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Covid-19: will Boris Johnson vaccinate enough Britons before a new more resilient variant of concern defeats us?

Nathalie Hollingworth/28 February 2021

20 million Britons have received their first Covid-19 vaccination, giving us a long-lead in the European vaccination race to beat the emergence of deadlier variants-of-concern with Turkey following in second-place having vaccinated 8 million of its 90 million residents.  Globally, Israel takes the overall lead and begins loosening its lockdown when it has protected only half of its 9 million population with the 92% efficacious Pfizer vaccine, which means that 92% of its vaccinated population will be protected from the virus when the vaccination programme is complete.

But, now is not the time for Britons to relax because 80 days after the first UK resident received the world’s first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, a new Brazilian Covid-19 Variant of Concern (P1) has been identified in England and Scotland.

The Lancet reported that although 76% of Brazilians have previously contracted the virus, hospitalisations are rapidly increasing from a resurgence of Covid-19 which shows that herd immunity is not an effective resistance against the new variant:

Genotyping viruses from COVID-19 patients who were not protected by vaccination in clinical trials would help us to understand if there are lineage-specific frequencies underlying re-infection. The protocols and findings of such studies should be coordinated and rapidly shared wherever such variants emerge and spread.

The Lancet: Resurgence of COVID-19 in Manaus, Brazil, despite high seroprevalence – January 27, 2021

South Africa’a variant 501.V2 also remains of concern to experts: this highly contagious variant of concern which emerged in the UK earlier this year, was more resistant to either the BionTech-Pfizer or AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines and it is feared that the Brazilian variant will be similarly less effected by vaccination. Oxford University is now developing a booster vaccination to tackle a range of variants.

Political opposition to the incumbent Conservative Party criticises the UK Government, yet again, for being too slow to introduce quarantines for people travelling from Brazil because it took 44 days for quarantine to occur, following idenification of the variant of concern in Brazil.

Public Health England is asking everyone who has travelled from Brazil and their contacts, to take Covid-19 tests. English residents should telephone 119.

Derby residents may book an appointment for asymptomatic Covid-19 testing at one of Derby’s city centre sites either online on by calling 119.

Nathalie Hollingworth 28.02.2021

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice delighted that Nicola Sturgeon commits to statutory public inquiry – the day before the National Day of Reflection – one year since the UK’s first lockdown

The Chellaston Prince

Nathalie Hollingworth – 22 March 2021

Edinburgh, Monday 22 MarchCovid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice today met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to speak about their experiences, share their personal stories and discuss a future statutory public inquiry to which the First Minister committed, the the day before the UK’s National Day of Reflection.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is a group of nearly 3,000 families bereaved by Covid-19 who are campaigning for lessons to be learned as quickly as possible in order to save lives and prevent others from going through the same pain.

They are campaigning for a Statutory Public Inquiry with an initial rapid review phase, to inform the Government’s ongoing response to the pandemic andincreased bereavement support services for those dealing with complex grief during the current period.

Members explained this evening that their group had written to Boris Johnson six times yet six times…

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Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice delighted that Nicola Sturgeon commits to statutory public inquiry – the day before the National Day of Reflection – one year since the UK’s first lockdown

Nathalie Hollingworth – 22 March 2021

Edinburgh, Monday 22 MarchCovid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice today met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to speak about their experiences, share their personal stories and discuss a future statutory public inquiry to which the First Minister committed, the the day before the UK’s National Day of Reflection.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is a group of nearly 3,000 families bereaved by Covid-19 who are campaigning for lessons to be learned as quickly as possible in order to save lives and prevent others from going through the same pain.

They are campaigning for a Statutory Public Inquiry with an initial rapid review phase, to inform the Government’s ongoing response to the pandemic and increased bereavement support services for those dealing with complex grief during the current period.

Members explained this evening that their group had written to Boris Johnson six times yet six times he has refused to meet them and although they felt genuinely heard and reassured by Scotland’s First Minister they want all four nations to take responsibility and hope that Sturgeon’s action compel the other leaders to also support their cause

In the meeting, the First Minister confirmed that there must be a statutory public inquiry into the pandemic and gave her “absolute assurance” that bereaved families will be involved in setting the terms of that inquiry and invited to give evidence.

