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Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: The comedian has learned how to play tragedy

The pandemic has changed Boris Johnson. He is better than he was a year ago at being the sombre bearer of bad tidings, the leader who expresses the nation’s grief.

Both at yesterday afternoon’s Downing Street press conference, and today at PMQs and in his Commons statement, he struck the right note of unadorned sorrow.

Johnson has always been known as an entertainer, a comedian, a debunker of pieties, a man who in the darkest moments can be relied on to bring us the lighter side of life.

Now it falls to him to express the pieties demanded by 100,000 deaths. The comedian must learn how to play tragedy.

This is not just a challenge for him. It is also a challenge for his audience.

Last March, many of us could not believe he was going to manage it. The comic actor was still there, and from time to time could be glimpsed peering out from behind the stiff funeral robes he had been obliged to put on.

As a sketchwriter, one felt it one’s professional duty to detect and magnify those gleams of levity, and if possible to contribute some levity of one’s own.

Johnson’s critics continue to insist he is a clown, incapable of rising to the crisis, responsible for a host of errors and unable to learn from what has gone wrong.

Sir Keir Starmer, replying to the Prime Minister’s statement, said “how offensive it was to pretend there was a protective ring round our care homes”, went on to list many other mistakes, and said these are “a damning indictment” of how the Government has handled the pandemic.

It is the duty of the Opposition to oppose. This column will not join the Prime Minister in reproaching Sir Keir for identifying the many errors, inconsistencies and last-minute changes of mind which have characterised the Government’s policy on schools.

But Johnson now communicates a solemn sincerity of which in the earlier part of his career he gave scant sign, and his opponents are going to have to take account of this change.

Originally found on Conservative Home Read More




WATCH: PMQs – “I and the Government take full responsibility for all the actions” during the pandemic, says Johnson

Originally found on Conservative Home Read More




Benedict Rogers: The Government urgently needs an integration plan for those fleeing oppression in Hong Kong

Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer and a former parliamentary candidate. He is the co-founder and Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and a member of the advisory group of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

On July 1 last year, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, announced one of the most courageous, generous and heroic expansions of immigration policy in post-Second World War history. With the backing of the Prime Minister and the leadership of the Home Secretary, both of whom deserve credit, he unveiled an offer to millions of Hong Kongers in their hour of need, telling them they could come to Britain, live, study and work here and be on a pathway to citizenship and security.

At the end of this month, in just a few days’ time, that offer becomes a reality. Covid-19 restrictions on our borders, quarantine and flightpaths may delay the flow, but without doubt a large number of Hong Kongers will take up the offer just as soon as they can. The expansion of the British National Overseas (BNO) passport right means that over five million Hong Kongers – those born before 1997 and their dependents – are eligible to come to the United Kingdom, to live here, buy or rent property here, find a job here and be on a “pathway to citizenship” that will enable them to settle here.

In the Home Office’s own terms, it’s a hybrid scheme – part humanitarian rescue, part migration. Those who qualify for BNO are not coming as refugees, but migrants and future British citizens. But some – those born after 1997, who include the most vulnerable young protesters in grave danger of political prosecution – are already coming to Britain too, in search of urgent sanctuary. We must be ready to support them.

The Government’s offer is generous and bold but for the potential of the scheme to be realised, we must now prioritise integration.

When thousands of Hong Kongers arrive at Heathrow and are waved through under the new scheme, what happens next? What preparations are in place for quarantine, how to help them find housing, jobs, schools for their kids, access to a GP? They have no recourse to public funds under the terms of the offer, but there is a need for a welcome pack and an integration plan.

A common misperception prevails that Hong Kongers are all wealthy, super-educated, entrepreneurial and speak great English: so no problem. I lived in Hong Kong for five years and have worked with Hong Kongers for almost 25 years, and I can tell you: most are dynamic, many are entrepreneurial, a good number are educated, but not all speak good English, some don’t have wealth and a few are very vulnerable. Helping them get up on their feet will not be onerous on the taxpayer, and the millions of pounds in capital which may arrive with them will doubtless be a boon, but those who choose to flee oppression in Hong Kong deserve a warm welcome and signposts to help them start their new lives.

