Monday, 5 April 2021

UK Roadmap Update Briefing Monday 5th April 2021

UK Briefing Monday 5th April 2021 - Boris has leaked and hinted at lots of announcements, so we knew this was coming.

1. Domestic 'Safety Certification' for mass events is being debated and trials are being arranged (theatres, sports, cinemas, festivals etc with vaccination, testing or exemption).
2. International Travel 'Vaccine Passports' are being debated
3. Twice weekly Lateral Flow testing is now being offered to any UK adults.
4. When they reopen, hospitality and leisure will require every adult to sign in.
5. Roadmap progress update

Vaccination 1st Dose: 31,581,623
Vaccination 2nd Dose: 5,432,126
Cases: 4,362,150 (+2,762)
Losses Of Life: 126,862 (+26)

050421 UK Gov briefing variants of concern chart

Today's UK Briefing was with Boris, Chris and Patrick, and it had a big build up, so it was clearly important. The new 1 million quid briefing corridor is looking resplendent - although on the telly the carpet is a bit more purple than it is blue. (Just saying.)


Boris started by chatting about Easter reunions with loved ones, and says 'it's really clear now that this is paying off". We are still vaccinating really well, with over 5 million 2nd doses delivered, and we don't forget our overseas territories. Gibraltar has become the first place in the world to offer vaccination to all adults.

"From Monday 12th April we will move to Step 2 of our roadmap. Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers, and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds."
(No saunas or steam rooms.)

"We are also increasing the number of visitors to care homes from 1 to 2, to allow residents to see more of their loved ones."
(I mentioned this yesterday. It is also from Monday 12th April - Toddlers and babies CAN also visit and don't count in the 2).

050421 UK Gov briefing vaccinations chart to date

Boris tells us these changes are fully justified by he data, but we can't be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness inflicting other nations. We don't yet know exactly how effective vaccination will be at preventing the virus taking hold.
He urges people to consider home testing (lateral flow tests twice weekly are now available to all - I am guessing they mean 16+, but I could be wrong).
He reminds us cases WILL go up with reopening - we just hope it isn't too much.

"It's by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage, and by following the rules - remembering Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air - that we hope, together, to make this roadmap to freedom irreversible."

050421 UK Gov briefing chart hospitalised

Chris with the slides. He explains that the tests have been met:
1. Vaccine deployment has continued successfully.
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective at reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated. (Chris reminds us they aren't 100% effective, remember your 2nd booster dose).
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would place unsustainable pressure on the NHS. (Our average losses of life is now 47 per day, down from a peak of 1,300 earlier this year).
4. Our assessment o the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
Chris explains we are confident in our ability to track variants (we are in fact world-beating).
Chris went through a table with the variants detected to date in the UK. He focussed on B117 (UK/Kent makes up almost all UK cases now), the South African B1351, Brazilian Manaus P1, and the UK variant WITH the extra mutation of pesky E484K, which is snappily entitled, B117 with E484K.
He says we are keeping a close eye on these, but the situation hasn't changed, it's fairly static. 

Public asked about care home residents and vaccinations for children. Patrick explained Pfizer and Oxford are working on this (I imagine they all are. Recent data from an age 12+ trial suggests the Pfizer vaccine is as effective and safe as for the 18-24 age group.)
Chris reminds us children are less likely to be severely affected. (I remind Chris they don't live alone.)

Press asked about Vaccine Passports / COVID certificates. He asks if you'll need it for the local pub? When can we go on holiday abroad?
Boris calls it "COVID status certification". He says there's no question of it for the shops or the pub garden, or the hairdressers on Monday, and we aren't planning it for Step 3 either (May 17th they're hoping to reopen indoor hospitality). 

Regarding international travel he says ALL countries are looking at some sort of certification, so we won't get away without one (THIS IS TRUE - sorry guys. You already carry a passport, it's not so bad). Boris says you can't use vaccination alone. A lot of people can't get a vaccine for many reasons:
"You can't start a system that's discriminatory".
Boris talks about bringing back cases of COVID from abroad, and says more information will come after he's had some meetings later this week. We can't yet say exactly what will happen from May 17th / Step 2.
He talks about pilot events getting people back to spectator sports and theatre. He says it will inevitably involve testing in order to allow the numbers people want. 

050421 UK Gov briefing vaccination efficacy chart

Press asked if enough people will regularly test in order to make it work? Boris blathers. He tells us millions of people are regularly testing already, and ends by saying "people should use them".

Press asked if we can learn any lessons from Chile, which has vaccinated a huge percentage of the population really rapidly, but has seen cases soar. Chris says we don't know why this has happened, it's the opposite of what has happened in Israel, and there are definitely lessons to be learned.

"The assumption that you vaccinate lots of people and the problem goes away, I think Chile is quite a good corrective to that. This is something that you've got to take steadily."

(Israel had rising cases as they started vaccinating. and locked down, in a fairly similar pattern to the UK. Chile unfortunately seem to have waited too long, and exponential spread will suddenly seem to explode, even if it takes longer to reach that point because of vaccination creating barriers. Chile is now under a hard lockdown and has closed the borders for a month.)

Press asked about surprises from the last year:
Boris says that a year on, he's surprised science has created as many workable vaccines in such a short space of time.
Chris says he's not surprised COVID is still with us. He seconds the vaccines as being the most amazing thing, and Pat also agrees.

Press asked when will vaccinated people be able to hug friends and family? Pat says we won't really know for a while. We want to look at how Step 2 goes, and after week 4, we can start looking at other aspects. Hand hygiene, staying at home if you are ill, testing etc are going to be important.
Chris reminds people the 2nd dose of vaccine will provide better, longer lasting protection. 1 in every 370 people currently still has COVID, we need to get that level down more. 

Lateral Flow testing photos what is in the kits

Press said London is struggling. When can aviation restart? What about the new unemployment levels? The London economy? Transport for London?
Boris says he's working on getting the aviation industry restarted.
(It doesn't just rely on us. Remember people from the UK are currently barred from many countries - you have to be able to leave AND arrive.)
He says he has no doubt London will bounce back strongly, and then implies the government will be looking into how TfL is run.

"The roadmap continues to be one that we are sticking to... like glue... All the data that I can see suggests to me that we have no reason to deviate from it, we'll get to step 2 on April 12th, and at the moment things still seem set fair for May 17th, but we'll keep things constantly under review."

Back tomorrow with the usual report... enjoy your evening... 

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