Day: 1 August 2021

Tens of Millions of Brits Will Be Offered Pfizer Booster Vaccine This Autumn

Millions of Brits, including the over-50s, people who are vulnerable, and NHS staff, will be offered a Pfizer booster vaccine this Autumn, even if their first two doses were from a different provider. MailOnline has the story.

Extra vaccines would be rolled out in two stages – prioritising those most at risk of Covid, before the programme is extended.

While patients were initially expected to be offered the jab they were originally inoculated with, it is understood all patients will be offered the Pfizer jab as it has proven to be the most effective against the Delta variant.

The Department of Health has yet to confirm the official details of the booster scheme, plans of which were first shared by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in June.

The JCVI is expected to issue its final advice in regards to the booster scheme in the coming months. 

A senior Government source also told the Times that those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would “be getting an mRNA booster”. …

A U.K. Government-backed study published earlier this year found that mixing and matching Covid vaccines may result in higher protection against the virus.

People who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s jab initially and then received a top-up with Pfizer’s had nine times more antibodies than those who stuck to the U.K. vaccine. …

The Government said analysis has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is 96% effective against the Delta variant while the AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

A study published this week also showed that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine could offer strong protection against the Delta variant.

Worth reading in full.

Andrew Bridgen MP Criticises Government Over “Serious Infringement on People’s Liberties” Threatened by Vaccine Passports

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen says vaccine passports represent a “serious infringement on people’s liberties” and that he doesn’t believe they will actually be introduced. He told LBC radio that, if the Government is serious about its plans, Parliament should be recalled so as to allow for proper scrutiny. He is quoted in the Guardian:

This is a very serious infringement on people’s liberties, it is basically unprecedented in this country, and I and a number of colleagues would oppose it.

I think it is a very blunt instrument, to threaten people with domestic Covid passports. I personally don’t think it would get through the House of Commons in any event and that’s why the Government has moved on to this ‘carrot’ inducements for young people.

Bridgen, an ally of Boris Johnson during the Brexit campaign, accused the Government of “trying to aggressively coerce these young people” into getting vaccinated but said plans would not pass through the House of Commons. He did, however, concede that the Government could introduce vaccine passports by other means. He told LBC:

If [the Government] uses the emergency powers, they probably could argue with lawyers that they could bring [vaccine passports] in without having a vote in the House of Commons. But I think that is a step far too far for Boris Johnson and this Government. …

If we can’t get out of this pandemic with our levels of vaccination and antibodies, there is very little chance for the rest of the world. They will be all watching what we do in the U.K. and I think going to domestic vaccine passports would be an authoritarian step far too far.

His comments follow criticism from within the Cabinet of plans to introduce vaccine passports, with one member saying: “It’s not who we are.”

Australia Uses Helicopters and the Army to Enforce Lockdown Rules

The enforcement of lockdown rules in Australia has jumped to another level, with the army knocking on doors to check that people who have tested positive are self-isolating and helicopters blaring the message: “This is public health order – do not break rules – you will be found and fines issued.”

Police are also checking IDs to ensure that citizens are not outside their ‘exercise radius‘, and those not wearing face masks are being hit with $500 fines. MailOnline has more.

[On Sautrday], up to 1,300 police officers swarmed Sydney and set up a network of roadblocks in a massive show of force to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent anti-lockdown protest.

Some 250 fines, each worth $500, were issued across the city today, with one man arrested after travelling on trains outside his local Government area without a reasonable excuse.

It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison had launched a four-stage plan back to freedom but said 80% of adults would have to be vaccinated before the border can begin to open.

Sydney’s five million people are under a strict stay-at-home order because of a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June.

Authorities have this week outlined even tighter restrictions for some worst-affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors. 

From Monday, some 300 army personnel will help police go door to door to ensure people who have tested positive are isolating. 

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told a news conference: “The sheer volume of increase over the last week, the level of compliance has gone from hundreds into thousands.”

The military personnel will not be armed and will be under police command, he said. …

[Australia] is faced with the spread of the much more infectious Indian variant that is proving able to overcome lockdown measures. Many highly vaccinated countries are now re-opening, but Australia is sticking to its ‘Zero Covid’ strategy while its vaccine drive lags behind the rest of the world.   

Sydney’s latest surge of cases has been traced back to an unmasked, unvaccinated airport driver who got infected last month. Since then, Australia’s biggest city has reported 13 deaths.

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up