Vaccine

Boris Admits the Vaccine “Doesn’t Protect You Against Catching the Disease, and It Doesn’t Protect You Against Passing it On”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the Covid vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission. Speaking to reporters on a visit to a Covid vaccination centre in London on Friday, the Prime Minister said that double vaccination provides “a lot of protection against serious illness and death” but does not protect against “catching the disease” or “passing it on”. Has he been reading the Daily Sceptic?

His message was to underline the importance of boosters:

So the message is that the boosters are fantastic. The levels of protection are really very high, but it’s also very, very important that you get one because the double vaccination provides a lot of protection against serious illness and death but it doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on. So now is the time to get your booster.

But if being double-vaccinated doesn’t prevent you being infected or transmitting the virus after just a few months, why will a booster be much better? Why is it so important to prevent transmission and infection through boosters anyway, when protection against serious illness and death is holding up well and that’s all that really matters?

Another question for the Prime Minster: What now is the point of vaccine passports and mandates? Why sack hundreds of thousands of care home workers and health care staff who decline vaccination, most of whom have served faithfully throughout the pandemic, if vaccination makes no difference to how infectious you are and so does not protect others?

Now that the Prime Minister himself has let the cat out of the bag on the vaccines and not preventing spread, will the media start reporting on this data properly? And will the Government now join the dots and abandon vaccine coercion? We can but hope.

Record Number of Booster Vaccine Doses Given on Saturday

Perhaps the Government’s recent push to increase the number of people coming forward for booster Covid vaccines has paid off, with NHS figures showing that a record number of third doses were given on Saturday. Sky News has the story.

A total of 5.1 million third jabs have been given, with around half of people aged 50 and over – and those who are currently eligible – being given a dose.

Saturday was the biggest booster day on record, with 325,140 vaccines given. …

Earlier this week, people eligible for a booster were advised they could go online and book through the National Booking Service, even if they had not received an invitation by letter or test.

In the 24 hours following this announcement, more than 230,000 people booked their jab.

The roll-out began on September 16th – two days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended a third vaccine six months after people had received their second dose.

Overall, nearly 85 million vaccines have been administered in England.

Currently, around 10 million people in England are eligible for the booster jab, including health and care workers, those with underlying health conditions, and people aged 50 and over.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid Wants to Introduce Legislation to Force All NHS Staff to Get Vaccinated against Covid “As Soon as Possible”

There’s more today on the Government’s thoughts on forcing all NHS staff to be ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid, with the Health Secretary believed to be keen to introduce legislation that would make vaccination a condition of employment “as soon as possible”. The Sunday Times has the story.

[Sajid Javid] believes the move would protect vulnerable patients from catching the virus in hospital, but health groups have warned that it could force trusts to fire staff or remove them from frontline duties. In England, 106,351 NHS staff have still not been vaccinated, about 7% of the total.

Javid is also preparing to roll out booster jabs to the under-50s after Christmas, although they have yet to be approved by experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Health Secretary, who has set up a “war room” and is chairing daily meetings on the Covid crisis, has drawn up new measures to ease pressure on the NHS and curb surging Covid cases, which last week surpassed 50,000 in a day for the first time in three months. …

A source close to Javid claimed he has not ruled out another national lockdown. However, it is understood that [Boris] Johnson does not want any new Covid restrictions until after COP26, the climate change summit that begins in Glasgow next weekend. “No one wants to spook the horses,” said a source. …

Javid has refused to pause a requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated by November 11th, despite claims that it could lead to up to 100,000 of them quitting.

Worth reading in full.

Get the Booster Vaccine or Lose the Freedom to Enjoy Christmas, Warns NHS Chief

Less than a week after Laura Dodsworth wrote a piece on the ‘nudges‘ involved in the Government’s threats of more restrictions, the NHS’s most senior doctor has warned Britons that our freedom to enjoy Christmas could be stripped from us if enough people don’t get a ‘booster’ Covid vaccine.

“The freedom we now all enjoy,” Professor Stephen Powis writes in the Sunday Telegraph, “is a direct result of the country’s willingness and desire to come forward for a Covid jab when it has been offered.” That very ‘freedom’ will be gone again if take-up doesn’t stay high.

Although the country once again finds itself at a crunch point, the NHS vaccination programme remains the strongest weapon in the armoury. Because we rolled out jabs so quickly, we are likely to see protection from the virus waning sooner than other countries. That means that without a booster, many people will find themselves more vulnerable to Covid, going into winter. So it’s vital that everyone gets their top-up jab as soon as they are eligible.

People will be contacted to book their jab six months after their second dose. And if for some reason you don’t receive an invite, you will be able to book directly through the national booking service after you become eligible.

We have to seize the moment, get our booster jab and protect ourselves as we go into what will no doubt be a tough winter, particularly as we are likely to see seasonal flu pose a risk to our health. And to maximise the impact of the vaccination programme we must all continue to act responsibly.

The more of us that come forward for our booster jab, and the more we keep our resolve in helping to limit the spread of infection, then the greater chance we all have of staying well.

So, when your time comes, take up the offer, book your booster and protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned and deserve to enjoy.

