Speaking from a vaccination centre in South London this morning, the Prime Minister effectively rejected the demand from 63 Covid Recovery Group MPs to reopen the country once JCVI groups 1-9 have been vaccinated. Saying that the prevalence of the virus has to be much lower in order to avoid vaccination work being undone, Boris explained:
“If you have a large volume of circulation – if you have loads of people, even young people, getting the disease then a couple of things happen. First of all you have a higher risk of new variants – mutations – within the population where the disease is circulating. Secondly there will be a greater risk of the disease spreading out into the older groups again. Although the vaccines are effective and great, of course no vaccination programme is 100% effective.”
The two pronged risk of general circulation leading to vaccine resistant mutations and finding its way to some of those who have been vaccinated can be overcome by reaching herd immunity. Once enough of the population is vaccinated to a herd immunity level, small outbreaks will fizzle out before they can become endemic, unable to find new susceptible hosts…
Boris went on to say that “if we possibly can we’ll be setting out dates… by which we hope we can do something at the earliest” saying people would much rather see a plan that is “cautious but irreversible.” The roadmap is set to look like the one we saw back in May, although hopefully less reversible…
Having hounded Number 10 over its lockdown plans for months, the Covid Recovery Group’s (CRG) latest effort to bring forward the release timetable is likely to have frustrated Downing Street even further this weekend, after the Group’s deputy chair Steve Baker tweeted a campaign graphic that bears a striking resemblance to the government’s own house style. What a shocking coincidence…
Using the same colour palette and typography as CCHQ, the graphic quotes the Prime Minister’s statement on vaccine progress – “together, we can…reclaim our lives, once and for all’ – and sets 8th March as the date on which the group insists and expects restrictions begin to ease. Imitating the government’s social media style is a cheap and obvious trick to lend authority to the Group’s online presence. Although the government hasn’t yet confirmed that schools will return on that day, it’s looking increasingly likely…
Guido understands the Covid Recovery Group have privately demanded of Government ministers that there must be a ‘roll back as we roll out’ plan. The roadmap would see new freedoms guaranteed as each new vaccination milestone was hit. The first, as the Government has already announced, would be re-opening schools once the 13.9 million most vulnerable people have been vaccinated. What is not yet clear, and what no commitments have been made towards, is how many millions more must be vaccinated in order to move further down the wind down.
Guido hears ideas floating around include competition between regions to race down the tiers once lockdown ends, with numerical vaccine targets unlocking each new level. Phase 1 of the vaccine distribution plan covers 32 million people who represent 99% of Covid deaths. Once they have been vaccinated, things must return to normal.
As this week’s influential Adam Smith Institute paper says, the UK’s target of two million doses per week only completes Phase 1 by May 2021. By matching Israel and delivering six million on the other hand, Phase 1 would be completed “by the end of February“. Six million a week would take the UK up to almost 50 million doses in just eight weeks, something ASI paper author Jonathon Kitson wrote will mean “we could finally treat coronavirus just like we treat seasonal flu.” Bring it on.
Last week the AstraZeneca’s chief executive said the company can produce two million doses a week for the UK, undermining a favoured Government excuse of production problems. The rollout is on the Government. The Covid Recovery Group has today called on Ministers “to publish daily reports of progress so that MPs and the wider population can keep informed”, demanding that vaccination “become the central, overriding focus of government”. Bang on.
In the wake of the Oxford vaccine rollout today, Covid Recovery Group Chairman Mark Harper has released a statement saying the “Government must urgently set out exactly how the vaccination rollout will translate into a return to normal life for us all in 2021”. This can happen only if the UK accelerates to Israel-like efficiency. In his statement Harper went on to say:
“vaccinating the oldest and most at risk groups dramatically changes the impact of Covid – in terms of deaths, serious health consequences and admissions to hospital.”
The Health Secretary indicated that vaccinating everyone over 65 within seven weeks – by the third week of February – is feasible. Given that around 90 per cent of those who have died from Covid are over 65, their vaccination should be a clear threshold for when a substantial relaxation in restrictions can begin.”
A speedy vaccine rollout is something that for once all political factions can agree on. Sturgeon used her press conference this afternoon to clearly set out Scotland’s vaccination rollout timetable. No. 10 must end the current stuttering and excuse-making and pull their finger out….