Tag Archives: Covid-19

Layla slams Government for “opening floodgates to new variants” and failing to protect troops

Good work from Layla Moran in today’s press.

First, the Guardian reports the Commons Library research commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, which Layla chairs, which shows that the number of positive cases tested for variants has fallen dramatically.

The results suggest that in the three weeks to 17 March, there were an estimated 1,769 to 1,827 positive tests from people entering the UK from red list countries, of which somewhere between 63% and 68% were sequenced to determine the variant involved.

By contrast in the three weeks to 30 June, there were an estimated 445 to 507 positive tests from people entering the UK from red list countries, with estimates of the proportion sequenced ranging from 12% to 33%.

Layla highlighted the dangers of this:

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Pandemic restrictions are over… sort of… Where do we go from here?

You might find yourself wondering why, when the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health are all self-isolating, and new cases have reached the peak levels seen last over the New Year, today is a good day to declare as “Freedom Day”. And yet, for all of the bombast that the Prime Minister offered in the days leading up to today, even he is now quoted as saying;

So please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.

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Munira Wilson: Coercion is not the answer to vaccine hesitancy

Last night, Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the Government’s Statutory Instrument which made vaccinations compulsory for care home staff.

Munira Wilson, our health spokesperson, had a right go at the Government for its approach, pointing out that the care sector had long been undervalued and the Government’s approach had let down so many staff and residents during the pandemic.

She said that, while Liberal Democrats were absolutely in favour of vaccination, we would not support making it mandatory. She said:

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We need to shout about …….. Community choirs


No sooner are we past the so-called freedom day than the Johnson government finally starts believing in the vaccine programme, having systematically undermined it for the last two months by pretending that vaccinated people pose a risk, should not socialise, travel  and must be treated in the same way as those who have not been vaccinated. This makes a complete nonsense of the vaccination programme and has sent the message to vaccine ‘hesitants’ that there is therefore no point in getting the jab and maybe even that there is something bad about vaccines we aren’t being told. Quite why Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance have allowed themselves to be part of this anti-science strategy is a subject for another time.

I’ve enjoyed watching all those mostly young, male, football fans hugging each other and shouting their heads off over the  last few days, but bearing in mind that very few if any will have been vaccinated, what exactly is going on? – is this a social experiment in herd immunity? Perhaps so, and why not, as most, if not all, of them are very unlikely to be ill enough to need hospital if they do get infected. We do need to test the herd immunity hypothesis; and although it’s unfashionable I still believe it has an important role to play. Many middle and low income countries, which are unable to hoard vaccines far in excess of any possible requirements (e.g. UK and USA) are relying on herd immunity, and are doing a lot better than we are – that’s interesting.

There have been several sporting event pilot studies in England over the last few months but we have not seen the results of any of them, I wonder why that is? Possibly because the results are clear-cut and don’t fit the muddled and contradictory messaging from Ministers? What is very clear is that the current messaging strategy has far more to do with saving the Prime Minister’s political skin than with science.

For context, currently ten times more people are dying every day from alcohol-related diseases than from Covid.

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Local lockdowns by stealth?

The Government has been having to deal rapidly with the cock-up over the restrictions in areas where the Indian variant is spreading.

Munira Wilson was in the Guardian today, after confusion reigned in Westminster:

An appearance in the House of Commons on Tuesday by the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, failed to clarify the matter.

“What we’re asking people in those affected areas is to be cautious, is to be careful – so on visiting family, meet outdoors rather than inside where possible. Meet 2 metres apart from people you don’t live with, unless you have formed a support bubble,” said Zahawi. “Yes, people can visit family in half-term, if they follow social distancing guidelines.”

But then he added: “Avoid travelling in and out of the affected areas, as the prime minister said on the 14th, unless it is essential, for example for work purposes.”

In the House of Commons, the Twickenham MP, Munira Wilson, challenged Zahawi about whether her constituents should be avoiding travelling across the borough boundary into neighbouring Hounslow to shop or go to school.

The minister replied: “People need to exercise that caution, that common sense.”

It’s a pity that the Government didn’t follow it’s own advice and act with common sense in the first place.

Layla Moran, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, joined in on the BBC News:

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How easily we have surrendered our private freedoms….

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On Sunday we had a visit from a relative in the garden at a two metre distance.

On Monday they kindly returned and we hugged several times.

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India COVID disaster: Layla Moran calls for UK to begin donating vaccines through COVAX immediately

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The Liberal Democrats have written to the Prime Minister calling for the UK to begin donating vaccines through the COVAX programme immediately.

