Coronavirus live news: SAGE scientist calls on government to provide long term strategy to balance economy and pandemic

A member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has urged the government to provide a long-term strategy which balances the economy and pandemic restrictions.

Sunday, 15th November 2020, 4:44 pm

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), urged a long-term strategy when it comes to balancing the economy and the pandemic.

He raised concerns about “flip-flopping” between incentives, such as Eat Out To Help Out, and closures.

Life could return to normal by next year according to a pharmaceutical chief executive that helped to create the coronavirus vaccine which is 90% effective.

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Professor Sir John Edmunds raised concerns about “flip-flopping” between incentives, such as Eat Out To Help Out, and closures.

Chief executive of BioNTech Ugur Sahin said it was “absolutely essential” to have a high vaccination rate in order to return to normalcy before autumn next year.

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Coronavirus live news and updates: Life to return to normal by autumn 2021 if vaccine rate is high says pharma chief

Last updated: Sunday, 15 November, 2020, 16:37

  • ‘Essential’ to have high vaccine rate before autumn 2021 to allow life to return to normal
  • Public Health consultant at Sheffield City Council confirms she is unsure what Xmas rules will be in place
  • UK’s rate of Covid-19 slowing according to national statistician
  • ‘No serious side effects’ of breakthrough coronavirus jab, pharmaceutical executive confirms
  • Laws needed to combat virus conspiracy theories say Labour
  • Lockdown tiers ‘not well thought out’ claims SAGE scientist
  • SAGE concerned virus mutations would impact vaccine effectiveness
  • Government say they are committed to transparency over virus data

SAGE scientist calls on government to provide “long term” strategy to unite economy and pandemic

A member of SAGE has called on the government to provide a long-term strategy that accounts for the pandemic and the economy.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), urged a long-term strategy when it comes to balancing the economy and the pandemic.

He raised concerns about “flip-flopping” between incentives, such as Eat Out To Help Out, and closures.

“We need to take a long-term view and be sensible and realise that we’re going to have to have restrictions in place for some time,” he told the PA news agency.

“Yes, we can lift them when it’s safe to do so, which will be primarily when large numbers of people have been vaccinated.

“But flip-flopping between encouraging people to mix socially, which is what you’re doing by encouraging people to go to restaurants and bars, versus then immediately closing them again, isn’t a very sensible way to run the epidemic.”

Prof Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also said it was “too early to judge” if December 2 was too soon to lift the current lockdown restrictions.

Pharmaceutical executive claims high vaccine rate is ‘essential’ before autumn 2021 to allow life to return to normal

It is “absolutely essential” to have a high vaccination rate before autumn next year, a pharmaceutical chief has warned.

Chief executive of BioNTech Ugur Sahin said it was “absolutely essential” to have a high vaccination rate before autumn next year.

“This winter will be hard. So we will not have a big impact on the infection numbers with our vaccine this winter,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“If everything continues to go well, we will start to deliver the vaccine end of this year, beginning next year.”

He added the goal was to deliver more than 300 million doses before April next year, which could “already start to make an impact”, with a bigger impact expected during the summer.

Mr Sahin said: “What is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate before autumn/winter next year, so that means all the immunisation, vaccination approaches must be accomplished before next autumn.

“I’m confident that this will happen, because a number of vaccine companies have been asked to increase the supply, and so that we could have a normal winter next year.”

Further 168 people in UK passed away from virus within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19

A total of 168 more people are confirmed to have lost their lives to Covid-19.

Today the Government confirmed that an additional 168 people across the UK had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

This brings the total number of fatalities across the nation up to 51,934.

There had been a further 24,962 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, according to Government data, increasing the total number of positive tests to 1,369,318.

Coalition calls for cut in working week in response to pandemic

Politicians and groups across Europe have joined forces to demand shorter working hours in response to the virus crisis.

Politicians, business figures and trade union leaders across Europe have joined forces to demand shorter working hours in response to the virus crisis.

A coalition from the UK, US, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Ireland has written a letter to the leaders of every country setting out the case for a cut in the working week.

The letter, signed by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, chairwoman of the Die Linke party in Germany Katja Kipping and Inigo Errejon – Mas Pais MP at the Spanish Parliament – says that “for the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay”.

Joe Ryle, of the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, said: “Working hours have barely reduced at all over the last half a century and it’s ridiculous how much everyone still works.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the world of work up in the air offering a much-needed opportunity to rethink how we work.