Worth reading in full.

As Infection Rates for Vaccinated Aged 40-79 Hit Double the Rates in the Unvaccinated, the U.K. Health Security Agency Suggests that Vaccines May Hobble the Immune Response on Infection

Another week, another Vaccine Surveillance report (now published by the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the successor to Public Health England), and with it more worrying news on the vaccine front.

Infection rates in the double-vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated continue to rise, meaning unadjusted vaccine effectiveness continues to decline. Infection rates are now higher in the double-vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated by 124% in those in their 40s, 103% in those in their 50s and 60s and 101% in those in their 70s, corresponding to unadjusted vaccine effectiveness estimates of minus-124%, minus-103% and minus-101% respectively. For those over 80 the unadjusted vaccine effectiveness is minus-34% while for those in their 30s it is minus-27%. For 18-29 year-olds it is 25%, so still positive but low, while for under-18s it is 90%, the only age group showing high efficacy. Vaccine effectiveness against emergency hospital admission and death continues to hold up, though with some indication of gradual slide, particularly in older age groups (see below). (For definitions and limitations, see here.)

Novak Djokovic Tells Reporters to Back Off on Asking about Vaccination Status: “It’s a Private Matter”

Footballers haven’t been the only sportspeople to be barraged by invasive questions about their Covid vaccination status. Tennis players have received the same treatment, but Novak Djokovic is standing his ground, saying reporters are “taking the liberty” to ask whether he has been jabbed and “judg[ing] a person” for not giving the ‘correct’ answer. RT has the story.

World number one Djokovic has repeatedly expressed his reservations about players being pressured to take a Covid jab, and the reigning Australian Open champion insists his decision is a “private matter” amid a string of controversies surrounding the likes of NBA star Kyrie Irving, who has been left out by the Brooklyn Nets because he is not vaccinated.

Djokovic rival Stefanos Tsitsipas found himself at the center of a political row after he made a wide range of remarks about Covid and vaccines, and the Greek – whose own Government seemed to distance themselves from views which appeared to include a suggestion that spreading the virus could have positive effects – now appears to be willing to be vaccinated.

Russian contender Andrey Rublev has become the latest player to drop their apparent reluctance because of the logistical issues not being vaccinated could cause, but Djokovic is yet to openly say he has had the treatment.

“Things being as they are, I still don’t know if I will go to Melbourne,” Djokovic told Blic, speaking ahead of a first Grand Slam of the year in January which is likely to take place under tight restrictions.

“I will not reveal my status, whether I have been vaccinated or not – it is a private matter and an inappropriate inquiry.

“People go too far these days in taking the liberty to ask questions and judge a person.

“Whatever you say – ‘yes, no, maybe, I am thinking about it’ – they will take advantage.”

Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the state of Victoria, has reiterated how difficult it could be for unvaccinated stars to travel to the country, explaining that they may not be allowed in.

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” predicted the politician.

“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.

“I don’t think any other tennis player or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here.

“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double-dose vaccinated.”

Worth reading in full.

Government Considering Cutting Covid Vaccine Booster Wait to Five Months

The length of time people must wait after receiving their second Covid vaccine dose before getting their ‘booster’ could be cut from six months to five, under new plans being drawn up by the Government and its scientific advisers.

This is strange given that more people (almost three-quarters of a million more people) are already becoming eligible each week for a third dose than are actually being ‘jabbed’. Perhaps ministers have some more ‘nudges‘ in mind for those who are unwilling to come forward. The Telegraph has the story.

Proposals to cut the waiting time for a third Covid jab from six months to five are under discussion in Whitehall, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) understood to be showing interest in the idea.

It would mean the vast majority of over-65s could be vaccinated by early November rather than early December, and all over-70s jabbed now rather than by mid-November.

Boris Johnson indicated support for the change on Thursday, saying it was an “extremely important point” and the programme should move “as fast as possible”.

Analysis by the Telegraph suggests nine million more people could get a booster jab if the change happened now, doubling the number of those eligible.

Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, floated the change on Thursday as a way to boost the number of people who have maximum Covid protection before Christmas. …

The roll-out of Covid booster jabs, which offer people aged over 50 a top-up to their immunity, has been criticised after only half of those eligible have taken up the offer.

There has been discussion inside the Government about changing the definition of ‘fully jabbed’ from two Covid jabs to three for those who are eligible in order to encourage uptake, although no change is expected soon. Mr. Javid said earlier this week that demand and not supply was the problem, adding: “We’ve got the jabs – we just need the arms to put them in.” …

It is understood that Downing Street is open to dropping the six-month delay but will wait for any change in advice from the JCVI. [Not that the body’s advice mattered much when it came to the vaccination of healthy children.]

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: This piece about the vaccine roll-out and its diminishing returns by an anonymous substacker called eugyppius is very good. Worth bearing in mind that if the Government has its way anonymous accounts like this would probably be unlawful.

