Supermarkets, pharmacies and breweries have offered to aid delivery of the great UK coronavirus vaccine after the government put all hopes on shocks to save the country from its third lockdown.
According to the manager of the supermarket chain, three Morrisons parking spaces will be converted into drive-through centers for Covid vaccinations from Monday. Another 47 are on standby if ministers need them.
Boots is transforming three of its pharmacies into vaccination sites in Halifax, Huddersfield and Gloucester starting next week. Tesco has offered its warehouses and trucks to make dosing quick across the country. The craft brewer BrewDog has also claimed it is in talks with ministers about converting its closed bars into temporary vaccination centers.
Number 10 has pledged to vaccinate around 13 million of Britain's most at risk by mid-February – including nursing home residents and workers, NHS workers and almost everyone aged 70 and over – with the hope of the most draconian curbs falling by March to let. The mammoth goal would require vaccinating around two million people a week.
However, there are serious doubts as to whether the goal is achievable, given that only a million people have been vaccinated since the program started a month ago and the NHS needs to balance the largest vaccination program in UK history with tackling the biggest crisis in Covid patients keep pouring into hospitals. The record number of employee absences and strict infection control measures are also making the work of frontline health workers difficult.
The NHS has refused to meet the two million target due to potential vaccine supply shortages, staffing concerns and other logistical hurdles. There's also a suggestion that health bosses want to distance themselves from the government's arbitrary goals because it failed to meet numerous goals during the pandemic, including increasing daily smear capacity and expanding NHS Test and Trace.
If the 13 million pledge is to be kept, the NHS will have to move four times faster than its winter flu vaccination program. Figures show that only 11.68 million people eligible for a free flu shot by their GP in England got one last winter at the rate of 470,000 per week. For comparison: The speed of the entire UK Covid vaccination drive, which until yesterday was based on just one vaccine, is 330,000 per week.
In order to vaccinate all 13 million Britons in the four most vulnerable categories by mid-February, the NHS operation will need to be sped up six times to 2 million a week. Only 1 million doses have been given out so far, which means there are around 12 million left to be vaccinated in the 41 days between now and February 15.
That corresponds to around 290,000 per day. It is important that people are vaccinated 12 days before the measures are relaxed as it takes 12 days for the vaccines to start working. Health ministry statistics dated December 27 show that 944,539 doses were dispensed in the 20 days after it went live – at a rate of around 47,000 per day.
Top experts told MailOnline that there was "no evidence" that the government would be able to deliver the two million doses a week and suggested that the government dangle the carrot of the vaccines to beat the blow latest lockdown, while MPs said the target was "dubious".
There are concerns that the program is being hampered by problems and that the national shutdown could take much longer than ministers promised. For comparison, the first lockdown in March lasted more than three months, despite the fact that the British were told it would only last a few weeks.
University of Bristol's top epidemiologist Professor Gabriel Scally told MailOnline that he was doubtful about the government's ability to deliver on their vaccination promises, adding, "I haven't seen enough details or evidence on how they're going to do this for me am confident. & # 39;
He added: “The vaccination program is bright, but it needs to be well organized. I am concerned about the lack of local NHS organization. There are no regional or local health authorities that could run these programs.
When will we escape the recurring Covid nightmare? Five leading academic experts judge how the UK could return to normal – and how long it could take
As the UK slips into its third national lockdown, many are wondering if the Covid nightmare will ever end.
Here we ask some of the leading scientific experts in the country to consult their crystal balls and give you their views on how and when we could get back to normal …
PULL UP AND GET A JAB SO THAT SUMMER IS SAVED
Dr. Paul McKay, vaccine researcher at Imperial College Medical School
While this latest banning notice is desperate given the rapidly increasing hospital and infection rates, it certainly seems necessary.
While the logistics of getting out of all of this are daunting, I believe it is possible to get the UK back to almost normal within six months.
The government plans to vaccinate two million people each week, starting with the oldest and most at risk. This would depend on exceptional efficiency. But I believe it can be done.
To date, around 1,000 locations across the UK have been selected to have vaccinations. Therefore, they each have to process 2,000 vaccines per week to reach that two million goal. That's 400 bumps a day, five days a week … or about one a minute during the work day.
It would be impossible for one person to handle this safely. But one every 20 minutes is possible. So we need an average of 20 people giving vaccines in each center.
