Health

NHS workers are bumped off vaccine priority list as Pfizer's HALVES its deliveries


Britain’s biggest vaccination drive in history to finally spell an end to the Covid pandemic will begin on Tuesday, health bosses revealed today amid fears the UK may not get all 10million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s jab No10 had hoped to receive before New Year. 

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers – which represents hospital trusts in England, said the ‘race’ will start on December 8, with care home residents now expected to be inoculated within days after concerns they would fall down the priority list because of the logistical nightmare of rolling out the vaccine. Northern Ireland’s programme will also begin on Tuesday, with sources saying the first person to get it will be a medic trained to deliver the jab themselves. 

Hopes of an end to economically-crippling restrictions were bolstered last night after the first batch of the prized jab arrived in the UK, following No10’s ‘top secret’ operation to transport hundreds of thousands of doses in a fleet of unmarked lorries on the Eurotunnel. Officials fear gangs could hijack supplies or purposely damage them, and Interpol has warned crime syndicates will view jabs as ‘liquid gold’.

But questions have now been raised over how many of the 40million doses ordered Britain will actually get by the end of 2020, despite the Government pledging that a quarter of the supply – enough to give to 5million people – would be available by Christmas.  

Pfizer last night revealed it will only be able to distribute half of the 100million vaccines it had originally proposed to do this year because of supply chain issues. And Mr Hopson last night warned the first batch of 800,000 doses, due to arrive before next week’s inoculation operation, ‘could be the only batch we receive for some time’.

Ministers moved to quash fears today. Business Secretary Alok Sharma admitted only ‘some’ shots are already in the UK but revealed he was ‘confident’ all 800,000 would all get here in time for the mass roll-out and said that he hopes ‘millions’ of doses will arrive before the New Year. BioNTech’s chief commercial officer said Downing St can expect more shipments to arrive from Monday.  

It comes amid mounting confusion over the Government’s priority list. The logistical nightmare of getting the jab to care home residents, who are supposed to be at the very front of the queue, meant NHS staff were inevitably bumped up the pecking order. But it has now emerged that frontline NHS workers will no longer be prioritised for the vaccine – which trials have shown is 95 per cent effective. 

Another hurdle of getting the vaccine into care homes looks set to be cleared after officials last night devised a way to split the Pfizer vaccine into small batches suitable for distribution. NHS bosses admitted the ban on pack-splitting was the only thing holding up getting the jab to Britain’s most vulnerable group. Scotland has already announced care home residents will get vaccines from December 14.

The vaccine currently comes in packs of between 975 and 4,875 doses, which must be used within six hours of being transported – even if kept refrigerated. Many care homes have only dozens of residents, meaning that even the smallest package would be far too many doses and lay hundreds of precious jabs to waste. The MHRA has yet to officially rubber-stamp pack-splitting but is expected to do so imminently. 

And it comes after Donald Trump’s top medic today apologised for his blistering and bitter attack on Britain over its world-first approval of a coronavirus vaccine to treat millions of people from Monday. Dr Anthony Fauci backed down in the diplomatic row after he accused the UK drug regulator of failing to adequately scrutinise data from manufacturers. Boris Johnson today defended the MHRA and called it ‘a world leader in its field’.

The MHRA strongly disputes any claims that it has cut corners, saying its decision went through a series of panels before being approved. Dr June Raine, its chief executive, said: ‘The vaccine we’ve approved this week is made to meet all international standards on safety, on quality and on effectiveness.

‘We’ve managed to do this in the shortest time possible because we have had teams working in parallel to deliver all the agreements in time for the approval this week.’

She told BBC Radio Surrey: ‘In terms of international equivalents, you can be assured that this standard we have reached for the UK is equivalent to all international standards.’

And it was revealed the Government will compensate anyone who suffers severe side effects to the vaccine with payments of up to £120,000.

