Why So Many COVID Cases When Most UK People are Vaccinated?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

BBC- More than four out of five UK adults have now had two jabs, but reported daily Covid cases remain high.

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that millions of people will get booster vaccines – while children aged 12-15 will be offered single doses.

Why are infections still high when so many are vaccinated?

The vaccines are designed to protect people against becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19.

They’re less effective at stopping people becoming infected by the virus, developing mild symptoms or passing it on.

Although the vaccine does still reduce the likelihood of these things happening, it might only stop half of infected people from transmitting the virus.

Even if 100% of people in the UK were double vaccinated, the virus would still spread – but the key difference is that far fewer people would become seriously ill.

Do vaccines prevent hospitalisation and death?

They strongly prevent vaccinated people from getting Covid symptoms – and are even better at stopping people from ending up in hospital.

But effectiveness also depends on how well each vaccine works against individual variants. The most common variant in the UK today is Delta.

Public Health England (PHE) studies suggest having two vaccine doses protect 80% of people against getting symptoms from the Delta variant. That’s lower than the Alpha variant (89%), because Delta is more infectious. The PHE also found:

  • Vaccines are 96% effective at preventing hospitalisation
  • Covid deaths in the double-jabbed are four times lower than in the unvaccinated

But there will always be some deaths, particularly in the oldest and most vulnerable, because vaccines aren’t perfect.

Having two doses remains the best way to protect yourself. After four or five months, a large study suggests you have the same amount of protection whether you had AstraZeneca or Pfizer. Researchers don’t yet have enough data to compare the Moderna jab, but believe it is “almost certainly at least as good as the others”.

Some 44 million people in the UK, about 81% of people aged 16 and over, have now had their second jab.

Who will be offered third jabs?

Across the UK, single booster jabs will be offered to:

  • Over-50s
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Older adults in residential care homes
  • People aged 16-49 years old with underlying health conditions which put them at greater risk of severe Covid
  • Adults who share a household with vulnerable people

The doses will be offered at least six months after a second vaccination, and are likely to be either Pfizer or Moderna.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, says people should also take a flu jab if it is offered alongside the booster.

Which children will now be offered the vaccine?

All four UK governments have also confirmed healthy over-12s will be offered a single Covid jab.

There is no vaccine currently approved for use in the under-12s in the UK.

Already, young people aged 16 and 17 are being offered one dose, with the intention of a second at a later date.

The vaccine is also available for over-12s with underlying health conditions, or those living with others at high risk.

How do I get a vaccine?

In England, adults and those within three months of turning 18 can book a jab online or by calling 119. You can also visit a walk-in clinic without an appointment. All 16 and 17-year-olds are asked to make an appointment through their GP.

In Scotland, over-16s can register to get the vaccine on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013. Most health boards also have drop-in vaccination clinics. Over-12s can go to drop-in clinics from Monday 20 September.

In Wales, adults should contact their local health board if they’ve not been offered their jab.

In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are open to older teenagers.

How soon should I get my second jab?

In England, the recommended gap between first and second jabs is between 8-12 weeks.

In Wales, the government says you should be called in for your second dose “within 12 weeks” of the first.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the recommended gap is eight weeks.

Preparing a vaccineimage source, Getty Images

Which vaccine will I get?

People who are under 40 or pregnant are being offered Pfizer or Moderna rather than Oxford-AstraZeneca, because of concerns about a possible connection with extremely rare cases of blood clots.

Under-18s are currently being offered Pfizer, although the Moderna vaccine has also been authorised for use in children in the UK.

Table comparing the Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Janssen vaccines

Is vaccination compulsory?

It’s not compulsory, although the health secretary has said it is “highly likely” that both Covid and flu jabs will be compulsory for all frontline NHS and care workers in England.

Being fully vaccinated will also be a condition of entry for nightclubs and some other events in Scotland from 1 October.

England’s chief midwife has also urged pregnant women to get the vaccine.

Modelled picture of a pregnant woman being vaccinatedimage source, Getty Images

What about side effects?

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

There are extremely rare but occasionally fatal cases of people developing blood clots after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Separately, a very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any existing serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

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A&B In Sweeping Vaccine Requirement

caricom gaston-a-browne-antigua
Prime Minister Gaston Browne

The Antigua and Barbuda government has given a September 20 deadline for all unvaccinated public sector workers to show proof of having been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A policy document released on Wednesday night also outlines similar measures for persons operating public transport, the trade union movement, private sector employees as well as arriving passengers into the country.

In the policy statement, the Gaston Browne government said that the measure regarding vaccinations will include workers in the Public Service, statutory corporations and companies in which the government owns majority shares.

It said that with effect from October 1, all unvaccinated public sector employees, inclusive of Statutory Corporations and companies of which the government holds majority shares shall be required to remain at home until proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

In addition, those workers “shall be paid a salary or wage for the period of non-compliance with the current policy” and that all officers and support staff of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force are required to be vaccinated, effective October 1st.

