Leeds news Live: Covid vaccine may not fully prevent virus spread so people must stay in lockdown after jab

Coronavirus vaccines may not fully prevent people from passing the virus on to others and people who have had the jab should still continue to abide by lockdown restrictions, the deputy chief medical officer for England said.

By Alex Evans
Sunday, 24th January 2021, 7:51 am
Updated Sunday, 24th January 2021, 8:00 am
This is why you must stay in lockdown after the jab, says Professor Van-Tam
This is why you must stay in lockdown after the jab, says Professor Van-Tam

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that if those who have been vaccinated begin easing off because they are protected, they are potentially putting at risk those further down the priority list who still need inoculation.

His warning came as the latest Government figures showed the number receiving the first dose of the vaccine across the UK has passed 5.8 million, with a record 478,248 getting the jab in a single day.

In other developments:

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– People arriving into the UK from abroad could be required to quarantine in a hotel, according to a number of the Sunday papers, with the Cabinet split on whether the policy should apply to all arrivals or just to those returning from coronavirus hotspots.

– A collective representing more than 400 state and private schools have offered to vaccinate all of England’s teachers and educational support staff during the February half-term in a letter to Boris Johnson, the Mail on Sunday said.

– At least eight different vaccine passport schemes have received Government funding totalling £450,000 up to January 1, according to the Sunday Telegraph, although Cabinet minister Michael Gove has previously said such certificates were “not the plan”.

Prof Van-Tam, writing in the Telegraph, said it was still not known if people who had been vaccinated could still pass on the virus to others, even though they were protected from falling ill themselves.

“So even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid to someone else and the chains of transmission will then continue,” he wrote.

“If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.

“Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don’t yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission.

“The vaccine has brought considerable hope and we are in the final furlong of the pandemic but for now, vaccinated or not, we still have to follow the guidance for a bit longer.”

Separately, a further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across the country this week including one at the museum made famous as the set of hit TV series Peaky Blinders.

The sites include the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which featured in the long-running TV show, a racecourse, a football stadium and a former Ikea store.

Prof Van-Tam also hit back at doctors who have criticised the decision to extend the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine to 12 weeks.

The British Medical Association has written to the chief medical officer for England urging a rethink, saying that in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a maximum gap of six weeks had been mandated by the World Heath Organisation (WHO).

Prof Van-Tam said that extending the gap was the quickest way to get a first dose to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

He said: “But what none of these (who ask reasonable questions) will tell me is: who on the at-risk list should suffer slower access to their first dose so that someone else who’s already had one dose (and therefore most of the protection) can get a second?”

BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that while he understood the “rationale” behind the decision, no other country is taking the UK’s approach.

“We think the flexibility that the WHO offers of extending to 42 days is being stretched far too much to go from six weeks right through to 12 weeks,” he said.

“Obviously the protection will not vanish after six weeks but what we do not know is what level of protection will be offered. We should not be extrapolating data where we don’t have it.”

Meanwhile, it is reported that schools in England will not fully reopen next month – and may not return until after the Easter holidays.

The Sunday Times said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was expected to rule out a return to the classroom after the February half-term break and would prepare parents for a prolonged period of home-schooling ahead.

As recently as Thursday, Mr Williamson said that he hoped schools would be able to reopen before Easter, although Downing Street pointedly declined to endorse his comments.

Leeds news LIVE: Why lockdown cannot be ended early

Last updated: Saturday, 23 January, 2021, 08:20

  • New Covid strains mean lockdown cannot end early say scientists
  • Why those having the jab could still pass on virus
  • Trains cancelled due to flooding in Garforth
  • Man arrested after fire started at Leeds General Infirmary
  • Calls for teachers to be prioritised for Covid vaccine

Matt Hancock tells meeting that new South African Covid strain may be more resistant to vaccines

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "There is evidence in the public domain, although we are not sure of this data so I wouldn't say this in public, but that the South African variant reduces by about 50% the vaccine efficacy."

Why lockdown cannot be ended early: The new more deadly super Covid strain

Boris Johnson has appealed to people to stay home and follow the rules after he revealed the new variant may be associated with “a higher degree of mortality”.

He said the Government could have to bring in further restrictions on travel following a warning that other new variants found in South Africa and Brazil may be more resistant to the vaccines that have been developed.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association has reportedly written to chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty calling for the gap between doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be reduced to six weeks.