During this evening’s press conference, bereaved families were given a voice and journalists asked further questions:

 Alan Wightman, who lost his mother Helen to the virus in May 2020, said:

“As a group of bereaved families, we’re very grateful that the First Minister gave her time to meet with us today. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that there will be a judge-led, statutory public inquiry into the pandemic and that bereaved families will be involved in setting the terms of that inquiry and invited to give evidence. That means a great deal to the thousands of us who have lost loved ones over the past year. If any good is to come out of this period, it’s that lessons are learned so that we can save lives in future.”

Jo Goodman, co-Founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said:

“It was good to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today. Now it’s down to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the right thing and meet with us. If he won’t, the least he can do is get the ball rolling on a statutory public inquiry into his government’s handling of the pandemic in order to learn lessons and save lives now and in the event of future pandemics.”

Responding to a question from a member of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, the First Minister said:

“You asked me about bereaved families being involved in the future public inquiry. I want to give you an absolute assurance that will be the case”.

Alan Whiteman spoke about losing his wife in a care home in Fife on 16 May 2020, aged 88. He said the home was very good and locked down early on 11 March 2020:

“I am sure that the [care home] was not sending in agency staff and they proactively purchased their own PPE. The care home was owned by a private company based in Colchester which takes local authority residents and they did everything that could be reasonably expected”. 

Meeting Nicola Sturgeon was very positive for the group because she listened to them courteously and most importantly agreed to give them the statutory inquiry that they have longed for.

The First Minister said it would be a priority for her government and she would initially go for a four-nations approach but if this proves impossible, would commit to a Scottish inquiry anticipating that the group would be involved in framing the terms of reference for the enquiry. Sturgeon also supports a national day of remembrance and wants the group to be involved with designing local memorials UK-wide and committed Scotland to a further review of what can be done in terms of further bereavement support, claiming that she did not want this to be a one-off.

The consensus of the group was that Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment is very positive and just what they had hoped for but stressed that normal will not be as it was before.

Jo added:

“It was a positive meeting for all of us who have lost loved ones and it is nice that we are being treated as names and not numbers. It important that bereaved people have their stories heard and we appreciate the time that was taken by Scotland’s First Minister which stands in stark contrast to Westminster’s attitude: each time we have written to Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock, we have been ignored or refused a meeting so it was good to hear members being listened to and we are still pushing for Westminster to commit to a UK-wide pubic inquiry.”

Jude said:

“my father died in Stirling last year and my questions to the First Minister were: why didn’t testing happen earlier, why were untested patients sent into care homes to keep the NHS freed-up, why was there a lack of understanding, training and infection control and why did the government fail to make the distinction between care-homes and nursing-homes which is important because there are no nurses in care homes so what sort of care can occur there. Why were there no inspections, no GP visits, no relatives going to check: where were the checks and balances. Even the NHS 101 staff were unhelpful as care-home managers were told hospitals would not take care-home residents. I want to know why care home residents were being given less care than people residing in their own homes when care home residents have paid for their public services all their lives and hospitals were sitting with a lot of capacity – why were they not let in? 

Scotland’s First Minister did not claim to answer all these questions but it was recognised that there was no flannel and the campaign group were satisfied that she had genuinely listened and cared about their loss and most importantly, agreed to the public inquiry.

Peter said:

“I lost my wife Debbie at 53 years of age and told the First Minister about her story; how she went to hospital before returning home for three days before being re-admitted. She had returned to work. My question is why was shielding stopped in the same month as ‘eat out to help out’ occurred, when schools and universities were also returning. Why after testing positive for Covid19 at the end of September, was Debbie allowed to walk through hospital without a face mask and was the lack of face-mask wearing in hospital the reason why there was a rise in infections?  The First Minister listened with empathy and answered those questions she could.  It was good to see a politician feel the need to be accountable which sends a message to the other UK leaders that this should be a four-nation approach but if this needs to be individual-nation inquiry, then it will be individual.”