Nurses get assessed by a matron on how to deliver vaccines at a purposely-built Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry

Nurses get assessed by a matron on how to deliver vaccines at a purposely-built Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry

A sign hanging from the Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry, which will start delivering jabs from next week

A sign hanging from the Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry, which will start delivering jabs from next week

Pfizer's Covid vaccine is reportedly being held in a warehouse in the Midlands. Pictured above, a site in Bedford that had lorries with Belgian number plates arrive this morning

Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is reportedly being held in a warehouse in the Midlands. Pictured above, a site in Bedford that had lorries with Belgian number plates arrive this morning

Health Secretary Matt Hancock poses running past photographers whilst out for a morning jog in Westminster today

Health Secretary Matt Hancock poses running past photographers whilst out for a morning jog in Westminster today

Medical waste bins are seen outside the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre today, which is situated beside the Etihad Stadium and being converted into a Covid vaccination centre

Medical waste bins are seen outside the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre today, which is situated beside the Etihad Stadium and being converted into a Covid vaccination centre

Workers unload security railings at the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre. Britain's mass vaccination programme will begin on Tuesday, it was revealed this morning

Workers unload security railings at the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre. Britain’s mass vaccination programme will begin on Tuesday, it was revealed this morning

An employee at Pfizer's manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium - where Britain's first batches of the Covid jab was shipped from - works with containers of dry ice

An employee at Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium – where Britain’s first batches of the Covid jab was shipped from – works with containers of dry ice

A truck leaves Pfizer's manufacturing in Puurs, Belgium, yesterday (it is not clear if this was carrying the Covid vaccine, or if it was heading to Britain)

A truck leaves Pfizer’s manufacturing in Puurs, Belgium, yesterday (it is not clear if this was carrying the Covid vaccine, or if it was heading to Britain)

Downing St slaps down US’s top virus expert Fauci  

US Covid supremo Anthony Fauci, pictured with President Trump, lashed out over the speed of Britain's decision to approve the Pfizer /BioNTech jab, suggesting they cheated. He later apologised

US Covid supremo Anthony Fauci, pictured with President Trump, lashed out over the speed of Britain’s decision to approve the Pfizer /BioNTech jab, suggesting they cheated. He later apologised

Downing Street today insisted ‘no corners have been cut’ with the Pfizer vaccine approval as the US’s top virus expert apologised for suggesting the process was ‘rushed’.

The PM’s spokesman mounted a robust defence of the UK regulator after Anthony Fauci withdrew the extraordinary swipe – which was condemned as ‘irresponsible’ when governments around the world are trying to reassure the public about safety.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Fauci complained about the speed with which the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had acted, saying it was like a marathon runner who cheats by joining ‘in the last mile’.

But this morning he said sorry just hours after Joe Biden asked him to be his chief medical adviser – with some suggesting the next US president may have intervened.

He told NBC: ‘It was just one of those things where I sat down in front of the TV with a British TV station and the first thing they said was, ‘Ah, we beat you guys. We beat the Americans to the punch’.

‘And I kind of reacted back at him when I think I probably should not have done.

‘When I got back on BBC I explained that that was taken out of context. Now the Brits are good. They know what they’re doing – I mean they’re really pros, so that was just not really what I meant.’

Downing Street said: ‘You will have seen that he (Dr Fauci) has now withdrawn those comments and apologised.’ 

Britain plans to begin its biggest vaccination drive in history next week, with the first 800,000 shots being taken to specially equipped laboratories to double-check they are safe to use, before arriving at NHS hospitals and makeshift centres.

In preparation for the mammoth nationwide operation the Army and NHS have already carried out a dry run of the campaign. 

Exercise Panacea took place at a Bristol football stadium and saw 30 staff and volunteers road-test how they plan to give most of the population the coronavirus jab at regional hubs. 

Discussing the roll-out next week, Mr Hopson said it will be ‘a marathon, it’s not a sprint’, telling BBC Breakfast: ‘We’re looking forward to the race starting on Tuesday.’ 

