Young People

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, once 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 of plans to introduce vaccine passport checks from within cabinet, with one member saying: “It’s not who we are.” The final decision might, however, lie with the Labour Party.

Plans to Bar Unvaccinated University Students From Lectures and Halls Shelved

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told university students they would have to wait until September to find out whether they would be required to show proof of vaccination to attend lectures and to live in halls. But the plans, which have received heavy criticism from the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students (NUS), have now been shelved, according to reports. BBC News has the story.

The idea of making vaccines compulsory for university students… was not ruled out by either Education Minister Vicky Ford or Downing Street when asked about it earlier this week.

And asked whether vaccination would be mandatory for students returning to halls of residence, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said a decision would be taken in September. 

“We will certainly make sure university students have advance warning, of course we’re going to be mindful of this,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday.

But now the idea of requiring students in England to show proof of vaccination to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence has been shelved, the BBC has been told.

The Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own coronavirus rules and education policy. 

Unions have been critical of making vaccines mandatory for university students. 

The UCU previously said this would be wrong and “hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated” as well as for international students. 

And the NUS had called the idea “appalling”, accusing the Government of “lining students up as scapegoats”. …

From the end of September, ministers have said people will need proof of full vaccination to attend nightclubs and other crowded venues in England. 

The full details of the plan are yet to be seen but an NHS Covid Pass – which you can obtain electronically or as a letter – will be used as proof.

Worth reading in full.

Pop-Up Vaccine Clinics Opening at Festivals to Persuade Young Brits to Get ‘Jabbed’

Music festivals, football stadiums and circuses are among the venues encouraging attendees to get a Covid vaccine at pop-up clinics in an attempt to combat lower vaccination rates among the young. BBC News has the story.

Spectators and passers-by at the Circus Extreme in Halifax were being offered a jab outside a tent of jugglers, acrobats and stunt performers.

John Haze, Circus Director, said: “It may not be the normal thing you expect to see when you enter the Circus Extreme Big Top, but we are really proud to be supporting the NHS Covid vaccination programme.

“We had no hesitation in letting the NHS host a walk-in clinic in the tent so that more people can get their jab at a convenient time, and we hope lots [of] people will take up this offer.”

Two festivals in London hosting walk-in clinics include a bus parked at the Summer of Love Festival in Holland Park and a four-day vaccine event with live music in Poplar. 

Burnley FC in Lancashire and the Goodwood Racecourse in West Sussex, which is hosting the Stewards Cup, were among other venues being used in the vaccine push with football fans being offered Pfizer doses.

GP Dr Nikki Kanani, Deputy Lead for NHS England’s vaccination programme, said more than 2,000 sites had already taken part, including Thorpe Park in Surrey. …

She said more than 70 million doses had been delivered with “87% of adults having had at least one dose, and seven in 10 now fully-vaccinated”.

But the latest figures show nearly a third of young adults aged 18 to 29 in the country have still not had one jab.

Judging from the poor response to the offer of free food alongside a ‘jab’ by a vaccine clinic at an East London festival this weekend, this form of “coaxing” isn’t working very well. “Vegan burgers, mac ’n cheese and Chinese dumplings were enough to tempt [one unvaccinated festival-goer], but others who are unvaccinated were not taking the bait,” the Sun reports.

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

Brits Must Get Vaccinated ”If They Want to Travel Internationally Again”, Says Grant Shapps

Dominic Raab wasn’t kidding when he said vaccine passports are intended to “coax and cajole” people – especially young people – into getting vaccinated against Covid. This campaign has been upped again today, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warning that “if [people in their 20s] want to travel internationally again”, they must get ‘jabbed’. “It’s quite clear now,” he added. The Sun has the story.

The Transport Secretary told young people they should get double-jabbed to regain the freedom to cross borders. …

Mr Shapps said the U.K. is getting back to normal because “fortunately in this country we have very little vaccine hesitancy”.

He said a whopping 90% of Brits have now received a jab but conceded that take up has been lower amongst younger adults.

The Transport Secretary suggested that ministers are relying on the lure of foreign hols to persuade people in their 20s to get vaccinated.

He said: “They will need to get vaccinated if they want to travel internationally again. It’s quite clear now.”

Double-jabbed Brits returning from amber list countries – which includes almost all of Europe and the U.S. – now don’t need to isolate.

