The British Vaccine Drive Has Been a Brilliant Success! – Conservative Article
The current vaccine drive in the United Kingdom has been a complete success. Whatever you think about Johnson’s handling of the pandemic beforehand, the success here is undeniable. Especially when you compare this to the struggling vaccine drive in Europe.
However, before that, I must first applaud our scientists in Oxford. Without their breakthrough, the UK would not be in such a good position with our vaccination programme. Their research has saved thousands of lives and has brought hope to so many more. We mustn’t forget their contributions.
As of writing this article, we have given 23,053,716 first doses and 1,351,515 people have had both jabs. All within just over 4 months. Despite poor weather conditions forcing some vaccination centres to close, the target of 15 million vaccine offers to priority groups 1 through 4 was completed. The aim is to offer the first dose to all adults by the end of July, far earlier than previously thought.
The UK government’s strategy of increasing the gap between the first and second dose has been endorsed by the WHO as well as recommending it to every one of 18. There is evidence to suggest that it improves the efficacy as a whole to 82%. After the first dose and 22 days, there are no severe cases of COVID-19 or any hospitalisations with COVID-19. This decision is important to speed up the rollout, as this means we can give more jabs to more people. Clearly, the government have got it right here.
This success was set up long ago. Kate Bingham headed up the UK’s Government Vaccine Taskforce and speedily identified and negotiated with potential providers doses for the vaccine supplies, positioning the UK ahead of other countries. This speed meant that we set up and strengthened supply chains long before using them. An example of what happens if you don’t act fast is what is happening in the EU, which is experiencing delays with all approved vaccines.
The contracts signed were also extremely strong. A comparison between the UK and EU contracts with AstraZeneca by Politico found that the UK government has stronger clauses to enforce the agreement than those found in the EU contract. It’s interesting that people with more experience in drug buying deals are the ones who wrote the UK contract. The EU, on the other hand, has shown a “lack of commercial common sense”. Indeed, Bingham’s previous experiences in biotechnology would have given her great experience to do this. The EU on the other hand clearly lacked such expertise.
And despite criticism from The Guardian and the Labour Party, the decision not to join the EU’s vaccination scheme was the right one. From their embarrassing row with AstraZeneca, slow contract negotiating full of bureaucracy, and shortages in doses it’s pretty clear the UK would have suffered had we joined.
Hancock cited the high number of doses ordered was inspired by the end of the film Contagion, where the world fights for vaccine doses. This was proved by our EU partners, especially in their threat to overturn parts of the Brexit deal because of the misguided belief that the evil Brits would steal vaccines through Northern Ireland. They also pulled a similar move on Australia, when Italy blocked AstraZeneca doses marked for Australia from leaving.
We are already replicating this signing speed for vaccines against the variants. The UK Government recently struck a deal with the German firm CureVac, in order to improve vaccines against variants. This deal is significant because it includes an order for 50 million of such doses, and transferring CureVac’s manufacturing process to the UK, to ensure rapid deployment. Oxford is already working on an updated dose of its vaccine. This speed will mean that the UK is ready for winter. This would not be possible had we signed away our sovereignty by joining the Commission’s vaccination scheme.
This deal further bolsters the UK’s strength as a scientific powerhouse, with stellar researchers, a globally respected regulatory body in the MHRA, excellent genomic capabilities and now strong manufacturing.
The speed at which the rollout has occurred is fantastic. So far there have been no major disruptions to delivery. Our European counterparts are experiencing shortages. Meanwhile, the UK should experience a surge of ten million doses from mid-March. Our vaccine programme is steaming ahead, while the EU still faces a vaccine crisis.
This has caused some in the EU to lash out at the UK. Macron criticised the Oxford vaccine effectiveness in older people and the UK’s vaccination strategy in general. Germany’s medical regulator issued a similar conclusion, only for both countries to later U-turn. This conflict has continued, with the European Council President Charles Michel accusing the UK of “imposing an outright ban on the export of vaccines”, which is simply not true. Even the EU Commission admitted this. The EU is clearly bitter about the success we have achieved without them and won’t let it go.
All of this proves the message of “taking back control” did have truth to it. We avoided shortages and the bureaucratised mess the Commission inflicted on member states, whereas if we had joined their scheme, we would have experienced similar problems. The UK can go it alone and succeed.
Johnson’s vaccine policy has been a major success. It has certainly helped his popularity and looking back on it as a whole it has improved the feeling of how the crisis has been handled. We will be able to come out of lockdown all the quicker, safe in the knowledge that protection has been offered to give people their lives back. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our European partners.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
The Government is Finally Governing, Not Guessing! – A Liberal Response
It’s not often I agree with much of what my Conservative counterparts have to say. Kieran’s article, however, is one of those rare occasions. Britain’s vaccine drive has, so far, been an overwhelming success. The figures don’t lie – 36 per 100 people in the country have had a vaccine, the second-highest percentage in the world.
Britain therefore represents nearly 7% of the world’s vaccinated population, an incredible achievement. As someone with family members at risk, knowing they had been given their jab was a huge sigh of relief for me personally. Many around the country share that feeling. Kieran is right to praise the government for this.
Readers of POI will remember my article back in January on the government’s abysmal handling of the pandemic. Word must have reached Downing Street because the government has handled the vaccine rollout infinitely better than the rest of this pandemic.
Organisation has, as Kieran says, been pivotal to this success. We negotiated contracts sooner than others and made these contracts more enforceable. Whilst the EU was mired by bureaucracy, Britain went it alone. And it has paid off – Britain struck a deal with AstraZeneca three months before the EU. I have always been a Remainer, but ‘taking back control’ in this case has paid off immensely.
It is hard to argue against success, but what I will say is that we must remember where we are. The pandemic is not over yet, and it will remain for a long time to come. People are still getting infected. But an end is in sight, and for that, the government must be praised.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Fergus Harris.
Global Vaccination Success is the Next Step – A Labour Response
I’ve previously been critical of the government’s approach to all things covid-related this past year, as have many, but I have to agree with Kieran here; the vaccination rollout has been an overwhelming success so far.
I can second Kieran on the specific successes of the rollout. There has been a great success across all nations of the UK with fast delivery and a logical approach of working through the ‘at risk’ groups first. I am sure we have all seen social media posts of people sharing their excitement following their vaccination. While you may find these posts an inconvenience to scroll past, I’m confident I’m not the only one to share this excitement.
What I would like to see next is greater optimism for other countries, both in Europe and beyond. Rather than continuing the politicisation of this situation, we should be working together to support our neighbours. This is has been a constant feature of the pandemic.
I completely understand politics has played a huge part in our response to coronavirus. For better or worse, it naturally influences the UK’s international relationships. However, rather than rubbing our success in the faces of EU countries and riveting in the fact we may be in a better place than them, I hope we will start to see some way we can support their respective vaccination programmes.
The world can only return to normal once every country is safe and their covid risk has been dramatically reduced or eliminated altogether. Of course we should be celebrating the light at the end of this dark tunnel. But I am sure many people will feel much safer and at ease once all countries see similar success. Then, I am all for putting up the bunting and raising our glasses.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo