Andy Burnham called for vaccine supplies to be diverted to Indian Covid variant hotspots, including Greater Manchester, to target those over 18
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham today called for vaccine supplies to be redirected to his region and other Indian Covid variant hotspots to address the spread of the mutant strain.
The former Labor MP, nicknamed the ‘King of the North’, is urging ministers to open the shots to those over 18 in badly affected areas to deal with rising cases.
He argued that increasing supplies to the region would stop the spread of the Delta variant and offered the best hope that No10 could fully unblock on June 21.
But a government minister today rejected Burnham’s requests to divert coronavirus vaccine supplies to areas including Greater Manchester and Lancashire. Yesterday four million people living in both areas were slapped with a tougher guide urging them not to leave the area and avoid meeting people indoors.
The community secretary, Robert Jenrick, said that no. 10 “will abide by the advice” given to them by the best scientific advisors regarding the launch.
Currently the vaccination unit is only open to people over 25 in England. But some areas have already started offering shots to over 18s, even in parts of Manchester.
Burnham’s appeal would see vaccines diverted on purpose in the Northwest, as well as other severely affected regions, to accelerate roll-out in those areas.
He said it made more sense to prioritize young people in June to “halt the march of the delta variant.” But he agreed that it would slow the launch to the rest of the country.
About four million people in the north west of England are now in the area with further restrictions due to concerns over outbreaks of the Indian variant. Bolton, Burnley, Blackburn and Kirklees had already been hit but now all of Lancashire and Greater Manchester have been added
The army is sent to help with surge tests, and health chiefs will have the power to enforce mandatory masks in secondary schools. Pictured: The Royal Horse Artillery lends a hand to a vaccination bus in downtown Bolton today
The Indian variant is now dominant in more than two-thirds of British local authorities and has spread to 85% of the country, according to the latest surveillance data from Britain’s leading virus monitoring center, the Sanger Institute.
Ministers are currently facing calls to postpone “Freedom Day” on June 21 in England by one month in order to vaccinate millions more adults.
Experts say delaying the launch would give the UK enough time to fully inoculate everyone over 50, with around 4.3 million still awaiting their second dose.
One dose of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines is less effective against B.1.617.2, which is now dominant in more than 200 areas of the country.
But two shots appear to be just as effective in stopping people from becoming infected and seriously ill, data from Public Health England shows.
4 million residents of the Indian variant hotspots of Greater Manchester and Lancashire are invited to watch England’s Euro opening with Croatia outdoors
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has encouraged residents in parts of Lancashire and Greater Manchester to watch England’s first Euro 2020 match outdoors if possible.
He urged them to “minimize” the number of people watching England’s match against Croatia this weekend after an increase in coronavirus cases in the areas.
He told BBC Breakfast: “If you look at this weekend with good weather in Greater Manchester, which is great for everyone with football on the way, we would say minimize the number of people you watch the game with.
“Watch it out if you can.”
He also commended the government for “increased support” in areas where there is a high number of cases after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that a “strengthened support package” will be provided for Greater Manchester and the United States. Lancashire.
‘We greatly appreciate the government’s help. It’s a reversal of where we were last year, ‘he said.
‘Then we received no support restrictions.
‘This is an approach where restrictions are handled nationally through the road map.
‘We have worked closely with the government on this. It’s a sensitive approach and we support it. ‘
Boris Johnson is expected to confirm by next Monday whether the June 21 plan will go ahead and is following the schedule of the roadmap to the limit, refusing so far to give any indication of what it will do.
Despite being a thorn in the government’s side compared to previous measures imposed in Manchester, Burnham said he supports the government’s approach to tackling the Indian variant.
The army will be sent to help with surge tests and health chiefs will have the power to enforce mandatory masks in secondary schools.
Residents are also advised to avoid meeting others inside where possible.
But Burnham said No10 needs to go further to provide more vaccines to hotspots in order to prioritize all young people in the areas. Infection rates are currently on the rise among young people.
Asked if he wanted to prioritize over 18s in the launch of BBC Radio 4’s Today program, he said: “We would definitely say to increase vaccine supplies in high case areas, not just Greater Manchester and Lancashire. [but] other parts of the country.
“It makes a lot more sense to go ahead with the vaccination schedule in June, then do it later in the year or later because obviously the need is now to stop the spread of the virus.
‘Of course it would slow down the vaccination schedule in other parts of the country where cases are lower.
“But my thesis would be that this also makes sense in those areas because we all have an interest in stopping the spread of the Delta variant where it is growing.”
He said Greater Manchester has the staff and volunteers to “carry on the vaccination program right now” thanks to military support provided by the government.
Burnham – who yesterday insisted the driving was not “a blockade” – added that he hoped the government would lift all restrictions on June 21, but it had to be done “safely”.
“It’s difficult, I recognize it’s difficult for the government, I think they have voices from both directions,” he told LBC.
When prompted to wonder if he should go on, Burnham added: “I want to try to stick to June 21, I think the country wants it, but it has to be done safely.
“There is something they can do to give more confidence to 21, or as close to 21 as possible, and that is to increase vaccine supplies in the areas with the highest number of cases, because now the need is to stop the march of la delta variant. ‘
Despite his calls, Jenrick insisted this morning that the government would not bend its approach to reducing age categories nationwide.
He told BBC Breakfast: “At the moment we stick to the advice we have received from the JCVI, our advisers, who say it is better to continue reducing age categories on a national basis, rather than taking a regional or geographic approach.
All over 50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 – almost two weeks after “freedom day on June 21 – but it will take until September for all adults to have had two hits,” analysis may reveal. by MailOnline “.
‘Their advice has been helpful to us as far as the country is concerned, they have received the big calls since the start of the vaccine launch.
“So we will continue with this approach, but we will try to do everything possible to make it as easy as possible for people in Greater Manchester to get to the vaccination centers.”
Tougher guidance designed to stop the spread of the Indian variant was already in place in eight councils, including Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.
But yesterday another 20 councils were added to the list, with 5.7 million people – about a tenth of the country – now living under stronger advice.
The specific areas included in the new Greater Manchester guide are: Manchester, Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Wigan, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford, Tameside and Bolton.
And in Lancashire they are: Rossendale, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, Pendle, Fylde, Lancaster, West Lancashire, Wyre, Burnley and Blackburn with Darwen.
Laboratories will test as many positives as possible to identify outbreaks of the Indian variant, although almost all cases are now expected to be caused by it.
More than eight out of 10 cases in most affected areas have already been linked to the strain.