This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Friday 12 February 2021. In particular, for any legal guidance, you should seek advice from official sources.
You should not rely heavily upon it — it is transcribed by an automated speech recognition service, and I cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any local Manx words (especially in Gaelic) are more likely to be inaccurate. Also, the automated speech recognition service often converts proper nouns incorrectly (especially the spoken words “Isle of Man” to “Ireland” or “all of man”).
Before relying or quoting anything contained here, you should verify it against the underlying audio recorded here. Time Stamps and automatically-generated speaker names should help in the verification.
Howard Quayle 0:00
Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you very much for joining us today. For the first time in a while today I am joined in person by our Director of Public Health, and the Minister of Health first health and social care. This is the first time I’ve appeared of these briefings since we ended our circuit break lockdown. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the ability to go about your business and see friends and family. I know I have. I hope you’ve seen how the media and people from way beyond our shores have been talking about our island. We do though, have to be careful to not appear to be arrogant about our situation. There are so many people globally still struggling with the impact of COVID. What I found moving was people commenting that seeing our island gave them hope that there were better times ahead for them to. But most importantly, the coverage has rightly focused on the fact that it was you the great Manx public, who made the right decisions and got us to where we are today. Before I share some updates with you, I will invite the minister of health and social care to update us on the most recent testing numbers. David,
David Ashford 1:10
thank you, Chief Minister. The total number of tests undertaken now stands at 29,718. The total tests concluded are 29,697, which means we were awaiting 21 results. In the last 24 hours. No new cases have been identified, meaning our total case count remains at 436. The total number of active cases is four with one in hospital. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 1:41
Thank you very much, David. Now that we’ve got through our circuit break, I would like to talk to you about the future. Now I won’t have all the answers to all of your questions. But I want to tell you how the Council of Ministers sees the path ahead. The first thing is to say is that our approach will continue to be carefully considered. We are not about to embark on a plan that leads to unnecessary risk for our island. We have all worked too hard to get to where we are and we are uncertain not going to jeopardise that there is significant uncertainty around us. While the situation in the United Kingdom is getting steadily better, the infection rates are still extremely high. But at the same time there is cause for optimism. The UK vaccination programme is going well, the NHS has delivered an impressive operation. Of course, there is also also some uncertainty around variants and how they might impact on the vaccines available. And I will ask Dr us to share the latest information with us on that in just a minute. As I’ve said on a number of occasions, we only want to have measures in place for as long as they are necessary. The last remaining measure is of course the restrictions around our borders. And forefront in my mind is the need for families who may have one foot either side of the Irish Sea to be able to see each other. We do want to enable this, but we are not there yet. There is still some way to go before we can make bold changes to our borders. As soon as we judge that we can do so without risk to our island, then we will do so we are working to finalise our long term approach. We still have some way to go on this yet. Once it is ready, we will share it with you. Our aim is to do this before the end of the month just to manage everyone’s expectations. It will not give precise dates on when we will make precise changes. But it should give you a clear path of the view of the path ahead and the milestones on that path. There are two things that we are watching closely and will form the basis of our decision making. As always the infection rate in the United Kingdom and to an extent beyond will be key. This is how we measure the threat to our community. As more people that are vaccinated, we would hope that this rate will start to drop significantly. But the new factor now is our own vaccination programme. As we vaccinate people starting of course with our most vulnerable, the risk to us if COVID does arrive on our island reduces and when I talk about the risk, I mean the risk to our people getting seriously sick and the risk of our health service being overwhelmed. Let’s not forget that winter is always a challenging time for our hospitals. At the moment, it would not take many people hospitalised with COVID to push them to the edge and we must protect our NHS so that there is for us that’s what we have to do. So we need to see our most vulnerable vaccinated and the infection rate in the United Kingdom much lower and the change in the weather would also help These things will reduce the risk. And when we judge that the risk is manageable, we can make changes. So of course, everyone would like to know when this will be, that is the big question, and impossible to answer with much certainty, not least when so many factors are beyond our control. So I can’t make any promises. But I can share some hopes. It does feel that when we have when we have vaccinated all of what is known as the nine priority groups in phase one, so those who are over 50, and all those with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk, this will be a key milestone, we hope to be able to have done this by the end of May, if we can do this, and if the UK infection rate decreases significantly, then could maybe the month we see change, possibly might we be able to make some changes before May, maybe. But that moment where we have vaccinated our priority groups does feel like the moment when we can consider taking bolder steps. But I need to be clear, this is aspirational. There are so many external factors that we do not control, not least for supply of vaccines. And of course, with this virus, the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. This might be a good time for me to pause and invite our Director of Public Health talk data’s on another thing that I know was causing concern, notably variants and what they mean for our vaccines. Doctor, you it
