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AstraZeneca defends the effectiveness of its vaccine in the elderly

BERLIN | British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on Monday evening defended the effectiveness of its vaccine for people over 65, denying claims by two German media that Berlin questions the performance of the product for this age group.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

• Read also: US laboratory Merck halts work on its COVID vaccines

• Read also: COVID-19: Moderna’s vaccine effective against British and South African variants.

“Reports that the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine is only 8% effective in adults over 65 are completely false,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in a statement to AFP.

The Bild Zeitung newspaper and the Handelsblatt business daily claimed on Monday evening that the German government had doubts about the effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, on people over the age of 65 years.

According to Handelsblatt, who refers to government sources, Berlin expects an efficiency of 8% for this age group.

Bild Zeitung, also under cover of government sources, writes that Angela Merkel’s coalition expects the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, which is due to receive the EU regulatory green light on Friday, will not be approved for more age 65, with a significant impact on the vaccination strategy of many countries.

The British laboratory, whose vaccine is already authorized and widely deployed in the United Kingdom, further explains in its press release that it published scientific data in the journal The Lancet in November, “showing that the elderly have shown strong immune responses to vaccine, 100% of which generated specific antibodies after the second dose ”.

AstraZeneca was the subject of a call to order from the European Commission on Monday after announcing last week that deliveries of its Covid vaccine would be lower than expected in the first quarter due to a “drop in yield ”at a European manufacturing site.

Brussels deemed these delays in delivery “unacceptable” and now called for “transparency” on the export outside the EU of the doses produced there.

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Headline USA

Elderly woman is abandoned by her daughter in vacant lot | The State

A sad fact that was shared on Twitter went viral, which is starring an old woman, who was found in a vacant lot in the town of Papalotla, in the state of Tlaxcala, in Mexico, alone and without understanding what was happening.

Some residents of the place called the local police when they noticed that the old woman remained for several hours on the ground and in the open.

Upon arriving at the site, the elements discovered that the woman registered signs of hypothermia due to the low temperatures that are currently registered in this part of Mexico. When asked what she was doing in the lot, the old woman said that one of her daughters abandoned her there.

The reaction of repudiation before this act did not wait for the users, who cannot understand how someone can do something like this with one of their parents.

At the moment the identity of the old woman is unknown, although the authorities hope that another relative can recognize her.

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Headline USA

Elderly man has been weaving blankets for the homeless for 15 years | The State

A 75-year-old American man named Brent Rushton, whom his acquaintances call “Dad”, For the past 15 years, she has dedicated herself to knitting blankets and quilts for people who live on the streets.

Rushton recently found that this is the way to redeem himself for some sins committed in the past.

“I spent 75 years feeling like a bad person, so suddenly, I decided that it was better that a new chapter in my life began”the man pointed out.

The old man assures that since he opted for this activity, has knitted about 300 blankets and he makes them in a workshop that initially started it to work with wood.

Rushton invest 6 hours a day in this work, which keeps him busy, since he says he would go crazy if he had nothing to do, “he said.

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Headline USA New York

Elderly man jumped into the void from an elegant apartment on New York’s Park Avenue | The State

Suicide is preventable

Photo:
Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy

A man in his 80s jumped from a luxury apartment building on the Upper East Side this morning, the authorities reported.

The victim jumped from an undetermined height of the 14-story building in 620 Park Avenue near East 65th St, just after 5 a.m. It was found in the courtyard of the building.

The elderly man, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene, reported New York Post.

I looked for help

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Headline USA

The country that decided to vaccinate the young first than the elderly | The State

Like other countries, Indonesia is implementing a massive, free COVID-19 vaccination program, but with a very different approach than others.

Instead of vaccinating the elderly in the first phase of application, the first doses – after health workers – will be for workers between 18 and 59 years old.

President Joko Widodo, 59, has volunteered to be first in line. Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, 77, will not receive the injection soon because he is too old.

Why is this unusual approach?

Professor Amin Soebandrio, who has advised the government on its “youth first” strategy, argues that it makes sense to prioritize the immunization of workers, those “who leave the house everywhere and then return home at night. with their families”.

“We are targeting those likely to spread the virus “, he told BBC Indonesia.

He explains that this approach will give the country the best chance of achieving herd immunity, something that occurs when a large part of a community becomes immune through vaccines or the massive spread of disease.

Vaccine supplies for the entire country were prepared on the eve of the launch. (Photo: EPA)

It is known that between 60-70% of the world’s population must be immune to stop the spread of the coronavirus easily. However, these numbers will rise considerably if the new most transmissible variants are widely disseminated.

“That is the long-term goal, or at least we significantly reduce the spread of the virus so that the pandemic is under control and we can get the economy working again,” said Professor Soebandrio.

Indonesia, with a population of 270 million, has the highest cumulative number of covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia. According to government data, the 80% of cases are in the workforce.

While schools and government offices have been closed for nearly a year, the government has resisted implementing strict closures for fear of the impact on the country’s economy. More than half of the population works in the informal sector, so for many working from home is not an option.

A woman receives a vaccine in Indonesia
Indonesia’s goal is to vaccinate the 18-59-year-old population first. (Photo: EPA)

The country’s new health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, defended the strategy, insisting that it is not just about the economy, but about “protecting people and targeting first those who are likely to contract and spread” the disease.

“We are focusing on people who have to meet many people as part of their work: motorcycle taxi drivers, police, military. So, I don’t want people to think that this is just about the economy. It’s about protecting people, ”he said.

What about the elderly?

The government also argues that it will offer protection to the elderly.

“Immunizing members who work in a home will mean that they will not carry the virus there, where their older relatives are,” said Dr. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health for the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Most of Indonesia’s older people live in intergenerational households and often impossible to isolate from the rest of the family.

“So it’s an added benefit of this approach, that by vaccinating people ages 18 to 59, we’re also offering some protection to the older people they live with,” he said.

A coronavirus test in Indonesia
Indonesia has recorded more than 600,000 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. (Photo: EPA)

But this depends on the vaccine preventing people from carrying the virus and transmitting it.

“Simply, still we don’t have that information“Said Professor Robert Read, a member of the Committee for Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) that advises UK health departments on immunization.

“The reason the UK has not opted for the younger population, of course, is that first they don’t get such a serious disease and second we haven’t been able to show yet that vaccines have any impact whatsoever on transmission, ”he said.

Indonesia’s approach, he considered, would need a very high vaccine absorption: “At least 50% in all probability, to stop death and hospitalization in its elderly population”.

“It’s possible that if they get very high coverage rates, there will be some impact on transmission, although obviously we haven’t seen it yet.”

What tests has Indonesia done?

Indonesia has taken this unique approach in part because the vaccine it is using It has not been tested in older people.

A worker in Indonesia
Indonesia has a huge young population, but spends little on health. (Photo: Reuters)

The country depends mainly on the formula of CoronaVac, manufactured by Sinovac in China, to inoculate its population, with three of the 125 million promised doses already delivered and distributed to health centers throughout the country.

Indonesia says China’s vaccine is 65.3% effective. But the government has only tested the 18-59 age group as part of the Sinovac trial in several countries.

“Each country could have a different age group and it turned out that Indonesia was asked to do the trial on the working population,” said Dr Nadia. They will begin to immunize the seniors, He says, in the second round of vaccinations once they obtain data from other countries involved in the trial.

But even if they had been asked to test it on people over the age of 60, he says they will most likely still focus on immunizing the working population first, as they believe it will protect most people.

How do scientists view the experiment?

“We don’t know if it will work and it needs to be evaluated,” said Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University, who felt that it makes sense to modify the launch of the vaccine according to the circumstances of a country.

“If you are a developing country, I can see a policy to protect your young adult workers, those who spread the virus the most, such as a reasonable methodBecause you can’t really tell people to stay home, ”he said.

A vaccination post in Indonesia
In developing countries, says Collignon, a strategy like Indonesia’s makes sense. (Photo: EPA)

Professor Read agreed, saying: “It is not up to us in rich Western countries to tell other countries in the world what they should be doing.”

He considered that Indonesia’s approach “may be the right thing for his country”, noting that, globally, no one is sure what is the right thing to do right now.

Professor Dale Fisher from the National University Hospital said Indonesia was taking a “pragmatic approach.”

“They say that we are going to vaccinate this age group from which we have the data. It is an accessible group and will undoubtedly help keep the business and the feed pipeline running, ”he said.

How is Indonesia coping the pandemic?

Indonesia’s ambitious deployment will not be easy.

Its population is the fourth largest in the world, distributed in a vast archipelago near the equator, so there are significant logistical challenges in terms of the temperature required for vaccines.

And health experts warn that government policy focused on inoculation and not much on containing the virus carries danger, as the health system is suffering from the increase in cases.

A funeral procession in Indonesia
Indonesia has one of the highest Covid-19 casualty rates in Southeast Asia. (Photo: EPA)

Cemeteries in Jakarta, the epicenter of the pandemic, are full and hospitals say they are struggling to cope with the number of patients.

Public health expert Dicky Budiman of Australia’s Griffith University said the government needed to do more to protect the vulnerable, strengthening what he called the fundamental strategy for the pandemic: testing, tracking and compliance with social distancing.

Local journalist Citra Prastuti in Jakarta, who has just recovered from the virus, said that “leaving your home is like entering a war zone, with the growing number of family groups: it seems that no place is safe enough for us” .

He said the public health messages had been confusing and contradictory. “People are encouraged to stay home for the holidays, but the hotels offered discounts and there were no transportation restrictions.”

And there was no follow-up or tracking, as in his case which he notified the local health authorities.

“So I do not know if I am included in the general data of the covid or not,” he said. “I think a lot of people see the vaccine as an easy way out, as the cure for all diseases, as the ultimate savior.”


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Headline USA New York

Elderly patient shot and barricaded a New York hospital | The State

A cancer patient opened fire inside a Manhattan Upper East Side hospital last night, before barricading himself in a bathroom for several hours..

The 65-year-old man fired five or six shots inside the Memorial Sloan Kettering urgent care center at 417-425 East 67th Street, around 8:45 p.m., law enforcement sources said.

Unidentified man had been discharged as a patient from that same hospital yesterday. He was arrested shortly before midnight. No injuries were immediately reported or the cause of their entrenchment, said the police.

The shooting caused a massive police response, with NYPD Hostage Bargaining Units and Emergency Services. It was not immediately clear if the man held people captive during the confrontation.

Police Station 19 urged the public to avoid the area during the security crisis, reported New York Post.

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Elderly Britons are REFUSING Pfizer’s vaccine because they’d rather ‘wait for the English one’

Elderly Britons are refusing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine because they’d rather ‘wait for the English one’ and failing to turn up for appointments as ministers scramble to turbo-charge the jab’s roll out.

Over-80s have turned their noses up at the Belgian-made shots in Stockton-on-Tees and insisted on having the Oxford jab, according to Dr Paul Williams who is administering the vaccine to residents.

And missed appointments led to up to 10 police officers receiving their first doses in Nottingham to prevent vital supplies going to waste. Once defrosted from -78C (-104F) doses of Pfizer’s jab must be used within days, official guidance from the UK’s regulator says.

Only 1.3million Britons have been vaccinated in the first month of the critical programme, as the sluggish roll out fails to gather steam. It has been plagued by supply and staffing shortages, logistical problems and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled the scale-up. 

Boris Johnson is tonight expected to unveil a new Army-led plan designed by senior military battlefield planners to distribute the jabs, as he seeks to put drastically speed up the roll out.

Ministry of Defence chiefs were instructed to devise the plans to hit the Prime Minister’s lofty target of vaccinating 13million — including over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and extremely vulnerable adults of all ages — and ending lockdown by mid-February. 

The NHS operation, considered the biggest vaccination drive in British history, will involve more than 100 soldiers next week with almost 1,500 reserve troops on standby, The Telegraph reports. It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week there were 250 six-man tams were ‘standing ready’ to deliver 100,000 doses a day, if there was a request for more boots on the ground support from the Army. 

Mr Johnson is expected to be joined at the dispatch box by Brigadier Phil Prosser as well as Sir Simon Stevens. The NHS England boss will likely face questions about a decision to tell GPs to ‘stand down’ routine appointments so they can prioritise Covid vaccinations. 

As many as seven mass vaccination centres are set to open in England to aide the roll-out, set up in locations including sports stadiums and London’s ExCeL centre. But critics have warned the target is over-ambitious and said the Prime Minister should not make promises he won’t be able to meet.

It emerged last night that guidance had been sent to doctors explaining the jabs should be their ‘top priority’ – with other ‘non-essential’ activities postponed, potentially for weeks. NHS England has already advised surgeries to focus on the delivery of the vaccine by prioritising jab appointments over anything else. 

Elderly patients have been refusing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Stockton insisting they would rather ‘wait for the English one’. Above are Britons arriving at the Epsom Downs Racecourse vaccination centre in Surrey today

Dr Paul Williams, left, said patients in Stockton were refusing the Pfizer vaccine. He was previously the Labour MP for the area

Nottinghamshire's police and crime commissioner Paddy Tipping, right, said police officers were not being pushed to the front of the queue in the county

Dr Paul Williams, left, said patients in Stockton were refusing the Pfizer vaccine. He was previously the Labour MP for the area. Nottinghamshire’s police and crime commissioner Paddy Tipping, right, said police officers were not being pushed to the front of the queue

The PM is expected to announce the new  vaccination strategy — drawn up by senior military battlefield planners — at a Downing Street press conference at 5pm tonight. Government sources said troops are not being drafted in to help

The PM is expected to announce the new  vaccination strategy — drawn up by senior military battlefield planners — at a Downing Street press conference at 5pm tonight. Government sources said troops are not being drafted in to help

ENGLAND VACCINE PROGRAMME SCALES UP 27% IN LAST WEEK OF PFIZER-ONLY PLAN

NHS England figures today showed that 1,092,885 people were vaccinated against Covid-19 between December 8 and January 3.