We need a plan – from government and civil society. That’s why this week over ten civil society groups have signed a letter to Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General, who is coordinating the Government’s response, to call for one to be put in place.

This should draw on the extensive experience that civil society, churches, communities, families and individuals have of welcoming people to the UK: a society where people from around the world have found they can flourish. But government – in Whitehall and at local authority level – need a plan, and some resources, in place.

There should be an information hub for Hong Kongers when they arrive – for the immediate pandemic-related question of where they go for quarantine, and then the short-term question of what arrangements can be made for accommodation.

Then Government and civil society should work together to ensure that Hong Kongers are welcomed, and receive the advice they need to settle in – to find a doctor, a school, a job, a community and opportunities.

Given the chance, Hong Kongers will be a net gain for Britain’s economy and society. As a generalisation and in the long-run, they will be people with a “get up and go” spirit who will start businesses, create jobs and contribute to our professions. They will be doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants and teachers who will bring talent to our public sector, or small business people who will begin enterprises that will bring dynamism to our economy.

To those in Britain who fear that a migration influx will “steal” jobs, I say that on the contrary they will create them. Some might even be recruited to our foreign and defence apparatus to bring linguistic and intelligence expertise to enhance our national security. The idea of a “charter city” for Hong Kongers, perhaps in the north of England, advanced by Lord Skildelsky, Lord Alton and others, could be further explored. All in all, it’s a moral and humanitarian policy that will result in a net gain for Britain. But only if done well because if implemented poorly – or with no planning at all – it could foster resentment and even Sinophobia.

Whitehall, local government, civil society and communities all have a part to play in welcoming Hong Kongers to Britain. That needs a plan, co-ordination and resources. Mordaunt must call an emergency cross-departmental ministerial meeting immediately, to put a plan in place to ensure that an historic offer doesn’t become an historic disaster.

Originally found on Conservative Home Read More




Top 10 Global Automotive Trends, 2021

Like always, I am going to start the year with a look ahead at the top 10 trends that will define the automotive industry over the next 12 months. Hold off on the obituaries because the pandemic will inject some much-needed mojo into what’s been a dispirited industry in 2020.

Originally found on Forbes Read More




GameStop Stock Explodes Higher in After-Hours Trading

One of the most legendary short squeezes of all time is still underway as short sellers can’t seem to find the top.

Traders of GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) stock have been locked in an epic battle for months. The leading players are the short seller firm Citron Research and the retail traders on the Reddit thread r/wallstreetbets.

On Friday, the Reddit group seemed to win the battle, but the war was only just beginning.

With only 70 million shares outstanding and a stock price of $20 per share, GameStop had a market cap of $1.4 billion on January 12. After a surge of retail buying, the stock price doubled to $40 by January 21.

Citron Research is a notorious short seller and research firm responsible for bringing Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA) to its knees in 2020. It has maintained that GME stock will drop below $20 again.

But on Friday, January 22, a major short squeeze happened. Despite GME only having 70 million total shares, over 200 million traded hands. The share price spiked from $40 to $77 and closed the day near $65.

Monday marked another massive squeeze; the stock price continued to climb as high as $160 per share.

Tuesday’s session was so volatile that trading on GME was halted five times.

The breaking news desk for the all-in-one trading platform StockToTrade sent out the following alert at 3:46, just 14 minutes before the close:

  • GME wow all the way down to 131 and then back to 145, I will say watch this after-hours … this has the potential to squeeze higher without getting halted!! GME will probably explode higher after the bell, especially if we break thru $150.

The stock closed near $150.

Then just after the market closed, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tweeted one word, “Gamestonk!!”

The price soared even higher, topping out near $250 in after-hours trading. A 1,150% increase in two weeks.

