Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The horse had bolted

On the 9th April,  Bangladesh had the South Africa but not the Brazil variant and Pakistan had neither and both were added to the UK's red list.

India had both, as well as a new variant, but was not added for another two weeks. Hancock justifies this by saying there was more testing taking place in India ignoring the fact that there were four times as many cases there. 

When Britain did finally add India to the red list they gave travellers four days' notice to rush back. There were reports and pictures in the newspapers of thousands rushing to return to Britain. N.B. I recall that people were only given a few hours notice to return from Portugal when cases in that country were on the rise. 

According to latest Public Health England data, around 20,000 people travelled between India and the UK before the red list ban and around 122 of them arriving from Delhi and Mumbai between late March and April 26 were detected with the variant of concern.

There are reportedly many multigenerational families living in poor conditions in the new Covid hotspots. 

Even if those who returned from India did isolate for the ten days, it is likely that they passed on the virus to other members of  their families who in turn passed the virus to others in the community. 

Matt Hancock  says that the rapid spread of the variant in largely Indian communities is because so many have refused the vaccines they were offered. Stories in social media about the vaccine containing meat products have clearly not helped. Maybe the government should have made a more concerted effort to dispel these myths. 

Mass testing and a rapid rollout of vaccines are now being used to try and contain the spread. Apparently, they are also shortening the delay between first and second doses of vaccines. 

However, my understanding is that the vaccines take three weeks to become effective from the first dose. It was also claimed that waiting 12 weeks rather than 3 improved the efficiency of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. There are also some reports that the much touted Astra Zeneca vaccine has proved to be less effective against variants from e.g. South Africa and possibly India. 

Our concern is that Spain is likely to allow visitors from Britain to enter the country with just a vaccine certificate. 

This is not necessarily a problem at the moment because Spain is on Britain's amber list. Even still, there is confusion amongst ministers about whether that means Brits can travel to Spain or not - some say they can and others say they cannot. 

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