Henrietta Ewart 6:32
Thank you, Chief Minister, as Chief Minister mentioned, although rates remain high across in the UK, they are coming down and was breaking news on the BBC, as I was coming into this press briefing, saying that our the Our number is now believed to be under one, which means that things are beginning to come under control as a result of the lockdown that actually links into the variants. Because what has happened across in the UK is that the new UK variant, which we now refer to as the Kent variant, has become the predominant strain. So most cases in the UK Now certainly in England, are the Kent variant. Now, the concerns about the Kent variant where it’s increased transmissibility, which it certainly does show. But the good news is that even with that increased transmissibility, the lockdown measures are bringing the whole thing back under control, even that transmission, that’s due to the Kent variant. So that’s encouraging news. We have had two more cases of the Kent variant Come on Island. We had the genomic sequencing results back earlier in the week. And these included results for the last week in January. And two travel related cases were Kent variant. Those are in self isolation, and there is no one Woods transmission. But once again, I’ll just take that to give me an opportunity to remind everybody just how important it is to observe self isolation if you have a direction notice. So I’ll come on now to where we are in terms of the new variants and vaccine issues. Are the vaccines still active against those variants? The current vaccines do seem to be fully protective against the Kent variant. However, there is a slight nuance to that, which is recently, some differences in the ken variant have been observed. This is where I have to get a bit technical. A variant is a form of the mutation of a form of the virus, which may contain quite a number of mutations. And in the case of the Kent variant, it contains about 23 mutations that make it different from the preceding variants that were common in the UK.
Henrietta Ewart 9:01
To date that hasn’t included any mutation that changes the nature of the spike protein that the virus makes or causes to be made. And that is the main target for the vaccines. Now the South African variant contains a specific mutation called e 484. k, which does change the spike protein and looks as if it makes the vaccines slightly less effective. Now, what is a matter of concern in the UK at the minute is that some samples of Kent variant do contain that e4 eight 4k mutation. They’re still overall tent variants because most of the 23 mutations are the same, but they do contain one change which is this a 484 k And that finding has been linked to some clusters in various geographical areas across, notably in Bristol and the Southwest, and the Northwest. So what is happening around that across is some very active what they refer to as surge testing, where they go out and go door to door literally, and put out lots of adverts on social media and so on asking people in defined postcodes, to come forward and get a test, even if they have no symptoms. And the idea of that is to identify cases, and then do the sequencing and identify whether they have wider spread of the Kent variant with this particular mutation, and try to shut it off that way. You’ll also know that the UK has changed the well the four nations of the UK have changed their border policy regarding incoming travellers bring bringing in hotel quarantine and enhanced testing. And again, that is trying to trying to stop the South African variant coming on to the British Isles. So we have to be vigilant to because obviously, we’re at the end of the kind of travel chain, there, people coming into the UK who want to make their way to the Isle of Man, but have come from one of the countries designated as risk areas for one of the variants of concern, will have to self isolate in line with UK requirements before they can travel onwards to the Isle of Man. And once they get here, they’ll have to follow our regulations for self isolation and testing as well. And it really is vitally important that we try and as far as possible to keep these mutations out of the island, so that our vaccination programme will give us all protection against variants that are currently circulating clearly to an extent that’s only a holding position. And ultimately, there will have to be changes to the vaccines to tweak them and make them effective against both the 484 k mutation and indeed other mutations and variants as they come along. But for the moment, the key focus is to stop that variant getting into the British Isles, including ourselves. And Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 12:22
Okay, thank you, Dr. uattend. Thank you for that speech. You’ve robbed some of my next speech, but I think it’s important enough to reiterate again, on the question of variants. So just before I hand back to the health minister for an update on the vaccination programme, I would like to touch on the question of the UK his own border restrictions that come into force from Monday, we’ve been working closely with the United Kingdom to fully understand the impact on our island and on on our residents. With my colleagues from Guernsey and jersey. I spoke to UK ministers yesterday. The requirement for hotel based quarantine in the UK will apply to those travelling from those countries country 33 on the UK is read list. If someone is coming to the Isle of Man via the UK from one of these countries, as Dr. You it is clearly already said they will need to complete and pay the hotel quarantine before they are allowed to travel onwards to us, even if they are just transiting Heathrow, and then of course, they will need to complete quarantine when they arrive here. There is this is only though for those countries that are red listed. So there is no change for people who travel from the Isle of Man to the United Kingdom. But please remember, we continue to strongly urge you not to travel on less It is essential. So back to our vaccination programme. Let me ask the minister to give us an update. David.
