Monday, 9 November 2020

UK Press Conference (regarding Pfizer / BioNTech Vaccine News) 9th November 2020

Boris held a surprise press conference today - and it' because there's good vaccine news!
He says we are all asking the same question. "Does the progress towards a vaccine, that's been announced today. mean that we are at the beginning of the end of our troubles?" 

He did not directly answer his own question. At least he's consistent. 

Today's news is that the Pfizer / BioNTech (USA / Germany) vaccine candidate seems to be 90% effective against the virus. These are INTERIM results, the full safety data needs to released and it has to be peer-reviewed, but it's a brilliant result. 

Boris assures us we have our fingers in this pie. 

"If and when this vaccine is approved, we, in this country, will be ready to start using it." We ordered 40m doses already - enough for 20m people.. 

This is a vaccine that needs 2 doses, and must be stored at -70 degrees. 

We have ordered over 300m doses from 5 other vaccine candidates as well. 

A UK-wide NHS-led programme of vaccination will begin as soon as all safety checks have completed - you can't rush that.

Then he waffled off in a terribly upper class thing about the toot of the horn coming over the hill. Which just made me think of the poor foxes. 

091120 Joe Biden's statement on COVID

We are currently in a bad way. We are losing around 300 people a day. The number of people in hospital has risen from 10,000 2 weeks ago, to nearly 13,000 on 5th November. We are heading towards levels of the previous peak. 

The vaccine may be 'on the way', but we can't get complacent, or sit back. It's a way off yet. (We can't just let people die while we wait.)

Mass testing Boris believes, is the way forward (I tend to agree). The mass testing pilot began in Liverpool last Friday - get yourself over to a testing centre if you are in Liverpool, you might end up the only area with no COVID! (See Asia if you don't believe me). 

Mass testing for uni students will also be established (could be well handy for Christmas). 

"This project is still in it's infancy" (sadly! At 10 months old it should be running round the furniture and demanding Wotsits.) 

Then Brigadier Joe Fossey spoke about Liverpool and logistics - how they are managing to deliver the testing through 19 sites around the city. 

He demonstrated a Lateral Flow COVID Test. It has a swab for your mouth and nose, which is put into a small 'sleeve'. It's very quick, less than 1 hour, and works kind of similar to a pregnancy test. It can ONLY give you a yes/no COVID answer.

Jon chatted about the Pfizer / BioNtech results. He thanked everyone who has been a clinical trial volunteer - we wouldn't be where we are without you. He also thanks scientists who have worked around the clock to do this more rapidly than ever thought possible. 

He warns that we've only seen headline results, safety data will follow over the next few days. There have been 44,000 volunteers. Half will have received the genuine vaccine, and half a placebo. 

We have a preliminary order for vaccinations, but we will look closely at all of the data and see exactly who goes first.Each vaccine type is slightly different, and this one is a bugger logistically because it needs to be stored at -70 degrees. They may be slightly more suitable for slightly different people.  Age has always been assumed to be highest vaccine priority, and that's likely to always remain so. 

Most vaccines about to end trials target the S Protein in the virus. (Other types of virus take longer to develop, and are a little behind.) We can see from the Pfizer / BioNtech data that the S Protein targetting-vaccines are all on the right track, and hopefully will all see just as good results. 

We have to battle through this wave without the vaccine. If everything in all of the data is correct and good, we may see the very first vaccinations around Christmas, and we may be able to prevent or lesson future waves, but we can't save ourselves from this wave. If we relax, we'll overwhelm hospitals. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO RELAX. 

They are intent on Uni students returning home "as safely as possible"... 

Jon answered a press question on herd immunity by vaccination - we can't yet say how many people will need to be vaccinated in order to stop COVID and live our regular lives. YET. We can't say yet if the vaccinated people who don't appear to have caught COVID really didn't catch COVID, or if any of them did catch it and had an incredibly mild dose without symptoms. If any still caught it, there may have been a tiny window of opportunity when they could infect someone else. Or not. We don't know. YET. Certainly transmission will be massively reduced among these vaccinated people, they won't be blowing out COVID virus everywhere like unvaccinated people, but we need to have a better understanding before we can make a prediction on how much of a population need the vaccine for herd immunity.  

Jon had a vaccine analogy about trains. We are at the stage where we can just see the lights in the distance, but the train still has to get here, and then it has to stop. The guards have to say it's safe to open the doors, the doors have to open, and then we have to avoid a scramble for seats. 

I think this press conference was mainly to stop people all getting carried away about the vaccine being ready for them to have right now, or yesterday. I already know you guys won't get carried away with news about the vaccine. It all looks great, on target and tickety boo, but as has always been the planned timeline, it's still incredibly early days. 

Jon made it clear that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine candidate is 2 doses, and you won't even be 'covered' until 2 weeks after the second dose. 


I'd saved a similar warning quote from Joe Biden, US President-elect, for tomorrow's regular news update, but it felt right to add it today. We'll get there... 

Normal News Update returns tomorrow...










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