Pfizer Accused of Bullying Developing Countries Provisions in Covid Vaccine Contracts

Unredacted copies of Pfizer’s purchasing agreements with a range of countries show that the pharmaceutical giant is bullying the governments of developing countries, making them waive sovereign immunity, preventing them from penalising Pfizer over late shipments and allowing the company to restrict vaccine donations – all this according to a new report by the non-profit organisation Public Citizen. MailOnline has the story.

The bombshell report, published by Public Citizen on Tuesday, alleges the New York City-based company worked to silence governments, restricted nations’ access to vaccine donations, forced governments to pay out lawsuits they may face for breaking intellectual property laws (IP), and to seize public assets in case of missed payments such as foreign bank accounts.

Countries including Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Peru were subject to these terms in order to acquire the vaccine.

Public Citizen reports that high income countries, such as the U.S., have assisted Pfizer in these bullying tactics by staunchly protecting their IP and allowing the company to form a ‘monopoly’.

Public Citizen obtained nine unredacted copies of Pfizer purchasing agreement with eight countries and the European Union.

The documents revealed previously unknown clauses within contracts that could potentially damage developing nations.

One provision in the contract with Brazil, for example, made the South American country waive sovereign immunity – which protects the nation from lawsuits – in order to access the vaccines, according to Public Citizen.

The contract also prevents Pfizer from being penalized for late shipments.

Little information about these contracts is allowed to be made public, though.

Countries, including the U.S., are not allowed to make any public announcement regarding the details of the contract and any potential dispute must be resolved by private arbitration.

Pfizer is also allowed to control and restrict vaccine donations as part of the contract, Public Citizen reveals.

Nations that sign purchasing agreements with Pfizer could be prevented from receiving donations from other nations, with the company instead wanting doses to be purchased directly from them.

If Brazil, for example, were to receive a donation of Covid vaccine doses from another nation, Pfizer would terminate the contract and the nation would have to pay out the remainder of the contract without receiving any of the remaining doses.

Worth reading in full.

Business Secretary Rules Out Another Lockdown

Half of Brits believe there will be further lockdowns and some officials are urging the Government to implement ‘Plan B’ winter measures now. But such talk is, according to the Business Secretary, “completely unhelpful”. Not only that – he says he would “rule out” the idea the country is facing another lockdown. Sky News has the story.

NHS Confederation Chief Executive Matthew Taylor has urged the Government to bring back certain measures, including mandatory face coverings in public places, telling Sky News: “The overwhelming evidence is that we do need to act.” …

But asked by Kay Burley on Sky News whether the U.K. could be facing another lockdown, [Kwasi] Kwarteng said: “I would rule that out.”

Speaking on Wednesday morning, the Business Secretary added: “I think the conversation about restrictions on travel, restrictions on more lockdowns is completely unhelpful.”

Asked whether more travel restrictions could be brought back in, he told Burley: “No, I don’t think so.”

Challenged on the fact that the Government said similar last year before further measures were introduced, the business secretary said: “This time last year we didn’t have the vaccine.”

“We don’t want to go back into lockdown and further restrictions,” Mr. Kwarteng later clarified.

Perhaps this last remark – that the Government doesn’t want to bring in another lockdown – is closer to the point.

Worth reading in full.

Officials Disappointed by Slow Speed of the Booster Vaccine Roll-Out

Government officials aren’t just disappointed by the speed of the Covid vaccine roll-out for healthy 12-15 year-olds. Experts have warned that the booster vaccine roll-out is also moving too slowly and will not be completed until the end of January if it continues at its current pace. The Telegraph has the story.

On Monday, Downing Street promised to “step up communications” as it emerged that only 3.7 million of the 8.5 million at-risk people who had a second jab at least six months ago have had their third dose. It means 4.8 million are in danger from waning immunity.

Currently, people eligible for a third dose must wait until they are contacted by the NHS before booking a jab.

John Roberts, of the respected Covid Actuaries Response Group, who calculated the figures based on the latest NHS England booster figures and historical vaccination data, said: “At the start of the booster campaign, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated that the aim was to protect the most vulnerable from Covid as we head into the autumn and winter months.

“But at the current rate, it’s likely to be towards the end of January before the approximately 22 million that fall into the most vulnerable groups receive the booster.

“With case numbers very high and still rising, and admissions to hospital also rising again, it’s clear that accelerating the booster roll-out is vital to reduce the pressure on health services and minimise Covid-related deaths this autumn and winter.”

Experts blamed the slowdown on the growing complexity of the Covid vaccination programme, which is now dealing with schoolchildren, extra doses for immunocompromised people and rolling out the flu jab.

At the peak of England’s vaccine roll-out, more than 500,000 doses were being given a day – but just 99,000 booster shots were reported in England on Monday, and the current daily average for other jabs has fallen to around 50,000.

The booster programme is working its way through nine priority groups, starting with the over-80s, care home residents, frontline health workers and the clinically vulnerable.

The Covid Actuaries Response Group warned that there are two million people becoming eligible each week but just 1.3 million weekly jabs being carried out, meaning the backlog is growing. The gap between a second jab and booster is concerning, because studies have shown that immunity continues to drop over time. …

Professor Andrew Hayward, an epidemiologist and government adviser of University College London,  said the situation was “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure”.

Worth reading in full.