February 2 2021

Just as I started writing the report tonight came the breaking news of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore, aged 100, at Bedford Hospital from Covid 19 pneumonia.

Sir Tom needs no introduction from me, this truly remarkable man has become a household name for his incredible fund-raising efforts to keep the NHS afloat during the first wave of the pandemic. His amazing support was not just financially but psychologically as well, as he led from his zimmer frame he inspired us all to keep going. Over the next few days his passing will become the major news. Tonight, Downing street is flying the Union Jack at half-mast.

Today’s statistics generally confirm we are making the progress we need. Some 643,204 Covid tests were done , making almost 4.5 million in the last week A rise of 12.3%. Of those tests only 16,840 were positive. This is a fall of 26.9% over the last 7 days and reflects a rate per 100k of being positive of 261.9 per 100k.Health care data shows that 32,466 people were in hospital with Covid 19 on 31st January with 2,642 new admission today. There were 3,726 people on a ventilator. There has been a fall in admissions of 22.3% in the last 7 days.

Vaccinations continue at pace with 9,646,715 1st doses given and 496,796 2nd doses given, This amounts to over 10 million leaving us well on target to have done 15 million by the 15th February.

Vaccines continue to take up much of the news, The Russian sputnik V vaccine has had an analysis of its phase 3 trials published in the Lancet today. The Lancet is a respected Peer reviewed journal. There were some 21,000 participants. 16.000 were given the vaccine and 6,000 given a placebo. It seems to have performed very well in that it was 91.6% effective. The Sputnik V vaccine is unique in that it is made from two different strains of a weakened adenovirus. The first dose contains a weakened adenovirus 25 which is to weak to replicate or cause any harm and the second dose contains a much weakened Adenovirus type 5 . this again cannot replicate. The theory born out in practice is that the first dose give very good efficacy and this is boosted considerably more with the second dose. It is likely to get its approval very soon. I think we will here a lot about this vaccine as a major player in the future, work has also started looking at the possibility of combining it with the Az vaccine. More news on this soon I hope.

Johnson and Johnson has also released its phase 3 data today and will now apply for its approval for its emergency use from the FDA. This will be a boost to the American Vaccine programme which has been struggling to get going.

A Covid mutation, similar to the South African variant has been discovered in the Kent variant of Covid 19 by the genomic sequencing team that a quick to look in great detail at all possible new variants from all over the world. Prof. Calum Semple of SAGE said today that the change has occurred spontaneously , this of course is not surprising. It’s what viruses do. This latest mutation like others occurs on the spike protein of the virus and is very similar if not identical to that seen in the South African and Brazilian variants. Some people are claiming that laboratory studies show that “ the vaccines and antibody therapies are likely to be at least slightly less effective against the South African Variant”. This is very unsurprising non news but is likely to be used to scare us. For the moment there is more than enough evidence to show that all the mutations will be adequately managed by all the vaccines available. It is however likely that over time. minor adjustments will be made in the vaccines to maximise their ongoing effects of mutations. In due course they may well be changed annually in the way seasonal flu vaccine is.

For the meantime, as await universal protection from vaccine we must continue the now familiar routine, with good hand sanitation and surface cleaning. Stay at home if you can, if you can’t, wear a mask and stay well apart. Do not travel for pleasure. Remember all the rules.

Let us give thanks for people like Sir Tom. I leave the last words to him in April 2020 he said “We will get through it in the end but it might take time but at the end of the day we shall all be ok again. The sun will shine on you again, and the clouds will go away”.

Stand Down Sir Tom . RIP. A job well done.

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