READ  Jesy Nelson health: The Little Mix songstress on her brush with death

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • Britain’s coronavirus R rate has fallen for the fourth week in a row and could now be as low as 0.8, SAGE said;
  • Daily coronavirus infections in England dropped by almost half during November’s lockdown from 47,700 per day to 25,700, official data confirmed;
  • Every local authority in the North of England saw their Covid-19 infection rate fall last week, according to official figures that add to mounting fears millions of people have been unnecessarily forced to live under the harshest Tier Three curbs;
  • Ministers were accused of letting their ‘mates’ off quarantine after ‘high-value’ business travellers were handed an exemption from self-isolation rules;
  • Fears that the NHS will be overwhelmed this winter are receding, with official figures revealing the country is virtually free of the flu virus;
  • Boris Johnson urged couples to book weddings with ‘confidence’ for next summer thanks to new coronavirus vaccines and tests – but refused to say if his would be among them;
  • Rapid coronavirus testing being carried out by the Government is ‘unsafe’ because the tests miss around half of infected people and let them go, scientists warned;
  • Pub bosses have called for £1.8billion of Covid refund cash from supermarkets to be handed to their devastated industry.

Mr Hopson added that hospitals are working out how many care home residents, care home staff and over-80s they can get to. 

The Health Service Journal reports that some NHS staff will still be vaccinated next week, with hospital trusts that have spare doses able to dish it out to frontline medics. 

But the trade magazine says numbers are expected to be ‘strictly limited’, with over-80s already at hospital likely to be the first in line and the majority of the NHS workforce having to wait until the New Year.

Continuing to explain the plan for the vaccine roll-out, Mr Hopson said: ‘We are identifying in hospitals how many over-80s do we have, either currently receiving treatment inside the hospital or people who are coming in for outpatient appointments.’ 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today admitted only 'some' of the 800,000 shots are already in the UK

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers - which represents hospital trusts in England, said the 'race' will start on December 8

Business Secretary Alok Sharma (left) today admitted only ‘some’ of the 800,000 shots are already in the UK. Chris Hopson (right), chief executive of NHS Providers – which represents hospital trusts in England, said the ‘race’ will start on December 8

Research for MailOnline showed 58 per cent back the PM underlining his confidence about safety by having the jab on screen

Research for MailOnline showed 58 per cent back the PM underlining his confidence about safety by having the jab on screen

Criminal gangs could try to steal Covid vaccines because they are ‘liquid gold’, Interpol warns 

Criminal gangs could try to steal coronavirus vaccines because they are considered ‘liquid gold’, Interpol has warned.

Jürgen Stock, the agency’s boss, said it was essential officials are ‘as prepared as possible’ for a wave of crime linked to Covid jabs.

He said the ‘high demand combined with a limited supply will make Covid-19 vaccines the equivalent of liquid gold to organised crime networks as soon as one is available’.

The global police coordination agency based in France said it had issued an orange alert to police forces in its 194 member states warning them to prepare for organised crime to target vaccines both physically and online.

No10 is purposely keeping details about the location of the jabs a ‘top secret’ because of fears that criminal gangs could ‘intercept’ and ‘damage’ supplies.

Yesterday’s operation to transport hundreds of thousands of doses of the jab from Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium in a fleet of unmarked lorries on the Eurotunnel was shrouded in secrecy.

He added that getting it to care home residents – who aren’t routinely allowed out because of safety fears – was ‘more complex’ because of the regulatory ban on splitting packs.

The key problem hinges on the way the vaccine is supplied by Pfizer – in large freezer cases capable of storing up to 5,000 doses at the required temperature. Each container holds trays, roughly the size of a pizza box, containing 975 doses.

When the MHRA issued authorisation for the vaccine to be used, it stipulated that each box could be moved and opened only a limited number of times before the vaccines were used.

And it said that until a detailed distribution plan is drawn up, the trays should not be split before the vaccines were ready to be used, making transporting them to care homes all but impossible.