At the close of trading today, GameStop had a market cap valuation of $10.5 billion. rapid-results coronavirus test on March 17. On March 18, it opened at around . It went up to the s in After-hours trading added in another $7 billion to that total.

This is an excellent lesson in how a short position can add up to infinite losses. GameStop was worth $1.3 billion at the end of 2020. Short sellers have lost over $5 billion so far in 2021.

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Image: stavklem/Shutterstock.com

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Biden Orders End to Private Prisons in Package to Achieve ‘Racial Equity’

Denouncing what he called “systemic racism that has plagued our nation for far, far too long,” President Joe Biden signed executive actions Tuesday aimed at “racial equity,” including a measure to end the use of private prisons to hold federal inmates. 

“We are in a battle for the soul of this nation and the simple truth is, our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist,” Biden said before signing the executive orders, adding: 

We can’t eliminate it. It’s not going to be overnight. We can’t eliminate everything. But it’s corrosive. It’s destructive and it’s costly. It costs every American, not just [those] who felt the sting of racial injustice. 

We are not just less of a–we are not just a nation of morally deprived because of systemic racism. We are also less prosperous. We’re less successful. We’re less secure. We must change, and I know it’s going to take time. But I know we can do it and I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.

Biden also signed executive actions regarding fair housing, Native American tribes, and what he called xenophobia directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

The Obama administration, in which he served as vice president, sought to pull contracts from private prisons, Biden said. President Donald Trump reversed that course. 

“The executive order directs the attorney general to decline to renew contracts with privately operated criminal facilities,” Biden said, adding: “This is the first step to stop corporations from profiting off the incarceration that is less humane and less safe, as studies show.” 

Biden said “the blinders have been taken off” Americans since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after an arresting police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes. 

Still, Biden didn’t seem to adopt the view of some on the left that America intentionally was founded on white supremacy, as he referred to principles in the Declaration of Independence. 

“We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation, to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have the right to be treated equally throughout their lives,” Biden said. “It’s time to act now not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because if we do, we will all be better off for it.”

Nevertheless, during the remarks, he referred to his predecessor’s 1776 Commission, a panel that focuses on the country’s founding, as “offensive and counterfactual.” Biden disbanded the commission. 

Biden put Susan Rice, chairwoman of his Domestic Policy Council, in charge of the racial equity measure and coordination among federal agencies. Rice was national security adviser and U.N. ambassador during the Obama administration.

“We need to make the issue of racial equity not just an issue for any one department of government. It has to be the issue of the whole of government,” Biden said. 

Biden also signed a presidential memorandum ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development to review Trump administration policies that may have undermined fair housing laws. 

“Home ownership is an essential tool to wealth creation and to be passed down to generations,” Biden said. “Today, I’m directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address this historical racism in federal housing policies.” 

In another action, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to engage more with tribal governments

“I’m directing the federal agencies to reinvigorate the consultation process with Indian tribes; respect for tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone for our engaging with Native American communities,” Biden said. 

The president issued an executive memorandum for the Department of Health and Human Services to make battling “xenophobia” part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response. 

“Today, I’m directing federal agencies to combat the resurgence of xenophobia, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that we’ve seen skyrocket during this pandemic,” Biden said, adding:

This is unacceptable and it’s un-American. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to strengthen its partnership with the Asian American, Pacific Islander community to prevent those hate crimes. I’ve also asked the Department of Health and Human Services to put out best practices for combating xenophobia in our national response to COVID.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we will consider publishing your remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature.  

The post Biden Orders End to Private Prisons in Package to Achieve ‘Racial Equity’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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Media Betrays Bias With ‘Reporting’ on Biden Inauguration

There is a perception, supported by many surveys, that what passes for contemporary journalism is more biased, even propagandistic, than in earlier times. One of the definitions of “journalism” on Dictionary.com will affirm that attitude for many: “writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition…”

Journalism has, in fact, been infected by bias and sensationalism from the start. In his book, “Infamous Scribblers,” Eric Burns suggests that colonial journalism would often make today’s tabloids look like real news. Their slogan could have been “all the unfit news we print.”

