‘Compelling evidence’ Covid vaccinations working, Sturgeon says | World news

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Scotland is “on a path back” to near elimination of coronavirus, according to Nicola Sturgeon, as she referred to “compelling evidence” that the vaccination programme was starting to have an effect on reducing death rates.

At the Scottish government’s daily briefing on Thursday, the first minister said she had always favoured an elimination strategy when dealing with Covid-19 – “by which I mean suppress to as low as possible a level and then try to keep it there” – and that research suggested this had been achieved in Scotland last summer.

“The work that’s been done around genomic sequencing would say [it is feasible], because it shows we actually achieved that in the summer in Scotland last year. Most of the strains of the virus that had been circulating in Scotland were eliminated and what happened is that it reseeded mainly from travel, from overseas travel and some from travel across UK, and that will have happened in both directions.”

“We know we can do that and we are some way off it, but we are on a path back to that suppression to very low levels. The challenge is: how do you keep it there?”


Sturgeon said this would involve a combination of strategies, including the test-and-protect system (as of today, anyone who is identified as a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus will be asked to get tested too), travel restrictions “perhaps for some time yet”, as well as continuing restrictions such as face coverings, stringent hygiene and social distancing as the country eases out of lockdown.

She reiterated that her government’s planned route map for loosening restrictions, which will be published next week, would be cautious, with changes dependent on “data not dates”. Sturgeon said: “I want this lockdown to be the last one we need.”

Pfizer/BioNTech

Country US/Germany

Efficacy 95% a week after the second shot. Pfizer says it is only 52% after the first dose but the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says this may rise to 90% after 21 days.

The UK has ordered 40m doses.

Doses Clinical trials involved two doses 21 days apart. The UK is stretching this to 12 weeks.

Oxford/AstraZeneca

Country UK

Efficacy 70.4% 14 days after receiving the second dose. May have up to 90% efficacy when given as a half dose followed by a full dose. No severe disease or hospitalisations in anyone who received the vaccine. There have been concerns it is less effective against the South African variant of the coronavirus.

The UK has ordered 100m doses.

Doses Two, four to 12 weeks apart

Moderna

Country US

Efficacy Phase 3 trial results suggest 94.1%.

The UK has ordered 17m doses, to be delivered in March or April

Doses Two, 28 days apart

Novavax

Country US

Efficacy Phase 3 trials suggest 89.3%.

60m doses ordered by the UK, with distribution expected principally in the second half of the year

Doses Two

Janssen (part of Johnson & Johnson)

Country US

Efficacy 72% in preventing mild to moderate cases in US trials but 66% efficacy observed in international trials. 85% efficacy against severe illness, and 100% protection against hospitalisation and death.

30m doses ordered by the UK

Doses: One, making it unique among Covid vaccines with phase 3 results so far


Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/X02520

During the briefing, Sturgeon pointed to weekly data showing a significant decline in care home deaths, with the proportion of those dying in such facilities falling from 34% at the beginning of January to 13% last week.

While a cross-border travel ban has been in place since before Christmas, the impact of travel on virus spread has been raised again as England and Scotland diverged on international quarantine plans.


Earlier this week, Sturgeon said Scotland would have to “look at alternatives” if an agreement could not be reached with the rest of the UK, as her government had urged UK ministers to adopt its stricter approach to international travel. In Scotland all international arrivals must go into hotel quarantine for 10 days, while in England the rules only apply to arrivals from 33 “red list” countries.

Scotland’s transport secretary, Michael Matheson, has asked for Scotland-bound travellers arriving at English airports to be offered quarantine facilities in England, but the UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, advised that passengers arriving in England from “low risk” countries would be required to quarantine at home. On Monday, Hancock said he would be “happy to discuss” the potential loophole.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Compelling evidence’ Covid vaccinations working, Sturgeon says | World news

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