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COVID 19 update

February 5, 2021 5:05 PM

Blackburn with Darwen Director Public Health, Dominic Harrison has given the following update:

"In the week from January 22 to 28, every single Lancashire local authority had registered falling rates of Covid-19.

The falls over that week ranged from a 19 per cent fall in Blackburn with Darwen to a 44 per cent fall in Hyndburn. This is great news, but rates can go up as well as down. So we must all continue to lockdown, get tested if we have symptoms and self-isolate if positive to keep up the progress.

Vaccination is going well. We are on track to vaccinate the first four of the nine priority groups by the mid-February target. By January 31, 5,230 Blackburn with Darwen residents over 80 had their first dose. This represents 98.3 per cent of the borough's over-80 population - a very high uptake rate.

Local authorities and the NHS will work closely together to trace the remaining 1.7 per cent of this target group, to make sure that no one is left behind. .

Even further good news is that a single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine could cut transmission of Covid-19 by 67 per cent.

We need further confirmation of this data and we do not yet have the equivalent data for the Pfizer vaccine. If it is fully confirmed, it will mean vaccination offers not just a very high level of protection against hospitalisation and deaths, but also from passing the virus onto others. This has positive implications for how quickly we might be able to exit high levels of Covid controls (Tiers) over the next year. In terms of 'pandemic exit planning', there are now three key critical decision making points.

On February 22 the government will announce its formal strategy for exiting the current lockdown measures and should announce what 'Tier' arrangements may be in place for the rest of the summer. By early May, if the vaccination programme has progressed without interruption, we should have vaccinated all nine priority groups with both doses of the vaccine. This is estimated to reduce hospitalisations and deaths by 9 to 95 per cent and will have covered about 50 per cent of Lancashire residents.

Somewhere between September and November we should have vaccinated over 90 per cent of the total population thus achieving the 80 per cent 'herd immunity' figure we need to shut down most of the continued transmission. It could be quicker if vaccination supply improves.

It is reasonable to expect that at each of those three points, the government will be able to progressively 'open-up' more and more of the economic and social life we have all been missing.

Covid will still be with us for many years as a winter illness. New variants may push back the speed of some of the 'opening up'. But, if we follow the science, stick to common sense Covid prevention measures, and have high vaccine uptake rates, we will move closer each month to a more normal life.

It does look like the new normal will be different from the old normal though.

Exiting the pandemic will not feel like 'the children have permanently emigrated to South America'. It will feel more like they have moved to Yorkshire.

We may still end up seeing them more often than we anticipated."