Newspapers of those days published unverified scandals and statements by rival politicians that would today be considered slanderous, even libelous.

George Washington coined the phrase Burns used for his book title. The summary on Amazon.com reads: “The journalism of the era was often partisan, fabricated, overheated, scandalous, sensationalistic, and sometimes stirring, brilliant, and indispensable. Despite its flaws—even because of some of them—the participants hashed out publicly the issues that would lead America to declare its independence and, after the war, to determine what sort of nation it would be.”

Fast-forward to 1920. Warren Harding is elected president. Initially, the press gushing over Harding could be compared to what today’s media are saying about President Joe Biden.

As Leesa Donner recalls on LibertyNation.com, “Historian David Pietrusza’s riveting book ‘1920: The Year of the Six Presidents’ puts forth a ‘dazzling panorama of presidential personalities, ambitions, plots, and counterplots,’ but in the end, it was the least offensive man who won. To say that the media was in love with Warren Harding is putting it mildly. … Pietrusza quotes Washington journalist Edward G. Lowry, who he tags as ‘often-acerbic’ portraying Harding thusly: ‘Kindliness and kindness … fairly radiate from him. He positively gives out even to the least sensitive a sense of brotherhood and innate good-will toward his fellow man.’ American author Irvin S. Cobb gushed: ‘I think I never met a kindlier man or a man of better impulses or one with more generous and gracious opinions of his fellow man.’”

After his death in 1923, the Teapot Dome scandal and an extramarital affair came to light, erasing the virginal political image of Harding created by the press.

Which brings me to the media “reporting” on Biden’s inauguration.

The conservative website News Busters has compiled some examples that make the gushing over Harding and other politicians (JFK and Barack Obama come to mind) seem mild.

On Jan. 20, New York Times editor Lauren Wolfe tweeted: “Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills.” That recalls former MSNBC host Chris Matthews who said he “felt this thrill going up my leg” after an Obama speech.

CNN political director, David Chalian: “Those lights that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool, it’s almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America. It was a moment where the new President came to town and sort of convened the country in this moment of remembrance, outstretching his arms.”

Major Garrett of CBS News compared Biden’s Inaugural Address to that of a priest: “The beginning had a soaring rhetoric. A tiny bit at the end. The middle it sounded like a homily. … But like a priest explaining something from the Bible or something. ‘I’m breaking it down for you so we can all have a common language and a common understanding.’”

Please pass the Communion wafer.

Former Clinton adviser and ABC News co-anchor George Stephanopoulos said Biden’s speech had “echoes of Abe Lincoln.” Really?

There’s plenty more and will be more to come. Some of these people should receive awards from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals because of their role as lapdogs for Biden.

(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

The post Media Betrays Bias With ‘Reporting’ on Biden Inauguration appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Originally found on Daily Signal Read More




WATCH: The Government’s press conference. Covid deaths pass the 100,000 mark.

Originally found on Conservative Home Read More




Millionaire Mentor Update: Win or Lose, Do THIS

Win or lose, you can learn from every trade. No matter how long you’re in this game, you can always get better. But THAT means putting in the time to review EVERY trade.

How often should you review?

We’re all different. I’d guess that most of my top students review their trades on a daily basis. But at first, you might need to review your trades right away.

I’m not saying get stuck or attached to a trade. “On to the next …” is a good mindset, especially for experienced and consistent traders. But remember: win or lose, the lesson is more important than profit or loss.

Keep reading for three ways to increase your knowledge, win or lose. But first…

Giving Back: An Honor and a Duty

You may already know I donate 100% of my trading profits to charity. Some people wonder why I post about my donations on social media. They say, “Tim, just donate quietly. Why do you have to brag about it?”