Some members of the campaigning group also shared thoughts about where their minds will be dwelling during the reflective silence tomorrow:

“We found out that dad would not make it only on the morning that he died; we were told that it might be imminent or two or three days and sadly we arrived just after he died. My daughter arrived from Edinburgh but couldn’t bring the grandchildren as no more than eight people were allowed to attend – so when those people went out to see Rangers – if it wasn’t for this support group I don’t know where we would be – we have been absolutely rigid with the rules and completely isolated from the world and its incredibly hard to see people dying every day.”

“I don’t think anyone could have imagined a year ago what would come – we had an opportunity to learn from countries, like Vietman, which had previously managed a SARS virus but we didn’t learn the lessons and for the past year it’s been a cycle of trying to do things then trying not do things – it’s been horrific and we have been badly affected by it.  Other people have had other conditions left untreated including mental health conditions and nobody could have predicted what it would be like.  The vaccine is brilliant although not 100 percent failsafe so everyone needs to be cautious – we need to learn the lessons – we need an inquiry to help us learn. I know Nicola Sturgeon said we would have one but we need Westminster to agree also because it will saves lives, it will help otherwise, a year down the line, it will just be the same situation.”

“I lost my dad at 72 in Norwich in April 2020, so he most likely contracted it in the week before lockdown. I think there has been a real sense since the beginning of asking the Prime Minister for a public enquiry – that there is more interest in saving reputation than saving lives but our mission is more about learning lesson for future pandemics. We think we cannot waste time and this requires a lot of honesty and transparency. The First Minister was honest about getting things wrong and said she would do things differently but Boris Johnson maintained the narrative that he has done the right things but we know the government did have information so there seems to be a reluctance to admit to mistakes.

We feel that more could have been done and those lessons haven’t been learned which surely should be one of the first duties of a Prime Minster.”

“Boris Johnson and Westminster don’t want to be held accountable in any form yet when the signs were there, they didn’t do the right thing.  We are in the process of grieving but Boris Johnson doesn’t want to be held accountable in any way.  We all make mistakes and the enquiry would help to raise this awareness for us.  Nicola Sturgeon has already apologised- the thing we want is accountability.”

Courtney from ABC News asked what the families hope to achieve ultimately?

“At end of first wave, [20 thousand UK (ONS)] residents had died, today there are [42 thousand UK (ONS)] so every week we find people who have lost their loved ones and it’s still going on. We now have someone in Nicola Sturgeon saying ‘I hear your suffering’ not ‘we did everything we could’. We were listened to and we felt heard.” 

“We hope the First Minister assures a path that others will feel obliged to follow.  To people who haven’t lost someone dear to them, looking at a graph is just units so we felt it was our duty to represent the families who had been bereaved and who weren’t supported to know there is something they could do to reduce that risk and this will also be a helpful process through which to grieve but the key point is that lessons should be learned.  We hoped there would be much more of playbook but how will we know if we cannot scrutinise the responses.”

“We’ve had one thousand people dying a day – if these were deaths on flights there would be investigations – we want to avoid this happening to someone else.”

Covid19: should national government step in to manage local authorities lack of forward planning by postponing 2021 local elections?

Nathalie Hollingworth/13 March 2021

Commenting on the Government’s decision to postpone the 2020 May polls, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, Bob Posner, made the following statement:

“We welcome and support the UK Government’s decision to postpone the May elections. This will allow local authorities to focus their efforts on delivering front line public services and importantly, mitigates risks to voters and campaigners. We will work with the wider electoral community to ensure elections in 2021, including these postponed elections, are well run, command public trust and attract high levels of participation.” 

However, Derby City councillors Harwood and Testro appear to have resigned from the Conservative Party over the matter about where to hold the 2021 local election count following arguments that arose about suggestions that the Velodrome – which is Derby’s main vaccination hub – will have to double-up as an electoral counting station on May 6 and 7!

Derby residents would be wise to download or order postal voting forms to save the local authority the trouble of managing this core democratic function.

Anyone who is registered to vote can instead cast it by post which makes sense during the pandemic because paper does not transmit the virus like people do.

One questions why on earth our council hasn’t advocated for a general postal voting system?

Anyone wishing to vote by post may do so and would be advised to download a form to apply for a postal ballot paper well in advance of the election from here. Derby City Council may not be ready for an election but its residents can be poised to post.

And, if you don’t think any of your candidates are good enough then you can ‘spoil’ your vote and note why because the government should make a record of dissenters to see where they are going wrong. A dissenting vote gets counted and informs policy-making.