654,810 of them were over the age of 80 – the highest priority group – meaning that around one in five of all people in that age bracket have now been immunised. There are an estimated 3.4m over-80s in England.

A further 438,075 people under the age of 80 received a vaccine during the first 3.5 weeks of the programme. Most or even all of them will have been health and care workers, who are also high up the priority list.

The NHS said 308,541 were people were vaccinated in the week ending January 3, which was up 27 per cent from 243,039 the week before, up to December 27.

None of the statistics so far include people vaccinated with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine, which came into use this Monday, January 4. 

The Government is aiming to immunise 13.9million of the country’s most vulnerable people by mid-February so it can start to lift national lockdown rules.

To hit this ambitious target it will have to accelerate its vaccine programme at breakneck speed to hit an average 2million per week, including this week.

Part of helping this process is a controversial plan to only offer people the first dose to begin with, postponing the second for up to three months later. NHS data, however, shows that 19,981 people have already received a full two doses.

During the first phase of vaccinations, jabs were given out at 107 hospital hubs and 595 local vaccination sites. The Government said this will be increased to more than 1,000 vaccination stations by the end of this week, with 730 already operational.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Problems with the coronavirus vaccine rollout to GPs were laid bare as a surgery visited by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to promote the initiative is yet to receive supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca product;  
  • Two-thirds of GPs don’t believe Number 10 will be able to achieve the grand aim of vaccinating 2million people a week against Covid, according to a poll; 
  • Sir Keir Starmer said there was a ‘national duty’ to get people vaccinated against coronavirus, as the Labour leader told broadcasters: ‘This is a way out. This is the light at the end of the tunnel’;
  • Police quiz drivers outside Tesco and demand to know where they are going to enforce lockdown;
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel says police are right to challenge those sitting on park benches and lockdown’s stay-at-home message is clear;
  • London’s hospitals will be overwhelmed by Covid patients in two weeks in a best case scenario, stark NHS briefing warns;
  • Hospitals may have to start using beds in care homes to take the pressure off hospitals;
  • Parents are urged to report schools to Ofsted if online lessons aren’t up to standard during lockdown;
  • B&M Bargains boss gives himself £30million bonus due to soaring Christmas retail sales; 

Dr Williams, who is also the former Labour MP for Stockton, vented his fury at those saying they will only have the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab today.

‘Some local patients have turned down an offer this weekend of getting a Covid vaccine when they found out it was the Pfizer one. “I’ll wait for the English one”,’ he wrote on Twitter. 

‘People at risk of death in the depths of a pandemic. 

‘A lesson that nationalism has consequences.’

He added: ‘Please take care everyone. This is real and this has just got more serious.’  

Nottinghamshire Police has confirmed some of its officers working at vaccine centres received jabs but added there were no plans to roll it out across the force.

The leader of a borough council in the county, John Clarke, told Nottinghamshire Live he was ‘appalled’ people were failing to attend appointments.

‘There is a lot that has gone into this and it disturbs me that people are not taking full advantage of it,’ he said.

‘The NHS needs to tighten up the wastage because we are all so desperate for this injection.’

Nottinghamshire’s police and crime commissioner Paddy Tipping said no one was pushing officers to the front of the queue. 

‘But if it is available we don’t want to destroy it and it is best we use it in a positive and constructive way. Police are delighted to have been asked.’

He added there were ‘two problems’ with the vaccine roll out in the county.

‘You can get more out of a vial than is allowed – so you can get an extra dose out and that should not be wasted,’ he said. ‘Getting people through the door has also proved problematic. Some people don’t turn up to appointments.’

Boris Johnson (pictured today) will unveil a new Army-led plan to distribute Britain's coronavirus jabs this evening

Boris Johnson (pictured today) will unveil a new Army-led plan to distribute Britain’s coronavirus jabs this evening

Last week Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hinted that the military had plans ‘for up to 250 teams of mobile, medically trained personnel who could go out and administer the vaccine around the country’. He said those staff were capable of delivering ‘over 100,000 a day if that is requested by the NHS’.

It follows mounting concern over the slow start to Britain’s vaccination drive, with only 530,000 Oxford jabs cleared for use this week. This was a tiny fraction of the 30million doses the UK was initially promised would be ready in time for the vaccine to be approved.

Testing of the initial doses of vaccines has taken 20 days – with only one batch tested until that number was doubled yesterday.

Officials have now moved to tackle the problem, cutting the time taken to approve each batch to four days, with regulators now able to test more than one at once.

But a rapid acceleration is needed if Britain is to vaccinate the vast numbers required to ease Covid restrictions.

Eight months ago, when the nation was still in the grip of the first wave, Business Secretary Alok Sharma insisted sufficient doses would be ready.

He announced that the Government had struck a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture 100million doses of the Oxford vaccine, of which 30million would be ready by September.

By the end of November the results were delivered – the vaccine worked. And AstraZeneca insisted it could deliver enough vaccine to fill 20million injections by the end of 2020.

While slightly down from the 30million Mr Sharma had promised, it would still be a strong start, although the firm admitted only 4million of those would be in vials and ready to go.

Two Britons arrive at the Covid-19 vaccine centre in Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey, today. The roll out is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks

Two Britons arrive at the Covid-19 vaccine centre in Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey, today. The roll out is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited a vaccination centre at the Sir Ludwig Guttman Health and Wellbeing Centre in Stratford, east London, today to view the roll out

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited a vaccination centre at the Sir Ludwig Guttman Health and Wellbeing Centre in Stratford, east London, today to view the roll out

Patients have been missing Covid-19 vaccination appointments in Nottingham. Pictured above is the vaccination centre in Carlton, in the county

Patients have been missing Covid-19 vaccination appointments in Nottingham. Pictured above is the vaccination centre in Carlton, in the county

 

Police officers getting leftover doses of Covid vaccines so they don’t go to waste 

Ten police officers in Nottingham have been given their first doses of coronavirus vaccines despite not being on the priority list because of people failing to attend their appointments. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said the vaccine programme had been ‘problematic’ with people missing their scheduled jabs.

Once defrosted from -78C (-104F) doses of the Pfizer jab must be used within two days, official guidance from the UK’s regulator says. 

The police officers were given the vaccine so the extra doses were not wasted.

Mr Tipping told Nottinghamshire Live: ‘There are two issues around the Pfizer vaccine – you can get more out of a vial than is allowed – so you can get an extra dose out and that should not be wasted.

‘Getting people through the door has also proved problematic. Some people don’t turn up to appointments.

‘A number of police officers for Nottinghamshire have been to the Queen’s Medical Centre and had an injection.

‘It is about five or 10. People are keen to use it if it is available. Nobody in Nottinghamshire is putting police officers to the front of the queue for the vaccine.

‘But if it is available we don’t want to destroy it and it is best we use it in a positive and constructive way. Police are delighted to have been asked.’ 

It took another month for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to confirm that the vaccine was safe and effective.

