Young People

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.

Nearly Nine Out of 10 Young Adults Want to Be Vaccinated Against Covid, According to New Survey – so What’s the Point of Vaccine Passports?

Government insiders believe that domestic vaccine passports “may focus minds” and “nudge” young people into accepting Covid vaccines. But a new survey of 17,000 Brits suggests that nearly nine out of 10 young adults want to be vaccinated anyway. Vaccine acceptance rates barely differ across different age brackets, according to the survey. The Mail on Sunday has the story.

The vast majority of younger adults who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid say they are likely to take up the offer of a jab, according to a major new survey.

A poll of almost 17,000 Britons by ORB International, working with Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found younger people’s attitudes to vaccination barely differ from those of the middle-aged.

Among those aged 45 to 54 who have not yet been invited for their first jab, 85% said they would definitely or probably have the vaccine. For those aged 25 to 44, it was 84% and for those in the 18-to-24 age bracket it was 85%.

Given the enthusiasm for the Covid vaccines among younger populations, what is the point of introducing domestic vaccine passports, as the Government is currently considering? If anything, these could lead to fewer people (including young people) getting vaccinated, according to SAGE member Professor Stephen Reicher. Earlier this month, Professor Reicher (quoted in the MailOnline) said the Government was “setting itself up for failure” if it introduced such a scheme.

There is a very traditional, well-known psychological process called reactance: that if you take away people’s autonomy, if you force them to do something, they will reassert their autonomy, even if that means not doing things that they would otherwise want to do.

Making something compulsory, or at least doing something which leaves the perception of compulsion, can actually undermine activities which otherwise people would do and might even want to do.

Another Economist/YouGov poll of Americans suggests that almost 80% of people who oppose the Covid vaccine will never change their minds. “Never” presumably includes “even if vaccine passports were introduced” – again highlighting the pointlessness of imposing such a scheme, if the aim is to persuade the hesitant to be vaccinated.

More than two-thirds of British adults have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and a large proportion of those who are most vulnerable to the virus have been fully vaccinated.

The Mail on Sunday report is worth reading in full.

You Can Catch Covid Twice – But it’s Very Rare and Very Mild

Can you catch Covid twice? The challenge trials at Oxford University have now turned their attention to this question, deliberately exposing people who have had the disease before to the virus again to see how their immune systems respond.

Other studies have already looked into this question, though without the controversial deliberate exposure aspect. The most recent, published in the Lancet last week, tested around 3,000 U.S. Marine recruits aged 18-20 for Covid antibodies and then followed them over six weeks while they completed basic training together to see how many became infected. The living in close quarters would likely have ensured that all were exposed to the virus.

The study found that around 10% of seropositive (with-antibodies) participants (19 out of 189) tested PCR positive for the virus versus around 50% of seronegative participants (1,079 out of 2,247). This means that having antibodies from a previous infection gives about 80% protection from testing positive for the virus again. This finding closely matches that of a large Danish study published last month, that found those who had tested positive for the virus in the spring were about 80% less likely to test positive again in the autumn. And also a UK study of NHS workers from January that found being PCR positive for the virus at one point made workers around 80% less likely to test positive again at a later date.

The new study was being used last week to promote the idea of vaccinating young people who had previously been infected, on the grounds that protection via infection was not enough. Thus Sky News reported: “Young people who have already tested positive for coronavirus are not fully protected against reinfection.”

The study itself supported this use, stating its results suggest “COVID-19 vaccination might be necessary for control of the pandemic in previously infected young adults”. Professor Stuart Sealfon of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and senior author of the study, said:

As vaccine rollouts continue to gain momentum it is important to remember that, despite a prior COVID-19 infection, young people can catch the virus again and may still transmit it to others. Immunity is not guaranteed by past infection, and vaccinations that provide additional protection are still needed for those who have had COVID-19.

What such claims appear not to allow for is that questions are being asked about how the balance of risks stacks up for young people to be vaccinated even when they have not had Covid, let alone when they have and have 80% protection already. To this balance must be added that severe side-effects are considerably more common in those who have previously had Covid.

The 80% protection figure is also not the full story on immunity following infection. Noteworthy is that symptomatic infection was much less common among those who had antibodies. In fact, only three out of 19 (16%) seropositive PCR positives were symptomatic, versus 347 out of 1,079 (32%) seronegative PCR positives. The large proportion of PCR positive infections that are asymptomatic even among those without antibodies (68%) may be an indication of the high degree of pre-existing immunity among the young.

The infections among those with antibodies were also much less likely to be infectious, with average Ct of 27-28 versus around 24 for the seronegative infections (Ct or cycle threshold corresponds inversely to viral load, which corresponds to infectiousness). This translates to a viral load about ten times lower, which is considerably less infectious.

Young People Should Not be Strong-Armed Into Getting Vaccinated

We’re publishing an original piece today by Bella Wallersteiner, a Senior Parliamentary Assistant, setting out the case against trying to induce young people to get the jab by making entry to pubs/clubs/festivals conditional on showing a ‘Covid Status Certificate’. Here is an extract:

After a year in which many young people have lost their jobs, missed out great chunks of the curriculum in schools and universities and were forbidden from seeing their friends, coercing them into taking the jab is a perverse strategy. Altruistic young people worked in food banks, collected medicine and went shopping for elderly neighbours who were shielding or, inspired by the example of Captain Tom Moore, raised funds for the NHS. Instead of receiving praise for demonstrating resilience and kindness, young people are now being maligned for showing ambivalence in coming forward to take a vaccine which may do them harm. More needs to be done to convince them that the vaccine is safe and effective and that the eradication of COVID-19 requires all citizens to join together in an act of solidarity.

Once vaccines for under-30s get the green light, the Government needs to come up with a new social contract for young people. What is the duty of a young person to society? Does a young adult have a moral obligation to protect an older one? The message should be that society is the glue which binds us together in a moral compact which transcends self-interest. By getting the vaccine you are helping the community at large. Young people should want to take the vaccine because they have decided that it is the right thing to do for their own health and for the safety of others. They should not be bullied into taking the vaccine out of fear of becoming second-class citizens or because they will be denied the pleasures of techno, house and trance dance music in clubs. The Government must treat young people like grown-ups and be prepared to have an adult conversation with them. The Prime Minister, who is such an effective communicator, particularly when addressing young people, should deliver a special broadcast specifically targeting UK citizens under 30 who have given up so much over the last year. He should thank them for their solidarity and support and exhort them to make one final collective effort to beat COVID-19 by having the vaccine. If this doesn’t happen, the whole project to eradicate the scourge of coronavirus could stumble at the last fence.

Worth reading in full.