January 29 2021

Tonight, I will try to explain the various arguments about vaccines that have been responsible for much distress and confusion.

The European Medicines Agency has today approved the Oxford AstraZenica for all adults over the age of 18. This comes in the wake of the German argument yesterday that is should not be given to the over 65s because there was insufficient data on the effect of the vaccine in that age group. The EMA is fiercely independent and like the UK equivalent the MHRA will not be told what to do by anybody. The EMA accept there was less detail in the trials for the elderly, but all the indicators are that it works very well.

Please do not listen to the scare mongers and antivaccers that if you are over 65 you should not have it. It is fake news and was probably a frustrated reaction in anger to the supply difficulties in Germany. AstraZenica said that the German view was completely incorrect, and in the latest move the German Ministry has now said ‘The figures had been quoted mistakenly’. I fear the damage has been done but that it can be put right quickly. Shares in AZ will have dipped but I am sure will recover.

Germany has now approved the same three vaccines as the UK: Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford AstraZenica. The latest retaliation is to threaten to put up export barriers in an attempt to block the UK’s access to vaccine being made in Belgium.

There is another Covid vaccine being developed by Janssen for Johnson and Johnson. It is said to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe infection. It is the first single dose vaccine to be announced so far. Please ignore the comparatively lower rate of efficacy as you are not comparing like with like. Janssen excluded milder cases of Covid from all their trials. The MHRA have not yet approved this vaccine for use but the Phase Three trials are under way. The UK is confident of approval and has pre-ordered 30 million doses. Janssen claim that their trial data suggests ‘complete protection’ from hospitalisation and death after 28 days. Janssen have also demonstrated good efficacy against the South African variant.

It is important to recognise that AstraZenica are to sell all their vaccine on a not-for-profit basis. The cost price is very reasonable compared to others.

Yet another vaccine , Novavax, was announced today , it is undergoing the Phase 3 trials at present but looks promising. The company claim this vaccine is 89% effective. I really wish they would stop claiming high efficacies. We cannot compare one with another as all the calculations are different. We can be certain that when Phase Three trials are completed and approved the vaccine will be safe and effective.

What remains the most important issue is that every one should be able to have any approved vaccine as quickly as possible. There is not a best because we cannot compare them properly. There will be enough for everyone and some to spare…

Summary of current vaccine position;

Oxford AZ 100million doses Approved in UK and EU

Pfizer BioNTECH 40 million doses Approved in UK and EU

Moderna 17 million doses Approved in UK and EU

Noravax 60 million doses Phase 3 trials in progressValneva 60 million doses Phase 1-2 trials in progress

GSK Sanofi 60 million doses Phase 1-2 trials in progress

Janssen 30 million doses Phase 3 trials in progress.

The number of doses is the number the UK has already pre-ordered.

In other news, Spain is to consider trialling a 4 day week, working 32 hours a week, with no loss of pay to the employee and the business getting financial backing from the government. If the idea is a success it may well become permanent. If the idea came to the UK what would you your reaction be? Is the Covid pandemic a good catalyst to permanently reduce the working week?

The WHO expert team visiting Wuhan on a fact-finding mission have completed their 14 days compulsory quarantine and have begun vising hospitals and key staff. The review is expected to be thorough and take a long time.

Today’s statistics confirm things are all still moving in the right direction. There were 29,079 cases testing positive from a total of 753,031 tests done. The number of new cases continues to fall. There was a drop of 29.5% on the 7 day rolling average and the rate is 328.7/100k.

There seems to be a glitch in the death figures today and none are reported. There were 35,375 patients in hospital with Covid on 25th January. 2,903 more were admitted to hospital on 27th January. There were 3,918 on a ventilator on 28th January. These figures remain very high but are now slowly falling.

I look forward to the day when I can really say no deaths have been reported. That just could come toward the end of this year. Meanwhile whether or not immunised we still have to follow all the rules, remember the Basics, Hands Face and Space.

The health Service is just coping, we cannot afford any relaxation. Please be tolerant and supportive to one another. Let’s show the Government that the best way out of this is in cooperation and friendliness, but still staying apart and staying at home.

Please stay safe.

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