First, it’s not to brag. It’s to bring attention to important issues and the charities trying to help. Here’s an example…

Warning! Graphic Images: Some people may find the following content disturbing or offensive.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Timothy Sykes (@timothysykes)

That’s why I share — to help spread awareness. Enough is enough. But only when enough people join together and say it, will things change.

Want to help? Follow Karmagawa on Instagram and visit our sustainable merch shop here.

Let’s talk trading…

Trading Mentor

Win or lose, you need to learn from EVERY trade. In the heat of battle, it might seem difficult. After a win, you get that rush. After a loss, there’s a little sting. If it’s a big loss … you feel downtrodden.

For new traders, there’s nothing more important than reviewing your trades. If not immediately, then at the end of the day. Learn from your wins AND your losses.

Losses Are Part of Trading

“I never lose. I either win or I learn.” — Nelson Mandela

I love that quote. But you need to understand that you will lose. Losses are part of the game. And most traders take big losses at some point. The key is to keep refining, keep improving, and keep getting better.

So take the spirit of Nelson Mandela’s quote and apply it to your trading journey. Your goal is to see each loss as a part of your education.

That’s why I’m so transparent about my trades. In an industry full of fakes, I share all my trades here. Learn from them. Don’t just study wins — pick apart my losses. If you’re new, spend more time on the losses than the wins.

Since we’re focused on learning from wins and losses, this week’s trade review shares one of each.

Trade Review: Win or Lose, Find the Lesson

To make it fun, I’m sharing last week’s biggest win and biggest loss in dollar terms. Notice where I was right, where I was wrong, and how I managed risk.

Ignite International Brands, Ltd. (OTCQX: BILZF)

Ignite International Brands is Dan Bilzerian’s CBD company. In September 2019, I traded BILZF during my annual conference. The stock spiked after Bilzerian posted about being able to invest in his company in the U.S. It was a perfect first green day setup.

BILZF has been on my radar ever since. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the company would do. On January 19, the company issued this press release with positive earnings news.

And again, Dan Bilzerian posted on his social media accounts. But this time it was kind of an “I told you so…”

I traded BILZF a few times that day — both with my big account and as part of the Small Account Challenge.

Check out the BILZF chart from January 19–20, with my entries and exits:

BILZF chart: January 19–20, first green day with news — courtesy of StocksToTrade.com
*Past performance does not indicate future results.

As you can see, BILZF was already spiking by the time I got in. It was moving so fast I got in and out for a quick $1,758 win.* Then it started to consolidate. My original thesis was that it could spike over $1 if Bilzerian shared it on Instagram. That’s where he has the most followers.

When it didn’t immediately spike over $1 per share I was a little surprised. But it set up nicely for the breakout going into the close.

(*Please note that these kinds of trading results are not typical. Most traders lose money. It takes years of dedication, hard work, and discipline to learn how to trade. Individual results will vary. Trading is inherently risky. Before making any trades, remember to do your due diligence and never risk more than you can afford to lose.)

What to Do When a Trade Meets Your Goals

When BILZF started to spike during power hour, I took a bigger position. Again, it spiked so fast I decided to lock in partial profits with the goal of holding the rest overnight. When it hit all my goals, and more, I got out. The $6,610 win was my biggest of the week.*

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That wasn’t the last of BILZF for me. I rebought on a dip off its highs. But because it was already up so much, I sized down considerably. And THAT made it a comfortable trade for my…

Small Account Challenge

In January, I started another Small Account Challenge. Starting with $12,000, I teach new traders how to build a small account. The OTC first green day pattern is one of my favorites for small accounts.

It doesn’t always work, but the pattern is a good setup for anyone trading under the PDT rule. Why? Because holding overnight saves you a day trade. Just be ready to cut losses — or take profits — quickly when the market opens the next day.

BILZF was a solid OTC first green day pattern. It had volume, earnings news, and it was holding the breakout over the high of the day. It finished strong but gapped down at the open the next day. The $140 win saved a day trade, but it was a little disappointing.*

Let’s move on to my biggest loss of the week. Remember, you can learn as much or MORE from your losses.

