in both cases.
“But both have reaffirmed their guidance only within the last two hours.”
To make sure as many people in Australia as possible are vaccinated, the Government will offer free access to the vaccine to any foreign nationals who are in the country on a visa.
“That means the Government will provide COVID-19 vaccinations free to all visa holders in Australia and this will include refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas,” Mr Hunt said.
“People currently residing in detention facilities will also be eligible, including those whose visas have been cancelled.”
The Government also announced $1.3 million in funding for multicultural bodies to make sure information on the vaccine rollout is delivered to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
As well as Pfizer, the Government has secured nearly 54 million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is currently being considered by the TGA, and 51 million doses of the Novovax vaccine.
#AceHealthReport – Jan.18: Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations: Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March:
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
5 hours ago
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Reuters/AAPDr Brendan Murphy (left) was Australia’s chief medical officer and now leads the Department of Health
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
ReutersA passenger from New Zealand arriving at Sydney Airport last October
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
By Alison Holt Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC.Com/
Sir David Behan, head of the UK’s largest care home company, HC-One, says insurance has become a major concern: The government says it is working to resolve the issue: ” We are aware the adult social care insurance market is changing in response to the pandemic, and recognise some care providers may encounter difficulties as their policies come up for renewal,” said a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson.
One Hampshire care home says it will have to stop taking patients within days because its insurance will expire: Waterside House in Netley, Hampshire usually provides holidays and respite care for people with disabilities: But since the autumn it has been taking Covid-positive patients discharged from hospitals on the south coast: They are looked after on a separate floor from other residents, and the home has had to meet high infection control standards.
Home manager Sarah Knight said demand for the 31 beds is unparalleled and added: “I’ve been in nursing a long, long time, and I have never known anything like this: ” People end up in an ambulance sat outside hospitals for hours and hours, or they end up on a trolley in A&E in a corridor for hours and hours: ” By offering the best that we’ve got here, we can reduce some of that burden.”
Jan Tregelles is chief executive of the charity Revitalise which runs Waterside House: The government originally hoped there would be 500 designated care homes taking in Covid-positive patients: But Waterside House is one of only 129 which have been set up to take those who have not completed 14 days in isolation.
However, its public indemnity insurance protection, which it needs in case someone contracts Covid there, runs out at the end of January. …………Waterside House is run by the charity Revitalise, whose chief executive, Jan Tregelles, said they have tried everything, but will soon have to start turning away people: “ It’s shocking,” she says. “We are truly helpless. We have a fantastic team of nurses and colleagues already: “ The facilities are here, everything’s arranged and we can’t step up to support our communities at this time.”
“ One resident, Alan Washbourne, who has been living at Waterside House since he was discharged from hospital during the first wave of the pandemic, said: “I feel quite safe here.” He is not on the Covid floor of the home, and added: “If I were to go to somewhere else, which is possible, I might not feel quite so safe.”…………Alan Washbourne has been at Waterside House since April last year
After so many deaths last spring, many care homes will not consider taking patients who are Covid-positive, even with extra infection control measures: Meanwhile, growing numbers of staff are off sick or self-isolating, leaving care homes facing shortages: And many are also finding it difficult to get the public indemnity insurance.
Sir David Behan is chairman of HC-One, the UK’s largest care home provider: Since November, HC-One, which is the UK’s largest care home provider, has had to cover its own Covid risks because it cannot get the insurance: Sir David said it is one of the reasons why they have not taken part in the designated places scheme: “ You’ve got solicitors’ firms advertising, taking cases up against care companies,” he says.” So, this isn’t a theoretical risk that there may be proceedings, it’s an actual risk, and therefore we need cover.
” The NHS wouldn’t operate without similar liability cover and that’s what we need to see, and I think governments have a role to play working with the insurance industry to work to find a solution.”
The Department for Health and Social Care said it was making efforts to determine what actions it could take: Our priority is to ensure everyone receives the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” said a spokesperson:
#AceHealthReport – The EMA confirmed earlier on Wednesday that it had been the subject of a cyberattack, but did not provide further details and said it would not do so while an investigation into the hack was ongoing:
In a joint statement, Pfizer and BioNTech said they were informed on Wednesday by the EU medicines regulator that “some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate…which has been stored on an EMA server, had been unlawfully accessed.”
At this time, we await further information about EMA’s investigation and will respond appropriately and in accordance with EU law.
The pair added that none of their systems had been breached and that they were not aware of “any personal data of study participants being accessed.”
“EMA has assured us that the cyberattack will have no impact on the timeline for its review” of the vaccine, they added, which is already being rolled out in the UK.
A day after the vaccine was first administered in the UK, the British medicines and healthcare regulator issued a warning about the administering of the jab, saying that two medics with a history of serious allergies had suffered severe reactions to it. The health agency said that people with a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions should not receive it:
Canada became the second country to approve the vaccine on Wednesday.
#AceHealthReport – Dec.08: Starting next Monday, schools, kindergartens and retail outlets will be shuttered until January 10, the Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer announced: Only businesses providing essential supplies and services will be allowed to operate: According to Kretschmer, 20 to 30 percent of intensive care beds in the state are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients, and in some regions of Saxony hospitals have reached capacity:
Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs Martin Dulig said there would also be a ban on alcohol in public places, and that indoor sporting events would be prohibited. He described the situation in the state as “dramatic.”Saxony has become the country’s hotspot for positive Covid-19 tests. In total, Germany reported 14,054 newly confirmed positive tests in the past 24 hours on Tuesday, bringing the nationwide total to 1.2 million. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the country rose by 423 to 19,342.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.28: The British government appointed a vaccines minister on Saturday as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus, potentially starting within days: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the country’s biggest vaccine program in decades:
Ministerial Appointment: 28 November 2020: Nadim Zahawi MP as #Covid19according to @DHSCgovuk
Published 28 November 2020:
Nadhim Zahawi MP has been appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care: The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Nadhim Zahawi MP as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care: He remains a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:
The U.K. medicines regulator is currently assessing two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca — to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7, if it receives approval: The U.K. says frontline health care workers and nursing home residents will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by older people, starting with those over age 80.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough for 20 million people, and 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine: In all, the U.K. government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven different producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country’s 67 million people as possible: Decisions about which, if any, vaccines to authorize will be made by the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency:
Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine is 95% effective, according to preliminary data. It must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit)…………….The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at conventional refrigerator temperatures, and is also cheaper than its main rivals. But some scientists have questioned gaps in its reported results.
Oxford and AstraZeneca reported this week that their vaccine appeared to be 62% effective in people who received two doses, and 90% effective when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose: They said the half dose was administered because of a manufacturing error, and they plan a new clinical trial to investigate the most effective dosing regimen:
The British government hopes a combination of vaccines and mass testing will end the need for restrictions on business and everyday life it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 confirmed virus-related deaths: The prime minister said this week that officials hope to inoculate “the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter.” But he warned that “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions:
A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday, and will be replaced by three-tiered system of regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers: Johnson faces opposition to the measures from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s lawmakers, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits.
But Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the restrictions were “grimly” necessary to avoid the health system being overwhelmed this winter: Writing in The Times of London, Gove said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. A rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.,” he said: ” If, however, we can keep the level of infection stable or, even better, falling, and hold out through January and February, then we can be confident that vaccination will pull the plug on the problem,” Gove wrote:
#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.