Monday 11 January 2021

UK COVID Briefing with Matt Hancock Vaccine Delivery Plan 11 Jan 2021

UK COVID Briefing with Matt Hancock Vaccine Delivery Plan 11 Jan 2021

There was a UK COVID Briefing today with Matt Hancock, Health Minister and face of the UK COVID response, to explain the new plan for the vaccine rollout. He was joined by Professor Steve Powys, medical director of NHS England. 

Matt starts. The new variant is highly contagious, and putting the NHS under extreme pressure.
32,294 people are currently in hospital, up 22% on this time last week
The average number of people who have died over the last week is 926 per day.
Chris Whitty said this morning that "we are at the worst point in this pandemic". Matt seconds this, and says it's your actions NOW that make the difference. Reduce all social contact that isn't absolutely necessary. Act like you have the virus. 

110121 UK Briefing Vaccine Delivery Plan number vaccinated UK

The vaccination programme is continuing apace.
So far 2.6m doses have been given to 2.3m people. More than the rest of Europe added together. 

Today's Vaccination Delivery Plan details how we'll continue to distribute vaccines:

Supply: British science has helped us find a way out of this. Oxford Uni moved swiftly from studying SARS and MERS and Ebola, and were straight on it.
Supply of vaccine is the limiting step at the moment. We are building development and manufacturing, but the whole world wants vaccines - there are queues. (It is right we don't just gobble them all up because we have the money or clout.)

Prioritising: We have decided to prioritise by risk of death, in order to quickly prevent more pressure on the NHS and more loss of life. Almost 1/4 of older care home residents have received at least 1 dose - all should have had 1 dose by the end of January.
We hope all adults will be offered vaccination by the end of Autumn

Delivery: We are expanding vaccination to roving pharmacies and GP centres. By the end of January everyone in England will live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre or roving unit.
He thanks everyone who is training or has trained to join in this effort. 

Matt reminds us that this will take months, don't blow it now - stay at home, save lives. 

110121 UK Briefing Vaccine Delivery Plan hospitalisations

Steve has been touring the new vaccination centre at Epsom Racecourse. Pharmacy sites will come online this week. "We are in a sprint from now until February" while we vaccinate the top 4 most vulnerable groups, and then another sprint for the next groups, and then a marathon to get everyone else 18-50 vaccinated by Autumn.

Since Christmas day, the number of people in hospital has risen by 13,000, and we are still to see the full impact of Christmas. 'Even the area with the lowest numbers, the South West, has more people in hospital now than the entire country did in September.'

"As good news as the vaccine is, it cannot be seen by any of us as a free pass to ignore the national guidance."

Public asked about seeing relatives and visiting care homes, and Steve and Matt gave a massively long answer. Steve reckons we'll start to see the benefit of the vaccinations on the hospital data by the beginning of February. We should begin to see a reduction in hospitalisations and severe illness within another 2 or 3 weeks. Obviously we are also on lockdown, so fingers crossed we also see a reduction in cases at the same time, and therefore future hospitalisations and losses of life.
(We can't really say the exact point when we'll feel secure enough to let everyone just go about casually hugging everyone else - but what a day that'll be.)

Steve and Matt are very confident the NHS and everyone else involved can deliver the vaccine programme on time, pretty much as quickly as we can receive batches of vaccine (which are due throughout the year). 

110121 UK Briefing Vaccine Delivery Plan positive cases UK

Press asked about the public keeping to the rules, and Matt praised Morrisons (see below). He says we all need to do everything we can, and stronger measures can't be rules out. 

Press mentioned the fact we were encouraged to go out in Summer, and asked if we are paying the price now (heck yeah!). Matt burbled about the new variant. (Basically what he isn't saying is that the English government have always used 'hospital capacity' as their yardstick, rather than attempting to keep COVID levels as low as possible, and it would have all worked as planned if it hadn't been for the pesky new variant.)

Press asked if it was okay to exercise 7 miles from your home? (Boris was photographed cycling 7 miles from his home yesterday.) Matt reminds us you can exercise 2 metres away from 1 other person in your local park. Abusing that and pushing the limits doesn't do anyone any favours. He says if you went for a long walk and ended up 7 miles away, that's okay, but you shouldn't travel cross country or potentially take the virus from area to area. Using exercise time for social gatherings isn't allowed, and he suggested that if it's overly-abused, we may lose it, which would be unfair on people who really need it. (He sounded very sincere on this.)

110121 UK Briefing Vaccine Delivery Plan losses of life

Press have been talking a lot about 24 hour vaccinations. Matt and Steve say it's most efficient to work during the day and although there are a few people for whom it would be handy, e.g. night shift workers, for the vast majority of people it would not. They certainly don't rule it out if it was appropriate.

Press checked about 'Bubbles' - Matt was strident - Child Care and Support Bubbles will both STAY, they are essential and will not be removed.

Other notable news - Morrisons are making face coverings mandatory from tomorrow. You will NOT be allowed to shop without your mouth and nose covered, unless you are medically exempt. The move is being made to help protect shoppers and the staff - who may have to spend 8 hours in the building that you can run round in 10 minutes. Be kind.

Nicola Sturgeon says that Scotland hope to have offered the vaccine to everyone over 80 by the end of January, and everyone who is CEV, NHS, Social care by the middle of February.

Wales hope to have vaccinated everyone over 70, CEV, NHS, Social care by the middle of February.

We have a stretch to go, and we don't want to trip over any more on the way, but we can see the end of Jonathan Van Tam's tunnel ahead. We'll get there... 


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