The private letter, seen by the BBC, said the current plans of people waiting up to 12 weeks for a second dose – which Health Secretary Matt Hancock said is supported by data from an Israeli study – are “difficult to justify”.

It said: “The absence of any international support for the UK’s approach is a cause of deep concern and risks undermining public and the profession’s trust in the vaccination programme.”

At a sombre No 10 news briefing on Friday, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said early evidence suggested the new UK variant could increase mortality by almost a third in men in their 60s.

His warning followed a briefing by scientists on the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) which concluded there was a “realistic possibility” that it was associated with an increased risk of death.

It was already known that the new variant was up to 70% more transmissible than the original – leading to a tightening of restrictions across the UK from late December onwards.

Rowland Kao, professor of veterinary epidemiology and data science at the University of Edinburgh, said the latest findings suggested it was responsible for the “unexpectedly high” numbers of hospital admissions, especially around London.

“While the recent results showing declining case numbers is good news, and suggest that the variant is controllable via existing measures, these results on deaths imply that burden in hospitals will continue to be high requiring a more prolonged period of restrictions,” he said.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a former government chief scientific adviser and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said even stricter measures may be needed if cases do not continue falling “at pace”.

“Decisions are going to have to be made on the basis of the evidence,” he told BBC news.

“If the evidence shows that the decrease in cases isn’t continuing, then clearly policymakers will have to consider much tougher measures.”

Mr Johnson said the case numbers remained “forbiddingly high” and that it would be a mistake to unlock in England if it were to lead to “another big rebound” in the disease.

On another bleak day, with a further 1,401 deaths across the UK of people who had tested for Covid-19 in the previous 28 days, there was some good news with evidence the various lockdown measures in place across the country were having an effect.

A sub-group of Sage said the reproduction number, the R, for coronavirus had fallen to below one across the UK, suggesting a retreating epidemic.

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) put the R, which represents how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to, at 0.8 to 1.0, down from 1.2 to 1.3 the previous week.

It said the number of new infections was shrinking by between 1% and 4% every day.

However Prof Whitty said the situation across the UK remained “extremely precarious”.

“A very small change and it could start taking off again from an extremely high base,” he said.

“If that happened again, we would be in really, really deep trouble.”

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School, suggested the more serious concern was the evidence that the South African and Brazilian variants may be less susceptible to the vaccines.

“The other virus variants identified in South Africa and Brazil are more worrying as they carry more changes in the spike protein of the virus,” he said.

“It is important that we now determine the neutralising ability of antibodies against virus variants generated in response to vaccination and study the immune response in individuals infected with virus variants.”

Sir Patrick said the evidence remained uncertain and there was no sign either the South African or Brazilian variants had any “transmission advantages” over those in the UK and so would not be expected to spread more quickly or “take over”.

But Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle has said that it is still not “absolutely clear” the new variant coronavirus which emerged in the UK is more deadly than the original strain.

Boris Johnson announced on Friday that scientists had found the variant, which appeared late last year in south-east England, may be associated with “a higher degree of mortality”.

However Dr Doyle said more work was needed to determine whether that was actually the case.

“There are several investigations going on at the moment. It is not absolutely clear that that will be the case. It is too early to say,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“There is some evidence, but it is very early evidence. It is small numbers of cases and it is far too early to say this will actually happen.”

River levels are now falling following Storm Christoph, however several flood alerts and one urgent flood warning are still in place across Leeds.

River Aire at Allerton Ings, Barnsdale Road and Properties

A flood warning is still in place for the River Aire at Allerton Bywater.

River levels remain elevated as a result of the heavy and persistent rainfall associated with Storm Christoph. The spillway at Allerton Ings is operating and the washlands continue to fill. Barnsdale Road has flooded and remains closed. The Environment Agency expects the spillway to continue to operate throughout Friday.

Lower River Wharfe

The flood alert for the lower River Wharfe remains in force.

 Flooding of low-lying land and roads is possible. River levels have peaked at Tadcaster and are falling, with no further rise forecasted. But flooding of low lying land and roads remains possible. The weather is forecast to remain unsettled with wintry showers for the next couple of days, but rainfall totals are expected to be low. 

Middle River Aire catchment

The flood alert for the Middle River Aire catchment, which runs through Leeds, is still in force

River levels remain elevated across the Middle River Aire Catchment as a result of persistent rainfall.  The main band of rain associated with Storm Christoph has now passed. However, there is still a risk of flooding of property, roads and farmland across the catchment. Flood warnings remain in force at Cottingley and Shipley.