Parochialism is also evident in the local election system because Derby City Council’s website claims that residents need to provide a reason why they want a postal vote which contrasts with national election protocol where residents do not need to provide a reason but simply have a right. Derby City Council seems to struggle with democracy:

Screenshot of UK Government’s webpage on 12 March 2021 stating “you do need to give a reason” [to vote by post]https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vot

For elections held during the pandemic, residents could simply state that they wish to avoiding spreading Covid19 as a reason to vote by post and I will be questioning Derby City councillors about removing their apparently unnecessary unique qualification to cast a postal vote.

Update: since writing this article, Derby City Council’s download link to request a postal ballot paper has ceased working however their Democratic Services webpage now directs residents to download the form from the Electoral Commission website which may be found here.

Derby City Council advises that once completed and signed, this applicationform should be emailed to postalvoting@derby.gov.uk or posted “to us” by 5:00p m on 20 April 2021 and the ensuing the ballot paper should be received at the local authority by 10:00pm on polling day: 6 May 2021.

Derby City Council webpage explaining how to vote by post on 13 March 2021
https://www.derby.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-democracy-elections/elections/election-information/

The Electoral Commission website advises residents to send their application forms to the Electoral Services Team at Derby City Council which is based at: Council House, Corporation Street, Derby DE1 2FS.

If you need help, telephone the electoral registration officer on: 01332 640837 or email: elections@derby.gov.uk

Covid19: unlawful Department of Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock receives High Court order to pay £85,000 costs to law firm which claimed he deliberately lacked transparency about 94% of Covid19 procurements

Nathalie Hollingworth/05 March 2021

Today, UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock was issued a High Court order to pay £85,000 in legal costs to the Good Law Project – the non-profit organisation which brought the case to court. 

In the court hearing of 03 February 2021, Judge Chamberlain judged that Matt Hanock had acted unlawfully because he had deliberately denied that his department had failed to publish 94% of its Covid19 public procurement details within the time limit of 30 days due to an historic failure to comply with transparency obligations rather than a deliberate policy of de-prioritising compliance.

Hancock’s defence that he had been acting in exceptional circumstances was dismissed by Justice Mr. Chamberlain as merely an excuse rather than a justification:

The Defendant has published 608 out of 708 relevant contracts for supplies and services relating to COVID-19 awarded on or before 7 October 2020. In some or all of these cases, the Defendant acted unlawfully by failing to publish the contracts within the period set out in the Crown Commercial Service’s Publication of Central Government Tenders and Contracts: Central Government Transparency Guidance Note (November 2017)  

The High Court of Justice Queens’s Bench – Mr Justice Chamberlain in Court Order of 05 March 2021

The judge elaborated that four-fifths of PPE contracts worth more than £12 billion had not been made public at the time when the claim was initially filed – in good faith – by October 2020, by the Good Law Project and three MPs:

The Secretary of State had spent some £15 billion of personal protective equipment (PPE) but the value of the contracts made public by that time was only £2.68 billion.

The High Court of Justice Queens’s Bench – Mr Justice Chamberlain in amended and approved Judgement of 19 February 2021

The claimants provided further context for bringing its case to court by providing examples of three contracted companies, none of which had prior experience in providing PPE and all of which had consequently failed to provide equipment of a sufficient standard, at a cost to the public of hundreds of millions of pounds.

However, the Health Secretary’s defence steadfastly denied that any lack of transparency had made it difficult for the Government to be made accountable to either Parliament or the public, or that his actions had prevented the Public Accounts Committee performing its function of scrutinising procurement.  It claimed that the 4,000 written questions and answers from Ministers since 1 March 2020 was sufficient evidence of accountability, that there was “no unlawful policy of non-publication” and that the contracts would be “published in due course”.  It was argued that undue pressure on the DHSC could lead to errors.

