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Spike in customers abusing retail staff because of coronavirus restrictions in shops

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spike in customers abusing retail staff because of coronavirus restrictions in shops

Retail staff are experiencing up to a 400 per cent increase in abuse from customers prompted by restrictions in place because of coronavirus, a report reveals.

The National Retail Association report released on Tuesday outlines the health and wellbeing struggles facing the sector and calls for retail staff to be classified as frontline essential workers.

NRA chief Dominique Lamb says workers are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety.

Retail staff are experiencing up to a 400 per cent increase in abuse from customers prompted by restrictions in place because of coronavirus, a report reveals. People are seen outside a Costco in Melbourne

Retail staff are experiencing up to a 400 per cent increase in abuse from customers prompted by restrictions in place because of coronavirus, a report reveals. People are seen outside a Costco in Melbourne

Retail staff are experiencing up to a 400 per cent increase in abuse from customers prompted by restrictions in place because of coronavirus, a report reveals. People are seen outside a Costco in Melbourne

‘We’d like to see the government recognise retailers as an essential frontline service and implement a retail resilience program to educate workers on how to cope during the pandemic,’ she said.

‘Areas that require urgent attention include mental health issues, high smoking rates and exposure to violent crime at work.’

Some retailers have reported up to a 400 per cent increase in aggression and abuse following customer anger at restrictions, while more than 85 per cent have experienced verbal or physical abuse while trying to prevent a crime.

‘Many business owners have been forced to employ security guards and crowd controllers to ensure social distancing measures are followed,’ Ms Lamb said.

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Curfews, open borders and second waves: DR ELLIE CANNON answers your questions on coronavirus

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curfews open borders and second waves dr ellie cannon answers your questions on coronavirus

The 10pm curfew seems ridiculous – it’s not as if the virus has a watch and only transmits at certain times, is it?

A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations.

The hope is that the measure will help reduce social contact between people and slow the spread of the virus.

But as pictures have surfaced of large groups spilling out on to streets at 10pm – and crowding on to public transport – experts have questioned the logic.

Some have rightly pointed out that the virus can spread at any time, day or night. Others have warned that drinkers will go out earlier, or head back to friends’ houses after closing time, where they are less likely to abide by social distancing.

A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations

A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations

A new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced last week in England, Wales and Scotland as part of a package of new Covid-19 regulations

Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, is not convinced the curfew will be effective.

He said: ‘It runs the risk of compressing activity and having people leave at a single time in large numbers.’

Dr Jennifer Cole, biological anthropologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, is more hopeful.

‘The more drunk you are, the less inhibited and less risk-averse you are,’ she says.

‘Closing the bars and restaurants at 10pm simply keeps people more sober.

‘It gives them plenty of time for a meal, or a quick drink with friends after work, but means they are likely to be sober enough to remember to put on a face covering on the train or bus home, and to be careful around elderly relatives when they get home’.

Did the local lockdowns work? The new national measures seem to mimic those in areas with fast-rising cases like the North West.

Although the UK avoided a national lockdown in the summer, smaller areas have been subject to stricter rules.

Data from Leicester and Greater Manchester – where local rules were imposed – give some idea of whether these restrictions worked.

From the end of June, Leicester residents from more than one household could not gather indoors, and shops, pubs and restaurants remained closed. Cases fell between June and July from 140 per 100,000 people to just 50 – and continued to fall even as pubs, restaurants, gyms and beauticians were gradually reopened throughout August.

However, they have risen again in recent weeks, in line with the rest of the country.

In Oldham, Greater Manchester, cases initially dropped from about 100 per 100,000 to 60. But they have also since risen again.

Experts say it is too early to tell if the curfews applied almost two weeks ago to parts of the North East have had an effect on the number of cases and spread of infection.

Overall, it seems that local lockdowns did help slow the rate of infection.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ‘The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline.

‘But I think without doing anything, cases in Oldham would have accelerated more rapidly.’

He added that problems with the NHS test and trace service could have limited the effectiveness of the measures.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ¿The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline'

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ¿The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline'

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: ‘The problem is you can never really be 100 per cent sure that something you have introduced has slowed cases, or caused a decline’

Why are our borders still open?

At this stage of the pandemic, closing borders would have only a limited impact on the UK’s case numbers.

In February and March, there was significant debate about whether to halt international travel, and evidence has since suggested that the majority of UK cases were brought in from Europe – mainly Spain and France.

