COVID update 25th April 2021:
The UK has now firmly past the mark of over 50% of the population having received at least their first dose of vaccine, not just over half of all adults, where the equivalent figure is 63.6%. As at yesterday 33,508,590 first dose vaccinations had been given with 12,071,810, or 22.9% of all adults, having received both their doses.
April continues to be the month of focussing on 2nd doses and across Sussex just over 80% of vaccinations this week have been second doses and around 20% first doses. That was certainly very much the balance at the Lancing Vaccination Centre where I spent yesterday morning and I am glad to say that there was only one no show with people turning up to complete their doses very efficiently. They have also started vaccinating some 45-49-year olds.
The infection level continues to fall although not as fast as the fatality rate reflecting the fact that we cannot be complacent as recent surge testing in South London has shown. My own children were involved in this and said how efficient It all was, maximising efforts to contain any outbreaks at the earliest moment. The additional testing does of course mean that we are more likely to find people infected which adds to the positive test numbers. One of my daughters has also just returned from working several months in Switzerland and is quarantining and has been bombarded with texts messages and calls from the NHS and Swiss authorities as well as test kits to return, so the system is working.
Yesterday there were 2061 positive tests which is down 2.8% over the past 7 days. Hospital admissions were down by 21.3% to just 132 with over a third of ITU departments in UK hospitals having no Covid patients. The number of deaths from Covid is now down to 32, a further fall of 11.7% over the last 7 days. This clearly shows that the vaccination programme is successfully breaking the link between catching the infection and ending up in hospital seriously ill.
The split of the vaccines last week was approximately 59% AstraZeneca, 40% Pfizer and so far under 1% Moderna which started at the Brighton Centre last week. A further vaccine from Novavax which has been assessed as 89.3% effective should receive MHRA approval soon. It will be produced in Billingham, County Durham and ‘fill and finished’ by Glaxo in Barnard Castle. It produced its first batch successfully this week so is already to go just as soon as approval is given.
Given the constraints on first dose supplies it may still be a few weeks before those under 45 are invited to book their first vaccination but with the additional vaccines ramping up supply shortly the vaccination programme is still on track to have reached everybody by July on schedule. So please continue to be patient if you are 44 or younger.
Across West Sussex the coverage rates are now up to:
Cohort 1 99.0%
Cohort 2 93.8%
Cohort 3 95.0%
Covid 4 93.5%
Covid 5 90.2%
Cohort 6 85.7%
Cohort 7 85.7%
Cohort 8 84.2%
Cohort 9 82.0%
Cohort 10a (45-49) 32.3%
It is estimated that over the whole of Sussex across all 9 priority cohorts the vaccination rate is 88.0% and there are around 113,000 people above 50 still to come forward out of an adult population of around 1.25m
- Whilst additional first doses are currently in short supply in Sussex it may be a little while before more people aged 40-44 are cleared to come forward so please do not hassle your GP surgery. Currently all the slots at the Brighton Centre are fully booked for the next week or more but do check daily as the situation changes frequently as supplies are confirmed. All second doses of the same vaccine as you had first are all reserved by the NHS and guaranteed to be available within the 12-week window. A very few people may not quite make the 12-week window for certain reasons for a few days without any impact on efficacy, but most people arriving for their second doses at Lancing yesterday averaged 11 weeks since their first dose.
- Looking ahead to the Autumn it is likely that the NHS will be recommending a booster dose and at the moment they are looking at making this available to all over 50 year olds and others in the 9 priority cohorts although that has yet to be confirmed. They are also looking at whether this could be given at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine to streamline the whole process.
- I heard a presentation from one of the doctors at the Lime Tree Surgery practice on Thursday at the Findon Valley Residents Association AGM who was delighted to report that the hub of which that practice is a member has the highest vaccination coverage rates across the whole of Sussex so we are continuing to keep the record up locally.
Please continue to enjoy the warmer weather outside where it is safer.