The letter, co-signed by all the party’s MPs and spearheaded by Layla Moran, echoes calls the party made to join COVAX as part of a ‘parallel rollout’ back in February. With the situation in India now worsening, the urgency of the call has intensified.

It also highlighted how aid cuts are making the global situation worse and called for a number of other proactive measures such as safely accelerating approval processes in regulatory bodies.

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One year on from the first lockdown: still not out of the woods

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a blog for Lib Dem Voice on the Government being behind the curve in introducing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Little did we know then what was coming then. By 21 March last year, there had already been more than 400 deaths from Covid in UK hospitals , and that seemed shocking at the time. A year later, there have been 125,580 deaths within 28 days of a Covid test  and 143,259 deaths where Covid was listed as the cause on the death certificate (all data in this article are quoted to 15 March 2021). This amounts to one of the highest Covid death rates in the world.

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Linking the Test and Trace scandal to local election campaigning

Conservatives despise local government.  English local authorities have been starved of funds since the coalition government began, with a sharper downward curve since 2015. The one-size fits-all model of elected mayors has been imposed on successive ‘city regions’ – in the case of Yorkshire, against the settled preference of almost all the local authorities in the region.  Worst of all, ministers bypassed local authorities when the pandemic struck, ignoring local public health officers and the local knowledge that councillors and staff embody, and spending huge amounts of money on contracts with outsourcing companies. When Russian spies poisoned the Skripals Salisbury’s public health officer efficiently led the complex response.  But ministers ignored that lesson when COVID-19 struck.

The Test and Trace scandal is potentially one of the worst that Britain has suffered since the war.  £37bn has been committed over two years, with £23bn spent so far.  Let’s put that into context.  The total estimated cost of renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent is £30bn..  The Department of Transport’s annual budget for England in 2020-21 is £16.6bn.    £23bn is almost 10% of the annual central government transfer to local authorities, spent on a project that local authorities could have provided for a fraction of the cost.  We do not yet know how much excess profit the contractors made, but we do know that the scheme has so far been less effective than in comparable countries – and that it would have been more effective, as well as far less expensive, if it had been run by local government.

Remember all those volunteers who came forward – and who were often ignored?  And those small companies that offered to provide PPE for local hospitals, whose proposals were forwarded to central government and then left unanswered?  It’s a mark of how far the careerists who run today’s Conservative Party are from politics on the ground that it did not occur to them to use the resources of local government and communities rather than exorbitant consultants and multinational companies.

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NHS pay rise of a measly 1% is too little to reward the health heroes of our nation

We have stood on the streets and applauded our front line NHS staff. We have wondered at their resilience in the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes. We have sympathised with them when they have fallen ill and with their families when they have died.

The reward health service workers will get for their efforts is a measly 1% pay rise. Ministers seem not to recognise that those who have worked themselves into exhaustion, taken on extra shifts, faced danger every working day need a boost. With tax allowances frozen, the lowest paid staff and frontline nurses should at least get the 2.1% pay rise they were promised.

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Waiting for the all clear

It’s great news that our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are storming forward with the UK’s vaccination programme. Still, I worry about people being lulled into a false sense of security once they have had their first and even second jab.

Most of us will have had, or be getting, the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine. It has an efficacy rate of 70 percent compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s 95 percent. These efficacy rates are based on the trials and mark the difference between those who had the vaccine and those who had a placebo (a solution that wasn’t the vaccine). If there’s no difference between the vaccine and placebo groups, the efficacy is zero. If none of those who became sick had been vaccinated, the efficacy is 100 percent.

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The party’s latest advice for campaigners in the pandemic

Mike Dixon, the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberal Democrats, has recently written to activists about campaigning in the pandemic, as follows:

In the last few days, anger has been growing about the Tories’ brazen attempt to skew the May elections and stop elected councillors and volunteers doing their jobs by safely delivering literature. Independent councillors and other parties have now joined us.

We have spoken with the Electoral Commission and National Police Chief’s Council at the highest level. In some circumstances it is legal and permissible for volunteers to deliver leaflets.

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Rabina Khan on BBC Newsnight on tackling vaccine disinformation in Tower Hamlets

Here’s a clip of Councillor Rabina Khan on BBC’s Newsnight discussing the steps we need to take to tackle vaccine disinformation. You can see Rabina and her husband going into their community, in a socially distanced way, to support local residents – addressing their concerns directly.