Perhaps then, before cases were widespread, closing the borders could have changed the course of the pandemic.

But the UK is in a very different position now, with the virus well-established across the country.

‘If we banned international travel today, it probably wouldn’t have any dramatic discernible effect,’ says Professor Hunter. ‘Yes, it would stop new cases coming into the country. But cases are accelerating anyway.

‘Once you have got a disease circulating in a country, banning international travel basically doesn’t do much.’

So, is this the second wave of Covid-19 or not?

There’s no doubt that the UK is seeing a steep rise in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19.

In recent weeks, the numbers have started to climb rapidly. The fear – as outlined in a public broadcast last week by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England – is that these cases will grow uncontrollably. This is likely to have an effect on hospital admissions, which are already starting to creep up, and deaths. The number of Britons in hospital with the virus has risen by more than 50 per cent since last week.

In their address, Sir Patrick and Prof Whitty warned that the number of people infected could double every seven days, leading to as many as 50,000 cases per day by mid-October. But some experts say this prediction is implausibly quick.

In the meantime, Imperial College London data suggests a doubling of infections every seven to eight days. This was based on 136 positive tests from 150,000 swabs between August 22 and September 7.

Critics say this is too low a number of positive tests to reliably compute trends – and that it may not reflect the current picture.

‘Some people say it’s not a second wave, because actually, the first wave never went away,’ says Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia. ‘The fact is, we are seeing a major resurgence of the infection, and whether it’s part of the first wave or second – those are purely words.’

It’s important to remember, though, that we are not in the same place as we were in the spring. At the peak of the pandemic, the Government reported there were more than 6,000 daily infections, but the true number is estimated to have been much higher.

Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say it may even have topped 100,000 in March. Back then, only some people with symptoms – mainly those in hospitals – were being tested.

So while the two ‘waves’ may appear alarmingly similar on a graph, it’s not accurate to compare them at all. The rise in cases now is an early warning – one which we did not have the benefit of at the start of the year – that the virus is spreading. And it gives the Government, and population, time to act.

Prof Hunter says new measures introduced last week should help slow the rise in infections, and stop cases rising so steeply. But he adds: ‘I personally doubt that they will, by themselves, reverse the epidemic this side of Christmas.’

Cases of Covid have risen steeply in France and Spain but Italy, pictured, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control

Cases of Covid have risen steeply in France and Spain but Italy, pictured, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control

Cases of Covid have risen steeply in France and Spain but Italy, pictured, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control

France and Spain are seeing a second wave – why isn’t Italy too?

Cases of Covid-19 have risen steeply in France and Spain, with both reporting more than 10,000 new infections a day. Meanwhile Italy, which was hit harder than most European countries in March, appears to have things under control.

While the number of infections there has been creeping up, levels have remained fairly consistent over the past month, and not topped 2,000. It is faring better than the UK too.

Last week, Boris Johnson suggested the difference was because Britain was ‘a freedom-loving country’. But Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella hit back, saying Italians ‘love freedom, but we also care about seriousness’.

Exactly why France, Spain and the UK are faring so differently to Italy is not clear. But experts say it could be that Italian rules on mask-wearing in public are strictly adhered to and enforced by police and officials.

The country is also offering rapid Covid-19 tests at some airports. And although they are less accurate than the one used in the UK, they can provide a result in 30 minutes.

Italy’s test and trace system is also thought to be working well. However, it is too soon to suggest that the country will escape unscathed this time.

Has the virus mutated, making it more – or less – dangerous now?

Every time a virus infects a person, it makes new copies of itself to attack other cells, and during this process mistakes can be made that result in changes.

In fact, most of the time, mutations don’t make much difference to how the virus behaves. Sir Patrick said the virus that causes Covid-19 had ‘genetically moved a bit’ but stressed this had not changed its ability to infect people or cause disease and death.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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President Donald Trump nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett

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president donald trump nominates judge amy coney barrett

President Donald Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House Saturday.  

‘Today is it my pleasure to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,’ Trump said, making his nomination official as Barrett stood to his side. 

Barrett had been a leading contender for the nomination, having been considered for the seat now occupied by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed in 2018. 

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge had met with Trump this week.  