David Ashford 13:51
Thank you, Chief Minister, the vaccination programme continues to roll out at a pace. We have now delivered first doses to over 11% of our population and 4% of our population have been completed entirely having received the second dose in terms of the vaccination programme. letters to the over 75 have recently been going out. And we have now also started sending out letters to those over the age of 70. Those who are extremely clinically vulnerable and their carers. I know that several people have asked how the clinically vulnerable or decided this is done via their primary care records, which we are using as the base for the vaccination programme with a primary care practices providing us with a list of those extremely clinically vulnerable individuals. This round of vaccination also includes their carers, who will receive a separate letter inviting them to register for their vaccinations. The first northern hope vaccine clear a pop up clinic for those in the north of the island that due to physical or medical reasons are unable to travel. We’ll be taking place this weekend weather dependent In Ramsay, and there are 210 people booked in to receive their vaccines this weekend. The clinic is being run by the same nurses operating the airport hub. For those of you who are booked in, there is no need to turn off too early. You will be seen at your allotted time. And it does not matter if you arrive close to your slot or are a little late. If you’re one of the 210 booked in, you will be vaccinated. The Chester street hope will open on Monday and operate in the same way as the airport hub. This will replace the Newland site open nobles hospital, which will be decommissioned as a vaccine hub. For those who approved previously been booked to go to new ones. They have been rebooked to have their vaccines at Chester Street. Can I thank all those who have been involved in the development of the Chester street hope you have turned round a large logistical project in super quick time. And it has delivered a modern spacious clinical space within easy access of boss routes with ample parking nearby, and easy access. Thank you to all of you who’ve been involved in that project. I also want to update you on our plans for vaccinating those in our community who lack the capacity to make their own decisions. Being vaccinated is a free choice. It is not compulsory. So gaining the patient’s informed consent is an important step. Before vaccines go into anyone’s arm. where someone lacks the mental capacity to give that informed consent, they can still be vaccinated if a health care professional confirms that having a job is in the person’s best interest. In other words, a decision is made for an individual by someone else empowered to do so because it is in their best interests. responsibility for making a best interest decision lies with the GPS, GPS know their patients, and have the clinical and ethical training and experience to make this decision. We have a wide range of registered healthcare professionals in our vaccination workforce. But while some have received capacity training as a core part of their job, or others have not. So to ensure consistency, or best interest decisions will be made by GPS. So anyone who does not have capacity to sign the consent form themselves will need to see their GP before they are registered for a vaccine. With the best interest decision in place, the person can be ready to attend when the appointment is given, avoiding any delay. So just to recap, best interest decisions cannot be made on the day at the vaccination hubs, they need to be organised with the GP. So I’d ask anyone hearing this, who cares for a loved one who lacks capacity to make contact with their GP, if they haven’t already done so. This brings me to another connected issue around the consent forms. There have been a number of instances where individuals without capacity have been brought along to the hubs by a relative who was offered to sign the consent forms on their behalf. It is not possible for that to happen. A relative cannot sign the form on someone else’s behalf. If the person cannot sign their own consent, they will need to go down the best interest decision route. I would urge any families concerned about this to make early contact with their primary care provider to discuss the issue. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 18:44
And thank you very much to David and I’d like to add my thanks to that of David, for the dubach department of infrastructure and all the local companies that work with them doing a wonderful job that they’ve done to get the new home ready so quickly. It’s really very impressive. And at the end of the briefing, you can see a short video of one of our wonderful health care professionals Sam Nene, walking you through the Chester street hub. And as always a big thanks to all our health and care professionals on all their teams who have been operating the hubs visiting residential homes and going out to some of our housebound people. I know I went around the hub at the airport and I was really impressed when I when I toured it just the dedication and the speed and professionalism of everything that I saw that now it is great that over 75% of our two top priority team groups, so those in residential care homes and their carers are over 18 and our frontline health staff have now had a first dose and almost a third have now had their second. This is really important progress. Let’s go to questions from the media now. And first I have is Tim Glover from Manx radio. Good afternoon Tim faster, my
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 19:58
faster my cheap Is the steam packet Today reported a non passenger facing UK crew members tested positive for COVID-19 and other colleagues, and including Manx workers now in self isolation is a question we’ve asked before we’ve had concerned members of staff there was an emergency question about vaccinations. For the steam packet staff is key workers asked to think in the keys this week. We hear we’re only as safe as the last person arriving on the island adhering to the rules, and rightly so. But there’s this not apply to Alan bass steam packet crew as well.
