Tag Archives: vaccination

World Review: US ballots, the Quad, Britain as a “vassal state” and vaccinated Africans

In this weekend’s review, Tom Arms reports auditors have discovered that Donald Trump received 261 fewer votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, and Joe Biden 99 more undermining those that called the election result the “Big Lie”. Could the crisis at Evergrande slow China’s economy and that of the world? The “Quad” is a new Indo-Pacific alliance of the US, India, Japan and Australia designed to counter the rise of Chinese. India is the outlier in the group perhaps its including might mean it will look more towards the US. France has recalled its ambassadors to Australia and America over the nuclear submarine row but their man in London stayed put, the French claiming Britain has become a “vassal state” of the United States. In another row, vaccinated Americans can visit the UK but vaccinated Africans cannot.

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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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Tom Arms World Review: 28 March 2021

In this week’s review, our regular correspondent Tom Arms looks at yet more mass shootings in America and the struggle for stronger gun control. He turns his attention to events in Israel and the failed Sino-American summit in Alaska. Europe has been at times teetering on the edge of vaccine wars and it is the 50th anniversary of the seventh fastest growing economy in the world, Bangladesh.

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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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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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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.

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No, teachers should not be prioritised for Covid 19 vaccinations 

I was surprised yesterday to see a tweet from Layla Moran saying that after talking to local head teachers she thinks teachers should be in the first wave of the vaccine.  Later on I saw that there is a campaign by the NEU
for this and I was surprised when I said on twitter that I disagreed with her, how strong the reaction was.

There are three reasons why I think this is not a good idea.

The first and most important is that I do not believe that the  such a sensitive question as who gets priority for vaccines should be decided by politicians or pressure groups.  The current schedule is the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)an independent group of scientists. We would rightly be outraged if the Government started interfering with their recommendations and this is an area politicians should not get involved with.

The second reason is that logically if you wish to add half a million teachers to the first wave, you are going to have to not give it to some of those who would otherwise get it (given that supplies are currently limited). Those people are there though because either they are in NHS and care jobs who need to keep the NHS running or because they are at high risk. There is a very clear link between age and  mortality which is why as well of course as vulnerable people, the current recommendations are based on age.  The JCVI state that “taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19”.   99% is a  very high % so why would we want to vaccinate as a priority teachers who would cause that percentage to fall?

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Vaccine breakthrough takes our eye off the ball

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Forgive me if I seem the pre-Christmas Scrooge, but I can’t get as excited as everyone else at the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that has sent share prices rocketing (or falling) and a member of Sage saying we’ll be back to normal by the spring. I feel we are in danger of taking our eye off the ball.

The tendency when any of us are faced with a big problem is to see if we can solve it with minimum effort. It’s understandable; our lives are fairly full, so problems are irritants. But sometimes a problem requires a structural rethink, demanding root and branch reform rather than just tinkering with a failing element of the whole.

Issues like Covid-19 and climate change are problems that demand root and branch reform of the way the world does business, yet we are treating them like irritants. With climate change, we know our lifestyles are warming the planet to dangerous levels, yet we cling to the hope that some technology – like electric cars or planes running on biofuels – can be invented to stop us having to confront how we live and allow us to go back with a clear conscience to the life we know.

It’s the same with Covid. Although we don’t know for certain what caused it, the most likely explanation is our breaking down the barriers between the human and animal realms, to the point where bats, pangolins and perhaps even mink mingle with humans and cause a highly contagious killer virus. We need to look at our global lifestyle and re-establish that barrier, among other things through eating less meat and leaving forests intact – measures that will also help in the fight against climate change.

Yet instead, we hope for the magic wand of technology in the form of a vaccine. To me, it has long felt like lazy journalism or lazy politics to throw in the half-sentence “until we have a vaccine” to any thought about the coronavirus. It’s as if we don’t want to face up to the need to address the fundamental failings in our modus vivendi, and that can be dangerous.

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Eric Avebury writes … All Party Group supports vaccination summit in Tanzania

Photo from Gates FoundationLast week, Jim Dobbin MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Child Health and Vaccine Preventable Diseases was in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to take part in a global health summit to raise awareness of the challenges entailed in vaccinating children against preventable diseases such as pneumonia, rotavirus, HPV and rubella.

The summit, which was being hosted by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and coordinated by the GAVI Alliance, saw more than 500 distinguished global health leaders and parliamentarians from developing and donor countries, technical experts, civil society organisations and private sector partners come together to promote the Global Vaccine Action Plan, endorsed at the May 2012 World Health Assembly, and determine what more can be done to meet goals for women’s and children’s health through vaccination programmes.

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The Independent View: NHS should routinely offer chicken pox vaccine to children

Chicken pox. One of those “mild” childhood illnesses that most of us assume just has to be endured at some point. Sure, it itches like crazy, but what’s the big deal?

That’s how I saw it until two friends of my four-year-old son went down with it in the same month. They described the misery their children went through, the sleepless nights for all the family, the seemingly endless quarantine. And worse: it can put children in hospital, and occasionally even kill them.

As the dreaded varicella zoster virus seemed to creep ever closer to my son’s unprepared immune system, I …

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