The Covid statistics for England continue to impress and we are clear leaders at present in the global battle against Covid, alongside Israel which is a much smaller nation.
Today, 1,037,566 Covid tests were done and 2,190 were positive. This represents a 7.9% drop in the 7 day rolling average. The rate of positive tests is now 21.2per 100k.There were only 15 deaths recorded which is a 38.6% reduction on the rolling weekly average. The rate of deaths is now only 0.1 per 100k of the population.
Hospital data is perhaps the most impressive. Only 121 admissions on 3rd May with a total of only 1,231 in hospital beds. The number on ventilators has dropped to only 163.
The vaccine roll out has speeded up again. 35.09 million first doses and 16.76 million second doses. We are still on track to have all adults immunised by the end of July.
An announcement today has made a change to the vaccination schedules. The new advice issued today relates to the cohort between the ages of 30 and 39 who should now avoid the OAZ vaccine if possible and receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The stress is on the words ‘if possible’. The extremely low risks of the cerebral blood clots is finally balanced , latest estimates are about 1 in 250,000 people are affected with the first dose. The risk of dying from Covid has also reduced to a tiny risk as well. I must stress any vaccine is better than none and if an alternative is for some reason not available you should have the OAZ. The recommendations for the under 40 year olds now matches the under 30 year olds.
There is confusion about the status of pregnant women. At one point two professional bodies were giving conflicting advice. It has been clarified today that the vaccine is both safe and effective and should be used. As most pregnant women are under 40 they should now be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine whenever available. Over 80,000 pregnant women have had the vaccine without any concerns.
Research at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene will encourage those trying to organise mass gathering events. They have demonstrated that being in a gathering of 40-50 may mean you know and interact with most of them whereas if you are in a crowd of 5,000 you do not mix with everyone but tend to remain in the small group of 2-6 that you attended with and then ignore everyone else. This suggests a mass gathering is less risky than a large birthday party.
The new variant in India has been reclassified today as a variant of concern and not just of interest. It has been named Variant B1.617.2 to distinguish it from the earlier Indian Variant known as B1.617.1. There is a third variant which remains one of interest. This is named B1.617.3 .The variant of concern is not thought to be resistant to vaccine but may be much more transmissible. It lacks the spike protein known as E484Q. it will now be subject to detailed analysis. There are a few different small cluster of cases in the UK.
Travel is the other breaking news today. Grant Shapps briefed the nation on the traffic light system to be introduced after 17 May. Countries are divided into 3 groups Red, Amber and Green.In the green group are 12 countries which include Portugal, Iceland, Israel, the Faroes and Falkland Isles. To travel home from a country in the green group you need a predeparture test followed by a PCR test on or before the second day of arrival back in England . Repeating the test on day 8. It is also possible to test to release by doing an optional test on day 5. If all testing is negative you can carry on normally.
You will notice only one holiday country, Portugal, is included. Australia and New Zealand are also in the green group but currently neither country is allowing British citizens to enter their country.
The Amber group has France, Spain, Italy, and Greece . These are all holiday destinations. However on return from those countries you must do the same tests as the Green group but in addition must self-isolate at home or a registered address for 10 days. The Red group includes almost all of Sub-Saharan Africa Central and South America , the Indian Sub continent, The Philippines, the UAR and the Maldives Here the same testing is required as in the other groups but you must prebook compulsory quarantine in a hotel for 10 days , you will be transported there by the authorities,
The costs of all the Covid tests and the costs of the hotel are quite considerable probably over £2000 per adult. The UK Border force are being increased. They warn of longer delays but they are looking for more electronic methods to speed up the process at the airports.
Turkey has been added to the red list tonight. This will affect many football fans travelling in to the country for the football final. People are being told not to travel. Efforts are being made to bring the match back to the UK as it involves two English clubs. That makes sense and I hope it can be arranged.
Please remember the next set of relaxations are after 17th May, please do not pre-empt that date. I do not think foreign travel is worth the hassle unless perhaps you want a holiday in the Falklands. Stay safe, look out for each other and help us all keep the variants out of these islands.