The NHS is on the edge of toppling over, with exhausted doctors and nurses begging people to protect the NHS, on news channels.
London: The UK is in a national lockdown that in one form or another is expected to last until the end of March, although various ministers have different perspectives on the likely time span. Thanks to what is now known as the “UK variant” Covid-19 B.1.1.7 and its increased transmissibility folks are being more responsible about staying home. Those who previously were quite casual about obeying restrictions are taking them more seriously as 100,000 UK deaths are a possibility. Folks were horrified when Chris Whitty suggested that some restrictions might be necessary during winter 2021. The NHS is on the edge of toppling over, with exhausted doctors and nurses begging people to protect the NHS, on news channels. The vaccines have commandeered the focus, MPs have made it clear they expect the government to get this rollout right. The opening sequence went a bit awry with the changes in protocol for the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine (PBV). Instead of administering the second dose 21 days after the first, most of the initial quantity of 800,000 PBVs will be used for a first dose, maximising the number of people who are immunised. This led to an NHS idea that a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine would be “preferable” if no second dose of Pfizer was available. Public Health England then issued a statement saying vaccines should not be mixed.
A source says the vaccines require two weeks of “training” to administer, thus consultants who offered their own time for the good of the nation, are not able to spare the time for the training. Dr Liam Fox brought five of twenty-one training requirements to the attention of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, Dr Fox deemed these courses unnecessary to vaccination proficiency: conflict resolution; equality, diversity and human rights; moving and handling loads; and preventing radicalisation. Matt Hancock, Health Minister, returned in the afternoon to advice that a series of unnecessary training modules that had been removed, including fire safety and terrorism. Sources say pharmacists are unable to administer vaccinations as pharmacies do not have resuscitation equipment. Vaccines have been arriving late at surgeries, instead of suffering the curse of NHS bureaucracy at last Johnson announced the Army will assist with distribution logistics. Till now many officers and soldiers were locked down in barracks.
Johnson has promised 2 million vaccines a week in order to avoid a third wave and 13.5 million by mid-February; so far, Kate Bingham of the much lauded Vaccine Task Force or Hancock has not explained how this will be accomplished. Operation Moonshot (10 million tests per day) and the Test and Trace program seem to have faded into oblivion. Meanwhile, the BBC has introduced/enforced personal social distancing electronic devices to alert employees and guests who trespass over a 2-metre distance.
Businesses are wondering when vaccinations will be available to the private sector. Vaccination “passports” will be a bridge Johnson has to cross in this Parliament term, the passport concept will mostly likely be presented as aviation industry led.
It was regarded as a disappointment that Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India and a great moment for both countries has been postponed. Johnson said it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus. Much speculation has been added since, including domestic pressure, Johnson has drawn an oblique parallel between himself and Franklin D. Roosevelt; some are asking if his fiancée Carrie Symonds might identify with the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt. In some quarters sceptics are speculating that the potential India trade deal was a useful mechanism to leverage a Brexit deal with the EU. Just days after the PM’s visit was confirmed (15 Dec) suddenly a £100billion trade deal with India was possible (19 Dec) and hey presto a deal with Brussels was agreed on 24 December—purely sceptical coincidence.
India has a new UK High Commissioner, Alex Ellis, most recently Director General of the Department for Exiting the EU, formerly UK Ambassador in Brasilia and Lisbon, and Adviser to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Ellis has good financial and policy experience, although British Ambassadors are not political appointments. Some folks had conjectured that the PM’s brother, Lord Jo Johnson of Marylebone, might become the High Commissioner, as an Indophile he has been participating in recent India related events.
Nigel Farage, formerly of UKIP and the Brexit, has got authorisation from the Electoral Commission to name his new party, Reform UK: Change Politics for Good. In the right wing arena, Farage has reach, scope and a great track record. Now that Brexit is done, Farage’s new political plank is on how to address the threat from China, which is throttling democracy. Farage’s mission is to ensure UK is no longer dependent on China. Recently, two polls have found that democratic society has an increasingly negative perception of China, particularly amongst Conservative voters. Covid, Hong Kong, expansionism, communism, the Union’s security and apprehensions about being overwhelmed by Chinese investments, all contribute to worsening sentiment. Farage has chosen a winning horse to ride until the next election in 2024. China is thought to be one reason for the new National Security and Investment Bill, which aims to introduce a new regime for reviewing and intervening in possible hostile investments, such as takeovers, that might raise national security concerns. The Bill awaits scheduling for its third reading in the House of Commons. Politicos in UK were astounded by the EU’s ambitious Comprehensive Agreement on Investment of 30 December. The EU seem to take for granted reciprocal transparency, fairness and dispute resolution.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser found Julian Assange was both not eligible for extradition, due to his fragile mental health and the risk of his suicide in a US jail, or for bail as it was feared he would abscond from the host country. Thus Assange remains in custody. The US intends to appeal, and the future of freedom of expression, press freedom and the right to hold wrongdoing to account remains unpredictable.