The new policy, which comes into force on Monday, will open up hassle-free hols to millions of Brits for the first time in two years.

A number of the popular countries with British tourists also now demand proof of vaccination to enter.

They include favourite destinations on the continent like Portugal, Malta, and France.

Meanwhile double-jabbed visitors to Spain and Greece are able to avoid the cost and uncertainty of needing to provide negative tests. …

Mr Shapps also predicted that having to be double-jabbed to return to the office will become the norm for some workers.

He said it would be a “good idea” for all Brits to get vaccinated before ending working from home.

The cabinet minister insisted there are no plans for the Government to make it compulsory but “some companies will require it”.

Worth reading in full.

Minister Confirms Government Not Ruling Out Barring University Students From Lectures and Halls

The Prime Minister is “raging” about the lower Covid vaccine uptake among young people, and is considering barring university students who don’t get ‘jabbed’ (or who only receive one dose) from attending lectures and living in halls of residence as punishment.

As the number of places unvaccinated Brits could be refused entry to later this year continues to grow, Education Minister Vicky Ford has refused to rule out plans to segregate students based on their vaccination status, after first appearing to deny them. Sky News has the story.

“We aren’t ruling it out,” a senior Government source told Sky News about the prospect of mandating Covid vaccination passports for universities.

According to a report in the Times, Boris Johnson is said to be “pushing” the idea. …

But asked by Kay Burley on Sky News if students would need to be fully vaccinated to enjoy a normal university experience, Education Minister Vicky Ford replied: “No. We must make sure we continue to prioritise education.”

Ms Ford did say that having two jabs would “minimise disruption” for students as they would then not have to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.

But the minister later appeared to contradict herself, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ministers will “look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education”.

And she told Times Radio: “We don’t want to go back to a situation where large parts of education were closed to many young people and children, and a key part of doing that is having that double-vaccinated population.

“So I think we need to continue to encourage our young people to step forward, have the vaccination, and that is the way that they can have that freedom and confidence that they’ll be able to have that full university life.”

Speaking in the Commons last week, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said vaccine passports could be introduced for sporting and business events, music venues and festivals in addition to nightclubs.

But he told MPs that individuals will not have to prove their Covid status – full vaccination, a recent negative test or evidence of natural immunity after recovering from the virus – to access schools and universities. [He did, however, also previously ‘rule out’ the introduction of vaccine passports altogether.] …

A minister also did not explicitly rule out the prospect of the Government requiring vaccine passports for people to go to pubs when quizzed by Sky News.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Contradictory reports from Paul Waugh – saying Vicky Ford refused to rule out vaccine checks at universities – and from a Sky News correspondent – saying she did rule them out – highlight the confusion on the matter.

NHS Says 66% of 18-30s Are Vaccinated as of July 18th – But PHE Says its 59%. Don’t They Know?

The NHS has announced that around two thirds of people aged 18-29 in England have now had one vaccine dose. The Telegraph reports.

A third of young adults in England have still not had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, new figures show.

Around 66.4% of people aged between 18 to 29 had received a first dose as of July 18th, according to estimates from NHS England.

This means 33.6% are likely to be unvaccinated – the equivalent of around 2.9 million adults under 30.

The data shows that vaccine uptake continues to be lower among men than women, with only 65% of men aged 25 to 29 having had a first dose, compared with 71.9% of women in the same age group.

Yet the update from Public Health England, out today, with data up to July 18th, reports the same figure as 59%. It also shows the trend flattening, suggesting it’s unlikely to hit 66% very soon.

What’s going on? This is a difference of around 600,000 people. Don’t they know how many they have vaccinated? How can they disagree by over half a million people?

Stop Press: A reader has got in touch with an explanation.

The PHE figure would appear to be sound see here.

Scroll to the bottom. You’ll see that the 18-24 age group is 59.07% and for 25-29 age group it’s 59%.

The problem is that when the NHS report 66.4% vaccinated this is a deception. For the general population statistic, they arrive at this number by taking total vaccinations and dividing by the population in mid 2019. Of course, many who have had vaccinations have (either due to, or for other reasons) sadly died. (I notice that they’ve just updated this to the mid 2020 population, but it’s still not accurate.)

Meanwhile, the PHE statistic is based on vaccinations given to those in an age group with an NHS number. It’s a reasonable guess that those without an NHS number are less likely to go for an NHS vaccine.

