President Biden has recently been seen in public wearing two facemasks. He was following the advice of his Covid medical advisor. The idea is becoming popular in the USA. The idea is to wear a surgical mask under a cotton mask. They say it’s simply the more layers of protection the greater the protection. It may make a difference, but two masks will not be twice as effective as one. PHE have announced they are going to review the situation. The idea of two masks may sound a good idea but we will have to see what the studies show. We do know that most cannot wear one properly and so are unlikely to manage two. They will be potentially uncomfortable and rather warm to wear. Will they increase the risks of getting wet and therefore less effective? It’s important that the proposed study will resolve this once and for all. The Medical Research Council (MRC) have announced the start of a new study into the use of Covid vaccine in patients with pre-existing immunosuppressed conditions or those taking immunosuppressive drugs. They will compare the efficacy of the vaccine in normal subjects and in those who are immunosuppressed. The study will be led by Prof. Iain McInnes of Glasgow University. Six EU countries have now ditched the EU procurement scheme and will now go it alone with the Chinese and Russian vaccines which are not yet approved by the EU regulator.
Today was Budget day. And the Chancellor presented a clear articulate and professional report on the state of the nation. He promised to do what ever it takes to see the nation through the pandemic. It was a budget in two halves. The first part was to continue all the measures introduced to help those in severe hardship. The furlough scheme is to extended to the end of September. The universal credit scheme will continue for a further 6 months, support for the self employed will also continue until September. The second part of the measures amounts to survive now and pay later. It was made clear that we have not faced as much debt as this since the end of the Second World War. There is no increase in VAT or personal income tax rates, although the freezing of the thresholds for payments for 4 years will effectively mean we will pay a little more each year. There is no increase in the costs of alcohol or fuel.
It seemed to me to be a fair balance at present with several interesting initiatives to kick start the economy. You will find all the rest of the details in the media or the Government’s own website.
Thousands of fake vaccines have been seized in China and South Africa. Thousands of fake masks have also been seized in the USA.
The UK have 10 million doses of the OAZ vaccine that have been manufactured in the Serum institute in India. It is marketed there as Covershield. This will in no way affect the UK’s commitment to provide poorer countries.
I understand that there is a technical problem with the statistical data tonight and neither the BBC News nor I have been able to access any figures. I will therefore publish this now and if the figures do appear tonight I will add them to the report.