But when that authorisation was finally announced, just over a week ago, the four million doses had somehow shrunk to 530,000. With at least 25million people in the Government’s priority groups for vaccination, such a figure was paltry. 

AstraZeneca slightly over-promised – it manufactured enough to give Britain an initial 15million doses – down from the 20million it had previously said could be delivered. But it produced the four million vaccines in vials it had pledged. The main delay, rather, has allegedly been the MHRA batch testing programme. Quality control requirements mean every single batch has to be tested separately both by AstraZeneca and the MHRA.

Quality control is run at the MHRA’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control lab in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. The NIBSC receives samples from each batch of vaccines and does a number of tests.

One complex element is ensuring each vial contains the right dose. Scientists also need to make sure the jab does what it is meant to. AstraZeneca does one set of tests and the NIBSC, in parallel, performs its own tests. When the two are completed they ensure the results match and, if they align, a batch-test certificate is issued.

Until yesterday that had happened only once – on December 29 – when the initial batch of 530,000 doses was approved. If Britain is to vaccinate the 13million most vulnerable people in the top four tiers of its priority list by mid-February this process needs to accelerate rapidly.

Meanwhile, a third vaccine from US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which requires only one dose, is thought to be just weeks from approval. The UK has ordered 30million doses of the jab by Janssen – Johnson and Johnson’s Belgium-based pharmaceutical arm – with the option of 22million more.

Sir John Bell, regius professor at Oxford University and an adviser to the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, said the vaccine was ‘highly likely to work’.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is due to hold a press conference this afternoon to unveil a new distribution plans for the jabs devised by the Army.

Ministry of Defence chiefs have been instructed to come up with plans for even distribution of the jabs to boost chances of jabbing 13million by the middle of next month. The Sun reports that troops will not be involved at this stage.

Vaccination drive FINALLY starts accelerating: Approval time for doses is cut from twenty days to to five 

Approval of Covid vaccine batches is to be sped up drastically in a huge boost to the jab campaign.

Amid growing concern over the slow pace of the rollout, sources told the Mail that testing would be cut from up to 20 days to just four.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for the checks, is also to increase staffing in a bid to accelerate the mass vaccination programme.

It has just approved a second consignment of 500,000 doses of the Oxford jab – taking supplies beyond one million.

It comes as the jab, produced together with AstraZeneca, starts to be rolled out from GP surgeries today.

The expansion today comes amid hope that more than 700 sites will be delivering vaccines by the end of the week.

Seven mass vaccination centres will open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.

The vaccine is crucial because it is much easier to distribute than the Pfizer version, which needs storage at minus 70C.

MPs have questioned why only half a million doses of Oxford’s jab were available in the first week – despite promises that 30million would be ready last September.

Coronavirus deaths yesterday surged past 1,000 for the first time since April, while cases soared to another record high of 62,322.

The Mail has highlighted a string of issues with the vaccine rollout, which is critical to reducing the toll of the pandemic and ultimately lifting coronavirus restrictions.

A Government source acknowledged yesterday that the initial rollout of the Oxford jab had gone ‘slowly’, but promised a big acceleration toward the end of this week.

The MHRA, is also to increase staffing in a bid to accelerate the mass vaccination programme.

It has just approved a second consignment of 500,000 doses of the Oxford jab – taking supplies beyond one million.

The expansion comes amid hope that more than 700 sites will be delivering vaccines by the end of the week.

Seven mass vaccination centres will open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.

The vaccine is crucial because it is much easier to distribute than the Pfizer version, which needs storage at -70C (-104F).

MPs have questioned why only half a million doses of Oxford’s jab were available in the first week – despite promises that 30million would be ready last September.

Coronavirus deaths yesterday surged past 1,000 for the first time since April, while cases soared to another record high of 62,322.

The Mail has highlighted a string of issues with the vaccine rollout, which is critical to reducing the toll of the pandemic and ultimately lifting coronavirus restrictions.

A Government source acknowledged yesterday that the initial rollout of the Oxford jab had gone ‘slowly’, but promised a big acceleration toward the end of this week.

Meanwhile vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said Public Health England was ‘on a footing’ to administer doses every day of the week.

Further details will be revealed this evening when NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens appears at a Downing Street press briefing.

Doubts about the plan to inject 13million vulnerable people by the middle of February have been growing since Boris Johnson plunged the country into lockdown on Monday night.

Issues included the bureaucracy faced by volunteer vaccinators, supplies of jabs to care homes, the distribution network and the length of time it took for each batch to be approved.

Until now the MHRA’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control has checked batches one at a time at its site in Hertfordshire.

That time-consuming process has been blamed for slowing down the deployment. Only 530,000 of four million available doses of the Oxford jab had passed the assessments before last night.

Appointments for Covid-19 jabs are being AXED because GPs have not received supplies of the vaccine on time 

Elderly people are having desperately-needed Covid vaccination appointments cancelled because doctors have not received their stocks on time.

Patients around the country who had been booked in to get their first jab have since been contacted to be told they must wait longer.

Many GPs say they have still not got their first batch of the vaccine despite been promised them before Christmas. Some say they have had several cancelled deliveries.

Frontline NHS staff are also missing out on vaccinations. In one case, workers queued for hours outside a hospital only to have their appointments cancelled due to a scheduling blunder.

It has prompted fresh fears that Boris Johnson will be unable to keep his promise of getting 13 million of the most vulnerable Britons protected by the middle of next month. Last night Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We need to be delivering upwards of 2million vaccinations a week – this is a challenging but necessary target.

‘Last-minute changes to vaccine delivery schedules, as some GPs are reporting, only create confusion amongst patients and a lot of hard work for practices that need to swiftly adapt their plans, and must be minimised.’

Senior Labour MP Kevan Jones told how a group of doctors in his North Durham constituency were promised a delivery on December 16.

The GPs in Chester-le-Street were then told the supplies would not arrive until January 4 – and now expect them today ‘at the earliest’.

Even when the delivery does arrive, it will only include one 975-dose batch of the Pfizer vaccine and ‘a possibility’ of 400 doses of the AstraZeneca one. This is not sufficient for all local care home residents.

Mr Jones warned vaccines minister Mr Zahawi in a letter last night: ‘Local GPs have put in place extensive plans to administer the vaccine, but this is not being helped by vaccines that do not arrive, or by the Government’s raising of expectations that cannot be met.’

In Sussex, Meads Medical Centre had to cancel appointments booked for next week after a planned delivery of the Pfizer vaccine, due to provide second jabs to over-80s, was cancelled. Only a small amount of the AstraZeneca vaccine is now expected.

Castle Medical Centre and Abbey Medical Centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, had to cancel appointments for over-80s last week because not enough doses arrived. A similar story was told by a GP in south London, Dr Rosemary Leonard. She wrote on Twitter: ‘We are raring to go, but have no vaccines. WHY?’

Meanwhile in Scotland, NHS staff were left standing for hours in the cold outside Glasgow Royal Infirmary to get jabs because no staff were on duty to administer them.

Some left without being vaccinated amid the chaos on Tuesday. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has apologised.