Expert witness and Head of Procurement for the Department of Health and Social Care, Rick Webb claimed that his department had not been sufficiently staffed to maintain the publication of procurement to the usual 90-day deadline and he was oblivious to the Transparency Policy which stipulated a 30-day deadline.  He also claimed that training additional, new staff required to manage the uplft in work had taken alot of time when the pandemic arose but lately, he felt able to meet the deadlines.  To prevent this occuring in the future, Webb reported that he had recently appointed a Governance and Assurance Manager to create a plan for managing public reporting in future, if similar uplifts of demand occur.  He also explained that redacting the contracts according to General Data Protection Regulations was one of the most time-consuming functions of the publication process. Later in the proceedings, Webb added that his earlier court submission contained errors and that the non-publication of new contracts was greater than he had initially claimed.

The Health Secretary’s defence then attacked the claimants’ rights to bring the case to court, citing several case law examples where the claimants were found to have no standing.

However, the claimant argued that the case was about transparency and the adherence to an unpublished de-prioritisation policy which meant that it fell under common-law, not case law, whereby a person with an educated interest in public administration accountability has standing to bring a case to judicial review.  Several cases were referenced including that of the World Development Movement (1995).

Consequently, the judge deemed that the Good Law Project had sufficient standing to make the claim because the organisation’s aims were considered to be genuine and the cause and their expertise, sufficient. Consequently, the other three claimants who were MPs: Caroline Lucas, Layla Moran and Debbie Abrahams, were considered unnecessary.

Concerning relief, the claimant was refused his request for mandatory relief in the form of supervision of the DHSC procurement because the judge believed that the department had almost caught up with its workload which became backlogged early in 2020 which meant that it now had little work outstanding.

Regarding declaratory relief, the judge argued that when a defendant admits his fault early in the proceedings then the court is in no place to “rub a defendant’s nose in their admitted breach” but in this case, there was much more than a single breach and the Health Secretary had consistently denied his fault right up until the hearing which justified the judge ruling for declaratory relief in the form of a statement once the Secretary of State has published all procurement documentation.

Although, the judge considered the claimant had set the bar too high against Matt Hancock in making the claim that Matt Hancock’s non-compliance was intentional, he ruled that the Health Secretary should take the “lion’s share of the blame” because at the beginning of proceedings, he had chosen neither to admit his errors nor agree to publish all documents to an agreed deadline which would have saved his reputation and £207,000 in legal fees.

Boris Johnson has consequently been found guilty by the claimant of misleading Parliament in his claims that all PPE contracts were on the record.

New Covid-19 variant of concern- VOC202102/02: PHE warn it’s vital to stay at home, maintain good hygeine, space and wear face masks

11 February 2021

New Covid-19 variant of concern VOC202102/02 is reported by Public Health England (PHE) to weaken neutralisation by antibodies in laboratory experiments. E484K is an additional mutation on this lineage which has only been seen within the UK.

VOC202102/02 has been designated a variant of concern because it arose from a mutation on the Variant of Concern VOC202012/01 and retains the characteristics that led to its parent variant being designated a VOC originally with an additional mutation E484K.

VUI202102/01was first identified by Public Health England (PHE) on 10 January 2021, while investigating a cluster of five cases linked to members of staff from a hospital in Liverpool. So far, 55 cases of this variant have been found. VUI202102/01 is characterised by the presence of the E484K spike protein mutation and a small number of other mutations. It is derived from lineage A.23, which is seen internationally, but the E484K additional mutation on this lineage has only been seen within the UK.

Through genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing, PHE have so far identified 21 cases of Variant Of Concern (VOC) 202102/02 across the UK, predominantly centred upon an outbreak in the South West of England. VOC202102/02 is a specific cluster characterised by the presence of the E484K spike protein mutation on the VOC202012/01 SARS-CoV-2 B1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the UK at the end of 2020.

The E484K mutation is present on Variant of Concern first detected in South Africa (VOC-202012/02), as well as a number of other variants sequenced globally. Although there is currently no evidence this mutation alone causes more severe illness or greater transmissibility, it is reported to result in weaker neutralisation by antibodies in laboratory experiments.

Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 Strategic Response Director at PHE, said:

While we expect that the vaccines will still prevent severe illness and deaths, we are taking public health action on clusters of variants with E484K to reduce the risk of spread in our population.

We will be implementing the necessary public health action to mitigate the spread of these variants and will continue to monitor them closely.

It remains absolutely vital that people continue to stay at home where possible, and follow the guidance on face coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene.

