Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Tuesday, November 17, as thousands of volunteers with no medical background at all could be trained up to administer the coronavirus vaccine in a bid to deliver the Government’s mass immunisation plans.
St John Ambulance will be one of the organisations delivering training to those who sign up, a representative for the charity confirmed on Monday evening.
In plans leaked to the Daily Mail, St John Ambulance said future vaccine volunteers would “be trained to deliver the actual injection to patients”.
They would also have to “potentially react to any immediate adverse reactions”.
The only criteria is that the volunteer be between the age of 18 and 69, have at least two or more A-levels or equivalent, be at low risk of Covid-19 and be prepared to undergo a reference check.
In October, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the Government introduce a new national protocol to allow non-medics to administer a future vaccine.
The law was amended last month to allow more healthcare workers – such as paramedics, physiotherapists or student doctors and nurses, as well as doctors and nurses working outside the NHS – to vaccinate.
This law has now been extended to include “people who are not registered healthcare professionals” to “safely administer a Covid-19 or influenza vaccine,” the Mail reported.
St John Ambulance’s chief operating officer, Richard Lee said: “St John Ambulance is proud to have been asked to support NHS staff in getting ready to deliver a Covid-19 vaccination programme when one becomes available.”
Mouthwash can eradicate coronavirus within 30 seconds
More good news in that a Cardiff study has found an over-the-counter mouthwash can eradicate coronavirus within 30 seconds.
The preliminary result comes ahead of a clinical trial into whether using mouthwash could reduce levels of Covid-19 in a patient’s saliva.
The Cardiff University report was carried out at the school’s laboratory and is yet to be peer-reviewed, but it supports another study published last week.
A clinical trial will next examine how effective mouthwash is in reducing the viral load in the saliva of Covid-19 patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, with its results due to be published in the first part of 2021.
The latest report found that mouthwashes containing at least 0.07% cetypyridinium chloride (CPC) showed “promising signs” of being able to combat the virus.
Scientists welcome ‘tremendously exciting’ news about vaccine
The plans come after another breakthrough in the race to create a vaccine.
That goal of securing a vaccine moved a step closer after early data showed a new jab to be almost 95% effective in protecting against the virus.
Scientists welcomed the “tremendously exciting” news that US firm Moderna’s jab may be highly effective in preventing people getting ill and may work across all age groups, including the elderly.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “great advances in medical science are coming to the rescue”, but admitted the UK had only secured five million doses of Moderna’s jab.
The UK has already secured 40 million doses of a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, which uses the same technology as Moderna and should be in the UK before Christmas.
But the Government did not place orders with Moderna at the same time and a Government spokesman said the jab would not become available until “spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest”.
Benefits of the Moderna jab include it being easier to store and transport because it can be kept in a conventional freezer for up to six months while the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70C.
Latest cases for Wales
Two more people have died with coronavirus in Wales and close to 900 new cases have been reported, according to the latest figures.
Public Health Wales (PHW), in its daily update on Monday, November 16, announced that 892 more people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 following a lab test. This was an decrease on 1,333 from Sunday.
The total number of people in Wales who have now died with lab-confirmed coronavirus now stands at 2,209.
Blaenau Gwent is now the local authority with the most cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day average with 303.5 , up from 282.3 on Sunday. The areas of Cardiff with the highest rates of coronavirus cases
Merthyr Tydfil in second has seen its infection rate fall again from 336.5 on Sunday to 303.4 on Monday. In less than a fortnight its number of cases per 100,000 has halved.
Neath Port Talbot had the third highest with 293.1 cases per 100,000, up from 285.4 the day before. Latest cases for your area here.
Medics advise disinfecting Christmas parcels and send cards early
Disinfecting parcels and sending cards early are among scientists’ recommendations for those wanting to take extra coronavirus precautions this Christmas.
Medical experts have said the risk of spreading coronavirus through the post is “really low” as laboratory experiments suggest it can live on packaging materials like cardboard for a maximum of 24 hours.
Research published by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO in October showed the virus can last up to four weeks on mobile phone screens and banknotes, but it has a much shorter survival on porous surfaces like paper.
Dr Lena Ciric, who specialises in molecular biology and described her work as “looking at where microbes lurk”, recommended sending gifts to family and friends “at the start of December” so they have time to quarantine parcels for “a few extra days”.
“If grandmas are worried, they can always wipe things down and then it should be totally fine,” she added.
Dr Ciric, who is an environmental engineering lecturer at UCL, said coronavirus thrives in “cold and dry” conditions like warehouses and trucks where parcels are held – but the transit time will make a “big difference” to the virus’ survival.
She said: “The likelihood that a gift or card sent in the post by an infected person would have enough virus on it to cause an infection is really low.
“I think chances are there’s not going to be enough stuff on the gift at the time of contamination, let alone at the time it gets there.”
Respiratory medicine specialist Professor Ashley Woodcock, who is also the University of Manchester’s Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, recommended a disinfecting procedure.
He said: “If granny gets lots of Christmas cards, what is she going to do?
“If I were an old person I would be handling Christmas cards with gloves and putting them on a radiator for a few minutes.”
He added: “(For receiving gifts), I think people could have a bucket with detergent in and a pair of Marigold gloves.
“They should accept the parcel wearing Marigolds and put it in an area or on a table, and wipe it down with a cloth soaked in detergent, leave it for 30 minutes, and then it’s very safe.”
Health Secretary unable to rule out lockdown extension in England
Matt Hancock was unable to rule out an extension to the lockdown as a health chief warned the tiered system that ministers want England to return to may have to be strengthened.
The Health Secretary said it was “too early for us to know” whether coronavirus cases will be brought down sufficiently to ease the second shutdown on December 2.
Boris Johnson hopes the nation will return to local restrictions, but Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins – standing alongside Mr Hancock at the Downing Street press conference on Monday – said the lowest tier of earlier measures had had “little effect”.
Dr Hopkins, who is advising the Government’s Covid-19 response, said they would have to consider strengthening the measures “to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone”.
Cases in your area:
Parts of Scotland braced for potential move into highest level of restrictions
Parts of the west of Scotland could move into Level 4 restrictions later this week, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to announce her decision on Tuesday.
On Monday, Ms Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that rates in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire health board areas are “stubbornly high”.
The First Minister suggested a “limited period” of the strictest measures – moving from Level 3 to Level 4 – could allow an easing around Christmas.
She said the prevalence of the virus is causing concern and could mean regional hospital and intensive care services may not be able to cope as winter continues.
“Stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period which we are very keen to do,” she said.
“Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we would ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.”
Under the toughest restrictions, non-essential shops will be closed, along with bars, restaurants, hairdressers and visitor attractions.
Schools will remain open, however, with the First Minister saying on Monday it is her “objective and intention” to ensure they do not close.