November 24, 2020

Top doctor urges Brits to consider mum test and get coronavirus vaccine – Mirror Online

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/top-doctor-urges-brits-consider-22996239

Health chiefs are calling on the public to urge elderly and vulnerable family members to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he is confident the jab is safe.

He added he has told his 78-year-old mother to have the inoculation at the earliest opportunity.

He wants other people to make sure their parents or grandparents get the jab to protect them from the virus.

Prof Van-Tam said: “I think the ‘mum test’ is very important here.

“My mum is 78, she will be 79 shortly, and I have already said to her, ‘Mum, make sure when you are called you are ready. Be ready to take this up, this is really important for you because of your age’.”

Professor Jonathan Van Tam is confident the vaccine is safe enough for his mum

He volunteered to work evenings and weekends to vaccinate people himself, adding: “We need speed and high uptake to get the big win here.” At a No10 briefing Prof Van-Tam added he was willing to be “at the front of the queue” to get vaccinated to prove it was safe.

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer also said they would be prepared to get the jab if they qualify for it amid concern over uptake.

Official figures yesterday showed the UK has become the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 Covid deaths.

A further 595 people have died – the highest daily figure since May –taking the total to 50,365.

Mr Johnson said that with rapid mass-testing and the hopes for a vaccine by Christmas, the battle is now in a “different phase”.

Biontech and Pfizer have developed a coronavirus vaccine

He added: “You have, as it were, two boxing gloves to pummel the disease in the weeks and months that follow.

“But I’ve got to stress that we’re not out of the woods yet.

“It does require everybody to follow the guidance – do the right thing, to suppress the disease in the way that we all understand.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer called the 50,000 deaths a “grim milestone”.

He added: “Behind these numbers is a devastated family, one for every death, and they have to be uppermost in our mind.

“The Government was slow at phase one and they haven’t learned the lesson going into phase two. We owe it to all of the families who are grieving to get on top of the virus and head towards a vaccine.

A woman wears a facemask as she walks by the Pfizer world headquarters in New Yok

“That’s what the Government must absolutely focus on now.”

The figures only include people who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

There are more than 60,000 deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Government has drawn up a priority list for those receiving the jab – created by US firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech – with care home residents and staff at the top of the list, followed by frontline NHS workers and the over-80s.

But some Tory MPs have privately suggested that, to help the economic recovery, working-age people should get the jab ahead of the elderly.

There were reports that on the Tory WhatsApp messaging group, one member of Parliament asked whether MPs ought to be one of the groups to get it early on.

It is hoped that if people encourage loved ones to get the jab it will deflect warnings of campaigners who oppose vaccinations.

The PM dismissed claims the vaccine is unsafe as “nonsense”.

Prof Van-Tam, 56, said he would happily have the jab first if he was allowed – but that he is not in a high priority group.

He added: “If I could morally be at the front of the queue, then I would do so, because I absolutely trust the [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] on safety… But we have to target the highest risk individuals.”

He said the jab must be available for all via the NHS and had “no inkling” of any plans for it to be also available privately.

Keir Starmer speaking during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday

Prof Van-Tam admitted distributing the vaccine would be a challenge but added “an army of people” had worked for months on logistics and he was “very reassured” it will run smoothly.

Nightingale Hospitals are expected to be used as vaccination centres. GPs say they will need support to administer the jab as health bosses acknowledged some family doctor services may need to be scaled back.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “Any vaccines which are determined for use will undergo a vigorous series of safety checks. They will be absolutely safe for the public to use.

“The [PM] would therefore be very happy to take the vaccine himself.”

Mr Starmer said: “I’d be first in line if that’s what people want but I don’t want to go to the front of the queue. I’ll take my place like everybody else.

“But I would also do anything I can to encourage as many people as possible to have the vaccine.”

The Government has said the first doses may be ready by December 1.

A sample of the PFIZER BNT162b2 vaccine

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the second wave of Covid cases in the region seems to have peaked. The weekly infection rate fell for the first time since August.

But figures showed intensive care capacity had reached 79% and there had been a sharp rise in the number of Covid patients in non-critical care.

The PM is facing pressure not to extend the national lockdown next month, with senior Tories forming a group to resist any such move.

A pilot scheme for relatives to get a Covid test before visiting care home residents will start within days.