Last time I wrote, I predicted that the error was at least 1.5% and growing.

The statistic you quote suggests the error to be more than 6%.

Applied to the country as a whole, this would mean that only 81.7% of the population has been vaccinated.

The statistic the NHS use is simply not a percentage. It is a deceptive misuse of statistics which is mathematically wrong.

The statistic is so badly wrong, that it is possible that in the future it will be possible to have more than 100% of the population vaccinated.

I believe for this reason that once they start vaccinating children they may switch the statistic.

At the moment, if you are to use the total vaccinations given then you must divide this by the total population in 2021.

Total vaccinations = 46,433,845
Total UK population = 68,265,710

So the total with one dose vaccinated is: 46,433,845/68,265,710 = 68%

This is not as impressive a figure, but it sits in the 60%-80% target we were all told about for herd immunity, and given the additional natural immunity, it’s fair to say that the whole lockdown/rules and nonsense can now come to an end.

We all know, though, that they won’t.

The Great Betrayal

Destroy their education. Destroy their jobs and their job prospects. Destroy their social life, their friendships, their mental health. Force them to work long hours at school or in physically demanding jobs in uncomfortable and breath-inhibiting face masks. This is what our country has done to our young people in the past 16 months.

Why? In an attempt (and not a very successful one) to protect a small minority of mostly elderly folk who are particularly vulnerable to one disease while we wait in limbo to develop a vaccine and roll it out to the vulnerable population.

Then do we give them back their freedom? Not at all. Then we move the goalposts, making freedom conditional on more and more people getting the vaccine. Until we make it to so-called ‘Freedom Day’, a month later than originally planned, and Boris Johnson chooses then to tell young people that their freedom to do the things they enjoy will be dependent on receiving a vaccine.

A vaccine that uses experimental technology and was rushed through trials without waiting for the full safety data (trials which will never now conclude as the control groups have been vaccinated). A vaccine, or rather vaccines, which the authorities now acknowledge increase the risk of dangerous blood clotting and heart conditions, particularly in younger people. Vaccines for which there are now more reports of fatalities in the U.S. than all other vaccines put together for the past 30 years.

Vaccination Rates Fall Due to Youth Hesitancy

The number of first vaccinations given in Britain has almost halved in two weeks as take-up among the young dwindles. Polling in May suggested that nearly nine out of 10 young adults want to be vaccinated against Covid, but more recent data shows that around one in seven older teenagers are now sceptical of getting the vaccine.

The Government hopes to offset this hesitancy by widening the gap between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, such as by ending certain travel quarantine rules and ending self-isolation rules after contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid for those who have had two doses. Last month, it even attempted to incentivise take-up among younger people by partnering with dating apps to create a scheme that rewards vaccinated users with exclusive prizes.

The Times has more.

Government scientists accept that the country is “close to maximum take-up”, with many young people still hesitant about vaccination.

The NHS reported no problems with Pfizer supplies and many vaccination centres are starting to offer early second jabs to young people, saying they would otherwise be sitting idle, but the Government is resisting calls to bring forward second doses.

Ministers appear relaxed about the slowdown, arguing that removal of quarantine for the fully vaccinated when going on holiday or coming into contact with an infected person would act as an incentive to boost take-up. But it will add to concerns about the scale of a summer wave of infections after all restrictions are lifted in 11 days’ time. …

Boris Johnson refused yesterday to say how many daily Covid admissions he was expecting in the summer but sources familiar with internal estimates acknowledged hospitals were likely to struggle, saying: “The tide is coming in and we will have to see how high the water gets before the nerves crack.” …

Men are currently more likely to have Covid than women, researchers said, with indoor gatherings to watch the Euros likely to be driving the trend. The latest round of the React survey from Imperial College London found that about 0.7% of men had the virus between May 20th and June 7th compared with 0.5% of women.

Ministers are expecting cases to peak at about 100,000 a day in August after which they are expected to fall through a combination of vaccination and the virus running out of people to infect.

About 90% of adults in Britain have antibodies to the disease from vaccination or previous infection, the Office for National Statistics said.

In England this includes 60% of those aged 16 to 24 in the week ending June 20th, suggesting previous infection is the main cause. This rises to over 99% in people over 65. …

Professor Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham said there was a “need to increase the messaging around the benefits of vaccination”, citing “very debilitating long Covid” even in the young. Take-up has plateaued at over 95% for over-50s but is under 90% among those aged 45-49.