Howard Quayle 20:33
Right? Well, it’s a good question, Tim, I was expecting that I can confirm that a UK based crew member of the Isle of Man steam packet company did receive a positive test result for COVID-19. Whilst in the United Kingdom, our contact tracing team has been working hand in glove with the steam packet company to identify close contacts, or were offered and accepted tests and all are self isolating with their households. five of the seven tests have returned a negative. And the remaining two results are expected later today. But I think I should hand over to our Director of Public Health who has been closely involved in this case. Dr. Hewitt,
Henrietta Ewart 21:12
thank you, Chief Minister. Yes, as Chief Minister has outlined, contact tracing has now been completed. All of those concerned in self isolation and have either already tested negative or we are awaiting results later today. Those that have test net tested negative, of course had to complete the self isolation because they could be incubating. But the good news is that they weren’t at risk of being a transmitter of virus or infecting anybody else, before they were identified and put into self isolation. So there should be no more trains of transmission from that, which is good news. We are undertaking what we call Incident Management, in partnership with the steam packet. And while we’ve been doing that by phone and email, we will actually be meeting with them on Monday to make sure we have all appropriate actions in place, as regards the island based crew, and also the UK based crew. And also it’s an opportunity to review arrangements onboard the ferry to make sure that all appropriate social distancing and other mitigations are in place and are being adhered to. Thank you, Chief Minister,
Howard Quayle 22:25
thank you very much talk to you. And I share everyone’s concerns Tim on that. And I have asked Dr. us to review this on a regular basis. And if there’s a medical clinical need to change the current stance on our procedures, then of course, we will going forward.
Unknown Speaker 22:42
And just to confirm that includes vaccination of crew as well as the consideration if needed.
Howard Quayle 22:47
if needed. It’s obviously I’m not a medic, it’s not something in my field that I excel at. And therefore, you know, I have total trust in Dr. Hewitt and on her team and giving us the right advice on how we take this forward.
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 23:02
And as you’ve already alluded to Chief Minister lots of publicity, in recent times to the Isle of Man, we’re being free of COVID restrictions. We’re hearing many self catering accommodation providers reporting an increase in demand for six months rentals, and lots of from people who already have underlying health issues. Many UK buyers we’re hearing is snapping up properties. Is the Ireland health education and infrastructure ready for an increased population? And what comfort can you offer first time buyers who feel they’re being squeezed evermore out of the property market?
Howard Quayle 23:37
Well, I suppose if our property prices were plunging, and nothing was selling, Tim, I’d be getting criticised for not growing our population. I think you’ve seen the latest figures, which clearly show that sadly, our death rate on the Isle of Man is higher than our birth rate by about three 400 people now. And we need to attract skilled workforce to the island to take off to work over here provide the jobs where we’re short, pay taxes so that we can provide services for the for the people off the island, we have an ageing population, like most of the developed world, and we need to plan for that. But equally, as you’ve quite rightly alluded to, we need to ensure that we have a housing policy that supports our locals getting on that ladder and that they’re not priced out of the market. And I know that there is currently a review with the Department of infrastructure, the Department for enterprise and death with planning to see what can we do to help our young people? How can we enable them to get on that property ladder from a financial point of view and the sort of property that they need to get going on the island? So yeah, all concerns obviously, with the borders closed at the moment, we’re not going to see a significant increase. But I think once we lift those borders, if we’ve done our marketing, right, because we are actively marketing the islands to to grow that skilled workforce because as I say, we’ve seen a decrease recently. As a result of death rates being higher than birth rates, that’s a problem we’ve got to solve. But it’s better to have a problem where you’ve got people wanting to come here, rather than not wanting to come here. Okay, so Tim, thanks very much. Okay, next we move on to Helen McKenna from all of my newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen fester my
Unknown Speaker 25:22
it I’ve seen Chief Minister, my first question is about the steam packets. Is this the first time a member of the steam packet has contracted COVID that you’re aware of?