It meant the initial doses were likely to have to be given out at one of 50 major hospitals across England and meant earlier plans to make care home residents the first to get the jab had to be put on hold. 

But health officials have now drawn up a new method to ensure it can get to the most vulnerable, by allowing the packs to be split up. Subject to approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), officials expect to be able to start rolling it out to care homes within a few days, and by Christmas at the latest.

Explaining the problem of getting the vaccine to care homes, Mr Hopson said: ‘So what you would need to do is break those 975 pizza boxes into smaller batches, and then the good news is, when we can do that, which we think we’ll be able to do really quite quickly, is we can then ask GPs to go in and administer the vaccine into care home residents. 

‘So what hospitals are doing is they’re working out today, yesterday, the day before, tomorrow, they’re going to be working out exactly how many of those care home staff, care home residents, and over-80s they can administer, they’re going to tell NHS England and Improvement what those figures are, and then the vaccines will be allocated depending upon how many people they can get through.’

Dr Fauci’s humbling apology came just hours after Joe Biden asked him to be his chief medical adviser – with some suggesting the next US president may have intervened. 

Dr Fauci, who is also under pressure from the Trump administration to explain why the US was beaten by Britain to approving a vaccine created in America, likened London’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to a marathon runner who cheats by joining ‘in the last mile’. 

And he raised safety questions over the speed at which the MHRA acted to approve the treatment, telling CBS News: ‘I love the Brits, they’re great, they’re good scientists, but they just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said: ”OK, let’s approve it, that’s it’.’ 

 

How Britain won the vaccine race

The MHRA's decision went through a series of panels before being approved by Dr June Raine, a career government scientist who has worked in drug licensing since 1985

The MHRA’s decision went through a series of panels before being approved by Dr June Raine, a career government scientist who has worked in drug licensing since 1985

Britain was able to pip the US and Europe to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine first thanks to political feet-dragging on the continent and because Britain’s regulators had more scientific manpower, experts claim.

The breakthrough jab was given the green light by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) within just 10 days of receiving the results from its late stage trials.

The MHRA’s decision went through a series of panels before being approved by Dr June Raine, a career government scientist who has worked in drug licensing since 1985.

America’s top coronavirus doctor has criticised the UK for and claimed the MHRA ‘just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said: ‘OK, let’s approve it, that’s it.”

EU nations have agreed not to use the emergency use authorisations that the UK used to bypass Brussels and green light the Pfizer vaccine, instead waiting for the EU regulator, the EMA, to issue a more rigorous approval that lasts for a year.

All three agencies have conducted rolling reviews of data provided by Pfizer as it comes in. The reviews started at the same time but some scientists claim the UK was more ‘organised’ and proactive in seeking additional data from Pfizer.

But after a barrage of anger from Britain, where critics accused him of aiding anti-vaxxers, Mr Fauci later clarified his remarks, saying: ‘I did not mean to imply any sloppiness on the part of the UK regulators, even though it came out that way, I apologise’, adding there was ‘no judgement on the way the UK did it. 

READ  Ulla smart hydration reminder – can a blinking device make me drink more water?

Dr Fauci added: ‘It came out wrong. I do have great faith in the scientific and regulatory community in the UK.’

He blamed the delay in the US on ‘too much scepticism’ about the process of approving vaccines in his country – making it slower – but added it was ‘no better or worse’ than the UK’s process. 

He said: ‘At the end of the day it’s going to be safe and effective, the people in the UK are going to receive it and do it and do well. And the people in the US will receive it and do well.’

The EU and US lashed out after the news that the UK will begin roll-out of the US/German drug to millions of vulnerable people next week, with the first deliveries arriving last night.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson mocked them as he insisted that Britain beat them to rolling out a coronavirus vaccine because it was simply ‘a much better country’. 

Dr June Raine, the head of the UK medicines regulator, has said ‘no corners had been cut’ while vetting the vaccine. 