And at that rate, the entire population of 66 million Britons could be treated in eight months. It's ambitious, but not impossible. And here's a boost: not everyone needs a vaccine right away.
The current dogma is that, for example, the 11.75 million children in Britain are the least at risk from this disease, so they are the last in line to be vaccinated. The virus is most dangerous in those over 80 with around 3.2 million. Add the 420,000 in nursing homes (there will be some overlap) and the three million people employed in health and social services – which makes a total of around 6.6 million. Vaccinating these groups is a top priority. Everything is going well, they should be largely protected from serious illnesses by February at some point. Hopefully this means a full lockdown is no longer necessary.
Once everyone over 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions – around 15 million Britons – are vaccinated, we should be able to go back to tier two and three restrictions with restaurants and pubs open by March or April. Trips abroad are also on the program.
In order for all restrictions to be relaxed safely, I think we need to achieve a 70 percent vaccination. That's between 45 and 50 million people – which hopefully can be achieved by the end of June. Until then, social distancing and mask wearing protocols must continue. And only when the vaccine has been made available to all who need it should we start thinking about allowing mass gatherings again.
All of the assumptions at the time, of course, depend on an extremely efficient introduction of vaccines on a scale that we have never done before. But if we all pull together and get vaccinated when it is available, the second half of 2021 may be very different from the first.
Why I'm afraid of next winter will still be difficult
Paul Hunter, Professor of Medicine at the University of East Anglia
A month ago I was very optimistic about the year ahead with the hope that the roller coaster cycle of closings and cautious reopenings would soon be over. Unfortunately, those hopes faded on December 19, when the prime minister warned of a new, much more contagious variant.
Since then, the news has gotten worse and worse, and I feel today – after that final lockdown announcement – that all the hopes we had of returning to something like normal by spring are nothing short of a pipe dream.
The problem is, we are once again faced with too many variables, not least because of the huge question mark hanging over the effectiveness of the newly minted vaccines in preventing infection. While they are undoubtedly a scientific triumph, the only thing we know for certain is that they reduce the chances of people getting seriously ill rather than contracting the infection.
The chief scientist of the World Health Organization, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said: “I don't think we have the evidence for any of the vaccines to be confident that it will prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on. & # 39;
Unfortunately, without reducing the risk of the infection spreading, we will not achieve herd immunity and unimmunized individuals will continue to be at risk of contracting the virus.
This, combined with the ongoing uncertainty about the new, more contagious South African variant and its response to the vaccine, means draconian restrictions like those announced by Boris Johnson last night are likely to persist well into spring and beyond. Looking ahead, I fear that next winter will be difficult too, with further increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths and likely further restrictions.
It won't be as bad as the year we were, but we are very far from the forest and there are too many switching parameters for me to be too optimistic.
MASS TESTS SAVE THE FESTIVALS
Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University
With a tight lockdown, things should be moving in the right direction in late January, but there won't be much of an impact on the R-Rate until mid-February. We may live with severe restrictions until the end of next month. At the beginning of March we should see that the vaccination program is having some effect. And if the government manages to vaccinate every nursing home by the end of January, for example, we should see the effects by the end of February.
I am optimistic that hospital admissions will have dropped dramatically from May to June. If the vaccination program is going well, everyone over 50 with underlying health conditions should be vaccinated by then – this group is responsible for 95 percent of Covid deaths. If we can get the R-rate well below one and only see new cases occasionally, we could have a summer closer to normal. But mass gatherings like festivals can only happen if there are mass tests – people should have a negative test within 72 hours of attending. International travel should also improve if we could have airport tests and retests done, linked to an appropriate quarantine system, and assisting those isolating. But only when the vaccine is introduced worldwide will we be able to travel freely between countries again – and that will go beyond 2021.
WE HAVE TO IMPROVE TRACK AND TRACK
Hugh Pennington, Professor Emeritus of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen
Obviously, there is still a long, hard journey ahead of us in the fight against Covid-19. I believe we can only hope to get back to some form of normal by Christmas, and even that distant goal depends on a number of factors, most notably the success of the planned vaccination program.
Their achievement depends in part on the ability of manufacturers to meet the enormous demand. This task is made difficult not only by the pressure on global supply lines, but also by the requirement that each batch must be approved by regulators.