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The Tragic loss of 100,000 lives to Covid

According to official figures, the UK became the first country in Europe to record (very unfortunately) 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Currently, the UK has the fifth-highest number of deaths globally, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico (as a percentage of Covid deaths to population, the UK percentage is higher than that of the US).

To put this into perspective, the 100,000 deaths registered are higher than the civilian death toll during all of World War II.

“I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done,” said Boris Johnson.

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We need to talk about the Healthcare workforce – again

So what’s changed since my last piece for LDV on this ten months ago? – nothing and everything, in a phrase, it’s got much worse.

Last March the fear of an unknown, rapidly spreading and possible deadly virus, the prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed; inadequate ventilators and ITU beds, terrifying pictures from Italy of a modern health system crumbling in front of our eyes and our own government indecisive and floundering, with no plan and even less preparedness, galvanised the NHS workforce as never before in living memory. Things happened fast; the NHS workforce rose to the challenge, found the energy, carried on under almost impossible odds, and paid the ultimate price.

I won’t recite all the twists and turns, everyone knows them very well, except to say that you can build all the Nightingale hospitals you want, but if you don’t have the skilled workforce to staff them, they are pretty useless.

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Telling Covid as it is in rural Shropshire

Last March, we didn’t know what we were getting in to. We just knew we had to get in. Up to our knees. Up to our necks. At times overwhelmed.

The Lib Dems are in opposition in Shropshire so we could not be decision makers. Our duty in a Lib Dem stronghold was to tell the town and its hinterland – an audience of more than 25,000 – what was happening. Tell Covid it as it is.

We have lived with a tension. Criticising one of the slowest local rollouts of vaccination in the country. Seeking expert advice from the vaccination frontline to ensure our constituents know what the game is and can make informed personal decisions.

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Should we thank Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon for 10 million vaccinations within a month?

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I could go on for hours about the government’s lamentable response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the one the government has got right, in my view, is the speed and volume of vaccination.

Some of my favourite heroes are Edward Jenner, Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. – Not the sort of names you hear bandied about with your normal Shakespeare, Churchill, Nelson hero names. But, we owe much of our longer life expectancy to those scientists. The whole idea of the vaccine itself is a miracle. The fact that the scientists were able to come up with several vaccines for Covid-19 is a super-miracle.

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Families of those of who have died from Covid-19 deserve answers – Ed Davey

Ed Davey has responded to Boris Johnson’s refusal to lay out a timeline for a public inquiry into his Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis:

Boris Johnson says there will come a time to learn the lessons of the pandemic, but the public will rightly ask, if not now, then when? The best time to learn lessons and prevent the most deaths is today.

The Prime Minister can’t tell us exactly when schools will return safely, can’t tell us when most of the country will be offered a vaccine and can’t tell us when the current lockdown will end.

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A year on from the day that would go on to change our lives

The 31st January 2020 began, as it often does, with urgent Council business.  I was visiting the Network Rail Operating Centre in York, with other Council leaders from North Yorkshire and Leeds, to discuss rail investment in our region with the Secretary of State for Transport.

Immediately after the visit, I noticed a missed call from Sharon Sholtz, the Council’s Director of Public Health, which at the time was unexpected. On ringing back, I arranged to immediately walk into the Council’s offices to be briefed on what would soon to become a pandemic that would change our lives.

It is incredible to think that a year has passed since the first cases of Coronavirus were declared in our city and efforts to combat a virus, we knew nothing about, began. Whilst we still have some way to go in overcoming this unprecedented challenge, residents, businesses, and communities have time and time again showed the absolute best of our city. From the very beginning of this crisis, York has worked together to save lives and livelihoods.

I am grateful to all key workers, partners and council staff who have gone above and beyond to support our local communities and businesses. From the outset of the pandemic, the council has acted swiftly to support local businesses. From processing over £140 million in financial grant and relief support to businesses heavily impacted by the pandemic, to setting up our own £1 million emergency fund to help those businesses who missed out on Government grants.

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Privatised Covid Food Aid and Other Examples of Politics in Theory and Practice?

For children in low income families, who normally receive means-tested free school meals, support is provided via cash payments, supermarket vouchers or food parcels, the last being the  preferred choice of the Department for Education.

H. M. G spends millions on food parcel contracts to private companies. Two such, worth £208 million, awarded without tendering, resulted in parcels which did not meet minimum nutritional standards and had a 69% mark up on what could have have been provided by supermarkets. Welsh Local Authority parcels have been excellent and have included recipes. English children have received paltry amounts of poor food, shabilly packaged, sometimes in bank coin bags. 

