February 19 2021

Zimbabwe has announced it is rolling out a Chinese vaccine with the intent to vaccinate up to 60% of the population. However, this has had quite a mixed reception. There is a lot of fear and anxiety from the Zimbabweans who believe they are victims of state sponsored experimentation. Another popular idea is that the vaccine will cause infertility. There is no substance to either of these fears. They illustrate how, even in the UK, these fears in the BAME community are hard to dispel.

Our Prime Minister has been at the G7 Conference today and made it clear that all surplus UK vaccine will be given to poorer countries. The PM urged other more affluent nations to do the same. We cannot expect to rid the world of Covid 19 unless we protect the whole global population.

The High Court ruled today that some of the Covid contracts were handed out unlawfully without publishing details in a timely way. Mr Justice Chamberlain was ruling on a legal challenge brought by three opposition MPs and the Good Law Project over contracts for hundreds of millions of pounds to supply face masks and other PPE which were awarded without competition. Matt Hancock should have published CANS (Contract Award Notices), within 30 days of the award of the contract. The Judge declined to order Mr Hancock to publish all the remaining contracts, noting that the backlog was already being cleared and he was already moving towards complete compliance.

It must be inevitable that there can be a large degree of variation up and down the country as Local Authorities make arrangements to vaccinate the whole community. Officially the top 4 priority areas have now been immunised but in practice some areas have a way to go to achieve this and others are well into the next two priority groups. Westminster CCG have only done 61% of the over 70s whereas Farnham Hampshire have done 100%. The 10 worst areas are all in the Greater London Area. The NHS suggest that BAME hesitancy is behind the poor uptake in culturally driven Boroughs, in the same way as is being seen in Zimbabwe. Battersea have started to immunise the next priority groups to avoid wastage of any vaccine whilst they still struggle to persuade greater uptake in the over 70s. Similar action is being taken in Bolton Greater Manchester and in North London.

There are some anecdotal reports of the under 50 year-olds being immunised even without underlying health problems.

Andy Burnham the Mayor of Greater Manchester says that as the jabs are not being taken up they should be given to those that do want them. This seems a very reasonable position and will minimise wastage. Once all adults have been offered vaccine we can always go back and offer it again to those who initially declined it.

There are 32 million in the top nine priority groups and 2 million in the top 4 groups are yet to be given. As a whole the country remains on target to do the top 6 groups before the end of March when the second doses are scheduled to begin.

A word specifically to my frontline Ambulance Service friends. I have considerable sympathy for the lack of protection Ambulance Crews have when in contact with confirmed or suspected Covid cases.

They may spend time in a small house in close proximity to a patient and may need to do close procedures. The patient may well need carrying out into the confines of a small ambulance. On arrival at hospital the patient may have to be left waiting in the ambulance for a long time, several hours is not uncommon, before being off loaded into the hospital. Whilst stationary outside they are close to the patient, observations are done, it is not easy to ventilate the ambulance, or leave doors open.

What help do you need.? Are masks adequate, do you need face shields as well, can you adequately do what’s necessary, and can you communicate adequately? How would you cope with a full face ventilator? Please let me know your views on this I may still have a little influence in improving things for you. Some German politicians are continuing to try and rubbish the OAZ vaccine. It is alleged that only 17% of the vaccine they have has been used. The Berlin Mayor has said that those who refuse the OAZ vaccine will go right to the back of the queue if they refuse it and demand an alternative. The Mayor said those that do not want to be vaccinated have lost their chance. It has clearly been shown now that both vaccines give a similar rate of protection with 2/3rds of infections and 2/3rds of transmission prevented with a single jab.

The UK Police are concerned at the growing number of secret illegal parties they are having to break up.

Tonight’s statistics show 560,400 tests were done in the last 24 hours, with only 12,027 proving positive. The rate has fallen to 128.1/100k. this also a 20% drop in the last 7 days.

There were 19,392 still in hospital on 17th February with a further 1,490 admitted on 15th February. 2,535 were being treated on a ventilator. These figures are good but still far to high. There are far too many breaches of the lockdown rules, far too many parties. These must stop. Any thing any one can do will help. Talk to your BAME colleagues and friends, do your best to help them accept a vaccination.

Deaths are still high at 533 but is coming down week on week by 25%. The death rate is only 5.5/100k now.

There is only so many different ways to say keep going, do not give up, support one another. Tell me your ideas and concerns, particularly how to protect ambulance crews who have had too many deaths from Covid.

Stay at home, Stay apart and Stay Safe.

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