April 8 2021

Matt Hancock quite rightly has denied claims from UCL that the UK will reach herd immunity for Covid 19 on Monday as 75.4% of the population will have Covid antibodies through catching the disease or being immunised. Normally a figure of 95% is thought to be the level for herd immunity to develop. That certainly was the figures for measles. When there was the scare about measles and autism, it caused the immunity levels to fall, cases began to reappear and deaths occurred. Fortunately, now the previous high levels have returned and cases have fallen right back. Other issues which make it very unlikely we can reach herd immunity is the length of time antibodies persist. We do not know how often booster doses will be required neither do we know an average length of protection after being infected before becoming susceptible again. Then there is the question of the new variants perhaps becoming resistant to the vaccine. It is quite possible we will never reach a level high enough to claim herd immunity. Only a short while ago another study suggested only 54% of the UK have antibodies.

It is now understood that 700,000 doses of OAZ vaccine were quietly shipped to Australia from the UK a few weeks ago after the EU had blocked its export from EU countries.

In Northern Ireland the cohort of people aged 40-44 years old can now book a test. It is very important to take up the vaccine as discussed yesterday, the benefits far outweigh the risks. It is only the under 30s that will be offered another vaccine rather than the OAZ whilst further investigations continue. Germany continues in discussion with Russia about supplying them with the Sputnik V vaccine. This is still not officially approved by the regulator in the EU, the EMA, or in the UK by the MRHA. A spokesperson for the Germans said ‘we will not hesitate to act independently of the EU but we will only use it with full EMA approval’.

Several countries are using it without full regulatory approval, but I am not aware of any difficulties identified.

Two priests in Paris are in trouble for breaking Covid rules over Easter. They are alleged to have held mass over Easter without proper social distances, not wearing masks, and placing the bread direct into communicants’ mouths contrary to the church’s Covid guidelines. Police are investigating.

The ban on people living in care homes from going out has been quietly dropped following threats of legal action. I am relieved to see that because it seemed quite draconian and disproportionate. Unfortunately, the rule that having gone out they must strictly isolate for 14 days after every trip out still remains and further court action is already threatened.

Cricket fans will be relieved to know that the Indian cricketer Tendulkar is now well enough to leave hospital after being very ill with Covid.

In the statistics released today which do not any longer seem affected by Easter, they show the number of second doses of vaccine now given is 6.09 million. Some 31.8 million first doses were given before they were paused for the second doses to catch up. We are back to over 1 million tests done. Yesterday it was 1,034,088 tests done of which 3,030 were positive. This is still a good drop of 37% over the last 7 days and the rate is down to 0.3/100k of the population. In hospitals figures continue to tumble. Only 220 people were admitted on 3rd April to join 3,124 already in hospital. The number on ventilators has dropped to 440.

We are it seems, now doing what is necessary to come out of lockdown according to schedule. The number of hospital admissions have fallen dramatically as have the deaths. This is largely due to vaccines. The new case rate is still influenced by our compliance with the rules as well as having the vaccine. This is falling but at a slower rate.

We need to keep our borders safe. We must still avoid going out of the country and bringing a new variant back. We should not let anyone into the country except for essential reasons.

Let’s just work together and support one another as we aim to finish the job and ensure a safe future for everyone.

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