Howard Quayle 25:33
It is to me but I better go on to talk to you to see if she she might have greater knowledge the
Henrietta Ewart 25:38
first time to my knowledge as well.
Unknown Speaker 25:41
Okay, thank you. And my second question is, when will we find out where the northern hub will actually be? I know that the temporary one is at the Ramsey cottage hospital this weekend. But when will we actually find out about the northern hope?
Howard Quayle 25:57
Okay, well, I think I’ll bring in our minister for health and social care has been working on this to give it advice. But you are right, the first hope in the North will be at Ramsey cottage hospital.
David Ashford 26:08
Yeah, the the hopes in the north, as I’ve explained before, Helen, our pop up clinics. So it’s not like the airport. It’s not like Chester Street, which are the two primary hubs that those that can travel will go to these, this is purely for those in the north of the island, who do not have the ability to travel, be that for medical reasons be that for all the physical reasons that they can’t travel very far there, for the time being, they are going to be at Ramsey cottage hospital, there is no plan for any great infrastructure development. To support this, it will be we have the clinical space at Ramsey cottage hospital. And that will be what will be you being utilised for the pop up clinics. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 26:50
Thanks very much, Ella. And I understand the concern of a small community about having hubs scattered around the island. As I’ve said before, in these interviews with our population, if we were in the United Kingdom, we’d have one whole band, we’d have a much bigger population using that term. Obviously, this is the Isle of Man, we do things differently here. And we are doing the the hubs for people who cannot easily get themselves to the airport or into Douglas. So when we’re trying to be as helpful as possible, but I know I was in the queue, buying cakes and that excellent establishment and pale muffins. And I was listening to some of the elderly people in the queue complaining that there wasn’t a purpose built home in the west to and I get their concern. But when the numbers were that we’re looking at the cost of building these hubs and our population, I think hopefully people can see we’ve done our very best to make it as easy as possible for people to go and and if they do compare an excellent service in the United Kingdom, then we have far more facilities for our vaccination than if we were all living in the adjacent tile but understand the question and and the concern for some people. But thank you very much, Ellen. Okay, next we have Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex festa. My
Alex Bell 28:07
Good afternoon. And now I understand that in the past the steam packet company have actually asked for their crew members to be given priority in terms of jobs. Now, given that the company’s a government owned and be a piece of critical national infrastructure. Why was this not granted?
Howard Quayle 28:26
Right. Well, that’s news to me. I’ll bring in Dr. Jonas, David, you’ve got something to add before.
David Ashford 28:32
Yeah, just before we bring the Director of Public Health in, we have to remember from a strategic point of view, Alex, that having the vaccine doesn’t mean people won’t have to self isolate. The evidence at the moment is the vaccine does not stop you contracting COVID. So people even who’ve had the vaccine can still contract it. It just doesn’t mean they don’t get seriously ill. And although the vaccine reduces transmission, according to the most recent data, it reduces, it doesn’t remove the ability for the COVID to transmit. So it doesn’t help from a resilience point of view of the steam packet. Because say in this case, the person had been vaccinated, they would still have had to self isolate, because there still would have been that risk, even although it would have been a lowered risk of them. Trump is transmitting to others and their close contacts would have still been contacted to self isolate as well, but I’ll bring Director of Public Health. Thank you ministers.