President Donald Trump (left) officially nomimated Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) Saturday at the White House

President Donald Trump (left) officially nomimated Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) Saturday at the White House

President Donald Trump (left) officially nomimated Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) Saturday at the White House

The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump at the ceremony, while Amy Coney Barrett brought her kids

The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump at the ceremony, while Amy Coney Barrett brought her kids

The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump at the ceremony, while Amy Coney Barrett brought her kids

President Donald Trump (left) walked out in lockstep with Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) to the Rose Garden ceremony where she was officially nominated to the Supreme Court on Saturday

President Donald Trump (left) walked out in lockstep with Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) to the Rose Garden ceremony where she was officially nominated to the Supreme Court on Saturday

President Donald Trump (left) walked out in lockstep with Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) to the Rose Garden ceremony where she was officially nominated to the Supreme Court on Saturday 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett's name was leaded Friday night as President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat

Judge Amy Coney Barrett's name was leaded Friday night as President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat

 Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s name was leaded Friday night as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died September 18, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to fill a third Supreme Court seat during his first term

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died September 18, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to fill a third Supreme Court seat during his first term

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died September 18, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to fill a third Supreme Court seat during his first term 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is captured leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana Saturday ahead of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court announcement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is captured leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana Saturday ahead of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court announcement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is captured leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana Saturday ahead of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court announcement 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (second from right) is photographed leaving her Indiana home Saturday followed by her husband Jesse Barrett (right) and her sons (from left) Benjamin, John Peter and Liam

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (second from right) is photographed leaving her Indiana home Saturday followed by her husband Jesse Barrett (right) and her sons (from left) Benjamin, John Peter and Liam

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (second from right) is photographed leaving her Indiana home Saturday followed by her husband Jesse Barrett (right) and her sons (from left) Benjamin, John Peter and Liam 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett holds the hand of her daughter Juliet as son John Peter trails behind. Barrett is a mom of seven

Judge Amy Coney Barrett holds the hand of her daughter Juliet as son John Peter trails behind. Barrett is a mom of seven

Judge Amy Coney Barrett holds the hand of her daughter Juliet as son John Peter trails behind. Barrett is a mom of seven  

Amy Coney Barrett brought along three of her daughters to her September 2017 confirmation hearings in September 2017

Amy Coney Barrett brought along three of her daughters to her September 2017 confirmation hearings in September 2017

Amy Coney Barrett brought along three of her daughters to her September 2017 confirmation hearings in September 2017  

She’s a New Orleans native who attended Rhodes College and received her law degree from Notre Dame law school, where she later taught. She lives in South Bend, Indiana.  

Barrett’s name as his official pick had leaked out Friday night, but the president remained coy.

‘In my own mind, yes,’ Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews when he was asked if a decision had been made. 

When Barrett’s name was mentioned, ‘I haven’t said that.’ 

‘They’re all great. I haven’t said it was her but she is outstanding,’ Trump said.  

Conservatives have heralded the pick as Barrett is the heir-apparent of Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February 2016. 

Trump spoke of the Scalia connection in his Rose Garden speech remarking that Scalia once said of the SCOTUS nominee: ‘Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.’ 

Barrett, who clerked for Scalia, shares his belief in an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. 

White House staff readies the Rose Garden Saturday for President Donald Trump's 5 p.m. announcement of a new Supreme Court justice

White House staff readies the Rose Garden Saturday for President Donald Trump's 5 p.m. announcement of a new Supreme Court justice

White House staff readies the Rose Garden Saturday for President Donald Trump’s 5 p.m. announcement of a new Supreme Court justice 

If her nomination is successful, it will give the Supreme Court a hard jerk to the right, as she’ll be replacing the court’s most liberal member, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died September 18. 

Liberals fear that Barrett could chip away the ability for women to get a legal abortion, as the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade revolved around a right to privacy, which isn’t explicitly outlined in the U.S. Constitution.   

Barrett would also be replacing a Jewish member of the court with a devout Catholic, bringing the number of Catholics on the bench to six. 

Overall, there are nine Supreme Court justices. 

Barrett’s faith will likely play a role in her forthcoming Judiciary Committee hearings. 

She’s a member of the People of Praise, a small Catholic group that teaches husbands are the heads of the family. 

The group was inaccurately reported to be the inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ which is now a popular television show because the term ‘handmaid’ was used to describe a member’s personal adviser, if that adviser was female. 

Members of the group also swear a loyalty oath, which some legal scholars have found problematic because they raise questions about a judge’s impartiality and independence. 

