Well, after the revelations that hit the news on Friday, it was inevitable that the former Health Secretary resigned on Saturday and by Sunday we have a new leader in place. Sajid Javid is no stranger to politics at the highest levels, having been previously both Home Secretary and Chancellor. This past experience will help him quickly get up to speed with the enormous task before him. The demise of Matt Hancock leaves many question marks and unanswered questions. I do not intend to comment further on this except to say that the offending camera has already been immobilised by the new incumbent of that office. We should allow Matt Hancock to rest and recover on the backbenches for a while where he can begin to sort out his personal life. I am sure he will be back in the future.
Sajid Javid is the first person of colour to have the role of Health Secretary and he joins a small band of others who also lead large sections of the health service resources.
We need to pledge our support and encouragement to take on this challenge, he will need all the support he can get. People are already planning to derail him.
The reason he needs our help is because tonight we have 22,868 new cases diagnosed today. That is almost 30,000. It was 18,000 on Saturday. It is rising steadily. This is because over 30% of our adult population are not yet double vaccinated. There are still significant numbers refusing immunisations despite the rapid growth in numbers.
Here are the rest of the statistics. We have consistently managed over 1 million tests each day since the last report, with 1.2 million done today.
Despite being a Sunday, 11 deaths were recorded yesterday taking the weekly figure to 122. The rate per 100k of the population is hovering between 0.1 and 0.2 again. Do you remember how pleased everyone was when it dropped to 0.1? Sadly it is going the wrong way again.
There has been no new health data released for 3 days. Tomorrow a new set of figures should be released. I fear a slow but steady small rise will continue. We know that 2 doses of the vaccine makes up about 90% of us immune. We are now seeing the remaining 10% being infected as well as the unvaccinated. The only way to halt this pandemic is immunisation and yet more immunisation until herd immunity protects the few for whom the vaccine does not work.
44.45 million or 84.4% of adults have now had a 1st jab and 32.58 million or 62% have had both jabs. This still leaves 15% of adults without a first jab. If you are one of those who are not having one, you are putting everyone else at risk as well as yourself. If you are anxious or even terrified of needles please ask for help. Book one by phoning 119 or just turn up at a walk-in centre.
Trials have started on a new vaccine developed by Astra Zenica and Oxford University to specifically tackle the Beta variant first seen in South Africa. Trials have started on 2,250 volunteers in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and Poland. The updated vaccine has minor genetic alterations designed to specifically hit the Beta variant. It is labelled as AZD2816.
In another study from Oxford which involves giving a third dose of the vaccine more than 6 months after the second leads to a substantial rise in both the antibody levels and in the body’s T cell activity in fighting the virus and its variants. In a further study, the data is suggesting that we may have sufficient protection to last this winter without giving a booster, it may be the whole world should have two before we move to boosters. More lives could be saved that way. The same argument applies to immunising children between 12 and 17.
It will be interesting to see how Sajid Javid interprets the science and his guidance in the days to come.
He is due to address the commons tonight in what I am sure will be a holding statement. With the number of new cases, he would be most unwise on his first day in office to promise anything. He certainly cannot bring dates forward.
If you are having to travel abroad, please go on checking the requirements, they are changing all the time. The requirements have changed in several counties. Angela Merkel is reported to be trying to ban all British holiday makers from the EU territories. She has little support from the Mediterranean countries who depend so much on tourists from the UK for their economy. If she were to succeed in this there would be political uproar.
We can most support the new Minister by first ensuring we are all double immunised as quickly as possible. Then by continuing to follow the social distance guidelines and wearing masks. Washing of hands and surfaces remain crucial. Please, do your bit and stay safe.