Tonight, we have had a Prime-Ministerial Briefing lead by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his two key scientists, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Valance. The meeting was at number 9 Downing St and showed off the new purpose designed briefing room that had once been a court room.
The message was one of cautious optimism on a spring like sunny day in London.
The statistics offered tonight are all going in the right direction. There were 1,275,385 Covid tests done in the last 24 hours and 4,654 were positive. This is a fall of 4.2% in the last 7 days rolling average and the rate of positive tests is 56.4/100k of the population.
The death rate was recorded at 23, remembering part of the last 24 hours was a Sunday, we will see a more typical figure tomorrow, even so, this figure is a 25% reduction in the 7 day average. The death rate is only 0.6 /100k of the population.
Health data is always some days behind the rest of the data. There were 4,560 people in hospital beds on 25th March with 334 being admitted in the 24 hours previously. 615 people were being ventilated on the 26th March.
Vaccination programme is still doing well with 30,444,829 first doses now given and 3,674,266 second doses.
I was delighted to notice that over the weekend there were zero deaths in a 24 hour period in the whole of Greater London.
Some new advice from those supervising the vaccine roll out is the proposal to immunise those people who are living at home with somebody who has a poorly functioning immune system as a new priority group. This will cover those sharing a home with someone with HIV infection, chemotherapy or on a post transplant drug routine. Remember if you are over 50 and have not yet had your first jab go on line and get it done quickly in the next couple of days. Those of you in the new group recommended for vaccine should for the time being wait to be called. it will take a while to sort the lists out. Remember the lists are based on your GP’s records so you and the vulnerable person must be on a GP list.
The Prime Minister found the right levels of caution and optimism as he reviewed where we are now. We must keep a very careful eye on what is happening in Europe particularly France. It is inevitable that there will be a small rise in the number of infections with more needing hospital and the occasional death. We need to continue to build on the vaccine levels and to hope that our efforts to keep variants of concern away from the country remain effective.
As we reduce lockdown, so, it will be almost inevitable that cases go up. We must not allow that to get out of control.
April will become the month of 2nd vaccinations as a large number of us will receive a second dose. If the vaccine shortage becomes real we will not manage many first jabs for a couple of weeks.
Novovax vaccine is to be fully prepared in the UK, it is being made at the Fuji film manufacturers in the North East it will now also be finished and put in vials in the UK as well. Production has started ahead of the MHRA approval. The UK has 60 million dose potentially available. We will have plenty to spare for the developing nations who do not yet have a vaccine supply.
The relaxation of the lock down rules starting today are a welcome release. 6 people from two households can now meet outdoors in a park or private garden providing they do not go indoors. But you can take a flask of coffee or tea with you.
The usual slides shown by the scientists confirm the statistics. One interesting slide showed that the greatest transmission is now being seen in the younger age groups that have not been vaccinated at all yet. This is reminding us of our need to get every adult immunised and hopefully some children once approved by the end of July. We remain in a bit of a race with the virus to get widespread protection before variants of concern spread here.
Foreign travel remains a concern, we are promised a review of that on April 5th when a task force reports. I do not think we will be able to relax too much and might even have to add more countries to the red list.
Very strict quarantine remains essential. The English Channel probably prevented our invasion in World War 2 and is doing so again right now with Covid variants.
Remember we are not safe until we are all safe. Cautious because we cannot predict the activity of new variants but we can be optimistic we can continue social distancing and avoiding close contact with one another. Boris has a new strap message; “Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air”
Make the most of the fine weather, it does not look set to last long and make the most of getting your fresh air with exercise.
Stay safe and be cautiously optimistic