During her 2017 confirmation hearings for a seat on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, Barrett testifed that while she was a devout Catholic, those views wouldn’t bleed into her decisions on the bench. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, famously told Barrett, ‘The dogma lives loudly within you.’ 

Conservatives including Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who has since retired from the Senate, knocked Democrats for deploying a ‘religious test.’ 

The New York Times didn’t report her membership in People of Praise until after the hearings concluded, but before the vote. 

Democrats will likely bring it up during the forthcoming hearings.  

Earlier Saturday, Barrett was spotted leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana with her children.   

Barrett has seven children – five biological and two who were adopted from Haiti. She brought her eldest three daughters Emma, Vivian and Tess with her when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. 

Vivian and Tess as the same age, as Vivian is one of the children adopted from Haiti. 

Barrett also talked about how her youngest son, Benjamin, has special needs. 

Republicans have the votes in the Senate to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November 3 presidential election. 

While Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who’s facing a tough re-election fight, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski both said they didn’t think the Senate should vote on Trump’s nominee before the election, several other swing votes indicated they would – giving the president the numbers he needs. 

Democrats have called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a hypocrite because he refused to hold a Senate floor vote on President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who was picked to fill Scalia’s seat in March 2016. 

McConnell said it was too close to the 2016 presidential election and the American people should get the opportunity to weigh in.  

This was echoed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham who said he wouldn’t push through a nominee in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, suggesting a new precedent had been set. 

Graham, however, reversed course, pointing to the brutal 2018 battle to get Kavanaugh on the court. 

Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. 

Graham fiercely defended Kavanaugh during the hearings. 

Kavanaugh still made it on the Supreme Court with a 50 to 48 vote.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Will a vaccine really be the silver bullet we’re all praying for? Asks DR ELLIE CANNON

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will a vaccine really be the silver bullet were all praying for asks dr ellie cannon

The Government has played its hand, for the time being at least. After weeks of confusing and contradictory edicts, growing public disquiet and rising Covid-19 cases, they’ve revealed their grand plan: suppress the virus ‘as much as possible’ to ‘save lives’ until there is a vaccine.

As we all know, corona cases are spiralling. And we, the British public, are to blame, according to the PM. There had been ‘too many breaches’ of the rules, he said in his address last week.

So at the moment we’re in a sort of limbo – told to work from home ‘if we can’, facing curfews, and, in Scotland, more severe restrictions on visiting each other’s homes.

And, of course, if people ‘don’t follow the rules… then we reserve the right to go further’, Boris Johnson said.

I am sure I’m not alone in feeling an unsettling sense of deja vu. Are we on the verge of another full lockdown? It’s unbearable to contemplate. Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to think it was all quite straightforward – the vaccine, it’s been widely reported, is already in production. He thinks it’ll be ready ‘early next year’, or maybe even this year, depending on who he’s been talking to.

Then, and only then, can we all breathe a sigh of relief. The perpetual cycle they’re planning of regulations, confinement and closures – and ever more draconian ways of enforcing these measures, the fines and snooping – can come to an end. We will be saved, a fairytale end to the pandemic.

The proverbial carrot dangling on a stick. Almost, but not quite, within reach.

Every Friday I take a Covid swab at home and post it off, writes DR ELLIE CANNON

Every Friday I take a Covid swab at home and post it off, writes DR ELLIE CANNON

Every Friday I take a Covid swab at home and post it off, writes DR ELLIE CANNON

Except that there is a huge snag in this strategy. Ask any scientist who knows what they’re talking about and they’ll tell you the vaccine just isn’t going to provide this kind of resolution.

Of course, I understand why people cling to this dream – the Hollywood ending to the pandemic. I say this both as a GP and as an ordinary person whose life, like everyone else’s, has been turned upside down this year. I’m deeply invested – a fully signed-up guinea pig on the vaccine trial myself. I dearly wish it were true. But I feel, as a doctor, it’s my duty to be honest: the jab, when it finally arrives, won’t be the miracle cure or silver bullet these Ministers are making it out to be.

To claim otherwise is at best misguided, which, given the retinue of science advisers at their disposal, seems unlikely. At worst, it is deeply disingenuous. Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson could have done well to tune in to an interview with Oxford’s star vaccine scientist Professor Sarah Gilbert earlier this month, in which she urged people to ‘temper their expectations’ about immunisation. She added: ‘It’s not going to be as it is in the movies, where there is some breakthrough and suddenly the world is protected.’

