Covid vaccine passport plans for nightclubs cause outrage
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated yesterday that a COVID vaccine passport would be compulsory when entering nightclubs during Autumn 2021.
- The number of countries requiring both COVID jabs for quarantine-free travel is likely to grow.
- A rise in COVID-related hospitalisations dampened UK Freedom Day celebrations.
- SAGE adviser Sir Jeremy Farrar accuses Boris Johnson of ‘political manoeuvring’ after delaying COVID public inquiry to 2022.
- The UK has lost faith in the NHS test and trace system.
- JCVI have advised that healthy UK teenagers should not be offered a COVID vaccine.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparked outrage yesterday, stating a Covid vaccine passport would be required when entering Nightclubs from the end of September 2021. Mr Johnson attended the COVID briefing virtually from Chequers, where he is currently self-isolating following close contact with the COVID-positive UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance labelled nightclubs as ‘super spreader’ events, prompting the newly imposed double vaccination requirement. COVID vaccine passports are evidence that individuals have received both COVID vaccinations and come in the form of a physical certificate or a pass on the NHS app.
The decision caused public backlash and anger from the nightclub and events industries, with Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association arguing Freedom Day for nightclubs lasted only 17 hours.
UK nightclubs have been unable to operate as usual for 16 months and have been the last of UK non-essential businesses to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Kill accused the UK government of doing a complete U-turn, with UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid stating COVID vaccine passports would not be compulsory for large gatherings one week ago.
80% of nightclubs stated they did not want to impose COVID vaccine restrictions as it is difficult to enforce and also puts them at a competitive disadvantage with pubs not currently subject to the same restrictions and rules. However, Mr Johnson failed to answer when asked if the requirement would also be rolled out to pubs and other hospitality venues.
Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders said it made no sense that unvaccinated individuals can currently enter nightclubs but that it will be deemed unsafe in Autumn 2021. Additionally, it was argued that the UK government’s COVID passport decision was a scheme to bribe young adults into getting their COVID jab, although UK Business Minister Paul Scully denied these claims.
In addition to entering nightclubs, Mr Johnson also stated the number of countries requiring double vaccinations for quarantine free travel was also likely to grow.
The UK sees a dramatic rise in hospitalisations
The UK’s Freedom Day was intended to be a triumphant occasion, seeing the lift of COVID restrictions and full reopening of the UK economy. However, celebrations were marred by a surge in UK COVID cases and a dramatic rise in hospitalisations.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had reportedly planned an upbeat Winston Churchill style speech for yesterday’s COVID briefing but was forced to take a more cautious tone due to the worsening COVID situation in the UK.
Although UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid previously stated UK coronavirus cases could rise to 100,000 a day following the lifting of COVID restrictions, he highlighted that COVID related deaths and hospitalisations would be significantly reduced.
The UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance forecast that the UK is likely to see over 1,000 hospitalisations each day over the summer and likely to be deaths associated with this.
Sir Vallance mentioned during yesterday’s COVID briefing that 60% of the UK’s recent hospital admission were double vaccinated individuals. However, he soon corrected himself, confirming that the 60% consisted of unvaccinated people, highlighting the importance of coronavirus vaccines.
Although coronavirus vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, Sir Vallance reiterated that hospital admissions would likely be much less than seen during previous COVID waves in the UK.
There are currently 3,813 UK hospital patients with COVID-19, which is the highest figure since 24th March 2021.
It was also highlighted that the UK is verging on similar figures experienced during the previous wave of infections seen last winter. During the UK’s previous winter wave, around 60,000 people tested positive each day. Current infections now stand around 50,000 per day, though the next peak of COVID infections remains uncertain.
The UK’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam also said that there would be doubt over the number of COVID infections over the next four to six weeks due to the unpredictability of human behaviour.
Sir Jeremy Farrar accuses Boris Johnson of political manoeuvring
Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) epidemiologist Sir Jeremy Farrar accused UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ‘political manoeuvring’ after he delayed the COVID public inquiry until 2022.
Health experts and grieving families who have lost loved ones due to COVID have argued that the date is too late to learn from mistakes.
With the COVID public inquiry delayed until next year, it’s thought that the findings would not be released until 2023, which could be after the next UK general election.
Recent data revealed that the UK has the 19th highest number of deaths per million people, placing it above the United States.
Sir Jeremy Farrar argued that Mr Johnson’s decision to delay the inquiry failed to honour the 150,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and suggested the UK Prime Minister was more concerned with saving his reputation than saving lives.
The UK has lost faith in the NHS test and trace system
The UK has lost faith in the NHS test and trace app system after over 500,000 people were pinged by the app last week. A recent poll indicates that 20% of UK adults have deleted the NHS COVID app to avoid receiving a self-isolation notification.
Although UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously suggested that changes could be made to alter the app’s sensitivity, Downing Street stated this week that there were no plans to amend this.
Last weekend, there was public outrage as the NHS COVID app pinged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak after they met with COVID-positive UK Health secretary Sajid Javid.
The UK government initially responded, stating neither political leaders needed to self-isolate due to being randomly selected for a pilot scheme. However, the response angered the British public, with many stating that the UK government was exempt from following the same rules as everyone else.
Following the widespread criticism, both politicians u-turned and stated that they would now self-isolate.
UK Vaccines minister Nadim Zahawi said UK citizens in critical roles would not have to quarantine for the usual ten days if they have been double-jabbed. Mr Zahawi recognised there were circumstances where there could be serious risks if certain individuals could not go to work, such as air traffic controllers or train signallers.
JCVI advise against COVID vaccinations for healthy UK teenagers
The UK’s vaccination campaign has been incredibly successful, with 54.2% of the UK population fully vaccinated. However, there has been mounting discussions over whether UK teenagers and children should be offered the vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised against healthy teenagers receiving coronavirus vaccines. Evidence shows COVID rarely causes serious issues amongst children unless they have an underlying health condition.
As a result, clinically vulnerable children and those who live with at-risk adults will be offered a coronavirus vaccine. Children between the ages of 12 – 15-years-old will be offered the Pfizer vaccine if they have neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression or severe learning disabilities.
So far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children in the UK. However, Richard Kramer, chief executive of the disability charity Sense, highlighted that many vulnerable children have had to shield themselves throughout the coronavirus pandemic and commented that others often forget them.
However, healthy children nearing their 18th birthday will be offered a coronavirus vaccine to ensure sufficient uptake in young adults who have just turned 18.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid noted that the JCVI are continually reviewing the data and could reconsider their recommendations in vaccinating healthy under-18s in the future.
Professor Adam Finn at the University of Bristol confirmed that coronavirus rarely affected children seriously and labelled it as an evidence-based decision.
Mr Javid said that coronavirus vaccines are estimated to have saved 37,000 lives in the UK and prevented around 11.7 million infections, and advised all eligible individuals to get their vaccine if they have yet to do so.