Latest developments

COVID-19 latest developments

    • Daily COVID-19 statistics
    • PM unveils post-lockdown plan for England
    • NHSE letter on COVID-19 vaccination deployment strategy and operational readiness
    • Oxford University vaccine is highly effective
    • Additional £3bn for NHS in upcoming Spending Review
    • PM attends virtual G20 Summit
    • Study: obesity, age and BME ethnicity associated with higher COVID-19 antibody levels
    • Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee hears from PHSO
    • Labour: freezing public sector pay will damage COVID-19 recovery
    • Labour: minister must be appointed to oversee vaccine roll out

    Daily COVID-19 statistics

    The government’s latest daily COVID-19 statistics show that:

    • Today, 15,450 people tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Today, 206 people died within 28 days of having tested positive for COVID-19.
    • On Thursday 19 November, 1,628 patients were admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
    • On Thursday 19 November, 16,390 COVID-19 patients were still in hospital.
    • On Friday 20 November, 1,421 COVID-19 patients were in ventilation beds.
    • On Sunday 22 November, 279,041 new tests for COVID-19 were conducted.

    PM unveils post-lockdown plan for England

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a statement to the House of Commons unveiling the plans to move England toward more “uniform” regional lockdowns after the second lockdown ends on 2 December. Mr Johnson told MPs that the regional tiering system will be reintroduced, except with “tougher” measures at each tier.

    In his statement to the Commons, Mr Johnson:

    • assured that by spring, scientific advances should reduce the need for the restrictions and make the idea of a COVID-19 lockdown “redundant”
    • informed that from 2 December:

      people could leave their home for any purpose and meet up to six people outside
      - collective worship, weddings, and outdoor sports could resume.

    • stated that the previous local tiers were not quite enough to reduce the R-rate to below 1, so the tiers were to be made tougher in the following ways:

      - tier 1: people should work from home wherever possible
      - tier 2: alcohol may only be served alongside a meal
      - tier 3: indoor entertainment would have to close as would hospitality except for take-outs.

    • informed that on Thursday 26 November, the government would announce which areas would be in which tiers
    • stated that by the end of 2020, every care home resident could have two visitors who could be tested twice a week
    • updated that social care workers would be offered weekly tests from today
    • detailed that weekly tests would be provided for prison staff, food manufacturing staff, and those delivering COVID-19 vaccines
    • stated that testing would enable students to know if they could return home for Christmas
    • announced the launch of a major community testing programme, offering all local authorities in tier 3 areas in England a six-week surge of testing
    • stated that mass testing should be rolled out in the NHS from next month, and be rolled out across the country from January
    • noted that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine was one of three capable of developing a period of immunity
    • stated that 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine had been ordered, and 300 million vaccines had been ordered overall.

    Responding to Mr Johnson in the House of Commons, Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer:

    • described the three-tier system as “risky” despite the new, stricter measures, arguing that the system had ultimately led to the current national lockdown
    • asked what support would be offered for businesses in areas with extra restrictions, and asked if the self-employed would be financially supported by the government
    • criticised the contact tracing system, but warned against any decision to abandon the Test and Trace system.

    A full transcript of Mr Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons is available to read in Hansard.

    Further details on the post-lockdown plan for England from 2 December are published in the government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan and in the DHSC’s guidance on the new local restriction tier system that will be in place.

    NHSE letter on COVID-19 vaccination deployment strategy and operational readiness

    NHS England (NHSE) has written to NHS chief executives to set out what the health service and the government will provide nationally, working with local government and other partners, to allow for the NHS to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Subject to JCVI and MHRA authorisation, the current expectation is that the first phase of the vaccine deployment will be undertaken by a number of NHS trusts. Further information and detail will be provided as it becomes available.

    In relation to the announcement of free flu vaccination for over 50s, the NHS Confederation has written to Jo Churchill to ask for clarity on behalf of PCNs.

    Oxford University vaccine is highly effective

    The BBC reports that the coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is highly effective at stopping people developing COVID-19 symptoms, as shown by a large trial.

    Interim data suggests 70 per cent efficacy, but the researchers say the figure may be as high as 90 per cent by tweaking the dose.

    The results come after Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed 95 per cent protection. However, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is understood to be less costly, and easier to store and transport.

    Additional £3bn for NHS in upcoming Spending Review

    Over the weekend, it was widely reported that the upcoming Spending Review on Wednesday 25 November will include an additional £3 billion for the NHS.

    It is understood the funding package will include £1 billion to address:

    • backlogs by catching up on checks, scans and operations delayed by the pandemic
    • £1.5 billion to ease existing pressures
    • £500 million for mental health services.

    Our chief executive Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed the news but said the funding was the “bare minimum”. He appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning to talk about COVID-19 challenges, Christmas, and the funding.

    PM attends virtual G20 Summit

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended the virtual G20 Summit over the weekend.

    During the summit, Mr Johnson noted the UK’s commitment to fair global access to any coronavirus vaccine, and encouraged others to support the COVAX initiative.

    Study: obesity, age and BME ethnicity associated with higher COVID-19 antibody levels

    A study of a group of UK healthcare workers has found that non-white people recovering from COVID-19 displayed higher antibody levels than white people, with significantly greater levels observed in Asian people.

    Led by experts at the University of Birmingham, researchers studied a cohort of 956 UK healthcare workers who self-isolated between March and June 2020 because of COVID-19.

    Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee hears from PHSO

    This afternoon, the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee held an oral evidence session on the work of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) during the 2019-20 year.

    The Committee heard from both Rob Behrens (Ombudsman and chair of the PHSO) and Amanda Amroliwala (chief executive of the PHSO).

    A recording of the session is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

    Labour: freezing public sector pay will damage COVID-19 recovery

    The Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, has argued that a public sector pay freeze would be an “irresponsible choice for the economy”.

    Ms Dodds argues that freezing pay “will leave people worried about making ends meet – that means they’ll cut back on spending and the economy will take longer to recover”.

    Labour: minister must be appointed to oversee vaccine roll out

    Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has today called on the government to appoint a dedicated “Minister for the Vaccine” to oversee the roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine, provide accountability, and “avoid repeating mistakes made over PPE procurement and Test and Trace”.

    Labour is also calling for “a commitment to deliver the resources needed to meet the Easter target for the vaccine roll-out” at the upcoming Spending Review, and an “equal access plan” to put the infrastructure in place to ensure that everyone can access the vaccine.

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