Over 4,000 SARS-CoV-2 variants have been identified across the globe. Most of these are not of concern. The UK’s world-leading genomic sequencing programme continues to closely monitor these variants as they arise and develop.

New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has named one additional SARS-CoV-2 Variant Under Investigation and one additional Variant of Concern.

Nathalie Hollingworth – 11 February 2021

Covid-19: ‘we need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity’ say UNICEF and WHO chiefs fighting ‘self-defeating’ vaccine nationalism in a ‘win:win/lose:lose’ game

In the COVID-19 vaccine race, we either win together or lose together: joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from NEW YORK/GENEVA, 10 February 2021:

“Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for 60% of global GDP.

As of today, almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery.

Today, UNICEF and WHO – partners for more than 70 years – call on leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can actually end the pandemic and limit variants.

Health workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in lower- and middle-income settings and should be protected first so they can protect us.

COVAX participating countries are preparing to receive and use vaccines. Health workers have been trained, cold chain systems primed. What’s missing is the equitable supply of vaccines. 

To ensure that vaccine rollouts begin in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021, it is imperative that Governments that have vaccinated their own health workers and populations at highest risk of severe disease share vaccines through COVAX so other countries can do the same.        

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and its vaccines pillar COVAX, is fully funded so that financing and technical support is available to lower- and middle-income countries for deploying and administering vaccines. If fully funded, the ACT Accelerator could return up to US$ 166 for every dollar invested.

Vaccine manufacturers allocate the limited vaccine supply equitably; share safety, efficacy and manufacturing data as a priority with WHO for regulatory and policy review; step up and maximize production; and transfer technology to other manufacturers who can help scale the global supply.

We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity.

COVID-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together.”

Dr. Tedros addressed the UNICEF Executive Board on 10 February 2021 at 10:00 am EST. Watch it live on UN web TV: http://webtv.un.org/    

Covid19: national scheme provides free PPE for unpaid carers; Minister for Care encourages more local authorities like Derby to participate

10 February 2021

Two-thirds of local authorities will help to supply unpaid British carers – who do not live with the people for whom they care – with free PPE through a new national scheme, the UK Government announced today, February 10, 2021. These local authorities are busy establising new distribution routes to enable the delivery of free PPE to those who need it, following a successful pilot scheme to establish the distribution method and logistics.

Our national Government notified local authorities and local resilience forums (LRFs) about its extended PPE offer in a letter posted on 25 January – and almost two-thirds are complying: Derby City Council is one council that is not.

However, the Minister for Care, Helen Whately is urging more local authorities to join in and support their unpaid local carers ability to access free PPE:

Working with local authorities and voluntary organisations, we have already improved access for carers to testing and supported day services to stay open safely during this second wave. I’m pleased we can now roll out free PPE for those unpaid carers who are advised to use it.

UK Government press release dated 10 February 2021

As key workers, unpaid carers may also access priority testing through the Government’s testing portal if they have Covid-19 symptoms.

Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Professor Deborah Sturdy OBE,says:

Unpaid carers provide a fundamental pillar supporting our social care system and have the gratitude of a nation for their work before, during and after this pandemic.

UK Government press release dated 10 February 2021

This new initiative is for local authorities to establish distrubution networks for PPE to reach unpaid care workers and it follows a recommendation from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) social care working-group, that unpaid extra-resident carers should follow the same PPE procedures recommended for domiciliary care workers.

Our Government’s infection prevention-control guidance is continually reviewed and evolves in response to the changing epidemiology of COVID-19 with the emergence of new evidence and science.

Financial support is available for local authorities and LRFs to support local PPE roll-out; following information sessions, the majority of local authorities have joined and more are expected to do so.

Some unpaid carers are also prioritised for the vaccine as part of cohort six, in line with the independent advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, including those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare could be at risk if the carer fell ill.

Plans will be developed to further vaccinate other groups, in due course.

Derby City Council Press Office refused to comment on the local authority not participating in the sensible Government offer which will help curb viral spread.

