Day: 14 November 2021

News Round-Up

Australian Rules Footballer Quits the Game Following the League’s ‘No Jab, No Job’ Policy

Australian rules footballer Liam Jones (pictured) has announced his retirement from the game in preference to getting double-jabbed, after the Australian Football League adopted a ‘No Jab, No Job’ policy. Jones has terminated his contract worth around 500,000 AUD per year. The Mail Australia has more.

The team had been in talks with Jones after he expressed hesitancy about taking the Covid vaccine.

But he refused to change his stance and get vaccinated, despite the AFL’s ‘no-jab, no-play’ policy. 

“I wish to announce my retirement from AFL football effective immediately,” Jones said in a statement on Sunday.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. 

“I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates.

“I hope that people respect my decision and privacy – neither myself or my management team will be making any further comment on the matter.”

Carlton Head of Football Brad Lloyd gave thanks to Jones for his time with the club.

“We have been in constant dialogue with Liam in recent months and allowing him the time he needed to make an informed decision regarding his playing career,” Lloyd said.

“Liam confirmed with us today that he has made the decision to retire, and his wish for the specific reasons of that decision to be kept private – as a club, we will be respecting that.

“We thank Liam for his seven years of service to the Carlton Football Club, he earned every part of the 161 games he played, which included a complete positional transformation in the middle of his career, that could have only been possible with supreme dedication and hard work.

“We wish Liam all the best for the next phase of his life,” said Lloyd.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Trust Will Not Inform Parents If Their Child Requests to Be Vaccinated

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust has produced a leaflet which tells young people that if they book a Covid vaccination appointment their parents will not be asked to give consent or even notified of their child’s decision. The Telegraph has the story.

A leaflet produced by the Trust asks: “Are you 12-15 years-old, living in Sussex, and want your Covid jab?” It invites children to get in touch if they have not yet been vaccinated, but would still like to have one.

“We will not usually inform your parents, teachers or anyone else if you contact us,” the pamphlet says. “We might inform someone if we were concerned about your safety but we would usually speak to you first.”

Children are invited to send a text message to a phone number and told they will be rung back with “confidential advice and support about how to get [vaccinated] in the catch-up clinics being set up across Sussex”.

Family groups have criticised the leaflet saying it is not appropriate for children to be encouraged to go behind their parents’ backs.

Molly Kingsley, Co-Founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem, said: “The choice about whether to vaccinate children absolutely must be left to parents. Children are not state property.

“The parents we represent feel incredibly strongly that this is not a matter for any arm of the state to get involved in. It is a private matter between parents and their children.”

Worth reading in full.

Leaked Whitehall Document Reveals That the Government Intends to Dramatically Scale Back Its Covid Response Early Next Year

A leaked Whitehall document has revealed that, early next year, the Government will reduce its direct involvement in fighting the virus, scaling back some of the measures it has introduced as it now considers the disease to be endemic. These include removing the legal requirement for those who test positive to self-isolate for 10 days, shutting down the ‘Test and Trace’ system, as well as various other changes. The Mail on Sunday has the story.

In the documents, experts say Covid will remain at “endemic” levels for years and that mutant strains of the virus will also “remain a very real risk”. But, crucially, the Government’s central planning assumption, described as the “leaving soon'” scenario, predicts there will be “no winter resurgence” of the virus.

The revelations come as the number of new Covid cases plunged by more than a quarter in just over three weeks, from 52,009 a day to 38,351, and more than 12 million people have had their booster vaccines.

The leaked ‘Rampdown’ plans will be hailed by business owners and families exhausted by Britain’s two-year battle against the virus.

Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, one of the U.K.’s leading sociologists and a former Government adviser, said: “I very much welcome the fact that people are planning for the end of the emergency and the restoration of everyday life. Treating Covid like any other respiratory infection should encourage people to dial down the fear and anxiety that have bedevilled the country for the past couple of years.”

But one Whitehall source has told the Mail on Sunday that some systems for monitoring the spread of the disease have already been shut down, sparking alarm among top Government scientists.

Another source also said large numbers of health experts who have led the fight against the virus for 18 months are “just walking away” from the Government, resulting in a huge “loss of knowledge”.