Henrietta Ewart 29:26
Yes, I concur with everything the Minister of Health has just said. When these vaccines were given emergency approval for use, it was on the basis of the preliminary data coming out of the randomised control trials. And the outcomes then available from those trials were limited to evidence about the reduction of symptomatic COVID infection and within that serious illness requirement for hospital admission and death. The was nothing in that initial data that was enabling anybody to look at whether people got infected or did not get infected. So the jcvi priorities framework, which we follow here, was deliberately framed around those groups of patients who would be at highest risk for serious illness, hospitalisation, and death, should they become infected. Now, vaccine is in limited supply. So if you give a vial of vaccine to person a, person B has to go without it. So if you start saying, We’ve got other groups who are at lower risk of serious illness, but actually we’d like to give them the vaccine, that means you’re going to have to explain to the group of people who are at high risk of serious illness and you won’t get it. why that is, so you really need to be clear about the opportunity cost of diverting from the identified priority groups to other priority groups. If we think about the staff of the steam packet, if they happen to fall by virtue of age or underlying health condition, within one of those groups, they will get it as that group is called, if they are otherwise younger, fitter people, their risk of developing symptomatic COVID. And within that serious COVID is very much lower anyway. So that was the basis of the initial data that we had and the basis on which the vaccines were approved. On the second of February, the Lancet, published a preprint, from the Oxford AstraZeneca researchers, which actually was looking at the dose interval, and the reaction that you get in terms of protection and immunity, if you have a longer dose interval between the two doses than a shorter one. So that was the primary purpose of that paper. And if you look at the abstract, that’s all it talks about, it doesn’t mention anything about transmissibility. However, within their data sets the data on the UK trial precipitant participants, the UK people had been offered the chance to have a PCR swab every week, regardless of whether or not they develop symptoms. The other trial passive, participants did not get that they only got swapped if they presented with symptoms. So for the UK patients, and that was about just under 9000. There is evidence that suggests that fewer of them in the vaccinated group, were getting a positive PCR, ie evidence that they were being infected compared to the others. And after the first dose of vaccine, that reduction in PCR positivity looked to be about 67%. By the time you got out to the full two doses, it looks to be just under 50%. So that’s very preliminary, the preprint hasn’t been peer reviewed. And it only applies to AstraZeneca. We’ve got no data about transmission or infection for Pfizer as yet at all. So on the basis of that it really is very early days to be concluding that we should be adding in an additional objective to the vaccine programme, which is to produce reduce infection and reduce transmission that may come but it’s early days.
Howard Quayle 33:17
And if I can just say, Alex, before you move on to the next question, I have have obviously shared the concerns of the emergency question and members of the public. And I’ve asked Dr. You to keep this under review. So that should there be a need to change our stance when the evidence presents itself, then we can move forward and Dr. Hewitt has met with the steam back of representatives to look at their procedures, etc. and will continue to monitor the situation.
Alex Bell 33:44
Thank you. I do take the point about transmission there. But I think the concern is given that these crew members are some of the only folk who travel between the Isle of Man in the UK regularly now they are the most likely people to catch COVID. And therefore should they not be given protection from the viruses symptoms based on that risk?
Howard Quayle 34:04
Yeah, and that’s a medical question for the medical advice to give, give us on that I think the person who had the COVID was not a forward facing person. They were in isolation on the boat. But we have to go along with the advice of our medics and our public health and the evidence that’s out there. And I think doc g was given quite a lengthy explanation. But should the data change or the evidence change? And I’m sure we will be happy to revisit the the decision doctor, you have anything you want to
Henrietta Ewart 34:36
Yes, indeed. This is obviously a fast changing situation. And as the data changes, our opinions and considerations change.
Unknown Speaker 34:46
Howard Quayle 34:49
that you’re finished. Alex,
Alex Bell 34:51
if I may ask another question. Actually, it’s just concerning the vaccines which were administered and looking at the vaccine dashboard yesterday. It appeared that there were very, very low numbers as few as one doses of vaccine given out yesterday. Was this actually the case? And if so, why?
Howard Quayle 35:08
Right, I think I’ll bring in the health minister to answer that question.
David Ashford 35:11
Yeah, no more than happy to answer that for you, Alex. This week. It’s basically what we’ve said all along. It’s down to vaccine availability. So for instance, I think I mentioned at a previous briefing, that we were expecting disruptions to our supply for the face of vaccine because of the work that’s been going on at faces vaccine factory in Belgium. So we only had sufficient for five, sir to provide the second doses this week. And these were scheduled for Monday to Wednesday of the week. We were also originally due to run for days of vaccination through the airport, but it was going to be low numbers spread over four days, the decision was taken to use the vaccine for one of those days, plus what we had scheduled in to provide the pop up in Ramsey over the weekend. Because this reduced the apple airport, three ports to three days, the team decided that actually they could deliver the same total, because their capacity over a single day. So we’ve delivered in a single day what otherwise would have been spread over three. So it’s not slowed anything down. We are vaccinating to the supply that we have. I spoke about this. I think it was last week’s press briefing where I mentioned that we were expecting disruption to five sir, but that are we will continue with the AstraZeneca. But people would therefore see an effect on the numbers being vaccinated. And that’s exactly what’s happened this week.