Trains cancelled due to flooding in Garforth

Due to flooding on the railway line in Garforth, a limited train service is running between Leeds and York.

The flooding was caused by heavy rain during Storm Christoph.

Services are expected to be disrupted until 12.30pm today.

Man arrested after fire started at Leeds General Infirmary

Staff and patients were evacuated from Leeds General Infirmary last night after a fire was started on one of the wards.

Police were called to the hospital at about 5.55pm to reports that a man was attempting to start a fire.

The man was also said to be armed with a screwdriver, causing damage to the unit and making threats.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service extinguished the fire.

Police officers located and arrested a man.


Leeds General Infirmary evacuated and man arrested after fire is started on hospital ward

Staff and patients were evacuated from Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) after a fire was started on one of the wards.

Calls for teachers to be prioritised for Covid vaccine

“It is an absolute no-brainer. Jab teachers and get society up and running”

"It is an absolute no-brainer. Jab teachers and get society up and running" - teachers state case for vaccine priority

Protecting teachers and school staff against coronavirus is a "no-brainer" says one Leeds head as the government agrees it will consider more frontline staff in the second phase of its vaccine roll-out.

Welcome to the Yorkshire Evening Post’s live news blog on Friday January 22.

We’ll bring you the latest news from across Leeds throughout the day.

Here is the news you might have missed:

Leeds is named the best city to live and work in the north of England - here's why

Leeds has been named the best city to live and work in the north of England.

First aider sent to prison for sexually assaulting woman as he helped her when she suffered back injury

A first aider who sexually assaulted a woman as he helped her after she injured herself has been sent to prison for more than six years.

First Superdrug pharmacy vaccination site in Leeds starts administering jabs

The first Superdrug vaccination site in Leeds has opened today.

What Leeds Festival could look like in 2021 under Covid restrictions - new report

A report by UK Music has outlined what festivals in Britain need to do to go ahead this year under Covid-19 restrictions.

Holocaust Memorial Day to be marked online by Leeds Council

Holocaust Memorial Day is set to be marked online by Leeds Council - with an event themed 'Be the light in the darkness’.

Leeds Vaccination Centre based at Elland Road to support 'acceleration' of vaccines for frontline workers

The Leeds Vaccination Centre at Elland Road is supporting the acceleration of vaccinations for frontline health and care workers before it officially opens next month, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said.

A new home store specialising in Scandinavian design is coming to Leeds

Danish home retailer JYSK is to open a store in Leeds by the end of the summer.

Leeds MPs slam government over ‘dithering’ on flood defences

Two Leeds MPs have claimed some of their residents are living in fear for their homes due to the threat of flooding caused by storm Christoph – and criticised the government for “five years of dithering” over improvements to the city’s flood defences.

Leeds pervert installed spycam in bathroom ceiling then filmed underage girls on live stream to his phone

A pervert installed a secret camera in a bathroom and set up a live feed on his mobile phone which enabled him to film two teenage girls in the bath.

Grieving Leeds dad's bid to help others on anniversary of daughter's death

The dad of a Leeds pub manager who fulfilled her bucket list wishes before ovarian cancer claimed her life is trying to help other bereaved people on the second anniversary of his daughter's death.

Watch three-year-old's horrified reaction as Leeds dad shaves beard for MND

A Leeds dad has shaved his 'precious' beard to raise money for motor neurone disease (MND) - leaving his daughter in floods of tears.

Delays to Leeds train services due to flooding at Hebden Bridge

Leeds MPs slam government over ‘dithering’ on flood defences

Leeds MPs slam government over ‘dithering’ on flood defences

Two Leeds MPs have claimed some of their residents are living in fear for their homes due to the threat of flooding caused by storm Christoph – and criticised the government for “five years of dithering” over improvements to the city’s flood defences.

Latest Leeds flood warnings at lunchtime

River levels are now falling as of Thursday lunchtime, but a number of flood alerts and warnings are still in place across the city.

Flood warnings are in place at:

When a flood warning is issued, residents at risk are advised to immediately turn off their gas, water and electricity.

They should move belongings, family and pets upstairs or to safety and move their car to a safe place.

Flood alerts are still in place at: 

The Environment Agency says residents living in these areas should remain prepared for flooding.

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