Last night a Government spokesman said: ‘This is the largest vaccination programme in NHS history.

‘It is being accelerated every day and vaccinations will be taking place at over 1,000 sites by the end of this week.’

The process has been changed so that more than one batch can be assessed at a time, cutting the timescale from up to 20 days to as little as four or five.

An MHRA spokesman said: ‘We are working closely with the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, to ensure batches of the vaccine are released as quickly as possible.

‘Biological medicines such as vaccines are very complex in nature and independent testing, as done by the National Institute, is vital to ensure quality and safety.

‘The institute has scaled up its capacity to ensure that multiple batches can be tested simultaneously, and that this can be done as quickly as possible, without compromising quality and safety.’

Delivery of the Oxford jab to 775 GP surgeries, which will take place from today, is another crucial step.

It will allow a significant acceleration of vaccination within care homes, where only 10 per cent of residents have received the jab so far.

Until now only hospitals have received the Oxford vaccine. In the Commons yesterday, Tory MPs urged Mr Johnson to accelerate the rollout of the vaccine so lockdown restrictions could be lifted as soon as possible.

Huw Merriman, member for Bexhill and Battle, said: ‘Every vaccination jab in the arm should be viewed as a pupil who can return to the classroom.’

Mr Zahawi said Public Health England had agreed to distribute the vaccine seven days a week despite fears they would not work on Sundays.

He told talkRadio: ‘If they need to deliver on a Sunday, they will deliver on a Sunday. They’ve been delivering up until now six days a week as the NHS has requested the vaccines to go out.

‘They are on a footing to go seven days a week as we get more vaccines. The head of PHE has said they have always been on a seven-day footing as they are requested to be, and they will continue to do that.

‘That is absolutely the priority for them, and for the whole of the NHS.’

Meanwhile, elderly people are having desperately-needed Covid vaccination appointments cancelled because doctors have not received their stocks on time.

Patients around the country who had been booked in to get their first jab have since been contacted to be told they must wait longer.

Many GPs say they have still not got their first batch of the vaccine despite been promised them before Christmas. Some say they have had several cancelled deliveries.

Frontline NHS staff are also missing out on vaccinations. In one case, workers queued for hours outside a hospital only to have their appointments cancelled due to a scheduling blunder.

It has prompted fresh fears that Boris Johnson will be unable to keep his promise of getting 13 million of the most vulnerable Britons protected by the middle of next month. Last night Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We need to be delivering upwards of 2million vaccinations a week – this is a challenging but necessary target.

‘Last-minute changes to vaccine delivery schedules, as some GPs are reporting, only create confusion amongst patients and a lot of hard work for practices that need to swiftly adapt their plans, and must be minimised.’

Senior Labour MP Kevan Jones told how a group of doctors in his North Durham constituency were promised a delivery on December 16.

The GPs in Chester-le-Street were then told the supplies would not arrive until January 4 – and now expect them today ‘at the earliest’.

Even when the delivery does arrive, it will only include one 975-dose batch of the Pfizer vaccine and ‘a possibility’ of 400 doses of the AstraZeneca one. This is not sufficient for all local care home residents.

Mr Jones warned vaccines minister Mr Zahawi in a letter last night: ‘Local GPs have put in place extensive plans to administer the vaccine, but this is not being helped by vaccines that do not arrive, or by the Government’s raising of expectations that cannot be met.’

In Sussex, Meads Medical Centre had to cancel appointments booked for next week after a planned delivery of the Pfizer vaccine, due to provide second jabs to over-80s, was cancelled. Only a small amount of the AstraZeneca vaccine is now expected.

Castle Medical Centre and Abbey Medical Centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, had to cancel appointments for over-80s last week because not enough doses arrived. A similar story was told by a GP in south London, Dr Rosemary Leonard. She wrote on Twitter: ‘We are raring to go, but have no vaccines. WHY?’

John Elphinstone receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, administered by practice nurse Marianne Stewart, at Pentlands Medical Centre in Edinburgh

John Elphinstone receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, administered by practice nurse Marianne Stewart, at Pentlands Medical Centre in Edinburgh

Meanwhile in Scotland, NHS staff were left standing for hours in the cold outside Glasgow Royal Infirmary to get jabs because no staff were on duty to administer them.

Some left without being vaccinated amid the chaos on Tuesday. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has apologised.

Last night a Government spokesman said: ‘This is the largest vaccination programme in NHS history.

‘It is being accelerated every day and vaccinations will be taking place at over 1,000 sites by the end of this week.’

Meanwhile, NHS England figures today showed that 1,092,885 people were vaccinated against Covid-19 between December 8 and January 3.

654,810 of them were over the age of 80 – the highest priority group – meaning that around one in five of all people in that age bracket have now been immunised. There are an estimated 3.4m over-80s in England.

A further 438,075 people under the age of 80 received a vaccine during the first 3.5 weeks of the programme. Most or even all of them will have been health and care workers, who are also high up the priority list.

The NHS said 308,541 were people were vaccinated in the week ending January 3, which was up 27 per cent from 243,039 the week before, up to December 27.

None of the statistics so far include people vaccinated with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine, which came into use this Monday, January 4.

The Government is aiming to immunise 13.9million of the country’s most vulnerable people by mid-February so it can start to lift national lockdown rules.

To hit this ambitious target it will have to accelerate its vaccine programme at breakneck speed to hit an average 2million per week, including this week.

Part of helping this process is a controversial plan to only offer people the first dose to begin with, postponing the second for up to three months later. NHS data, however, shows that 19,981 people have already received a full two doses.

During the first phase of vaccinations, jabs were given out at 107 hospital hubs and 595 local vaccination sites. The Government said this will be increased to more than 1,000 vaccination stations by the end of this week, with 730 already operational.

Think Britain has vaccine problems? You should see the mess we’ve made of it here in the EU, writes ALEXANDER VON SCHOENBURG, editor-at-large of Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper Bild

Britons may understandably be feeling more than a little frustrated with their leaders right now during this new and more vicious phase of the pandemic.

Covid infections are soaring in the UK, there are more patients hospitalised than at the peak of the first wave and, tragically, daily deaths yesterday topped the 1,000 mark.

Then there is fury over your school closures, a developing row over who should get the vaccine — young or old — and problems with supply and distribution.

Yes, you may feel things look grim, but let me tell you that many of us here in Europe are looking across the Channel with envy.

The sclerotic and sluggish EU machine has, unforgivably, botched the roll-out of the vaccines, and the consequences are likely to prove fatal to many thousands of our citizens.

The pandemic is almost a year old and EU leaders could have and should have seen the need for a swift, effective vaccine policy a mile off. 

Instead, delays, in-fighting, national self-interest and sheer bungling bureaucracy have combined to cripple the EU’s vaccine efforts.

Now a growing fury is spreading as we watch independent countries — particularly Britain, Israel and America — ramping up their vaccine distribution with tremendous efficiency in comparison to our efforts, saving lives, protecting the vulnerable and moving towards ending this terrible crisis.