But even if the vaccines are available in sufficient quantities, getting them into the arms of the public will be an enormous logistical operation. Then we will also have to address admission concerns, especially among young people who are at low risk of serious illness, even if they contract Covid and therefore may refuse to be vaccinated.
Vaccines will also not produce an immediate, dramatic reduction in infections. This is because the priority groups who are vaccinated first – healthcare workers, nursing home residents, the elderly and the vulnerable – are not super-disseminators. In fact, many of them are already protecting.
Only when the vaccines are given to those under 50 will it have a really significant impact – and it can take some time.
There are still many unknowns. For example, how long is immunity for each vaccinated person – six months, two years, five years? And what about new mutations and variants that are imported from abroad? The scale of the problem means that tough interim measures will be required in the coming months, including wearing masks, social distancing, tight controls on international travel and, regrettably, a complete lockdown.
However, locks only work temporarily. Once picked up, the virus spreads. So this time there has to be an enormous improvement in tests and track & trace. This is our only path to security – and freedom.
“The lack of local organization is one of the real problems the government has always had, and that is why ministers have chosen the easy way of giving Serco and private companies Test and Trace.
“We must not forget that the government had to be put on hold yesterday because of a wave of cases in the coming weeks, and that will be our top priority.
& # 39; The NHS will fight two fronts (roll out the thrusts and fight Covid) which is very risky. I would never plan it that way in a million years.
“We've known vaccines for months and months, there were over 200 in production, and we knew most would need two doses.
“But we seem to have figured out the rules over time, all of these questions about getting vaccines, where to get them and who to get them should have been worked out and how many doses.
"It's a terrible situation we're in. It looks like the government is making everything up, it's purely reactive with no strategy."
"If we had acted more firmly and earlier (with lockdown) we would have had the capacity and space in every way to run a highly efficient, successful vaccination program."
Michael Gove today warned strongly that the lockdown will not be gradually lifted until March – and that the schedule will depend on the government achieving its ambitious vaccination targets.
The Cabinet Minister admitted there was no "certainty" that the brutal pressures Boris Johnson put on England last night will be eased in late February, as hoped.
The Prime Minister has set himself the goal of giving more than 13 million vulnerable people first doses of vaccine over the next seven weeks, although doubts have already been expressed as to whether this is possible.
But Mr Gove warned that even in the best case scenario, not all of the curbs will go away as he long-term prepared the weary public for the rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus.
In a round of interviews, Mr Gove said that a review of the situation would take place at mid-February.
"We hope we can gradually lift the restrictions after that, but I can't predict – no one can predict – exactly what we can relax and when," he told Sky News.
"We know that the more effective our vaccination program, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions, the more people are protected in this way."
The grave reservations came as Labor brushed off that the prime minister had "over-promised" vaccination hopes when it made another extraordinary U-turn by putting the country into a March-style lockdown, saying the NHS was risking within Weeks of being overrun if he doesn't act.
Just a day after urging parents to send their children back, Mr Johnson stated in a grim address from No. 10 that elementary and secondary schools will be closed starting today and only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers will be allowed to enter.
Kindergartens can remain open. However, university students are instructed to stay at home and study remotely, while GCSE and A-level exams do not go as planned.
Teens may not know how to replace their exams for weeks and Ofsted is expected to launch a consultation, despite government sources saying some contingency plans have already been considered.
The new guidelines, which will be released overnight and are not strictly necessary, will have to close all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools. Rishi Sunak is due to present another package of assistance today as fears about the impact on the economy mount.
Cafes, bars and restaurants are allowed to serve take-away meals. However, due to the tightening of the draconian measures last spring, they are not allowed to serve alcohol. Endangered persons are asked to shield if possible.
The public is only allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons: go to work if necessary, shop necessities, play sports – be with someone from another household, look after someone or seek medical help, or flee threats such as domestic threats Violence.
The common worship service can be continued with social distancing.
Those who break the rules can expect £ 200 for the first offense, which doubles to a maximum of £ 6,400 for further offenses.
The extraordinary third national pressure will go into effect early Wednesday morning after the rules are finalized today, but Mr Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now. MEPs will be voted on on Wednesday when parliament is recalled.
Union leader Keir Starmer said the move was "imperative" and that his MPs would support them and effectively guarantee their approval in the lower house. However, he criticized the government for not changing course sooner and expressed serious doubts about optimism about vaccine distribution.
