Tag Archives: vaccine

Global Vaccine Equity

Vaccines Without Borders
Vaccines are the most effective way out of the pandemic. However, there won’t be enough supply to vaccinate the world’s population until 2023 or 2024. That’s why I joined NOW! (@NOW4humanity) to pressure vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer to allow other companies to develop its COVID-19 vaccine and have #VaccinesWithoutBorders.

But this is not enough. All companies must follow suit.

Oxford, Valneva, Novavax and CureVac, are now working with the Government to produce the vaccines in the UK. Johnson & Johnson have applied to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use listing to deliver doses to poor and middle-income countries. A Sussex-based company has begun developing a coronavirus vaccine in pill form, and trials have already started.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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How many people will miss the vaccine because they don’t have a GP?

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I am looking forward to having the Covid-19 vaccine. Well, not the actual act of having a jab in my arm (twice), but because it will open up my life. Apart from a short window in the summer, we have not had any social visits in our home since March and we still only leave the house for walks or for medical reasons.

We can both be confident that we will be called in for the vaccine at some point in the New Year. But it appears that an unknown number of eligible people may be missed. Thousands of people in the UK are not registered with a GP. We can only speculate on the reasons why anyone may not be registered – it could be down to something simple like moving house, or it could be something more complex around immigration irregularities, even because someone is the victim of trafficking.

To be effective, as many people as possible should be vaccinated, whatever their immigration status. So surely the NHS needs to know how many people in the country are not registered, so they can be traced and contacted?

Munira Wilson asked Health Minister Jo Churchill how many people are not registered in England, and was told “No such estimate has been made.” In other words, they don’t know.

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