The Welsh Government is a Labour/Lib-Dem/Independent coalition. It might be labelled “Left-Centre”.

The over-priced, low quality food parcels provided by large companies, often without tender contracts, are preferred by the “English” Government. Such seems to be a pattern, as is indicated by without-tender Personal Protection Equipment contracts, some of which resulted in dangerous equipment. “Track and Trace” contracts were the same.

The U. K./”English” government is single party. It is well to the right of the political spectrum.

This government was elected with the support of many Labour voters who believed that they, and their children, would be better off with a party which offered them benefits, aka “levelling up” and freedom from foreign interference.The actual Brexit agreement, as so far revealed, indicates that you cannot live and function without contact and involvement with other individuals, groups and nations. It demonstrates that the promises of Brexit have not been kept.

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Observations of an expat: Covid battles and diplomacy

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Squabbles, soft diplomacy, hard diplomacy, and even harder economics are all playing unseemly and seemly roles in the life-saving scramble for coronavirus vaccines.

The pandemic offered an opportunity for global cooperation to combat a global problem. It could have been a template for tackling other globalised problems such as post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change and future pandemics.

But vaccine nationalism has—in the words of World Health Organisation (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – brought the world to the “brink of a moral failure.”

So far the developed world has done a reasonably good job of vaccinating its citizens. Excluding Palestinians, tiny Israel is streets ahead with about 31 percent of its population having received the first Pfizer BioNtech vaccine. The UK has delivered the first round of its immunisations to about 12 percent of its citizens. The US started slow but has picked up pace. About eight percent of Americans have received their first inoculation. EU countries lag behind at two percent.

The European Union’s relatively poor record is attributed to Brussels bureaucracy, political posturing among the 27 countries, poor contract negotiations by its lawyers and bottlenecks at the pharmaceutical companies’ production lines. National health ministers from the 27 countries have turned on Brussels who have responded with threats against the pharmaceutical companies Astra Zeneca and Pfizer BioNtech and warnings about restricting the export of EU-manufactured vaccines outside of the European Union.

The European Union has its problems, but they are nothing compared to those in the developing world. At the latest count 28 people in Sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated.

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United we stand. How Lib Dems can help keep us all united.

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To claim that ‘we’ are united when a majority of Scots are now apparently favouring independence seems controversial. But 85% of the UK population is English, and even the minority populations do seem to share a certain unity.

Compare our national spirit with that of Americans today. The new US President has to restore unity in a country where 74 million people voted for his populist predecessor who was prepared to tear up democracy there. Also compare it with the bitter divisions we remember too well in our own country in 2019 – families and friends divided, parties split, Brexiteers forcing through the increasingly doubtful will of the people who wanted to leave, and Remainers failing to find a consensus to fight Brexit.

Instead, in the past eleven months we have been united, forced together by pretty universal anxiety. Everyone has had a single united first aim, to save our hospitals and defeat Covid 19. Political dissent has been minor, opposition parties only criticising the late and contradictory responses of the government, plus the failures of the test-and-trace rollout and the confused messaging over school-teaching and exams. There has certainly been some harsh criticism, and a demand for enquiry by our own Leader, but there is a joint will in the country to defeat this plague and resume as normal a life as possible as soon as we can.

What is this normal life we want? No strong movement has emerged to urge change from what we accept as normal life. Change has been gradual. Much on-line shopping and working from home are likely to continue, with consequent modifications to home and work communities. As a national community we have stayed together, most people keeping the rules as they keep changing, with only minor questioning of the restriction of civil liberties and how far Parliament is endorsing the rules, while government ministers claim always to follow the science and trot out the scientists to prove it. There seems to be a national consensus at least that the hospitals must be protected and that the schools must be open as much as possible.

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Listen to Rabina Khan on the Vanessa Feltz Show

Yesterday we published a post by Cllr Rabina Khan titled “The danger of anti-vaccine propaganda“.

Last week Rabina was interviewed by radio interview on the Vanessa Feltz Show about the same subject. Well worth listening to.

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Conservative Government bans political leafletting – how should Lib Dems react?

Yesterday afternoon, a letter arrived in the inbox of our chief executive from Chloe Smith, the Cabinet Office Minister. It said in stark terms that the Government was banning volunteer delivery of political material in England. Parties who are rich enough can pay to have their stuff delivered. Some parties are so rich that they can afford to send the same leaflet to a house twice in a week, as the Scottish Tories did to me this week.