"The Prime Minister said seven weeks would bring the vaccination program to 13-14 million people," said Sir Keir.
“That is the prime minister's ambition. I hope it's not too promising. It's going to be a fight and we have to do this work. & # 39;
High-ranking Tory MPs had joined the opposition and called for another national ban. However, the idea of tightening restrictions sparked anger among other Conservatives, who insist on the country's experience of the pandemic that lockdowns are not working and crippling the economy.
It is alleged that at least two MPs have since sent letters of no confidence to the Prime Minister to conservative backbench boss Sir Graham Brady – although the numbers are nowhere near the threshold to cast doubt on his position.
With his hands crossed and a desk on Downing Street last night, Mr Johnson made it clear that there is no chance they will be held for at least seven weeks – and possibly longer if the vaccine roll-out doesn't go well.
“Our hospitals have been under more pressure than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. It is clear that we need to do more while our vaccines are being rolled out, ”he said.
He said it was "not possible or fair" for exams to go ahead as usual this summer.
"The weeks ahead are going to be the toughest, but I really believe we're reaching the end of the fight," he said, promising that by mid-February the top four categories on the vaccine distribution list had their first pushes.
There are 13.2 million people in the top 4 groups on the vaccination list – nursing home residents and those over 80, frontline health workers, those over 70, and those at risk.
However, the prime minister admitted that all he could do was give assurances that the situation would improve, provided that our understanding of the virus does not change again.
He said, “By mid-February, when things are going well and there is a good wind in our sails, we expect to have given the first dose of vaccine to all of the four highest priority groups identified by the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee.
“That means that everyone in an older adult care home and their caregivers will be vaccinated, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social workers, and anyone who is at extreme clinical risk.
“If we can vaccinate all of these groups, we will have removed a large number of people from the path of the virus.
"And of course that will allow us to lift many of the restrictions we have been through for so long."
Mr Johnson said he had no choice after being faced with disastrous numbers by science chiefs today about the burden on the NHS.
Hospital patients with coronavirus had risen 40 percent over a week and are now taller than when the first wave peaked.
Rishi Sunak today announced further £ 4.6 billion bailouts for lockdown-hit businesses as economists warned of the "colossal" blow from the growing pandemic.
The Chancellor stated that venues made by Boris Johnson's dramatic decision will receive one-time grants of up to £ 9,000 to keep them afloat for the next seven weeks.
Around 600,000 premises across the UK are to be given the money, while an additional £ 594 million will be pumped into a "discretionary fund" to help other affected businesses.
Mr. Sunak also explicitly declined to rule out renewing the massive vacation program beyond the end of April, merely saying that he would take stock of the budget in March.
However, companies warned that the package is not enough as pressure on VAT and tax relief must be maintained to stop a wave of bankruptcies.
The latest major intervention came amid concerns that the lockdown will cut GDP by as much as 10 percent for each month it is imposed – though the respected IFS think tank said this morning the impact could be lesser as companies have adjusted since the first print in March.
It will also sound the alarm about the government's financial condition. IFS Director Paul Johnson said the extent of the economic damage was the worst "in all of history". Public sector borrowing could hit £ 400 billion this year, with Mr Sunak already warning of a later settlement to offset the books.
In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said the previous tiers would have been enough to tackle Covid as it was originally, but the new variant – which is 50 to 70 percent more transferable – spread in a frustrating and alarming manner.
"As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than they have ever been since the pandemic began," he said.
Mr Johnson said the number of Covid patients in hospitals in England rose by almost a third to almost 27,000 in the past week – around 40 percent more than the first high in April.
On December 29th, "more than 80,000 people across the UK tested positive for Covid" the number of deaths has increased by 20 percent in the past week "and will unfortunately continue to rise".
"With most of the country, or perhaps under extreme measures, it is clear that we must do more together to get this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out," he said.
"So in England we have to go into a national lockdown that is tough enough to contain this variant."
Mr Johnson said parents could reasonably ask why decisions about schools weren't made "earlier".
"The answer is simply that we did everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children's life chances," he said.
“And I want to emphasize that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children. It is still very unlikely that children will be severely affected by the new variant of Covid.
"The problem is that schools can still act as vectors, causing the virus to spread between households."
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