March 23 2021

Exactly one year on from the first UK lockdown to try and suppress the Covid virus there have been a series of events to mark the day and remember the over 125,000 people who have lost their lives since it all began. At midday there was a national 1 minute’s silence recognised by Parliament and the BBC and thousands of other places across the UK. Tonight, there is a planned doorstep show of light with everyone encouraged to unite together and stand together using lanterns, candles and torches. We need to demonstrate that all of us are in this together and that we can and will work together to rid ourselves of the virus. There are just two ways we have to use to do this. Firstly, to all have both doses of vaccine and secondly, recognise the lockdown rules and ensure we all comply all the time. Every time we forget or ignore the risk of spreading the virus we risk even more lives.

The squabbles with the EU about vaccines continue and I am pleased to see that Sir Tim Barrow has been appointed to lead our negotiations to try and resolve it. In a former life Sir Tim was the UK’s Ambassador to the United States and is no stranger to tough negotiating. Blocking our supplies of vaccine from leaving the EU still seems to be an option the EU leaders are threatening.

The number of excess deaths is a concept I have introduced before. The Office for National Statistics confirmed that for the first time in a long while there have been no excess deaths compared to the average of the last 5 years.

In week 10 of this year 10,987 people died of all causes. When compared to week 10 of 2020 there were 511 less deaths than the average. The numbers of people that die from strokes, heart attacks, cancer etc remain much the same each year although there is variation when compared to the time of year. This is why the figures are worked out for each week of the year. It is easy to forget when concentrating just on Covid how many other people are dying daily of natural causes. We have seen days in this pandemic where there have been over 1,000 excess deaths every day.

The thorny question is whether in some situations vaccination against Covid should be mandatory that is legally required. It raises all the Civil Liberties issues, as well as Health and Safety at work issues. The situation in Care Homes is causing most concern. Nationally, about 25% of Care Home workers have not yet been immunised. In some areas of London, Luton and Manchester only 50% are immunised. Those not immunised are often from the BAME Community or are young girls who have been frightened of becoming infertile after vaccination. There is no evidence at all for this claim but a lot real anxiety. From the patients’ perspective I would not expect to be at risk from catching Covid from staff caring for me . I would expect them to be fully immunised and use full PPE and be well aware of the principles of nursing in isolation. From the staff perspective I would expect the employer to make my working environment as safe as possible by offering me full protection by immunisation and full correct PPE and training and education in managing infectious disease. It is not just Covid 19 but other diseases including hepatitis B and seasonal influenza. If someone does not want to be immunised that’s fine but perhaps they should not do the job. On balance I am sure it should be a requirement of the post in which staff are working and it should be mandatory.

We will see the use of Covid passports will creep in to allow us to access football matches and concerts as they begin to return It would not be mandatory to do social or nursing care, but you may not do the job without it. Unions warn there may be staff shortages if vaccines are made mandatory because people will leave the work. That is not a valid excuse, we have to try gently to change peoples’ minds.

As a GP I had a responsibility to protect my staff and my patients , protecting them all accordingly.

There are threats of £5,000 fines for travelling abroad without a good reason. It will be well worth the wait to holiday abroad if we can avoid the third lockdown beginning right across Europe

.In tonight’s statistics well over I million Covid tests done in 24 hours, 1,191,048 in total. Of these 5,379 were positive which is a fall of only 3.4%. This is falling far to slowly, this is a reflection of inadequate precautions to prevent person to person spread. They often have no symptoms so they do not bother with sanitisation, masks or distancing. Fortunately, vaccination is preventing the elderly from catching it severely. Hospital details show continued good progress. There were only 373 new admissions, a total now of only 5,461 in hospital beds. Only 758 are on a ventilator. Again these figures continue to fall steadily. On balance we are still on track, we must not let things slip at all.

We must isolate our island from the rest of Europe, persuade the minority to follow the rules. If we want and need the next relaxations in restrictions we have to earn them by staying apart and still staying out of circulation unless absolutely necessary.

Sorry to be late posting tonight.

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