“The four-day working week has hit the mainstream and it’s now up to governments, business leaders and trade unions to work together to make it a reality.”

Police halt baptism service that breached lockdown rules

Lead pastor Regan King, 28, wanted to hold the baptism in defiance of the restrictions.

Police officers have stopped an evangelical church from holding a baptism service in breach of the national coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

About 30 worshippers had gathered at The Angel Church in north London today before the Metropolitan Police halted the service.

Lead pastor Regan King, 28, said he wanted to hold the baptism in defiance of the restrictions because he “served a greater good”.

Two police vans and a police car were parked outside the church’s Mount Zion Hall building in Clerkenwell, while around four officers stood at the entrance to stop people from entering.

Police allowed 15 people to remain inside the church, while another 15 took part in a socially distanced outdoor service nearby.

Health minister to request more restrictions ahead of hospitality sector reopening

Robbin Swann.

Stormont’s health minister has said he is likely to be asking for further coronavirus restrictions for Northern Ireland before the scheduled reopening of the hospitality sector.

Robin Swann’s remarks raise the prospect of more executive discord in the near future, following a week when the coalition administration was consumed with in-fighting over its pandemic response.

Restrictions were extended in the country for a week on Friday, followed by a phased reopening of hospitality businesses.

Mr Swann voted for the proposals but only reluctantly. 

He had wanted a comprehensive two-week extension of the lockdown and said he only voted for the compromise deal as ministers had “run out of time” and a failure to strike a deal would have resulted in all the restrictions on hospitality lapsing by default on Friday night.

He said: “I’m disappointed, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that it took us to Thursday to actually come up with this compromise agreement, that doesn’t go in my opinion far enough.”

The minister has made clear he will be asking for changes to the current plans before they are fully rolled out.

Government committed to ‘openness and transparency’ over coronavirus data, says ONS chief

There has been criticism about how the government has presented data during the crisis.

The UK’s national statistician has insisted the government are committed to “openness and transparency” with how data on coronavirus is presented to the public.

The comments come after criticism of how figures have been used during the pandemic, with the official statistics watchdog warning ministers and advisers not to use data in ways which can “confuse” the public.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, head of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said that his colleagues were embedded into the “heart” of Government to ensure data presented to the public was at the highest level.

SAGE scientist concerned mutations of Covid-19 could stop vaccine working as effectively

A member of SAGE has spoken of the group’s concerns that mutations in the virus could impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Professor Wendy Barclay said there was a “worry” that mutations of Covid-19 mean vaccines “won’t work quite so well as we’d hope them to”.

Mutations in coronavirus triggered the cull of millions of farmed mink in Denmark over fears the genetic change might undermine the effectiveness of the vaccines.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The worry would be that if these mutations that are arising naturally in people, or in animals and then the virus coming back into people from animals, if they are affecting the way that antibodies can see the virus, maybe the vaccines which we’re generating now won’t work quite so well as we’d hope them to on the virus, as the virus continues to evolve.”

Professor Barclay who lectures at Imperial College London clarified that this “doesn’t mean that vaccines won’t work at all”, adding that a jab which is “very adaptable and fast responding” could be the best option.

Lockdown tiered system was ‘not very well thought out’ SAGE scientist claims

A SAGE scientist has warned against returning to a tiered lockdown system.

Professor John Edmunds is concerned that the former regional, tiered systems of lockdown which the country is set to return to on Decemeber 2, was not effective.

The member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) told Sky News that returning to the lowest level of restrictions, under Tier 1, would be ‘unwise’. 

He said in a Sky News interview: “The problem with the tier system is Tier 1 doesn't do much at all, Tier 2 probably has some effect, but not a great deal, and Tier 3 seems to be able to hold the epidemic.”

Labour call for new laws to tackle Covid-19 conspiracy theories

There have been numerous anti-lockdown protests during lockdown.

The part’s shadow health secretary says new laws are needed to combat ‘nonsensical’ theories about the virus.

Jonathan Ashworth called for penalties for social media platforms which allow misinformation to spread, and he urged the Government to bring forward its Online Harms Bill.

He told Sky News that fewer people choosing to take the vaccine due to online misinformation was “the last thing we want”.

Some of the “poison garbage” conspiracy theories on social media suggested that the vaccine is being developed by “big global business people who want to use it to insert microchips into people”, he said.

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