Howard Quayle 36:31
Thanks very much, Alex. Now we move on to Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My
Sam Turton 36:36
mastermind Chief Minister, if Richter turned to Guernsey to start, please their president for health and social care, has today said the new scientific evidence has emerged in respect of how we can ensure the vaccines administered as effectively as possible. Significantly, there was now clear evidence that by moving along the gap between doses of AstraZeneca vaccine the second dose is more effective, providing more protection, the individual Guernsey has now moved up to 10 week gap between first and second dose, what science are they seeing that we’re not seeing?
Howard Quayle 37:07
I think we’ll ask David and then Dr. Woods if necessary. Yeah,
David Ashford 37:11
I’ll come in, I’ll come in on that seminar. I’ll bring drugs public health, then we assess all of the data. We our clinical advisory group does look at this. They’ve been looking at all the papers coming in. And if they decide that we need to move, then we will move but it is a clinical decision to be made. It’s not a political decision. It needs to be based around the scientific evidence. I know there are some that are that have put glams particularly I think it was the director of preventative diseases at Imperial College that has London that has actually come out and said we need to be cautious about the data it’s based upon, but I’ll bring the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 37:50
Thank you, Minister. Yes, this actually is another set of data that’s come from lancy preprint. That appeared on second February that we talked about before. I think there is an very long established body of evidence that leaving a longer vaccine interval, rather than a shorter one between doses actually does improve the overall immune response that’s been well seen within the standard vaccine schedules that have been going for a long while. And that is why very often the jcvi will start with an addition to the vaccine schedule that follows the manufacturers trial data, but they will then move out the spacing. So that was the overall principles and transferable evidence that underlay the jcvi recommendation to delay second dose vaccine up to 12 weeks, which has been in place for some time now, across impacted, it’s always been part of that approach. That has now been confirmed with respect specifically to the AstraZeneca vaccine by the Oxford team. And the data for all of that is contained in the preprint, which is there on the internet for anybody and everybody to see. So it’s not really a surprise. There are two reasons to think about changing from the manufacturers vaccine schedule. And one of those is your levels of infection. If you are running at very high levels of infection, you clearly have a very strong imperative to get as many people with some protection as possible. So in those circumstances, you obviously want to go for getting as many first shots distributed out there as possible and then catching up with the second doses later. We don’t have that driver at the minute. Although of course we do have an ever present threat that we might return to something like that, really with very little notice, as obviously has happened in Guernsey, although they’re thankfully getting it back under control. The other driver to going for a first shot maximum coverage is if you have issues or you think you’re going to have issues about vaccine supply. Now, on top of those two drivers, we actually have the evidence that the immune response is likely better with a longer interval. And that just confirms what jcvi had interpreted all the way through. It’s interesting to note that the who has now shifted their position, they initially were very cautious, and were uncomfortable about moving beyond the data sets in the original Pfizer and AstraZeneca publications. But they have now also moved to an acceptance of this this later interval. So it is something that as I understand it is back with our clinical group for reconsideration. So, as with everything, it’s something that is kept constantly under review. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 40:57
And once we have an update on the findings from our political review committee, we’ll let you all know. Thank you.
Sam Turton 41:05
I’m just second the cheapness that this weekend, the transport secretary in UK grant ships told radio for the COVID passports are on the way. And I think he means that there gonna be more yellow fever types of certificates. But what preparations is the Manx government making to ensure that our residents aren’t caught out by this?
Howard Quayle 41:22
Well, all our residents, their GPS, keep a record of the fact that they’ve had, whether they’ve had the vaccination or not, and the dates, etc. So I’m sure if there’s a need for a universal card, shall we say to to be developed or that will be developed by the UK, then we will take part of that. But obviously, I think it’s still too early to say we still haven’t got the data yet from all the vaccines to see whether they stop people spreading the vaccination, we’ve seen some reports, I don’t think it’s been peer reviewed to use the technical phrase from Dr. Yu at that. It definitely does significantly reduce the spread of the virus if you’ve had vaccination. But I think to give a more detailed answer are like.dr Ewart.
Henrietta Ewart 42:13
Yes, thank you, Chief Minister. I think one of the key issues about vaccine and vaccine passports if you’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever, you know, you’ve got long lasting resistance to infection, you get a certificate that lasts I think, from memory for 10 years, we’d simply don’t know that with the COVID vaccine. Firstly, as Chief Minister has just said, we don’t know to what extent it’s really going to protect from infection and then transmission. And above that, we don’t know how long it will last. And the other thing we don’t know is not only how long will it last against the current variants? But how will that change as and when new variants come along? Which they almost certainly will do, because this is a virus that mutates. So all of those things make it quite a different situation compared to the yellow fever system.
