Public Policy

November 12, 2020

Covid-19 Impact Brief: Thursday, November 12

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Each week, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest weekly news in the evolving situation. 

The UK Government has laid out plans on how it will distribute a vaccine when one is approved

  • This followed the announcement by Pfizer/BioNTech that they have created a vaccine that is 90% effective in protecting people from Covid-19. The company is now seeking approval for emergency use which they hope to secure by the end of the month.
  • The UK has already procured 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of the year, if it is approved. A further 30 million doses have already been ordered for next year, which, altogether, would be enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
  • The Government has also procured 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which is due to announce its results in the coming weeks. Although only 4 million doses will be available before the end of the year.
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the NHS and the army are stepping up preparations to begin delivering the vaccine from 1 December if it’s approved. Although many experts believe the rollout of the vaccine won’t start until mid-December.
  • Many experts believe it would take almost a year to vaccinate the entire adult population of the UK. However it is expected to take only 3-4 months to vaccinate a the a significant majority of the 25-30 million people deemed ‘at risk’ of serious illness of Covid-19. This has led many scientists to proclaim there is a good chance of a return to normality by the Spring provided the logistical operations run smoothly.
  • The current priority list of who would receive the vaccine is as follows:
    • Older adults in a care home and care home workers
    • All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
    • Anyone 75 years of age and over
    • People aged 70 and over
    • All those aged 65 and over
    • High-risk adults under 65 years of age
    • Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
    • All those aged 60 and over
    • All those 55 and over
    • All those aged 50 and over
    • The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined. There are no plans to vaccinate children.

Other news

  • The UK economy grew a record 15.5% in the third quarter (July -September). It followed a record contraction of 19.8% in the second quarter. It means the economy is still 8.2% smaller than before the virus struck. The economy is expected to contract again in the fourth quarter.
  • The Government has extended temporary freedom for pubs, restaurants and cafes to provide food takeaways by another year. Freedoms enabling outdoor markets have also been extended.
  • University students will be able to travel home to spend Christmas with their families following the lifting of national restrictions on 2nd December. The new “student travel window” will run from 3-9 December. Universities have been asked to move learning online by 9 December. The Government will work with universities to establish mass testing capacity to provide reassurance that students can return home safely with minimal risk of passing the virus on to family members.
  • London mayor, Sadiq Khan has announced a further £1.4m for the London Community Response to help community and voluntary organisations who have been affected by Covid-19. This latest contribution brings the Mayor’s total donation close to £9m. The scheme provides emergency food aid grants, help for social isolation and mental health, civil society promotion and local volunteer groups.
  • The Welsh Government has scrapped  GCSE and A levels  exams  for 2021. Instead of exams, the Welsh Government intends to work with schools and colleges to use teacher-managed assessments which will be linked to an “agreed national approach” in order to provide consistency across Wales. No decision has yet been made on Vocational Qualifications.
  • Fife, Perth and Kinross and Angus  in Scotland will move into Level 3 restrictions from 6am on Friday 13 November. All other local authority protection levels in Scotland remain unchanged.
  • The Government has confirmed that over half a million rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests will be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to local public health leaders this week.
  • The Government has announced a £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and the most vulnerable over the winter months. The scheme will be run by councils in England. Local authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December 2020.
  • The Holiday Activities and Food programme (free school meals) is to be expanded covering Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021.
  • The Government has  announced the next wave of Culture Recovery Fund awards which will help to protect a further 162 heritage sites and 8 arts and cultural organisations. Iconic venues such as Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and the Lowry in Salford are set to receive funding. It has also been announced that 70% of the funding has been awarded outside of London.
  • BEIS has announced the first wave of winners receiving Government funding for ground-breaking aviation projects. 20 ideas will receive a share of £7m, including one idea which involves the use of drones capable of delivering COVID-19 medical supplies to remote areas.
  • Additional funding of nearly £3million has been announced to support some of the most vulnerable mental health service users in Wales.
  • Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that a further £15 million has been allocated to support the ongoing efforts to provide accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic.
  • An additional £6.2m in funding for Northern Ireland charities will be made available before the end of the year.
  • ScotRail has announced that people will not be allowed to drink alcohol on trains or at stations in Scotland from 16 November.
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