Downing Street has joined in defending the UK’s medicines regulator after it faced criticism from America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, who warned the speed at which the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved could undermine confidence in the jab.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister told reporters: ‘You will have seen that he (Dr Fauci) has now withdrawn those comments and apologised.

‘I would just point to the fact the MHRA is a world leader in its field and has followed rigorous international standards in terms of its assessment of the vaccine to ensure it meets the standards of safety and effectiveness and quality.

‘The CEO of the MHRA has been quite clear that no corners have been cut at all.’

The jab contains a fragile strand of RNA – the genetic material that carries messages between cells – sheathed in a droplet of fat. 

That makes it very unstable and means it needs to be stored at a super-cold -70C (-94F) to ensure it does not break down before it gets to patients. It can be kept in a normal fridge for up to five days – but must be used within six hours of being transported, even if kept between 2 and 8C.

How smiling can make an infection feel less painful

Smiling or grimacing while being given an injection can make the unpleasant experience feel less painful, a study has concluded.

The controversial ‘facial feedback hypothesis’ has long argued that forcing a smile can improve one’s emotions — or make situations seem funnier.

It is thought that the act of smiling is something that we associate with positive emotions, or perhaps the muscles involve mediate pain via the trigeminal nerve.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, put this to the test by exploring how different types of smile impacted the experience of getting a vaccination.

They found that grimacing or pulling a genuine smile — one that reaches the eyes — can reduce the pain of the needle by around 39–40 per cent.

Some 16 billion injections are given annually — and with a tenth of the population being afraid of needles, the team call the benefits of the findings ‘far-reaching’.

The results may come in handy soon, with the rollout of the first Covid-19 vaccine in the UK expected to begin among the most vulnerable next week.

People are so unlikely to get Covid a second time that they could be given ‘immunity certificates’, SAGE says

People are so unlikely to get Covid-19 a second time that they could be given ‘immunity certificates’ after a vaccine or confirmed illness, according to SAGE.

Scientists on the advisory panel said it was ‘likely to be possible’ that people could be freed from social distancing if they were proved immune to coronavirus. 

SAGE is made up of dozens of expert scientists who interpret research and explain it in simple terms to government ministers so they can decide on policies.

In a report presented by infectious diseases sub-group NERVTAG in November the researchers said they had high confidence that people would become immune to coronavirus after catching it once or getting vaccinated.

Although it is possible that people could get sick a second time it is rare, they said, and there was not good evidence that people could transmit the virus while immune.

Now that people are actually going to get vaccinated it could be time the Government considered immunity certificates for people who have had a jab, they said.

Downing Street has toyed with the idea in the past but not announced a definite conclusion. 

Currently, people who get a vaccine to protect them from Covid-19 will still have to follow the same rules as everyone else, which raises questions about whether people who aren’t at personal risk will bother to volunteer for it.

It came after it was last night revealed that Pfizer and partner BioNTech will only be able to ship half as many doses of its coronavirus vaccine as it promised by the end of the year, cutting its planned global roll-out from 100million to 50million doses. 

The companies had to walk back plans due to slowdowns in its supply chain, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

‘Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected,’ a company spokeswoman said.

‘And it’s important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection.’ 

Mr Sharma reiterated that the ‘bulk’ of vaccine roll-out would take place in 2021, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca version likely to considerably boost supply. Officials say it could be approved before Christmas.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We will expect more (Pfizer vaccine) by the end of the year but what we have always said is that the bulk of the vaccination programme will take place next year.

‘We’ve, of course, got the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that we’re talking about for deployment right now but AstraZeneca is also being reviewed by the MHRA.

‘We’ll see what they pronounce and then, of course, we’ve got 100million of those on order, and a lot of that is being manufactured – and the fill and finish – in the UK.’

In other twists and turns in Britain’s vaccine roll-out, Government sources last night claimed No10’s operation to get the vaccine into Britain was purposely kept a secret because of fears criminal gangs could ‘intercept and damage’ the supplies.

