Here we go- Boris Johnson on his feet.

Remember in terms of policy changes, this will concern England only.

PM: "PHE has found that 1 dose of Pfizer vaccine reduces hospitalisation & deaths by at least 75% and early data from AZ suggests it provides a good level of protection"
Johnson says that "as modelling by SAGE shows" that lifting of measures will result in hospitalisation/deaths

I reported the modelling some weeks ago
"The level of infection is broadly similar across England"- so all measures changed in England at the same time.

RIP tiers.
So were tiers always relatively ineffective- as Andy Burnham argued last year- or just not efficacious now? Might they return? The principal strategy the govt employed for much of the pandemic in 2020 has just disappeared.
MAJOR DATE: From 29th March people in England will no longer be legally required to stay at home- but many restrictions will remain.
When outdoor hospitality reopens there will be no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal. Good news- no more tedious scotch egg debates.
No earlier than 21st June- with appropriate mitigations "we will aim to remove all legal limits on social contacts, opening everything up to and including nightclubs."
Review on international travel to complete by April 12th. PM nods to the idea of summer holidays, in that the review will be complete with a view to allow people to "plan for the summer."
Hint that local restrictions might return: "We must remain alert to the constant mutations of the virus...We can't rule out re-imposing restrictions at local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to suppress a new variant which escapes the vaccines."
I think, in summary, contrary to some of the briefing we saw, the best description of the government’s strategy is in fact data with dates.

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More from @lewis_goodall

23 Feb
Matt Hancock said today "we never had a national outage of PPE"

Yet on 17th April govt felt the need to issue guidance which said PPE could be reused: "Compromise is needed to optimise supply in times of extreme shortages."

Also said lab coats could be used if gowns ran out.
If MH means the country didn't completely run out of PPE well of course, that's literally true- but was never going to happen and not the metric against which the period should be adjudged.

There was, however, extreme national (not just local) pressure as this guidance attests.
And if there wasn't a "national outage" (as I say, an interesting choice of words), why did areas of the wider care network, like hospices, struggle so severely and rely on their community hand making them goggles and gowns?

Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
Sturgeon says that although there's been a very large reduction in infections in Scotland since the lockdown, that's been slowing and last week there was almost no reduction at at all. Says R might not be much below 1: "It would likely not take v much easing to push it above 1."
FM says that Scottish govt intends to publish a more detailed plan in mid-March on sequencing of reopening. Today is about "overall approach"
FM:"If all goes according to plan we will move back to a levels system from the first week of April"

Says she hopes all parts of Scotland to move out of Level 4 into Level 3 and some places less depending on infection rate

So Scotland moving back to tiers/levels and England not
Read 8 tweets
23 Feb
Latest economic numbers from @ONS

-726,000 fewer people in employment compared to a year ago.
-Employment rate down 1.5% on a year ago and 0.3% on the quarter.
-Unemployment up 1.5% a year ago and up a sharp 0.4% on the quarter.
-18-24s seeing sharpest decreases in employment. Image
Unemployment rate of 5.1% is still historically lowish, remarkable given events (and lower than most other European economies).

That said, huge numbers of people are still on furlough. We can’t know what the true state of the economy/labour market is until that fully unwinds.
And look at this chart. Shows the pain in employment losses being felt overwhelmingly by the 18-24s. No plan for the resumption of their university/education and in the world of work they’re suffering too. Image
Read 5 tweets
22 Feb
BREAK: The United States becomes the first country to record more than half a million Covid deaths.
Bear in mind, as huge as this figure is, it’s a smaller figure on a per capita basis than that of the UK’s.

US: 1 Covid death in 656 people
UK: 1 Covid death in 551 people
Of course, there are different ways of collecting the data in different countries and the US/UK figs are in the same ball park. We can say both countries have had bad pandemics with severe death tolls.
Read 4 tweets
22 Feb
Boris Johnson: "With every day that goes by this programme of vaccination is creating a shield around the entire population, which means we're now travelling on a one way road to freedom."
That could well be true in the long term, reading through the SAGE docs and modelling, it's clear that even with vaccines policy choices could well lead to a rapid increase in infections, hospitalisation and thus presumably extra restrictions.
PM "we'll be led by data, not dates."

As I've said this afternoon, up to a point. Even though we've had a lot of documents today, we don't really know what the exact criteria is, what the data is the govt is looking for.

Read 5 tweets
22 Feb
Lots of talk about “the four tests”- but in reality, they’re quite vague, their calculation could be made in several different ways. And the government hasn’t given detail on exactly what they’re looking for. Given that, wonder how immovable the dates will be, in practice.
Lots of briefing about this being a “data not dates” approach but short of major surges or new variant which causes the same, I suspect in practice it’ll be the dates, not the data metrics which have been set out, which we’ll remember and which will (largely) set the framework.
In reality you can argue tests 1 and 2 have already been met and likely will continue to be, it's really about tests 3 and 4 in the future and with test 3 in particular, it's not clear what the thresholds involved might be, what it is govt would be looking for.
Read 12 tweets

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