The government said that trade unions and employee associations shall be permitted to conduct educational awareness sessions via virtual and face-to-face engagements and that all COVID-19 protocols shall be strictly observed.

“All eligible students and teachers shall be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to face to face classes; All pre-school and primary school teachers shall be required to be fully vaccinated before returning to face-to-face classes; All caregivers and support staff are required to be fully vaccinated to provide services at elderly care facilities,” according to the policy.

It noted also that all arriving passengers including returning nationals and residents are required to have received at least the first dose of a vaccine approved by the appropriate authorities in Antigua and Barbuda.

The government also said that informal and or public gatherings will be restricted to members of the same household and that beaches are to be closed between 12:00 noon and 5:00 am (local time) daily commencing September, 20.

“Bus drivers, conductors and taxi drivers are required to be vaccinated effective October,1 this year and that failure to comply with the current policy will result in restrictions to operate;

“All pleasure craft fetes, parties and entertainment events and excursions around the coastal waters and offshore islands are suspended with effect from 18th September until 29th September 2021. Thereafter, only authorized excursion will be permitted by the appropriate authorities.”

The government said that all Vendors, merchants and service providers and staff operating at the ports of entry are required to be vaccinated.

But the authorities said that persons may be exempted upon submitting a medical certificate approved by the Chief Medical Officer or Medical Board or a request approved on religious grounds.

It said that all persons exempted under this policy are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test twice monthly.

Children under the age of 18 years, arriving at a port of entry in Antigua and Barbuda are exempt from this policy for this period;

“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the extreme hardship caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the pain and anguish of families due to untimely and unnecessary loss of loved ones. It has caused tremendous economic dislocations, social disruptions and psychological trauma.

“The government acknowledges the enormous commitment and sacrifices made the nation’s healthcare professionals and by extension all workers who lock arms daily in a colossal effort and determination to defeat the COVID-19 virus and help to restore this country to some form of normalcy,” the statement said.

It added that COVID-19 represents an existential threat and the government calls on the entire nation, private sector and public sector and civil society to lend support in this endeavor by adopting policies and promoting policies to arrest the effects of this deadly virus.

Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 48 deaths and 2, 304 infections from the virus since March last year.

CMC

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Changes to the rules on international travel are expected to be announced by the UK government later.

BBC- Ministers are considering scrapping the requirement for double-jabbed people returning to the UK to take PCR tests.

The traffic light system could also be simplified, with the amber list removed entirely.

Any changes would apply to England initially, as the UK’s devolved administrations are in charge of their own travel rules.

Meanwhile, the Guardian and the Times have reported that dozens of countries will be removed from the red list – the highest level of alert for international travel which means returning travellers must spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285.

There are currently 62 countries on that list.

Currently, travellers who are not fully vaccinated are required to quarantine upon returning to the UK from an amber list destination.

By removing the amber category, only passengers arriving from red list countries would have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

Ministers have also been under pressure to reconsider the testing requirements for travellers.

Under current rules, people arriving from green list countries must take a PCR test shortly before their return and another on their second day back in the UK.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the independent, said holidaymakers would be hoping that the pre-flight test requirement would be removed – as it might give them greater confidence about booking trips, particularly with the October half-term school holiday coming up.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK told the BBC that testing requirements were preventing the UK travel industry from competing with European rivals.

He also warned that thousands of jobs could be at stake if restrictions remain while furlough support ends.

People walking along a beach in Ibizaimage source, Getty Images

Huw Merriman, Conservative chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, said PCR tests were expensive and “putting people off travel” while the rapid lateral flow tests were “just as safe”. The NHS charges £68 for a lab-processed PCR test.

Fully vaccinated people should only need a PCR test as confirmation if their lateral flow test came back positive, he said.

One justification for requiring PCR tests is that they can be used for gene sequencing and tracking coronavirus variants.

But Mr Merriman said just 5% of positive tests were sequenced in July, adding that people were being “ripped off”.

Alan McNally, professor of Microbial Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Birmingham, said lateral flow testing would be “sufficient” for travellers given the UK’s high Covid rate, but argued it was “vitally important” that genome-level surveillance of travel-related Covid cases continued.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would really hope that there will be very strong mandate that any [lateral flow] tests from travel have to get a confirmatory PCR test.”

He said past experiences and the emergence of the Delta variant showed that travel-related Covid cases were a “very high risk” to the UK and could cause “big trouble” if they were not being monitored.

With countries such as those in the EU, there is a greater degree of confidence that variants are being reported and vaccination records are accurate, he said. But he said in others it may be less certain.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Our top priority is to protect public health – decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.”

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WORLD STATS

Coronavirus Cases:

227,856,410

Deaths:

4,684,461

Recovered:

204,547,146
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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