Astro Aerospace Ltd. (OTCQB: ASDN)

Astro Aerospace is a flying car play that was spiking in sympathy to EHang Holdings (NASDAQ: EH). It was also a nice multiday breakout.

Check out the ASDN chart from January 21 with my entry and exit comments:

ASDN penny stock chart
ASDN chart: January 21 intraday, fakeout breakout — courtesy of StocksTo Trade.com

As you can see, the stock was up roughly 34% off its morning lows when I bought near the multiday breakout. I thought it could keep going — it didn’t. So I followed rule #1: cut losses quickly.

The –$914 loss was my biggest of the week, but it doesn’t bother me because I followed my rules. Also, I was on the right track. ASDN hit its high of the day about an hour later.

The lesson is that following your trading plan and rule #1 is KEY to long-term success. Yes, I could have held ASDN and made a profit. But what if I was completely wrong and it tanked?

Take comfort when you’re on the right track but get shaken out. Learn to adjust and adapt as the market changes. But NEVER hold and hope.

Watch this video to understand my thoughts on rule #1…

The #1 Trading Rule All My Millionaire* Students Focus On

(*Note: My results, along with the results of these top traders, are far from typical. Individual results will vary. Most traders lose money. These top traders and I have the benefit of many years of hard work and dedication. Trading is inherently risky. Do your due diligence and never risk more than you can afford to lose.)

I hope you watched the whole video. If that rule isn’t burned into your brain by now, watch it again until it’s a mantra. Then use it.

Win or Lose, You Have a Choice

What’s the choice? Gain knowledge or let the opportunity pass you by. That applies to most of life, but in trading it’s imperative. You’re playing catch up. The stock market has been going longer than you’ve been alive.

And there are traders out there who’ve been trading since long before you ever considered it. So you have to learn as much as possible every time you stop on the battlefield. Every single trade … And how quickly you learn the lessons is up to you.

So make a choice. Do you want to learn from every trade now or pay the price later? It’s up to you.

Here are three ways to increase your knowledge, win or lose…

Keep a Trading Journal

Start your trading journal today. Use it for every trade. Use it for paper trading on StocksToTrade if that’s where you are in your journey. Keep as many details as possible. Use Profit.ly, too. We designed StocksToTrade and Profit.ly to simplify the learning process.*

(*Note: I’m an investor in both Profit.ly and StocksToTrade.) 

As you grow, it’s key to…

Review and Refine Your Trading Process

Successful trading is NOT about how much money you can make the quickest. It’s about how much you can learn…

Learn From Trades That Don’t Go as Planned

Learn from a few of my losses to get a better idea of how to think about trading. Without stats, you have nothing…

Millionaire Mentor Market Wrap

Win or lose … the knowledge you gain every day depends on you. Will you find the lessons in every trade? Will you try to understand the overall market? Are you willing to be obsessed with learning?

Most traders lose because they’re unprepared. Will you be one of the winners? It’s up to you…

How badly do you want it?

Trading Education

If you’re brand new to penny stocks, start with my FREE penny stock guide.

Ready for more?

For all the basics, start your 30-Day Bootcamp today. It’s still only $79 … which seems crazy for what you get. (You get two bonuses — “Pennystocking Framework” and “The Complete Penny Stock Course.”)

Trading Challenge

The Trading Challenge is the most comprehensive trading education we offer. When you apply, come ready to study harder than you’ve ever studied before. Apply for the Trading Challenge here.

Are you ready to learn from every trade, win or lose? Comment below, I love to hear from all my readers!

The post Millionaire Mentor Update: Win or Lose, Do THIS appeared first on Timothy Sykes.

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Bernard Jenkin: How long can the intensity of vaccination be sustained?

Bernard Jenkin MP is Chair of the Liaison Committee, and MP for Harwich and North Essex.