Numerous EU countries are facing delays and criticism over their handling of the vaccine rollout, with the bloc lagging behind Britain and America in protecting its 450million people against Covid-19

Numerous EU countries are facing delays and criticism over their handling of the vaccine rollout, with the bloc lagging behind Britain and America in protecting its 450million people against Covid-19

Europe's top vaccinators: These countries have given out more than 10,000 doses so far, according to figures from Our World In Data - but others including France are lagging behind, with governments hoping that the Wednesday approval of the Moderna vaccine will speed things up as officials blame shortages in the Pfizer/BioNTech supply for the delays so far

Europe’s top vaccinators: These countries have given out more than 10,000 doses so far, according to figures from Our World In Data – but others including France are lagging behind, with governments hoping that the Wednesday approval of the Moderna vaccine will speed things up as officials blame shortages in the Pfizer/BioNTech supply for the delays so far 

Don’t believe me? Let me take you through the numbers.

More than 1.3 million people in Britain have now received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the more recently approved Oxford/AstraZeneca version.

Vaccine doses given out by EU countries 

Germany – 316,962

Italy – 182,442

Spain – 139,339

Poland – 92,220

Denmark – 51,512

Romania – 41,609

Portugal – 32,000

Greece – 16,233

Hungary – 15,000

Croatia – 13,798

Czech Republic – 13,000

Slovakia – 7,201

Austria – 6,000

Slovenia – 5,934

Finland – 5,445

France – 5,000

Bulgaria – 4,739

Ireland – 4,000

Estonia – 3,188

Latvia – 2,923

Lithuania – 2,270

Malta – 1,400

Luxembourg – 1,200

Belgium – 700

Started today: Netherlands

No data: Cyprus, Sweden 

Source: Our World In Data 

As of yesterday, France, your closest neighbour, had vaccinated just 7,000 people. During the first week of its vaccination programme, France immunised a pitiful 516 individuals: Britain managed 130,000 in the first seven days and started doing so weeks earlier.

From his bunker in the Elysee Palace, the beleaguered President Macron admits that this paltry figure is ‘not worthy of the French people,’ adding, with Gallic understatement, ‘things aren’t going well’. You can say that again.

But France’s record is in fact just one of a shameful litany across the continent. In Holland, the first Covid-19 vaccines were administered only yesterday — almost a full month after Margaret Keenan, now 91, became the first British patient to receive the jab on the NHS.

In the Polish capital Warsaw, one hospital has attracted widespread criticism for reportedly opting to give the vaccine to celebrities and politicians before vulnerable older citizens, sparking a government investigation there.

My home country of Germany had, by Tuesday, vaccinated some 317,000 people — by far the most of the EU27.

Yet what a bitter irony it is that we who were crucial to the development and manufacturing of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab — BioNTech is a start-up based outside Frankfurt — must now watch lorry loads of supplies travelling to Britain while our own roll-out is beset by delay, uncertainty and fears about future supply.

Our health minister has warned that Germany will not be vaccinating at Britain’s rate until at least the summer, thanks to distribution problems and the EU’s ill-considered ‘cap’ on the number of doses that can be distributed to the various member states.

So why, despite frequent warnings throughout last year from both the private sector and individual health ministries, and despite the limitless resources at its disposal, have things gone so horribly wrong for the EU?

The seeds were sown as far back as March when the pandemic began to engulf the continent.

I was in northern Italy at the time, reporting for my paper Bild on what was the first region in Europe to be hit hard by coronavirus. I saw for myself the military lorries in Bergamo transporting coffins to mass graves, and I will not soon forget it.

Alarmed at the horror that was unfolding, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn ordered German manufacturers of PPE and other clinical equipment to stop selling abroad.

Understandably, Italy was shocked by the export ban and a chorus of EU commentators demanded ‘solidarity’.

Scarred by that experience, and ever desperate to portray herself as a pan-European, Chancellor Angela Merkel — who never wastes an opportunity to surrender her own country’s interests to those of the EU — handed over Germany’s vaccination policy to the European Commission.

It’s now all too clear that many Germans will die needlessly because of that decision and the desperately slow roll-out that has followed. 

The Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, is known for her bossy, power-grabbing tendencies.

These may have served her well in the closing weeks of the Brexit negotiations last month, but they have helped to plunge Europe into its vaccination crisis.

Over the summer, under Mrs von der Leyen and the Commission’s health chief, the Cypriot Stella Kyriakides, the EU made a series of devastating strategic errors. It ordered 300 million doses of a vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline-Sanofi, a drug that then stumbled in trials.

It spent the summer haggling over the price for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, ordering sizeable shipments only in November.

Britain, meanwhile, ordered 40 million doses of the same vaccine in July; America put in for 600 million.

Disgracefully, the EU has still not approved the ‘game-changing’ Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — which is both cheap and can be stored in a standard refrigerator — that Britain began rolling out this week after securing 100 million doses.

(I should acknowledge that yesterday the EU did approve another vaccine, manufactured by Moderna, on which Britain has yet to sign off.)

Though the EU has now signed contracts to buy six different vaccines, its regulators have approved just two.

This terrible stasis will prove fatal — in every sense — for the EU’s population: time is running out for its healthcare systems as new and more infectious variants of the virus take hold.

Amid this chaos, it’s perhaps no surprise that some European lawmakers are desperately trying to shift the blame. 

Disgracefully, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, Petra De Sutter, accused other countries of using sub-standard vaccines.

‘The UK and Israel, as well as Russia and China, are vaccinating people with vaccines that are not of the same standard as the ones we use,’ she said this week.

Yes, the U.S. and the UK gained a head start by invoking emergency powers that mean drug manufacturers are less exposed should problems with a vaccine later surface.

But that is the kind of rapid, vital and timely decision a sovereign country can make in a crisis.

It is impossible to make the same decision when you have 27 countries arguing with one another, all overseen by a remote and unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels.

So what conclusions can we draw? First, nation states are far more effective in a crisis than unwieldy groupings of different countries.

But the most bitter irony for Europe is that the one foreign politician our liberal commentariat have most mocked for years — Boris Johnson — is also the one who acted swiftly and decisively when it came to securing the vaccines. The number of doses you have speaks for itself.

And it was the ‘sensible’ federalist Europeans who have failed so miserably.

Anyone who still doubts the wisdom of Brexit needs only to look at the vaccine chaos unfolding across the Channel — and think again.

Categories
Headline USA

At least 60 elderly residents of luxury Houston high rise are given COVID-19 vaccines

Dozens of senior citizens in a luxury high rise in Texas were given COVID-19 vaccines in the state’s first wave.

The Montebello condominium complex in uptown Houston boasts marble tile bathroom floors, an outdoor pool, valet parking, a concierge service and a 24/7 security guard, and has condos that can sell for up to $4.8 million.

And, in the last two weeks, approximately 60 residents have been immunized against the virus, reported the Daily Beast.

In Harris County, where Houston is located, there are more than 237,000 confirmed cases, one-sixth of all infections in the state. 

But thousands of at-risk healthcare workers have been struggling to receive their vaccines due to hospitals quickly running out of supply.

