21st Apr, 2021

'Vaccine passports, quarantine and easing lockdown' - the latest Covid-19 Politics and Pandemics

A VARIETY of issues were discussed in the latest Politics and Pandemics which was held last Thursday.

It featured Dr David Nicholl who has been treating Covid patients on the frontline, and the University of Birmingham’s Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection and Bromsgrove resident Prof Willem van Schaik.

Dr Nicholl expressed concerns about the Government’s quarantine measures.

In contrast to other countries – such as Australia and New Zealand – where it has proved effective, the UK only quarantines people who have arrived from ‘red list’ countries.

He said: “Around 15,000 people are arriving into the UK every day and only 150 people are being taken into quarantine.”

He also criticised the format as in other countries the process was stricter and people had to remain in their room for the ten days whereas in the UK they can go out for cigarette breaks and exercise.

Dr Nicholl also slammed the Test, Track, Trace and Isolate system which was still not as good as it should be and, he said, people were still not being supported financially if they did have to isolate.

Of 457 people in Bromsgrove district who appealed for the £500 Covid support grants to isolate, only 68 people received it through the general channel and 61 through the discretionary (129 in total).

“It means 72 per cent of people still are not receiving the financial help they need to isolate and it could lead to people taking risks and working if they cannot afford to stay at home.”

A question was asked about deaths of very frail elderly patients in care homes following the vaccine. Following an incident in Norway, doctors carried out an investigation but said there was no certain connection between the jab and the deaths.

Prof van Schaik said: “There is no evidence that the vaccine causes it – it may be coincidental and could equally work the other way in another care home.”

Dr Nicholl said during the latest second wave, more younger people had been hospitalised, including a man in his 40s with no previous health problems dying.

“I think this is one of the problems – because so many of our older population are now vaccinated, it is in the virus’ best interests to go for the most vulnerable and the most vulnerable are those in the younger age groups who are un-vaccinated.”

Interesting debate took place about vaccine passports – with regard to workplaces and travel.

Dr Nicholl said: “It is a tricky issue – I think they should be mandatory for health and social care staff but feel there would need to be discussions with trade unions before they were implemented in other workplaces.”

He also reiterated his concerns about schools opening on Monday all at the same time, adding he felt primary schools should open first because there is less risk and then secondary schools later.

Dr van Schaik agreed with that and said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was right to open society slowly from lockdown.

He added Israel which had the highest amount of its population fully vaccinated (with both doses) was still finding issues.

Click the link above to view the video.

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