Day: 2 May 2021

More Than 15 Million People Fully Vaccinated Against Covid in the U.K.

The number of people in the U.K. who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine has now exceeded 15 million. Almost 35 million people have also had at last one dose of a vaccine, yet the Government continues to refuse to speed up the exit from lockdown. Sky News has the story.

A large proportion of the elderly and most vulnerable are fully inoculated against Covid.

A further 372,304 second jabs were administered on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,329,617.

The number of first jabs given yesterday was 143,175. Some 34,505,380 people have now had at least an initial dose.

In its latest daily update, the government said a further 14 people had died within 28 days of a positive test…

Meanwhile, people who attended the “First Dance” event in Liverpool are being reminded they need to take follow up tests.

The city’s Director of Public Health, Matt Ashton, said: “We ask people to take a PCR five days afterwards and that helps us identify any virus that happened as a result of the event.

“I’m not expecting any.”

Worth reading in full.

NHS Preparing to Vaccinate Schoolchildren From September

Children as young as 12 could be vaccinated when the new school year begins in September under plans being drawn up by the NHS. A member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says that vaccination of the young could help to prevent a third wave of Covid infections, despite very low numbers of children testing positive for Covid after schools reopened in March – many of them falsely – and the fact that a third wave probably won’t happen anyway, according to SAGE modellers. The Sunday Times has the story.

Health officials are drawing up plans to offer the Pfizer vaccine to secondary school pupils from September.

“Core planning scenario” documents compiled by NHS officials include the offer of a single dose to children aged 12 and over when the new school year starts.

The plans, which have been confirmed by sources within the Government and the NHS, depend on advice due this summer from scientists on the JCVI. But officials are preparing for a rollout in schools. A source said: “No decision has been made yet but we are drawing up planning materials for the different scenarios.”

Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the JCVI, said the decision would depend on rates of the virus over the next few months. “We need to be in a position to immunise children, particularly teenagers, promptly and efficiently if we need to.” He pointed to recent modelling that predicts a third Covid wave will happen after restrictions are lifted on June 21st.

If rates rose significantly, he said, it would be a priority to vaccinate children to stop the closure of schools next year. “It is extremely important that education in the next academic year is not disrupted in any way.”

But Finn, a Paediatrician at Bristol University, stressed that a child vaccination programme might be unnecessary if rates dropped to a low level before the autumn. “We should only be doing vaccine programmes when we need to do them,” he said.

Worth reading in full.

Dominic Raab Rejects Calls to Speed up the Exit From Lockdown

No amount of good news on the Covid front will persuade the Government to speed up the exit from lockdown. We are “very close now to really turning the corner” in our efforts against Covid, but not close enough that our unlock can be brought forward, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. What’s more, he said that rules on mask-wearing and social distancing could continue beyond June 21st. MailOnline has the story.

The Foreign Secretary warned “there will still need to be some safeguards in place” after [June 21st] in comments likely to anger Tory MPs who want all coronavirus rules to be lifted. 

[Talking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News,] Mr Raab rejected calls to speed up the roadmap as he insisted “we are very close now to really turning the corner” in the battle against the disease. 

The success of the U.K.’s vaccination programme and falling infection numbers have prompted demands for the Government to bring forward its reopening dates. 

But the Foreign Secretary this morning urged people to be patient as he insisted June 21st is not far away and “we are nearly there’”.

He argued that “taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go” to avoid undoing the progress made during the national shutdown. 

He also… promised that on June 21st “almost all social restrictions will be lifted”.

To justify the “roadmap” continuing at its current slow pace, Raab said: “[The] fourth step out of lockdown is not far away now so I think [we should] just hang on.” But for the sake of the hospitality venues that have yet to reopen (and even those that have reopened outdoors), and for the sake of the nation’s mental and physical health, any amount of time still spent in lockdown is too long.

MailOnline‘s report is worth reading in full.

A Tale of Two Protests

There follows a guest post by Dr Niall McCrae contrasting yesterday’s ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration with the anti-lockdown march of a week earlier.