And I couldn’t agree more. Vaccines are not a panacea. For a start, some people just won’t opt to have the jab. At the moment, large numbers of people seem nervous.

A recent survey suggested 15 per cent of Britons would say no to the jab, up from five per cent in March. In America, as many as 40 per cent claim they’d turn it down.

Others simply won’t get round to it. Most vaccines have to be given in two doses, which makes it even more likely people will forget, not get round to it, or put it off.

Others may not be suitable – for instance, people with immune system conditions, and those with certain types of cancer.

Covid fact 

Trials in humans are under way for 42 possible Covid-19 vaccines. 

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In these patients, vaccinations aren’t recommended because they can interfere with treatments.

And there has to be the capacity and infrastructure to quickly vaccinate a lot of people – and as we’ve seen, those put in charge of these kinds of things can often be ‘surprised’ by surges in demand.

Professor Stephen Evans, 77, who is an expert in pharmaceuticals at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a participant, like me, in the Oxford vaccine trial, added: ‘There must be good systems able to track who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t and the data on this must be able to get back to GP records.

‘It is not clear that the planning for this massive data-processing task has been done, but it’s crucial to ensure that the vaccine is really effective in actual use, rather than just in the trials.’

We know from the trials that the Oxford vaccine is safe. In some people, it causes mild, transient side effects – a headache and generally feeling below par are most common. I didn’t have any side effects. And we know it does cause a strong immune response in adults aged 18 to 55, which means scientists are optimistic that it will provide protection against Covid-19. But it’ll take time to find out just how much.

More than 35,000 volunteers are on the trial, spread across a number of countries. Some of us have had the real jab, others a placebo, or dummy version. The researchers now have to watch and wait, to see how many in each group catch Covid-19.

Every Friday I take a Covid swab at home and post it off. I get my result back in about 48 hours. So far, I’ve been all clear. But it’s important to understand: no vaccine is 100 per cent effective. Take the UK flu vaccination programme, which is considered a success. On a good year, it prevents just over 50 per cent of cases. But in the winter of 2017, it protected just 15 per cent of those who had it overall (there were more than 25,000 deaths).

This was partly because the jab that year didn’t protect against what turned out to be the most prevalent strain of flu going about (there are more than 60 strains currently identified).

Professor Sarah Gilbert, pictured, has urged people to 'temper their expectations' about immunisation

Professor Sarah Gilbert, pictured, has urged people to 'temper their expectations' about immunisation

Professor Sarah Gilbert, pictured, has urged people to ‘temper their expectations’ about immunisation

But as we age, the immune system weakens and responds less ‘enthusiastically’ to vaccination. Since the 2017 disaster, older adults have a new, souped-up version of the flu vaccine, and over the past couple of years, deaths from the virus have been remarkably low. But it takes time and a great deal of research to get these things right.

Aware of this phenomenon, the Oxford trial has specifically recruited people who are aged over 70 for its latest phase.

Hopefully we’ll soon know more about how well it works in older adults – who we know are most vulnerable to the virus. But many experts, including Prof Gilbert, have pointed out that it may take a fair bit of refinement before we find a version that works best for this age group.

Then there is the question of how long immunity lasts. Recent studies suggest antibodies in those who’ve had Covid-19 wane after as little as three months. Could it be the same with the vaccine? We don’t know, and may not know for years.

As Dr Charlie Weller, head of the vaccines programme at medical research body Wellcome, says: ‘If we’re lucky enough to get one or two [Covid] vaccines which are both safe and effective, they’re still likely to not provide full immunity or be effective in every age group or person.’

And even if everything goes well, it’s widely agreed that it won’t be possible to produce, package and provide enough doses for everyone in the first year. Those in greatest need will be at the front of the queue, such as those in high-risk groups along with healthcare and other frontline workers.

Whichever way you cut this cake, the fact remains: a vaccine alone won’t be a way out of all this.

Covid fact 

More than a quarter of Britons are living under tighter Covid-19 restrictions. 

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While Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson were talking suppression, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth was making another pie-in-the-sky proclamation: that ‘no level of deaths from Covid were acceptable’.

The old Zero-Covid plan – complete elimination of virus. Sadly, this too is flawed.

As we have seen, zero cases can be achieved in island countries such as New Zealand, which have locked their borders. They have 35 reported cases at present, presumably safely isolated. But with the virus endemic across the world, they’ll have a tough time keeping it up, should they ever start allowing people to travel in and out again.