Approximately 60 residents of the luxury Montebello condominium complex (pictured)  in uptown Houston received COVID-19 vaccines

The Montebello's general manager said the state authorized the vaccines and that the building is working with a distributor. Pictured: An interior of one of the Montebello's condos for sale

The Montebello’s general manager said the state authorized the vaccines and that the building is working with a distributor. Pictured: An interior of one of the Montebello’s condos for sale

However, a spokesperson for Houston Health Department said he isn't aware of any arrangement with the high rise building. Pictured: The outdoor pool available to all residents

However, a spokesperson for Houston Health Department said he isn’t aware of any arrangement with the high rise building. Pictured: The outdoor pool available to all residents

Meanwhile healthcare workers have been struggling to receive their vaccines due to hospitals quickly running out of supply. Pictured:  A healthcare worker receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, December 21

Meanwhile healthcare workers have been struggling to receive their vaccines due to hospitals quickly running out of supply. Pictured:  A healthcare worker receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, December 21

‘The state of Texas authorized it,’ Daniel Hancock, general manager of the Montebello, told the Daily Beast.

‘We’re working with a distributor…It’s a blessing we were able to get it.’ 

Hancock did not name the distributor and the Montebello is not on a Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) list of providers to whom COVID-19 vaccines have been allocated.

However, he did tell the publication that the building was able to get doses of the jab because of its elderly population, although it’s unclear how many elderly people live in the building.

One of the residents to be inoculated, 68-year-old David Fink, told the Daily Beast this isn’t the only healthcare service he’s received through the building.

He also gets his yearly flu shot by being a Montebello resident.  

In Harris County, where Houston is located, there are more than 237,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one-sixth of all infections in the state (above)

In Harris County, where Houston is located, there are more than 237,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one-sixth of all infections in the state (above)

‘It was all above board,’ he said. 

Both Hancock and Fink told the Daily Beast that other apartment buildings in Houston have similar arrangements to get their residents doses of the coronavirus jab. 

Neither the Texas DSHS or Houston Health Department (HHD) responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

However, a spokesperson for the HHD told the Daily Beast he wasn’t aware of any arrangement with the high rise.

‘All the distributors have to register through the state health department,’ Porfirio Villareal said. 

‘The apartment complex is not an approved provider. If a site is not approved, not on the list, and receiving shipments of the vaccine, then our recommendation is not to go to that site.’

The list from the Texas DSHS only lists hospitals, medical centers, pharmacies and living centers as recipients.

However, just 40 percent – 340,000 – of the 786,000 doses distributed across the state have been administered. 

In Harris County, where Houston is located, only around 45,000 of 150,500 doses have been administered. 

Many say they’ve been struggling to find a provider to get the vaccine despite the DSHS recommending that Texans call up and ask to receive a shot.  

‘I have not been able to find anyone who actually has the vaccine,’ Michael Calder, a resident of Allen, who falls under the state’s criteria, told CBS DFW.

He called three locations, two of which told him they had run out and one of which said only employees were being vaccinated.  

‘It’s extremely important. I don’t want to get sick,’ he said. 

‘I don’t want to be the last person to get sick and die, while a vaccine is being distributed already.’  

Categories
Headlines UK Leeds London

Coronavirus UK: Elderly residents could count for as little as 0.3% of 613,000 to receive Pfizer jab

The number of care home residents to be given a coronavirus vaccine is still in the thousands despite being listed as a priority for the Pfizer jab. 

Figures suggest people in care, despite being identified as the most urgently in need, only account for 0.3 per cent of the 613,000 people who received the jab.

Last week Matt Hancock said the Chelsea Pensioners had been given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the health secretary neglected to mention that at the time only seven other care homes had been vaccinated, reported The Times.

‘The vaccine rollout in care homes in England began on December 16, with hundreds of residents vaccinated across seven care homes in Slough, Aintree, Herne Bay, Thanet, Chalfont St Peter, Droitwich and Cheltenham as well as the Chelsea Pensioners,’ the department said on Christmas Eve.

D-Day veteran and Chelsea Pensioner Bob James Sullivan, 98, was injected with the coronavirus vaccine at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Wednesday, December 23

Last night charities warned ‘the cruellest of lotteries’ remains, with tens of thousands of families stuck in limbo due to a patchwork of different visiting rules at care homes across the country. 

Care home residents, frontline NHS staff and the over 80s were identified as priorities by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation.

Despite promising regular updates on the scale of the roll-out, the Government did not give a breakdown of the latest total of 616,933 by recipient. 

Last week Matt Hancock (pictured) said the Chelsea Pensioners had been given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the heath secretary neglected to mention that at the time only seven other care homes had been vaccinated

Last week Matt Hancock (pictured) said the Chelsea Pensioners had been given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but the heath secretary neglected to mention that at the time only seven other care homes had been vaccinated

Decked out in full PPE Nicky Lovett, 58, finally got to see her 77-year-old mother Jean Davis at her nursing home in Cheltenham. Wentworth Court Nursing Home in Cheltenham was one of the first homes in the country to offer the fast-track lateral flow antigen test

Decked out in full PPE Nicky Lovett, 58, finally got to see her 77-year-old mother Jean Davis at her nursing home in Cheltenham. Wentworth Court Nursing Home in Cheltenham was one of the first homes in the country to offer the fast-track lateral flow antigen test

The UK’s 11-point vaccine priority list 

1. Older adults resident in a care home and care home workers. 

2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers.

3. All those 75 years of age and over

4. All those 70 years of age and over

5. All those 65 years of age and over

6. High-risk adults under 65 years of age

7. Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age

8. All those 60 years of age and over

9. All those 55 years of age and over

10. All those 50 years of age and over

11. Rest of the population

Source: Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation

Mr Hancock’s claim ‘hundreds’ of residents were given the vaccine makes it clear the proportion of care homes given the jab is a small percentage of the total.

The department appeared to reveal it could take months for smaller care homes to receive the vaccine, after larger homes were given priority.  

‘Larger care homes with 50 to 70 beds will be prioritised first, with around 2,900 care homes of this size in England,’ they said. 

In England 521,594 people have been vaccinated, 56,676 in Scotland, 22,595 in Wales and 16,068 in Northern Ireland.

Yesterday, a further 570 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 70,195, according to the Government dashboard – which only counted figures for England on Christmas Day. 

The new Tier Four restrictions – now affecting 23 million people – include a ban on ‘close-contact’ visits, dealing a devastating blow to families hoping to be reunited with loved ones in care homes over the festive period.

Other relatives had hopes of Christmas visits crushed because some local authorities are advising against the use of rapid lateral flow tests amid concerns over their accuracy.

At the beginning of December, the Department of Health said all care home residents would be allowed two visits a week by Christmas thanks to the roll out of rapid tests.

Based on guidance (pictured) from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the first people in the UK to get any new vaccine will be people in care homes and those who work in them

Based on guidance (pictured) from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the first people in the UK to get any new vaccine will be people in care homes and those who work in them

It comes as a new antibody treatment with the potential to give people instant immunity after being exposed to Covid-19 and prevent illness is being trialled by British scientists in the UK. 