A week is a long time in the politics of rallies. Yesterday a Kill the Bill march in London drew five thousand mostly young protestors against the proposed strengthening of police powers over protestors. A good cause was distorted by the divisive identity politics on display: Black Lives Matter banners, transgender flags and radical Marxist placards supplied by the Socialist Workers Party. On the preceding Saturday (April 24th) a gathering twenty or thirty times bigger marched from Hyde Park to Holborn Viaduct and back in a joyful expression of unity by ordinary people of every class and creed.

Whereas the Unite for Freedom rally was initially ignored by the BBC and other mainstream media, the Kill the Bill demo was widely reported. Furthermore, coverage of the latter was sympathetic, as most keenly expressed in the Guardian. The most we heard from the BBC on the anti-lockdown protest was by Marianna Spring, who tweeted disparaging remarks about conspiracy theorists with a ludicrous underestimate of the crowd.

The reporting blackout ended later, after videos emerged of the police involved in a fracas with a handful of protestors near Speakers Corner. A group of marchers were basking in the last rays of a glorious sunny day, listening to an impromptu gig. They were doing no harm, but a squad of police officers steamed in, presumably to confiscate the audio equipment and arrest the band. The revellers linked arms and the police retreated in a hail of derision and missiles. “Ten arrests at anti-lockdown protest” reported the Sunday Times.

The Kill the Bill protest produced considerably worse behaviour. For long stretches “ACAB” – all cops are bastards – was chanted, and other aggressive phrasing imported from BLM/Antifa riots in the USA. Although the protest was against police powers, the marchers want freedom of expression “for me but not for thee”. These are the puritanical offspring of our education system, who think that any contrary opinion is “hate speech”. Quite a contrast with the all-embracing ethos of a week earlier.

Most of the Kill the Bill marchers were masked, although there is no requirement to do so outdoors. As the Kill the Bill walkers began to wander off, the lonely figure of Piers Corbyn tried to bridge the yawning gap between anti-lockdown and anti-police protestors. Old Piers has been working behind the scenes to bring left-wing activists into the campaign against the Covid regime, collaborating with BLM leader Sasha Johnson in his Let London Live Party in the London Assembly election. However, to the Kill the Bill crowd he seemed a cantankerous old man, who had come to the wrong show. Few stayed to listen, and those who did frowned and looked at him condescendingly. In exasperation Corbyn berated people for wearing masks: “wake up, they’re f***ing playing you!” But the Kill the Bill protestors are happy to be muzzled. And they get a good press, unlike lockdown sceptics.

Digital Vaccine Passport for Overseas Travel Open to Hackers When Accessed at the Airport

Private information contained within the NHS mobile app that’s going to be used as a Covid vaccine passport when international travel returns could be accessed by hackers at airports if logged into on insecure Wifi networks. The Telegraph has the story.

Britons travelling abroad have been warned against using airport WiFi to log into the NHS app to their vaccine passports in case they hand over their health details to hackers…

Logging into the app and loading health data while on insecure WiFi networks could see hackers gain access to passwords as well as sensitive personal information about people’s health conditions.

Peter Yapp, a Schillings partner who was previously a Deputy Director at GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, urged people not to rely on networks that can steal your data.

“Don’t access this, if at all possible, through WiFi connections that you don’t know anything about,” he said. “That just gives someone the opportunity to potentially get the data as it’s passing through.”

Hackers have used their own malicious public WiFi networks in the past to trick people into signing up for them and then stealing their information as it passes through.

“It has happened for a long, long time and it continues to happen,” said Matt Lock, a Director at cybersecurity business Varonis.

“There is nothing stopping anybody from walking into these public spaces and setting up their own public WiFi,” he added. “Then you’re in a situation where all your traffic is potentially being captured.”

Hackers can easily set up their own WiFi networks in public spaces, often with innocent-sounding names that mimic legitimate networks. 

Once a victim logs on to a hacker’s network, all of their web traffic can be intercepted so that hackers can monitor which websites and apps are used. 

They can also steal their login information including passwords and any data sent to their apps, including the health records shown in the NHS app.

The Government is said to be examining ways to export a vaccine passport into a “digital wallet” that can be accessed offline.

This is not the only example of a Government Covid app facing criticism over its security (or lack thereof). Last month, an update to the NHS Test and Trace mobile app was blocked by Apple and Google because it broke rules about the collection of location data.

The Telegraph report is worth reading in full.

News Round Up