“It’s totally over, in the minds of Ministers,” the source said. “But what happens if a new variant arrives and they have just shut down the whole national infrastructure? Are we retaining enough knowledge from the £37 billion investment over the past two years? I really don’t think we are.”

The ‘Rampdown’ strategy is being hammered out as part of a six-week review of the Government’s ‘test, trace and isolate regime’ by officials at the U.K. Health Security Agency, a new body headed by former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jenny Harries.

The documents reveal that the officials are examining “what activities can we start ramping down before April?” and what the “end state” of Britain’s response to Covid should be after April.

Their conclusions are due to be finalised by Dr. Harries and other key officials this weekend before being submitted to Health Secretary Sajid Javid. It is likely the Government will unveil the plan by the end of the year, unless there is a resurgence of cases caused by an unmanageable new strain of the virus.

Crucially, the documents reveal that Ministers are set to abandon attempts to stop Covid spreading “at all costs”.

Instead, health officials will judge future policies against the same kind of cost-benefit analysis used to decide whether the NHS can afford expensive new drugs.

“We will no longer be prioritising the previous objectives of breaking chains of transmission at all costs,” one document stated.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Tesco Christmas ad strikes quite a defiant note, albeit with some concessions to vaccine passports. A sign that the public’s appetite for being imprisoned in their homes is ending?

Ministers Believe Boris’s Freedom Day ‘Gamble’ has Paid Off

According to this morning’s Mail on Sunday, ministers privately believe that falling Covid infection levels in the U.K. – and rising cases on the continent – amount to a vindication of Boris Johnson’s decision to release lockdown restrictions earlier than European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, currently in the grip of surging infections.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about one in 60 people in England had Covid in the week to November 6th – down from one in 50 the previous week.

Government sources are pointing to the contrast with Germany, which is in the grip of a devastating fourth wave with the number of confirmed daily cases quadrupling in a month.

The Netherlands has returned to a three-week partial lockdown after its prime minister, Mark Rutte, said: “The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.”

The move was greeted by anger on the streets of The Hague on Friday night as demonstrators hurled stones, fireworks and bicycles.

Riot police retaliated by firing water cannon after warnings that hospitals would be overwhelmed without closing bars, restaurants and supermarkets early. Austria is also set to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people.

The UK is in a different position and yesterday Professor Neil Ferguson said Britain was “in quite a different situation from those European countries”.

The epidemiologist, dubbed Professor Lockdown for his modelling that influenced the first UK shutdown, added: “I think it is unlikely we will get anything close to what we had last year, that catastrophic winter wave.

“We might see slow increases as we did in October, for instance, but not anything as rapid as we saw last year.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he continued: “We can’t be complacent, but at the moment I don’t think we’ll be in a situation the Netherlands is coming into where they really do need to get on top of rising case numbers using social distancing. I very much hope we can avoid that in this country.”

Worth reading in full, although if Imperial’s answer to Mystic Meg is predicting clear skies it may be time to batten down the hatches.

Norway Study Finds ZERO Vaccine Effectiveness Against Death for Covid Hospital Patients

A new pre-print study from Norway looking at differences in outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated hospital patients has found that being vaccinated makes zero difference to the risk of dying once hospitalised for COVID-19.

“There was no difference in the adjusted odds of in-hospital death between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in any age group,” the researchers write. They also observed no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated in the length of hospital stay for patients not admitted to ICU. These findings are adjusted for age and other risk factors so are not simply due to the vaccinated being older or at higher risk (though, as always, the validity of the adjustments may be questioned). The findings also only include patients admitted primarily due to Covid, so aren’t confounded by patients admitted for other reasons who also tested positive at some point.

The researchers did however find that vaccinated patients aged 18-79 had “43% lower odds of ICU admission” and an estimated 26% shorter hospital stay than unvaccinated patients.

It is curious that vaccinated patients were 43% less likely to need ICU but no less likely to die. Did the antibodies from the vaccines just mean that those who were going to fight it off did so a bit more quickly and easily, but the vaccine antibodies weren’t actually able to save anyone who wasn’t going to survive anyway? That appears to be the researchers’ conclusion:

Our results suggest that once hospitalised the risk of death among vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in Norway is similar. However, for survivors the disease trajectory is milder in vaccinated patients, with reduced need for hospital care and organ support.