The drug would offer immediate and long-term protection to patients when it would be too late to offer a vaccine, potentially saving thousands of lives.

It could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients, care home residents and university students to help reduce the spread of the virus.   

Diane Schofield takes a lateral flow test as she arrives for a Christmas Day visit with her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary, at Aspen Hill Village care home in Hunslet, Leeds

Diane Schofield takes a lateral flow test as she arrives for a Christmas Day visit with her friend Mary Kirby, who she affectionately calls Auntie Mary, at Aspen Hill Village care home in Hunslet, Leeds

Diane Schofield embraced her friend Mary Kirby during a Christmas Day visit yesterday. Experts said photographs of emotional reunions show the importance of hugs and hand-holding, warning that the continued isolation of residents will cost lives

Diane Schofield embraced her friend Mary Kirby during a Christmas Day visit yesterday. Experts said photographs of emotional reunions show the importance of hugs and hand-holding, warning that the continued isolation of residents will cost lives

British scientists from the University College London Hospitals NHS (UCLH) have already injected ten people with the drug as part of the new trial called Storm Chaser, with an aim to trial the new treatment on 1,125 people globally. The participants received two consecutive doses of the drug.

They hope the treatment would provide protection from Covid-19 for between six months to a year. 

Experts said photographs of emotional reunions show the importance of hugs and hand-holding, warning that the continued isolation of residents will cost lives.

Charities urged the Government to keep care home visits at the top of their agenda in the New Year, including by examining ways of restarting them in Tier Four areas.

The smile that said it all 

Care home resident Bob Benyon was grinning from ear to ear when he was reunited with his son Robert in time for Christmas.

Robert, from Flintshire, north Wales, visited his father at Orchard Manor care home in Chester. He said: ‘I was starting to wonder whether or not my dad recognised me after we were stuck with visits through a window. 

Bob Benyon was reunited with son Robert

Bob Benyon was reunited with son Robert

‘But as soon as I got into see him, he had this big grin on his face and I knew then he knew who I was. It was a massive relief.

‘I was very close to my dad growing up, we’d always go to football matches together. So it’s been very hard being apart.

‘It’s such a relief that now I can have a quick test then go in and properly communicate with him.’ 

Fiona Carragher of Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘After a year filled with relentless tragedy and loss, and people in care homes being deprived essential contact from their families, it’s heartening to see that some have received a gift that money can’t buy – a long overdue hug from their loved one. 

‘In recent weeks we have seen that meaningful visits can happen safely through regular testing and other precautions such as PPE.

‘We thank the Daily Mail for joining forces with us to persistently campaign and take a stand for the thousands of people with dementia in care homes and their families who have been worst hit by this pandemic. 

‘The welfare of people with dementia must be at the top of the agenda in the crucial months ahead, not least in ensuring that care home residents in Tier Four are not left behind.’

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: ‘Amidst so much worry and gloom, it’s been fantastic to see the happiness, and sometimes the sheer relief, of all those older people and families who have been able to meet each other again. 

‘If anyone was wondering whether “visiting” really matters, all they need to do is to watch the videos, or talk to any of the older people and their loved ones who have come face to face in recent days, often for the first time in many months.

‘We have been reminded during this pandemic that the capacity to touch and to hug is unbelievably precious, something we are unlikely ever to take for granted again. 

‘The Daily Mail deserves huge credit for championing safe visiting, standing alongside older people and their increasingly desperate loved ones, and pressing for humanity and common sense.

‘I’m sure the campaign has made a difference and helped Government to see the light. 

‘It’s not job done yet as hundreds of thousands continue to wait in limbo, but I know the paper will keep at it until the tide has unmistakably turned.’ 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘In the face of a new variant of the virus, we have acted to protect those most at risk in care homes.

‘Visits to care homes can still take place in Tier Four with arrangements such as substantial screens or visiting pods but, for the safety of loved ones, close-contact indoor visits supported by testing cannot take place in Tier Four areas.’ 

Amazing! A joyous embrace, a coffee… and a catch-up on all the family gossip

This is the emotional moment a mother hugged her daughter for the first time since March.

Pat Clarke, 85, leapt up from her chair the moment she saw Bairbre Duncan last week.

Pat Clarke, 85, leapt up from her chair the moment she saw Bairbre Duncan last week

Pat Clarke, 85, leapt up from her chair the moment she saw Bairbre Duncan last week

Bairbre had just undergone a lateral flow test and, after testing negative, was able to go into her mother’s room and give her a cuddle.

Mrs Clarke, who lives at Manor House care home in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, said: ‘It was just amazing to see my Bairbre. Although we are beautifully cared for in the home, there’s nothing like getting a hug from family.’ 

Her daughter said: ‘I feel so lucky to have got in a visit with mum just in time for Christmas.

‘We don’t know what’s going to happen now so I feel very fortunate to have seen her in her room and held her hand. 

‘We’ve had window visits and things like that but there’s nothing like sitting down to have a cup of coffee together and discuss all the family gossip!’ 

Lovely to see Mum again 

Decked out in PPE, Nicky Lovett was delighted to see her mother Jean Davis, 77, at Wentworth Court in Cheltenham face-to-face for the first time in nine months.

Nicky Lovett reunited mother Jean Davis, 77, at Wentworth Court in Cheltenham

Nicky Lovett reunited mother Jean Davis, 77, at Wentworth Court in Cheltenham

Vulnerable residents at the home, who have dementia, have not had outside visitors since March. This has helped the home stay Covid free since April.

Mrs Lovett, 58, said: ‘It’s been hard, myself and my brother decided not to Skype during lockdown as we thought she wouldn’t understand why we couldn’t come in. 

‘It was just so lovely to be able to see mum again and have a chat and a hug.’

Home manager Gez Ossai said: ‘The lateral flow test has been brilliant and made it possible for us to reunite so many families.’ 

Categories
Headline USA Los Angeles

Hispanic coronavirus patient killed an elderly man with whom he shared a room in a Los Angeles hospital | The State

Last Wednesday, Los Angeles police reported that he carried out the arrest of a man of Hispanic origin, who has been accused of having killed an old man with whom he shared a room in a hospital in this city.

The tragedy occurred the morning of December 17 at Antelope Valley Hospital. The defendant, named Jesse Martínez, 37, was admitted to the hospital after suffering from coronavirus, and shared a room with an 82-year-old man. which had also tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the information provided by LASD, Martínez would have been upset with the old man because he began to pray. After a verbal discussion, the attacker hit the victim with an oxygen tank.

The name of the 82-year-old victim, who died the day after the attack, was not released pending notification of family members, but the LASD said he was Hispanic and apparently knew his alleged assailant.

Martinez was charged with murder, hate crime and elder abuse, and will appear in Antelope Valley Court on Monday.

The authorities have not specified if the detainee has already been discharged from the hospital or if he is in custody within the medical institution. It was also not disclosed if it has already overcome covid-19.

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