Howard Quayle 43:05
I’d say I’ve said it in all the other answers, Sam, if the data changes, and it is decided that there will be a card for you to travel, because we’ve already heard of at least one airline saying that you’re going to have to have the vaccine before you’re gonna be allowed to travel. I think Sargon have said something similar, then obviously, we will be part of that we won’t let our residents be disadvantaged. And this the minute we hear of that scheme being brought in, then we will of course advise everyone on this right now we have last but not least Rob Richard from three FM Good afternoon, Rob faster. My Good afternoon, Chief Minister, first
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 43:43
question just with regards to the steam packet again, of course, this is something we hope never happens. But what contingency plans are in place if we found ourselves in a situation where too many crew are having to either self isolate or await testing, which would mean one or more of the vessels wouldn’t be able to sell because of course the company is part of that critical infrastructure particularly for the likes of supplies.
Howard Quayle 44:06
Well, obviously this has been looked at I Know dry will have looked into it with with the steam packet company. I don’t think we’re going to need to boat sailing for some time yet. Sadly, I don’t think the we will need the Manannan to come online unless it’s to cover with the ban mercury going into dry dock and I know the steam packet company have been planning and looking at crewing etc. Obviously they need a much reduced crew at this moment in time because obviously the foot passengers and the cars etc are significantly reduced. It’s mainly for freight. So I think they will have a surplus of people that they can call up on I know Dr. Yuan has had meetings with them. I don’t know if you’ve gone that far. On the crewing
Henrietta Ewart 44:51
No. But as you say I understand that those contingencies have been worked through with the dry.
Howard Quayle 44:56
Yeah. So it has been thought about hopefully It won’t happen. And as I say, with with vaccines coming along, we’re getting an awful lot closer now. And the fact that the there are crews based in the UK and the UK are doing an exceptionally good job with their vaccination rollout, were on the same levels too. So hopefully, it won’t be that that will be a situation that won’t happen. But it has been thought through and I know the steam packet will have planned for this. Thank you. My
Unknown Speaker 45:24
second question is probably for the health and social care minister would say.
Howard Quayle 45:30
David Ashford 45:31
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 45:32
Good afternoon. Mr. Just with regards to the public clinics like to say the first one is coming up in rounds on Saturday, has any thought been given to doing a public clinic have the same sort of nature and say another part of the island to make it accessible to all when it’s needed, for example, something of that sort and say, the west of the island, there has
David Ashford 45:51
been consideration given by go back to what I’ve said at previous briefings, we have to be very careful that every time we divide off our resource, we make ourselves less efficient with the vaccine programme. So we need to be very, very clear what the purpose of the clinic clinics pop ups that we do are, they are for people who cannot travel. So they are not just for residents who may live say for instance, in the West, the island or the North the island, because they don’t wish to travel. It is purely limited to those who for a medical purpose, or physical purpose can’t physically travel to the Douglas horrible the airport hub, as the chief minister mentioned, I know people see on the TV screens, and I’ve addressed this before as well, church halls, etc. being opened up for vaccination homes. To put that into perspective, I was in touch actually with an area of the UK where I used to live many years ago. And the local church hall that’s being used as a vaccination hub is actually covering a population of 50,000 people. So although it’s being seen on the news as a church hall, it’s covering a large proportion of the population. And that’s the sort of throughput you need, you need to keep the throughput going to make these service efficient. And with the logistical challenges around the vaccine as well, such as the break in the breaking off of the vaccine and the vials, we’ve got to be very, very careful that what we do is we don’t dilute the programme that we’re trying to roll out. So we will give consideration on the department has been considering what we can do around pop up clinics. We’ve also been engaging with primary care on this, but we will we will not do things unless we are absolutely certain that it is not going to slow our vaccination programme down.
Unknown Speaker 47:34
Howard Quayle 47:35
Thanks very much, Rob. And thank you all for your questions today. I think we will we’ll stop there for today. Now despite pretty awful weather forecast for the weekend, I hope you can have a great Valentine’s weekend and support our local businesses as much as you can. Please take care and be kind to one another. Thank you all very much for joining us today.
Unknown Speaker 47:55