My good friend Dr Elisabetta Groppelli, a virologist at St George’s Hospital, London, worked in Sierra Leone during the ebola outbreak of 2015.

However, a Get To Zero strategy not only failed, but probably did more harm than good. It was discovered that the virus lay dormant in patients’ bodies, leading to recurrence and further transmission.

As Dr Groppelli explained: ‘The biggest problem with that strategy was that, as public health officials, we had to change the message half-way through.

‘This led to confusion, distrust and a sense of helplessness. One patient said to me, ‘You told us we would be ebola-free. If we got to zero, we would be fine. But the virus is still here in our bodies.’ ‘

Dr Groppelli believes there is a broader lesson. ‘Getting to zero was a good slogan,’ she said. ‘But as every slogan is one that hides important details, it is inherently prone to misinterpretation and dangerously invites mental shortcuts and unrealistic positivity.’

She concludes that zero is simply not an honest approach, adding: ‘Let’s be realistic and honest with each other. We must find a way of co-existing with the virus, which means limiting its spread as much as possible and, most importantly of all, protecting the most vulnerable.’

Ultimately, Mr Ashworth, and everyone else who finds the idea of any Covid deaths unpalatable, needs to steel themselves.

Because even when we do have a vaccine, people will die from it. Possibly hundreds every day, as with flu.

Last week, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance warned that without action we could see as many as 200 virus deaths a day by mid-autumn.

Every death is someone’s tragedy. But, just as people are born, we also die. And this is why it’s vital to look at fatalities due to Covid in perspective.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in August alone there were 34,750 deaths, of all causes, in England – 2,060 fewer than the five-year average.

Vaccines are not a panacea. For a start, some people just won't opt to have the jab. At the moment, large numbers of people seem nervous

Vaccines are not a panacea. For a start, some people just won't opt to have the jab. At the moment, large numbers of people seem nervous

Vaccines are not a panacea. For a start, some people just won’t opt to have the jab. At the moment, large numbers of people seem nervous

One in ten of these, roughly 3,897, died from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease – that’s 130 every day.

A further 130 a day (on average) died from heart disease.

Covid-19 did not even feature in the top ten leading causes of death in August in England or Wales – with 482 fatalities, it came 24th, after lung cancer, colorectal cancers, prostate cancer, liver disease and even flu.

Over a year, cancer – of all kinds – kills some 165,000 people, which would be an average of 450 people per day.

Accidents at home, often while doing DIY, are often fatal. Roughly 6,000 people die this way each year – that’s about 16 people every day.

Five people die every day in road accidents across the UK, while 69 are seriously injured.

Infections – including C.diff and stomach bugs – kill 5,937 a year, or about 16 people a day.

Last year, there were 5,691 suicides, 1,413 of them in the last three months. Nearly three-quarters were male, making suicide the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

No one, least of all me, wants to ever again see the torrent of deaths that happened due to Covid-19 in the early part of this year. But I’d argue that if we see winter out with just a few hundred a day succumbing to it, we’d be getting off fairly lightly.

Please don’t see this as callous. How would I feel if it were one of my own family? Devastated, of course.

But I am also, as a doctor, deeply concerned by the death, disease and misery that would undoubtedly result from a perpetual cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.

Are deaths from missed cancer screenings, unreported heart problems or from avoiding a GP not as important as Covid deaths? Were the thousands of excess dementia deaths not worth preventing?

The reason we shut down the country in spring was to prevent a healthcare catastrophe from hundreds of thousands of incredibly sick people flooding woefully unprepared hospitals. And the plan worked, just.

But these kinds of measures will never provide a solution, nor are they sustainable. They simply delay the inevitable. Ease up, numbers rise and people start to die. And not even a vaccine, as wonderful as it may be, can entirely prevent that.

Yes, we should socially distance, wear masks and wash our hands a lot. More people working from home keeps transport networks less busy for those who can’t.

For the time being it is a sensible approach. We should aim to keep Covid-19 levels manageable, and find ways to protect the vulnerable. But we should also not become swept up in the terror caused by claims we’re in ‘a second wave’, when rising numbers of deaths are, on balance, to be expected.

Suppression or lockdown should be used wisely to get answers and make plans: secure the economy, optimise testing and increase hospital capacity. If we have to lock down again, it means we’ve not done what we knew we should.

As virologist Dr Simon Clarke told me, it will prove one thing: the Government, which until now I have backed to the hilt, has failed.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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