Monday 25 January 2021

COVID UK News and Briefing 25th Jan 2021.

COVID UK News and Briefing 25th Jan 2021.

Vaccinations so far: 6,573,570 1 dose / 470,478 fully vaccinated
Cases: 3,669,658 (+22,195 today)
Losses of life: 98,531 (+592 today)
Hospital in-patients: 37,899
Ventilated people: 4,076

Today's UK briefing was with the reserve team. Matt Hancock, Health Minister, and alongside  Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (England), and Susan Hopkins of Public Health England. In the last week we've had 37,258 new cases each day on average.

Matt thanks NHS and emergency staff for their never ending effort, including ambulance staff who came forward to help Scotland at the weekend.

The rise in the number of cases is slowing, and falling in some places (Scotland. London).

As of last night 78.8% of over 80's have been vaccinated at least once.

Our worry is supply, we believe the NHS will be able to vaccinate people as quick as we can get vaccines. Right now supply is okay, but "tight" (there have been some world shortages of some components/syringes/glass vials). Today new vaccination centres opened at places including Blackpool Winter Gardens, the Francis Crick Institute and the Black Country Museum.

6.6m people have received a vaccine, over 1 in 9 of the adult population, more than 250 a minute over the last week.

Matt thanks the 80,000 people, including volunteers, who have made the vaccination programme work. Cheers guys!

He reminds us vaccination takes time to work, and we still aren't sure whether you'll be able to pass it on to other people. PLEASE continue to follow the rules even after you've been vaccinated.

He talks about the UK variant, and the other variants from Brazil and South Africa. We should be extra careful. There is evidence that they MAY be more deadly. There is mounting evidence they ARE more transmissible (catchy).

"We must be cautious. For all of us, our response must be extra careful. Stay at home, maintain social distancing. We've all frankly sacrificed too much, and it's so important that we protect lives. We're making progress with the vaccine. The end is in sight. We cannot put that progress at risk... There's a promise of better days that lie ahead. We have to hold our nerve and persevere through this difficult Winter. So, it's incumbent on us all, wherever possible, to Stay Home, Protect Lives, Save The NHS."

Daily UK cases showing clear peak and drop thanks to RP131 on Twitter

Public asked how close we are to herd immunity. Susan says 1 in 10 is far away from herd immunity. "We should not be focussing on catching the infection, and the consequences of that getting us out of this situation". (Go Susan!).
Jenny reminds us that we don't even know if immunity via catching COVID will be long-lasting.

Public asked if the Tiering will look the same in future - Susan says they'll look at hospitalisations, deaths etc (we have the highest number of people in hospital ever today, it's still rising, but more slowly). Tiering will be different if the science says so. 

First press asked "when will it end?". Matt is clearly so bored of the "are we nearly there yet?" and can't believe it's already occurring right now, when we're in the middle of the disaster. He honestly should just tell her "not yet" and move on to someone with a real question. Instead he again politely says it can't be guessed.
Jenny reiterates we are in the poo pile right now. Stop asking when it'll end. It's not today. She also says we need to think about increased admittance to hospital because of the cold and the ice, and we need to watch and see the effect of vaccination. 

Press asked about the new variants. Sue says we need to keep an eye on them - Moderna had a press release earlier today (see below) and all vaccines should work well against the UK variant, but data isn't yet ready to publish. They aren't seeing any problems in monitoring.
They are already working on building new vaccines against variations that we suspect might become prevalent.
Jenny says even if new variants affect vaccines, they shouldn't just suddenly render them useless, it'll just reduce efficacy.

Matt got a bit sniffy about someone calling B117 the "UK variant". He says he'd rather describe it as "the variant originally discovered in the UK". He can keep trying, but I think he's fighting a losing battle with that one... 

Several questions from press about the UK's travel bans and quarantines - there are rumours the UK is likely to introduce "quarantine hotels". They are commonplace worldwide and an easy way to keep tabs on new arrivals. Matt repeats several times that it's actually illegal to attempt to leave the UK without good reason. 

Press asked what proportion of people are turning down vaccination - it's tiny. It was around 1% last I saw. Matt doesn't seem to actually know, but he talks about Yateley in Hampshire, which has already vaccinated 98% of over 80's. He says he's thrilled, and thanks "serious UK media outlets" for their support. (Gosh, thanks Matt... ). Jenny thanks faith leaders for reassuring congregation, and explaining the vaccination to their communities. 

We see no signals that treatments are affected by the new variant. Dexamethasone and other therapeutics are still working at the same rate, and are effective at reducing mortality. Everyone who is admitted and needs oxygen receives Dexamethasone says Susan. 

Matt is asked about the 'United' Kingdom and advocates all staying together because we're stronger together. We have the 3rd fastest vaccine rollout in the world (1st is Israel - are supplying data to everyone worldwide, and 2nd is UAE - are bloody loaded). He says sharing of resources around the UK is a huge bonus and being united allows us to do this. 

I have a SCAM WARNING for you. No-one is being selected for vaccinations because of genetics or 'family history'.  If you get a test or email telling you so, it's fake. DON'T click on links, and definitely DON'T enter your details. Always remember - the NHS are not going to charge you for vaccination, and they already have your details. 

We are getting somewhere. Keep hope, and patience. Back tomorrow with the usual report... 

Thanks to for the charts. 

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