Questions were raised over whether or not the jab had reached British soil were raised after pictures emerged of lorries stuck in traffic jams outside the busy Calais port for several hours. 

Department of Health officials last night confirmed the vaccine had reached Folkestone — but refused to reveal any other details. 

No10 would not be pressed on details of transporting the vaccine for ‘security reasons’. 

Interpol yesterday warned about criminal gangs peddling black market jabs, while ministers have already piled pressure on social media giants Facebook and Instagram to crackdown on bogus anti-vaxx theories that officials have branded ‘nonsense’. 

Black Panther star slammed for posting anti-vax video online 

Black Panther star Letitia Wright was mercilessly crucified on Twitter on Thursday night after she posted a fact-free YouTube video that questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Black Panther star Letitia Wright was mercilessly crucified on Twitter on Thursday night after she posted a fact-free YouTube video that questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Black Panther star Letitia Wright was slammed by her Marvel co-star Don Cheadle on Thursday night after she posted a YouTube video that questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The British actress posted the link to a video by British Youtuber Tomi Arayomi called ‘COVID-19 VACCINE, SHOULD WE TAKE IT?’ along with a prayer hand emoji late on Thursday night.

Her post immediately sparked a fierce backlash with many asking fellow Marvel actor Don Cheadle to call 27-year-old Wright out for posting the misleading video.

In response, the actor called the video shared by Wright ‘hot garbage’ and what was said in it ‘F****d up.’

It comes after Black Panther star Letitia Wright was slammed by her Marvel co-star Don Cheadle last night after she posted a YouTube video that questioned the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.

READ  Having 'white coat hypertension' DOUBLES the risk of dying from heart disease, new study suggests 

The British actress posted the link to a video by British Youtuber Tomi Arayomi called ‘COVID-19 VACCINE, SHOULD WE TAKE IT?’ along with a prayer hand emoji late on Thursday night.

Her post immediately sparked a fierce backlash with many asking fellow Marvel actor Don Cheadle to call 27-year-old Wright out for posting the misleading video.

In response, the actor called the video shared by Wright ‘hot garbage’ and what was said in it ‘F****d up.’

After facing a growing backlash, Wright said it was not her intention to make anyone upset and that she wasn’t saying ‘don’t take’ the vaccine, but added ‘I’m just concerned about what’s in it that’s all. Isn’t that fair to question or ask?’

The video she shared was from On The Table – a YouTube channel presented by Tomi Arayomi, who says he has lived all his life in the UK with his dentist mother and consultant doctor father.

Arayomi describes himself as ‘a well recognised Prophet and the Managing Director of Prophetic Voice TV. An online mission that seeks to restore the ability to hear the voice of God to every person on every sphere of influence’.

He heads an organisation called ‘RIGnation’ that says it is ‘is a global movement focused on training prophets to be people and people to be prophets.’

‘Our aim is to raise 7,000 Apostles and Prophets from across the world who are ready to transform the world!’ 

It comes after a poll today found a huge majority of Britons want to see Boris Johnson take the coronavirus vaccine live on TV.

Research for MailOnline showed 58 per cent back the PM underlining his confidence about safety by having the jab on screen.

Just 16 per cent were against the idea – despite ministers voicing concerns about being seen to jump the queue.

The survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies emerged as US president-elect Joe Biden indicated he is ready to be filmed getting vaccinated.

Nicola Sturgeon and Matt Hancock are among the other UK politicians who have said they would be willing to do so if it helps reassure the public.

The Government will compensate anyone who suffers severe side effects to the Covid-19 vaccine with payments of up to £120,000.

Officials authorised the roll-out of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine by granting it emergency approval.

The jab has been added to the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which was created in 1979 to assure the public about the safety of vaccines to prevent illnesses such as measles, influenza, smallpox and tetanus.

It comes as SAGE today revealed Britain’s Covid R rate has fallen for the fourth week in a row and could now be as low as 0.8, as the second wave continues to retreat.

