Vaccination ‘Milestone’, Brexit and science

These are the British stories about the coronavirus that you need to know about today.

Vaccination ‘Milestone’

The first official vaccination statistics from the NHS of England show that 521,594 people had their first stab wounds against COVID-19 in England in the first 13 days of the program.

Of these, 70.3% were over 80 years of age. Other priority groups were health and health workers and residents of nursing homes.

There are almost 80 hospital vaccination centers. More than 500 GP-led centers and teams also visited nursing homes.

National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “This vaccine presents a number of complex logistical challenges, but the NHS’s response has been no less phenomenal as hundreds of hospitals and local vaccination centers have sprung up across the country.”

Responding to the figures, dr. Richard Vautrey of the BMA said the “milestone” of vaccination was “absolute proof of the tremendous work going on in healthcare facilities across the country”.

He continued: “Some general practitioners have told the BMA in recent weeks that they still have delays in vaccine delivery, and while they are doing everything they can to get around this, these logistical issues need to be addressed urgently.

“When practices have worked so hard to prepare, it’s frustrating to hear reports of delays in the delivery of some vaccines, but we expect all sites to be active in early January. This will be of particular concern to some patients scheduled for an appointment, but hopefully that they will realize that their practice is doing everything to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Everything must also be done to ensure that staff are urgently protected as a priority for the vaccine and that staff at greatest risk are protected.”

In Scotland, 56,676 people were vaccinated from 8 to 20 December.

The U.S. CDC said 1,008,025 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered over 10 days since Wednesday morning and has shared 9,465,725 doses.

Additional measures for the new variant

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has published a preprint study that models the additional portability of the novel SARS-CoV-2 variant VOC 202012/01.

He concludes that significantly greater vaccine introduction and school closures may be needed in January to prevent deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 in 2021 to exceed those in 2020.

Lead author Nick Davies said further Twitter: “We are exploring only a few scenarios in this overprint to illustrate what might happen under the various potential control strategies. Determining exactly which policies will be most effective will take more work than was possible in the last 5 days.”

Infection research

The latest data from a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in the most recent possible period (December 14-18), London, the South East and the East of England have the highest percentage of positive cases compatible with the genetic composition of the new virus variant.

Overall, the percentage of people who tested positive in England was steadily increasing, with an estimate of 645,800 people who had COVID-19 (December 12-18), which is approximately 1 in 85 people.

The research tests participants regardless of whether they have symptoms.

A sharp rise was again seen in London, in the east of England and in the southeast. London has the highest percentage of people who have positive results.

In Wales, there was a sharp increase in 52,200 people who had COVID-19, which is approximately 1 in 60 people.

An increase was also recorded in Northern Ireland, where 10,100 people had COVID-19, which is approximately 1 in 180 people.

In Scotland, the percentage of people who test positive in Scotland has dropped from 37,100 people who have COVID-19, or 1 in 140 people.

Test and Trace

The English service Test and Trace reported a 58% increase in the number of positive cases of detected coronaviruses from December 10 to 16 compared to the previous week.

It reached 92.6% of positive case contacts.

It has reported more than 4.9 million tests processed across the UK since testing began. The Department of Health and Social Welfare said it was more than any other comparable European country.

The interim executive chair, the National Institutes of Health, Baroness Dido Harding, commented: “NHS Test and Trace has evolved into one of the largest contact search and testing systems anywhere in the world, and the COVID-19 contract search application we launched in September it has now been downloaded more than 20.7 million times. “

Separate data from public health surveillance in England show that case rates have increased in all age groups, with the highest rate of 434.6 per 100,000 population in those aged 30 to 39 years.

The admission rate to COVID-19 was 18.66 per 100,000 in week 51, compared to 15.18 per 100,000 in the previous week. The highest admission rate is still with those over 85 years of age.

Influenza activity, including consultations with general practitioners and hospital admissions, remains low.

Winter pressures

The NHS is “aligning” on COVID-19 and winter pressures, said NHS service provider Safron Cordery, commenting on the latest performance data for England.

“Confidence leaders are telling us that we are facing a pandemic, with consequent pressures on space and staff, bed occupancy of 85% seems to be 95%, and we are currently working with 88%, so that presents real problems,” she said.

“These pressures contribute to the delay in the handover of patients arriving by ambulance, which means that crews cannot answer other calls so quickly where they are needed.

“It’s good that bed closures due to norovirus remain relatively low – because that can often exacerbate the difficulties at this time of year.”

There have been 13 A&E diversions in the past week.

Ambulance delays of over an hour ranged from 222 to 555 per day between 17-20. December.

Boxing level

The BMA supports the decision to put most of England in Tier 4 since Boxing Day due to the high level of the new version of the virus.

The chairman of the council, dr. Chaand Nagpaul said in a statement: “The rocket numbers of cases mean that moving most of the country to level 4 is a necessary step to control the virus and prevent NHS overload to the extent that local services are unable to meet the needs of seriously ill patients.

“With a possible third strain appearing in South Africa, a second strain in the UK, and some GPs reporting delays in vaccine delivery, we are in a very precarious position. Given how fast cases are increasing, additional restrictions may be necessary in the coming days and weeks, and the government must be ready to act quickly if science supports it. “


Concerns over variant B1.351 relating to South Africa (also called 501Y.V2) have led to a travel ban from South African travelers to the UK. British and Irish citizens, visa holders and permanent residents arriving from South Africa will be able to enter, but will have to be isolated for 10 days along with their households.

The border with France is reopened for passengers and truck drivers who may show a negative test result.

Concerns about the variant circulating in the UK have prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to force all visitors from British quarantine to a $ 1,000 fine. “We can’t risk it,” he said.


Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addressed the British variant of the virus in an interview with WebMD.

“We don’t know for sure – but it seems to have a better ability to transmit, to pass from person to person. There is no evidence that this has any effect on its virulence or, namely, that it makes people increasingly ill. It is not.”

“Another important question is whether it avoids the protection of the vaccine and it does not seem to be the case at all. So what we need to do is watch it carefully and we need to monitor it in this country [US]. It then discusses: If it’s not already here – what could it be, and we don’t know it yet – what are you doing? I know that the European Union bans travel from the UK. I think that may be an overreaction now. I wouldn’t mind at least making sure that people who fly here or come to the United States from the UK are asked to test before they get on a plane, so you know they are negative when they come here. I think that could be considered. I’m not saying we should do that, but we should consider it. “


Details are still emerging about the new relationship of Great Britain with the EU from January 1, after today’s trade agreement.

The agreement on scientific cooperation brought praise Twitter from Chief Government Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance: “I am really pleased that we will now join science programs in the EU. Science is an international endeavor and our partnership with our colleagues in Europe is very and important to all of us.”

English Minister of Health Matt Hancock tweeted: “There are huge opportunities for our famous life sciences sector and an even bigger role for our world-class regulator @MHRAgovuk.”

Christmas shifts

Sometimes the ONS data are surprising, but not so much today. Healthcare and healthcare professionals are occupations that are likely to work on Christmas.

A total of 1.1 million employees worked on Christmas 2018. Top professions are:

  • Caregivers and Carers at Home (166,000)

  • Nurses (112,000)

  • Nurses and Assistant Nurses (66,000)

  • Chefs (36,000)

  • Doctors (31,000)

Commenting, David Freeman of ONS said: “Our country’s health workers have come to mind this year, but these figures remind us that people working in these areas often miss things like spending Christmas with family, even in a more normal year. “

See more updates on global coronavirus in Medscape Coronavirus Resource Center.