No decisions have yet been taken on which tier London will end up in, but it appears the capital is headed for Tier 2. It comes as the number of new Covid cases in London begins to fall, raising hopes that the second peak may be starting to end.
Christmas will come with a price – Whitty
Prof Whitty said: “It is pretty obvious I think to anybody, that the Christmas holiday period – the loosenings around that – which I think everyone welcomes as an ability for families to come together and all the things that go with the winter period, we all know that that’s going to come at a risk.
“And the amount of risk of it depends on really three things, how seriously people stick to the tiers before we go into Christmas, make sure we keep the numbers keep on coming down or stabilise at a low level, that people over Christmas take the opportunities but take them incredibly responsibly.
“And then coming out of the Christmas period, again people take this next period which the Prime Minister has talked about, the period out to spring, incredibly seriously.
“And again we are very, very mindful of the fact that if we start breaking all the rules then we are putting other people at risk at a point of the year when these viruses transmit most easily and when the NHS is under greatest pressure.
“So it is absolutely essential people are really serious about this.”
Vaccine can be easily adapted to mutating virus, Oxford expert says
Oxford Vaccine Group’s Professor Andrew Pollard said scientists would be able to adapt the treatment if the coronavirus mutated.
It could be “relatively quick”, he told a Downing Street press conference, possibly only “a matter of days” to change the vaccine – but getting regulatory approval could take longer.
“There has to be some testing and manufacturing of the new vaccine, but really the big step is a discussion with the regulators about whether you need to go through the full process again or whether you can switch quickly,” he said.
Most crucial vaccines could be done by Easter
Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that with a “favourable wind” the majority of people most in need of a vaccination might be able to get one by Easter.
“That would make a very substantial change to where we are at the moment,” he said.
“I don’t want to give any more hostages to fortune than that, but that’s the best information we have.”
Shots in the arm will take time – PM
Boris Johnson described the rollout of any vaccine as a “big logistical challenge”, adding: “That’s why I wanted to enter this important note of caution.
“We haven’t got these things yet, even when we do get them it will take a long time, it will take a while, before we can get the shots in the arms, where they’re needed.”
Professor Chris Whitty added: “It is really critical we realise that the regulators have an absolutely critical next role.
“They independently will look at ‘are these vaccines safe?’ and only when they are satisfied… would it be possible for us to say for sure we can roll these out and then have a plan.”
Schools won’t break up early, PM suggests
Boris Johnson said there are no plans to close schools a week early to allow a safe period of time before children see elderly or vulnerable relatives at Christmas.
“At the moment we’re not planning to do that,” he said.
“One of the things we really attach, as a country, as a society, a huge importance to is keeping pupils, keeping kids in school and keeping young people in education wherever we can.
“That’s been at the heart of what we’ve been trying to do over the last few months and it’s meant that we’ve had to put a lot of pressure, sadly, on other sectors in order to drive down transmission.”
Vaccine race is not a competition – Oxford vaccine chief
Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard said the partnership with AstraZeneca has been “critical” because there was an agreed vision of a “not for profit approach during the pandemic” so that “no one was profiteering from making a vaccine”.
Asked if the Oxford vaccine is “better” than the other candidates developed so far, Prof Pollard stressed it’s “not a competition”.
He insisted the important thing is to get all effective vaccines out as quickly as possible.
Prof Whitty shares ‘massive thanks’ to vaccine volunteers
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty expressed an “absolutely massive thank you” to people up and down the country who are volunteering for studies into Covid-19.
“Because as we’ve repeatedly said, it is only science that is going to get us out of this hole,” he said, adding that “it will be a long haul”.
Oxford Vaccine Group director Professor Andrew Pollard said it has been “a very exciting day” and paid tribute to the 20,000 volunteers in the trials around the world, including more than 10,000 in the UK.
“And of course there’s a lot of uncertainty in joining a clinical trial, and I think for all of us, having reached this point today, where we have evidence that the vaccine works, that we have a huge debt of gratitude to all of those people who have taken part,” he said.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful’
The Prime Minister again promised a relaxation of restrictions over Christmas, although details have not yet been finalised with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson said: “I know that many of us want and need Christmas with our families, we feel this year we deserve it.
“But this is not the moment to let the virus rip for the sake of Christmas parties.
“‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”
The months ahead will be cold and hard – PM
Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that “things will look and feel very different” after Easter, with a vaccine and mass testing.
But he warned the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure”.
That meant the need for new tiers from Wednesday December 2, replacing England’s lockdown, with more areas facing tougher restrictions than the previous regional regime.
Source: Evening Standard Business News