Nathalie Hollingworth – 10 February 2021

First British-made lateral-flow Covid19 tests validated for asymptomatic testing receives Government contract to create 20million tests and 200 jobs in Derby

Nathalie Hollingworth/08 February 2021

Derby-based manufacturer SureScreen Diagnostics is poised to begin manufacturing its 30-minute Covid19 antigen test which has passed Public Health England (PHE) laboratory validation but awaits the final-stage of clinical trials at the time the UK Government announces today, February 08,2021, that this rapid lateral flow test is set to strengthen British diagnostics industry resilience.

Detecting the B117 ‘Kent’ variant of concern of SARS Cov2, the SureScreen test has also been attributed the European Conformance (CE) mark for professional use only, and approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Agency (MHRA). PHE laboratory validation stage tests of the SureScreen’s test showed sensitivity against high viral loads at 97.1% and specificity of 99.9%. However, the World Health Organisation warns that lateral flow test effectiveness may be limited to a very high viral load and who conducts the test.

Cited in the British Medical Journal, the World Health Organisation cautions:

lateral flow tests are more likely to detect positive cases when viral loads are highest and patients are most infectious—typically, one to three days before the onset of symptoms and during the first five to seven days after the onset of symptoms. WHO’s Essential Diagnostics Test states that negative results should never be used as a basis of decision making.

The British Medical Journal: BMJ 2021;372:n287

The World Health Organization points out that the accuracy of lateral flow tests depends on several factors: the time from infection onset; the concentration of virus in the specimen; the quality and processing of the specimen collected from a person, and the precise formulation of the reagents in the test kits.

If the target antigen is present in enough quantity it will bind to specific antibodies fixed to a paper strip enclosed in a plastic casing and generate a visual signal, usually within 30 minutes.

Quality and processing of the specimen are determined to a large extent by who carries out the tests. Public Health England’s evaluation of the Innova test showed that its sensitivity was 79.2% when used by trained laboratory scientists, 73% when used by trained healthcare staff, but only 57.5% when used by track and trace centre staff employed by the pharmacy chain, Boots. 

However, Liverpool University’s professor of public health and clinical informatics, Iain Buchan claims that performance should improve with experience, especially among regular users such as people testing themselves several times a week before going to work.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

Rapid lateral flow tests strengthen our national response to the virus significantly, helping us to identify the around 1 in 3 people who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission in our workplaces and communities. It is excellent to be working with a UK firm to deliver millions more of these rapid tests.

UK Government Health Secretary, Matt Hancock on 08 February 2021

Lateral flow antigen tests work by taking a sample from the nose or back of the throat and testing that sample for the presence of antigens, the signature proteins of the virus. They show results visually in the same way as many pregnancy tests.  

If the target antigen is present in enough quantity it will bind to specific antibodies fixed to a paper strip enclosed in a plastic casing and generate a visual signal, usually within 30 minutes.

The kind of large-scale community testing that these tests facilitate forms part of the Government’s Covid-19 winter plan to identify those who may be infectious with coronavirus earlier, in order to break the chains of transmission and keep the virus under control. Alongside the rollout of vaccines, rapid regular testing will be central to getting people back to doing the things they love, says our UK Government.

Covid19: right-wing apologists for Boris Johnson begin to cover-up his ‘involuntary manslaughter’

07 January 2021

Douglas Murray is wrong when he said in his Sun newspaper article today, that: ‘they [the politicians] didn’t know then what they know now about the virus’ in an attempt to excuse the unnecesary excess deaths caused by Covid19 because the plain truth is they did know and this fact was explicitly stated in a Parliamentary review of the science of Covid-19 which occurred during Spring 2020.

Boris Johnson repeatedly chose to ignore the scientists’ ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ to take weaker measures against the virus due to his narcissistic attempt to retain popularity.

Similarly, Keir Starmer seems to be reading out lines written for him without heartfelt conviction and fails to produce obvious winning counter-arguments which makes it difficult to imagine him as a capable barrister never mind Prime Minister.

The very sound counter-argument he should be presenting to parliament is that a nationalist vaccination policy is short-sighted because the medical experts claim that the pandemic can only be controlled if we take a non-nationalistic, global, approach to vaccination because new variants will keep arising which will prolong the pandemic.

Undoubtedly, British politics has cost lives during this pandemic and it makes one wonder if we should seriously consider a new system of governance by experts rather than popularity-seeking career psychopaths.   

Author: NathalieHollingworth – January 07,2021

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