The government’s foresight in placing large-scale speculative orders for vaccines in development means that there is now real hope that the UK will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis well ahead of its peers. However, unless this early success is sustained during the weeks and months ahead, the demands for early timetables for opening up the country and sending pupils back to school will be wasted breath.

The Government is betting the ranch that NHS England can deliver the vaccine programme with the minimum of support from local government or from the Armed Forces. The startling data that showed vast disparity in the rate of vaccination in different parts of the country has exposed the shortcomings of an NHS England strategy that is tightly controlled from the centre.

My own Integrated Care System area, Suffolk and North East Essex (‘SNEE’, which ironically contains the Health Secretary’s own constituency) was highly exposed at the bottom of the league table, with only 36 per cent of over-eighties vaccinated on 14th January, compared to 84 per cent in Gloucestershire at the top.

The good news is that there has since been a rapid catch up in SNEE. We now have over 80 per cent of the over-80s vaccinated, and all care homes have been done (excepting a few with Covid outbreaks). NHSE has npw increased vaccine supply (up from about 25,000 a week to 40,000 doses in one day), but why were we so under-allocated before?

But there were other weaknesses. NHSE wants local NHS leaders to use ‘PCNs’ (primary care networks) to run the vaccine clinics, but they have no experience of running an emergency vaccine programme, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. There has been decades of underinvestment in primary care in north Essex (common to most counties close to London). The NHSE policy of insisting on PCN capacity everywhere, instead of providing resources for mass vaccination centres where appropriate, was a mistake.

Social makeup is important, a lesson hard won by NHS Test and Trace, when it placed a renewed emphasis on local contact tracing. Vaccinating in areas of high social depravation is difficult, but typical in coastal areas such as Clacton-Jaywick; Harwich; Ipswich; Felixtowe. The high concentration of care homes are very labour intensive for vaccination teams.

Many MPs are mystified about why NHSE seems to have discouraged engaging local authorities, which have empty leisure centres and idle staff, or from requesting military support to relieve the burden on the NHS. Only yesterday, the Health Secretary warned of the “relentless pressure” on the NHS. Why only last week was a request of military assistance allowed to support a new vaccine centre this week in Clacton: clearly it was very welcome, but why so late?

The Government looks set to meet its mid-February target of 12.2 million vaccinations, but it is only 16 per cent of the total task. Reaching the overall programme target requires vaccinating 75 per cent of adults in England (52m) twice, including starting again (second doses) with over-80s and the labour-intensive care homes.

Last week, the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) published modelling for two easing scenarios that are broadly similar in terms of case numbers and deaths across the year, “one based on the government’s planned pace of rollout (initially around 300,000 vaccines per day) and a second based on the faster rollout plan that TBI has proposed (500,000 vaccines per day in February, rising to around 600,000 per day in March).”

At nearly 500,000 doses a day the government now looks on track to meet the accelerated rollout. But it is a tricky balancing act: the second dose must be given within 12 weeks of the first. The profile of daily demand for this second dose begins to climb from the beginning of March.

There is a scenario that supply stops being the limiting factor; vaccines start piling up in warehouses while the country is held in lockdown. Failure to plan for this would be a self-inflicted social, economic and political catastrophe. The existing NHS workforce is working flat out to deal with Covid patient flow; and to deliver present vaccination capacity, at the expense of all the other things the NHS should be doing. How long can this intensity be sustained?

The Government should be planning to have additional vaccination capacity at massed vaccination centres, to relieve the burden on the NHS, and to provide increased resilience to the vaccination programme.

To stand this up quickly, the Government should engage local authorities and the 10,000 military personnel held at high readiness by MoD (Ben Wallace seemed rather sheepish when I asked whether this number could be increased, I think because it clearly can). The last thing any government needs is to be a victim of its own success. Get it right, and the TBI modelling suggests we could have last year’s “September-style” restrictions by April.

Originally found on Conservative Home Read More