And Office for National Statistics data showed the number of daily coronavirus infections in England plummeted by almost half last month, from 47,700 per day to 25,700 in the week ending November 28, in more proof that the disease has began to fade away. 

The report estimated that a total of 521,300 people were carrying the virus in England on November 28, down from 665,000 just two weeks earlier.

SAGE said its R rate calculation – which shows how many people each coronavirus-infected person gives the virus to – proved cases were now declining in every region. The panel said: ‘It is the first time since early September that all English regions have had a lower limit of R estimates below one.’

Separate infection estimates produced by the Covid Symptom Study say there are just 15,845 people developing symptoms of coronavirus each day in England, down from a peak of 44,000 at the end of October. Although the numbers are different to those made by the ONS, they illustrate the same downward trend.

England’s second Covid wave is in retreat: ONS data shows daily cases HALVED during lockdown in November with just 25,700 people catching the virus every day by the end of the month

Britain’s Covid R rate has fallen for the fourth week in a row and could now be as low as 0.8, No10’s top scientific advisory board SAGE claimed today as the second wave continues to retreat.

And Office for National Statistics data showed the number of daily coronavirus infections in England plummeted by almost half last month, from 47,700 per day to 25,700 in the week ending November 28, in more proof that the disease has began to fade away. The report estimated that a total of 521,300 people were carrying the virus in England on November 28, down from 665,000 just two weeks earlier.

SAGE said its R rate calculation – which shows how many people each coronavirus-infected person gives the virus to – proved cases were now declining in every region. The panel said: ‘It is the first time since early September that all English regions have had a lower limit of R estimates below one.’

Separate infection estimates produced by the Covid Symptom Study say there are just 15,845 people developing symptoms of coronavirus each day in England, down from a peak of 44,000 at the end of October. Although the numbers are different to those made by the ONS, they illustrate the same downward trend.

Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College epidemiologist running that study, which is based on data from a public mobile app, said the signs were ‘encouraging’, adding: ‘We’re now [at] less than half the peak of the second wave we saw in October.’

And separate Public Health England figures revealed every local authority in the North saw their Covid-19 infection rate fall last week, adding to mounting questions over whether millions of people have been unnecessarily forced to live under the harshest Tier Three curbs.

The promising figures come as the UK gets set to become the first country in the world to start vaccinating people against Covid-19 next week, after drug regulators gave the green light for a jab developed by pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and BioNTech.

The first doses were delivered on British soil yesterday via a convoy of unmarked lorries from Belgium and NHS Providers chief Dr Chris Hopson says the country is planning to start vaccinating on Tuesday, December 8, with care home residents and staff and elderly hospital patients at the front of the queue.

How long until Britain’s gets its hands on Oxford’s Covid vaccine? 

Britain could start using Oxford University’s coronavirus before Christmas, if it gets approved by drug regulators in a decision that could come within the next week.

The MHRA this week became the first agency in the world to green-light a Covid-19 vaccine for public use when it approved one made by Pfizer and BioNTech.

And it is now evaluating the jab developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca after being instructed by the Department of Health on November 27. Scientists behind the jab have already submitted the final trial results to a medical journal, which are expected to be published imminently.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the jab — which No10 has ordered 100million doses of — would ‘hopefully be approved before Christmas’.

It took regulators eight working days to give Pfizer’s vaccine the go-ahead after the Department of Health officially requested they evaluate it. If AstraZeneca’s can be done in the same time frame, a decision could be announced as soon as Tuesday next week, December 8.

The jab would likely be ready to go within days when it is eventually approved – it is being manufactured in England and is easy to transport because it can be stored in normal fridges or even at room temperature.

The other of the trio of promising vaccines – made by US-based company Moderna – is a step behind in the approval process but will not be available in Britain until March 2021 at the earliest.

Ministers scrambled to buy seven million doses of Moderna’s vaccine only after the company announced that clinical trials suggested it was 94.5 per cent effective.

The MHRA – Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – has not yet been officially ordered to start evaluating it.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.