Vaccines do not completely stop transmission, JCVI member says
Covid-19 vaccines do not completely prevent transmission, Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.
He told BBC Breakfast on Sunday that while they appear to reduce transmission by about 50%, vaccinated people can still get the virus and spread it to others.
There’s some good evidence now from Public Health England and from the Oxford/AstraZeneca trials that the vaccines do prevent transmission.But they don’t completely prevent transmission. The figures are still being calculated but it’s in the order of 50%.
So, there will be some reduction in transmission, no doubt at all, but it’s still possible, even though you’ve been vaccinated, to get infected, have no symptoms and transmit it to others. That’s why it’s important that all those who get vaccinated still stick to the rules.
Asked about what mistakes Wales made that led to its mortality rate – 196 deaths/100,000 people – being higher than the overall UK rate, Mark Drakeford said in hindsight they should have taken more actions than they did.
He said that would have been true of other parts of the UK too, and rebuffed Andrew Marr’s suggestion that Wales had more lockdowns that England, saying Wales had no more but just went into them “earlier and deeper”.
Some restrictions will likely stay in place to the end of the year, Mark Drakeford has suggested, underlining that the coronavirus “is with us for the foreseeable future”.
“By the end of this year I still think that we will need to go on doing the things that we’ve learned to do – the mask-wearing in crowded places, the hand-washing, the social distancing and so on,” Drakeford told the BBC.
“This virus is with us for the foreseeable future. Albeit, because of vaccination and other measures we are taking, life can be and will be better. But the idea that with one bound we are free and the coronavirus is over – that’s not my message to people here in Wales.”
Asked about vaccine passports, Mark Drakeford said this is being considered on a four-nations basis.
“There are definitely prizes to be won… but there are some very big practical and ethical challenges as well,” Drakeford said.
Mark Drakeford has said that he is hoping that by the end of April people in Wales will be able to enjoy outdoor hospitality, adding that meeting indoors is always more dangerous and will have to wait until May.
Pressed on a roadmap, the first minister said he will be setting out a “prospectus” for the whole of April and into May on Thursday.
“This is an inherently unstable time,” Drakeford said, adding that the figures are studied every day. “At the moment we are heading in the right direction but we know how quickly this virus can change and I’m not prepared to give people false assurance too far into the future.”
Wales’ first minister has said he won’t be able to tell people that this will definitely have been the country’s last lockdown “any time soon” after Wales eased its restrictions on Saturday.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr show, Mark Drakeford was asked when he will be able to guarantee that lockdowns are finished.
“I’m afraid that I don’t think anybody responsible in my position will be able to do that anytime soon,” Drakeford said. “Of course we hope it will be, but we see what’s happening on the continent of Europe and we know about new variants that are being discovered around the globe.”
Russia has reported 9,088 new coronavirus cases, including 1,878 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,519,832, Reuters reports.
The Russian coronavirus task force said that 336 more deaths of Covid-19 patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking Russia’s official coronavirus death toll to 97,740.
UK minister says Moderna rollout will begin in April
England’s relaxation of coronavirus restriction on Monday is “an important step back towards normality”, the culture secretary has said, adding that people should continue to follow the rules.
Asked about reports that the Moderna vaccine could be rolled out within the next three weeks, Oliver Dowden told Sky News that the health secretary has indicated that it will begin “later this month”, but would not be drawn on a specific date.
Pressed on a date, the minister said the government will “deliver on vaccine promises”.
Dowden said the UK does not “currently have a surplus” of Covid-19 vaccines following a report jabs could be sent to Ireland, saying that the government’s “first priority is ensuring we deliver vaccines” for the UK.
The minister also said the UK continues to have “constructive” discussions with the EU over vaccine supplies following an announcement that the bloc would be changing how it authorises exports of doses.
“Our position is very clear – that the EU should not be engaging in blocking exports and that they should honour the pledge that Ursula von der Leyen gave to Boris Johnson whereby they agreed that any contract should be honoured,” Dowden said.
Just over a year into the pandemic, Venice remains a ghost town, AFP reports. Portofino, a colourful playground for the jet-set on the Ligurian coast, and Varenna on the shores of Lake Como are also deserted.
The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on tourism in Italy, the world’s fifth-most visited destination – and with a third wave now under way, there is no obvious end in sight.
The collapse in the number of tourists to Italy was jaw-dropping last year, with only 25.5 million foreign visitors spending at least one night in the peninsula, versus 65 million in 2019 – a drop of more than 60 percent.
That corresponded to revenue of only 17.45 billion euros ($20.6 billion), 26.85 billion euros less than the prior year, according to new figures from the Bank of Italy.
“The situation is really dramatic and everything must be done to revive a sector so vital for our country,” said the president of the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Carlo Sangalli.
Nearly 100,000 companies in Italy’s tourism sector are at risk of bankruptcy, according to the research institute Demoskopika, with a potential loss of 440,000 jobs.
Under-50s to be offered Moderna vaccine in three weeks – Mail on Sunday
People under 50 in the UK will begin to be offered Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine within three weeks, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.
More than 500,000 new doses of the US vaccine will be used to expanded the programme to people in lower age cohorts in mid-April, the paper says.
Doctors are expected to administer the first doses of the new vaccine, which will join Pfizer and AstraZeneca in the UK’s vaccine stocks, within three weeks.
The development comes as NHS England urges all those who are eligible but have not yet received a dose to book an appointment ahead of a contraction of supply next month.