Last night, Lisa Smart, the Chair of the party’s Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee wrote to regional and local chairs saying:

This afternoon we received a letter from the Tory constitution minister, saying that the Government is changing the rules to make political leafleting no longer permissible.

This is a clear and brazen attempt by the Tories to stop our work to support local residents, and to fix the elections in their favour.

We know that the Tories will do best if campaigning is limited.

We should see that as a strong sign that elections will go ahead on 6 May.

Updated campaigning guidance will be on the website on Monday, following checks with our lawyers. In essence we expect this to say:

No further Liberal Democrat political literature should be given to volunteer activists, and party political materials must be delivered through paid routes.

Elected representatives and local teams may still deliver literature to residents, so long as this is focused on their non-political work of supporting local residents.

This is a vital activity at a time when millions of households do not have internet access and rules and support services are changing quickly.

We will be writing shortly to all members, asking them to support telephone canvassing and asking for donations for paid delivery.

Our national teams will be focused on bulk buy deals and helping organise telephone campaigning.
Let me reassure you. We won’t let Tory dirty tricks stop us from making a difference for our communities.

Our party’s decision to allow leafletting during lockdown in England was controversial both within and outside the party. Although we know that other parties were also distributing leaflets, the Conservatives snd Labour both complained about us. Ed Davey was tackled about this on Marr last Sunday. I wrote at the time:

There are some very strong views on both sides of this argument in the party. I tend to think that, while delivery is one of the safest things that we can do and we’re all having many deliveries to our homes at the moment, my inclination is that we have much more meaningful interaction with people if we phone them and talk to them. The difficulty with that is that the proportion of phone numbers we have is quite small. If you want to give out information to the widest possible number of people you need to do what David Penhaligon said – put it on a bit of paper and push it through their door. Even if it were allowed in Scotland, I wouldn’t choose to do it at this point in the pandemic, but if other Lib Dems feel it is appropriate in their communities, I’m not going to argue with them.

I do think it was a mistake to lead with a defence that was very legalistic and tenuous at best in its understanding of volunteer work. We should have limited our remarks to the importance of reaching those in the community who don’t have access to the internet with what is in many communities a trusted source of information.

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The danger of anti-vaccine propaganda

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I recently had Covid-19 myself and although it was not a serious case compared to many others, it knocked me for six and I was unable to do anything for several weeks. The first symptom I noticed was losing my sense of smell. Over the following 48 hours, I became very unwell. I suffered from severe headaches, which made me feel nauseous and every time I stood up, I had terrible vertigo. I could barely walk, so all I could do was to take painkillers, drink hot water with ginger, honey and lemon, and stay in bed. I requested an NHS home-test kit, which arrived within 48 hours and the results arrived within another 48 hours. An amazing NHS 111 staff member rang me 3 times on the fifth day of my illness to check on me as I had become so poorly and she was concerned.

Thankfully, by the 7th day I began to feel a little better. Even though I am no longer in quarantine, I am still suffering from the after-effects. I’m easing myself back into work as I still get tired and my sense of taste and smell have not returned fully. I have spoken to many people who say that the long-term effects of having COVDI-19 can be debilitating.

My experience, and that of many other people have reinforced my belief that it is absolutely crucial for everyone to have the vaccine as soon as it is offered to them. The medical professionals do not gain anything by endorsing the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines; they do it for our wellbeing and for the benefit of the country as a whole. The COVID-19 conspiracy theories are not initiated by medical professionals. For whatever reason, these myths are often invented by people with hidden agendas, or those who simply enjoy creating controversy. Some of these myths gain traction through social media, preying on the gullibility of some and others’ mistrust of government and the media.  These myths are far more dangerous than not having the vaccine.

In order to protect our communities and the economy, it is the responsibility of every individual in the borough take up the vaccine. Only by adhering to this collective responsibility can we hope to tackle this problem effectively.

Recent research conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health has shown that people on lower incomes appear to be less confident about a vaccine, with a wealth gap in take-up.  84% of high earners are planning to get vaccinated, compared with 70% of low earners. Ethnicity also appears to influence take up. 57% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethic people said they would take the vaccine compared with 79% of white people. The highest region for rejections was in London (14%). Several different surveys have also revealed that women are less likely to take the vaccine than men.

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Layla Moran: Protect frontline workers who have Long Covid

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you caught a disease because of your work, that your employer would be obliged to look after you.

This is not the case for frontline workers, even public sector workers. In a parliamentary debate she’d secured on Long Covid, Layla Moran highlighted the cases of three who had experienced the wrath of HR departments after contracting long Covid.

