March 18 2021

Tonight, things seem a bit clearer on the problem of supply and use of the OAZ vaccine.

In turn today, firstly the British, regulator the MRHA repeated their assertion that the vaccine for OAZ was safe to use. They confirmed they were investigating 5 patients, all men, with cerebral venous thrombosis aged 19 to 59. In the vaccinated group of patients there was one case per million in the Covid sufferers. The current risk of dying from Covid in the 40-49 age group is 1 in 1000 .You do not need A level maths to realise that death from Covid is a 1000 times more likely than death from a brain blood clot.

Secondly, the WHO reconfirmed their view that the vaccine was safe and should continue to be used.

Thirdly, the EU regulator also confirmed the vaccine is safe and effective. They added a rider that they cannot rule out a risk of a link but if there is it’s very rare. They recommend briefing Health Care professionals so that any possible case is spotted and recorded.

In medicine, proving something 100% safe 100% of the time is almost impossible. We all know that paracetamol is very safe but the patient information leaflet tells you of rare possible side effects.

You can become ill from drinking distilled water, if you drink enough. Millions of women of child bearing age take an oral contraceptive knowing full well they take a risk from having thrombo- embolic episodes, but benefits outweigh the risks.

Finally, Boris Johnson has said his turn has now come and he will have his first dose of the OAZ vaccine tomorrow.

I now understand the Moderna vaccine will be available from mid April in the UK.

Gibraltar has become the first country in the world to claim to have vaccinated every adult member of the population. The UK has supplied and paid for the OAZ vaccine used and it has apparently not cost Gibraltar a penny. They have had a total of 94 deaths on the island and there are currently only 26 active cases, 10 of whom are visitors to the island.

The Gibraltar Government have publicly thanked the UK but unsurprising have turned down the crazy idea to hold British asylum seekers on the island while they are processed. The Isle of Man reacted in the same way. I find it hard to believe this was a serious proposal but it was not dated 1st April.

Cardiff Council have confirmed they have a significant outbreak in a primary school where 21 pupils have tested positive. 3 members of staff and 80 people are being quarantined at home. In another school, also in Cardiff another single pupil tested positive. As a result, two teachers and a further 21 pupils are in isolation at home. There are plans to increase the staff doing checks on the compulsory quarantine in hotels to ensure there is full compliance.

The delays in supply of the OAZ vaccine expected in April now appears to be due to having to retest the stability of 1.7 million doses being supplied from the Serum Institute of India. This is one of the biggest vaccine production units in the world. It is inevitable as Matt Hancock said yesterday that there will be lumps and bumps in the road as more and more vaccine is prepared. It is a good sign that there is ongoing testing and checking and that it is so thorough. We must not complain about it.

We have been reassured again that all planned 2nd doses for April are reserved and safe. We will give every one over 50 a first dose according to plan but if you are in the 40-50 age band your start may have to be delayed. Vaccinators have been told not to start courses on the under 50s until the supply issue is resolved. Remember we are ahead of schedule with vaccine and I am sure there will be enough for all adults as planned by July.

The statistics remain encouraging with a slightly better drop in new case detection. There were 1.6 million Covid tests done yesterday of which 6,303 were positive. This is a fall of 2.8% in the last 7 day average and the rate is 59.1cases per 100k . The reported deaths were 95. This is the lowest Thursday figure since last October.

Hospital figures look good as well. There were 7,218 patients in hospital with Covid on 15th March. 426 more were admitted on 14th March. Only 968 are being treated on a ventilator.

There have been 2.57 million first doses given and 1.88 million second doses. We are getting to the point where second doses will be given as frequently as first doses.

The figures broken down by age group have also been published and make interesting reading. All 4 nations have very similar data with all being with 2% of one another. In England the over 80 year olds, 95.1% immunised

Aged 75-79 100% ( the number given was higher than the estimated population size )

Aged 70-74 96.3%

Aged 65-69 91.2%

Aged 60-69 83.7%

These are truly remarkably high numbers. I do not think in the history of vaccinations that so many as a percentage of the population have ever been given.

Its not over yet but we are well on the way, we must just keep going, do not let politics distract you from the task in hand which is to ensure the safety of everyone. We must be aware of our need to keep one another safe not just ourselves.

Get your jab when it’s offered, either brand is safe.

And stay safe out there.

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