Worth reading in full.

Up to 350,000 Young People Could Lose Their Jobs as Furlough Comes to an End

Young people have been the most reliant on furlough and will likely be the hardest hit as the scheme comes to an end, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). There are already 50,000 more unemployed people aged 19 to 24 compared to pre-lockdown levels, and the IFS says in a new report that a further 350,000 people in this age bracket may lose their jobs in the coming months as job support money dries up. The Telegraph has the story.

In a new research report, the IFS says the age group saw the biggest increase of any age group in the numbers not working any hours, including those who are furloughed. 

The number rose by 25%, or around 400,000 people, from the last quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2021 – a significantly higher increase than those seen in older age groups.

The vast majority of those jobs have, so far, been saved by the furlough scheme, with only 50,000 additional 19 to 24 year-olds without any job at all in early 2021 compared with pre-pandemic.

But this means the 19 to 24 year-old age group is especially vulnerable as the furlough scheme is wound down.

At the same time, unlike for older workers, earnings growth among younger employees (aged 19 to 34) who have continued to work has been lower than prior to the pandemic. 

This may not have large immediate consequences, but if this ground is not regained then the longer-term effects on their incomes will be significant, said the IFS.

Xiaowei Xu, a Senior Research Economist at IFS and co-author of the report, said: “Young adults have been especially likely to be furloughed during the crisis, though relatively few have completely lost their job.

“Many have responded to this by staying or moving back in with their parents – providing temporary protection for their living standards. 

“But we know that shocks early on in people’s careers can have negative effects on their future job prospects. Without effective support, there is a risk that young people today will bear the scars of the recession for years to come.”

It follows previous research by the IFS which found that young workers are twice as likely as older colleagues to have lost their jobs, although graduates were less than half as likely as those without degrees to have fallen out of work. 

By the autumn, the number of graduates in paid work had fallen seven per cent, a drop of about 800,000 people, but the number of non-graduates was down by 17%, or 1.5 million, showing the much more severe impact on those with less education.

Worth reading in full.

Long Covid ‘Symptoms’ in Teens are No Less Common in Those Who Haven’t Had the Virus – Study

The risk of long Covid – the persistence of Covid symptoms like fatigue and headaches for three months or more – has been used to justify health interventions including with younger people who are not at elevated risk from acute infection. For instance, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested in April that young people should get vaccinated to avoid long Covid, saying Covid was a “horrible disease” and long Covid affected people in their 20s “just as much” as any other age group, sometimes with “debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life”.

New research, however, casts doubt on whether symptoms attributed to long Covid are really associated with COVID-19 at all, at least in adolescents.

The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is the first (as far as the authors are aware) to compare the incidence of long Covid symptoms in those who have and have not had the virus, defined in terms of having detectable antibodies. It involved 1,560 secondary school pupils aged 13 to 18 in Eastern Saxony (median age 15) enrolled in the SchoolCovid19 study since May 2020. All have been tested for antibodies throughout the study and in March and April 2021 completed a 12 question long-Covid survey regarding “the occurrence and frequency of difficulties concentrating, memory loss, listlessness, headache, abdominal pain, myalgia/arthralgia, fatigue, insomnia and mood (sadness, anger, happiness and tenseness)”.

The findings are remarkable. Of 1,560 pupils, 1,365 (88%) were seronegative (no IgG antibodies detected) and 188 (12%) were seropositive. Each of the long Covid symptoms was present in at least 35% of the pupils within the seven days before the survey. Crucially, however, there was no statistically significant difference in reported symptoms between seropositive and seronegative pupils (see chart above).

These findings suggest that, in adolescents at least, the prevalence of long Covid is considerably exaggerated, and that the presumed symptoms of long Covid are common to those who have and have not had the virus. One possibility is that this is a background rate for teenagers. However, the authors are struck by the high incidence of the symptoms and suggest they may be linked to the lockdown conditions, saying they confirm “the negative effects of lockdown measures on mental health and well-being of children and adolescents”.

Because the study was only among adolescents it did not include any who had suffered severe illness or been hospitalised, which is where some earlier research on long Covid has focused.

For adolescents it suggests that the threat from long Covid has been greatly overdone, and that the apparent symptoms of the condition are much more likely to be caused by lockdowns than by a viral infection.