Take Daisy, an NHS nurse in Wales. For four months she received reduced and then no pay from NHS Cymru, which told her that it was unable to support staff who contracted covid-19. Her case was resolved, but she continues to say that this issue has not been resolved at a national level in Wales. That story, and many others like it, have left me speechless—a headteacher and a nurse, key workers on the frontline, who have no choice but to do their job with inadequate personal protective equipment and testing, and now face financial ruin for doing their duty. It is unacceptable, which is why the APPG recommends that the UK Government recognise long covid as an occupational disease and institute a long covid compensation scheme for frontline workers.

She asked the Minister for three things – better reporting of Long Covid – with the daily stats – research into the condition and how to treat it and recognition of the condition in the social security system and by employers.

I know several friends who have Long Covid and it is really debilitating.

Alistair Carmichael also spoke in the debate, saying that he expected problems in the social security system which had already shown its utter uselessness in dealing with people with ME.

There must be more flexibility in how the system responds to people who are affected in this way. The point has been made to me by constituents that there is a lot of crossover between the symptoms and treatment of people with long covid and those who suffer from ME; I think that point was also made by the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams). Certainly, looking back over the years at the way in which the benefits system has coped with people who suffer from ME, let alone the medical profession, we can see that this will be a problem with which we shall have to come to terms for some considerable time.

A Universal Basic Income would make a big difference, he said.

As the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Long Covid, Layla can speak with some authority on these issues. I think that the UK Government has been better than the Scottish Government which doesn’t even have a decent strategy for dealing with Long Covid and that in part is due to the fact that Layla’s leadership on this has been so good.

Here is Layla’s whole speech:

I would like to start by thanking the Backbench Business Committee for giving us time to debate long covid today. I also thank members of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, especially the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) and my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), who co-sponsored the debate. Most of all, I want to thank everyone who has written to me, the all-party group or their own MP in the last few weeks with their stories. Their accounts are deeply moving. Today’s debate is for them.

In one such email, a constituent of mine said,

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LibLink: Vince Cable asks “What if the vaccine isn’t enough?”

Vince Cable has written in the Independent today asking that rather worrying question.

Most of us, including the government, are assuming that if the mass vaccination goes ahead speedily we shall see relaxation of the Covid restrictions in March and be largely free of them in the summer. The economy will bounce back and we can begin to enjoy the Roaring Twenties with a good holiday in the sun. My own sense of optimism is fuelled by the fact that I am in line to get my first vaccine jab this week and I already feel safer and freer.

But maybe that is wishful thinking? What if the vaccination rollout is slower than we hope (and impeded by idiotic NHS bureaucracy, such as the requirement that volunteers should have a level 2 “safeguarding” qualification in case they encounter children)? What if another variant of the virus arrives that requires new vaccines and repeat vaccination programmes? What if there are sufficient numbers who fail to get vaccinated – because of ignorance, groundless prejudice or fear – as to keep the pandemic alive?

He says that we need to plan for these eventualities to avoid restrictions through 2021 and beyond. Several actions are required.

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Who gets the vaccine next?

I’m losing track of calls for vaccine priority for one group or another. Teachers, police, this morning port workers – one might logically add the whole food supply chain of 4 or 5 million people. Unpaid carers have been raised (currently in group 6 of phase 1 ahead of 60-64 year olds in group 7).

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I spent over four hours in a cell for busking during lockdown – that was wrong

The increasing polarisation of politics across the globe is concerning for many reasons. The storming of the Capitol felt like a defining moment in this trend, while our government’s hollow pleading for the nation to unite over their shoddy Brexit deal has done nothing to bring opposing sides together. One area where this polarisation is becoming increasingly worrying is over Covid-19 measures. The world is not made up of Covid-denying conspiracy theorists and authoritarian-loving lockdown fanatics, but whenever a debate crops up, the position you take on that debate will inevitably see you lumped into one of those categories.

Most people accept that the temporary suspension of some liberties is a tragic necessity. But scrutiny has never been more important. John Harris’ excellent Guardian article goes into this at some length, so I will add the dimension of my own experience to this.

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Ed Davey volunteers to help with Covid vaccine

Our Ed has got himself in the Sun two weeks in a row.

He has signed up to the paper’s scheme to provide volunteers to help with the rollout of the Covid vaccine.

It is certainly going to be some job to get this vaccine rolled out.

My Dad, who has just turned 75, got his first jab this week. It is such a relief. I don’t think I will even start to rest easy until my Mum and husband have had theirs, though.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 11 Comments
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