By Powerscourt on 09/01/2021

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 09 January 2021


Powerscourt calculates that the UK government has ordered 330m shots of various vaccines. That is more than five shots per person likely to be vaccinated (exclude the under-5s and the extreme anti-vaxxers). Other rich countries are similarly over ordering for overkill.

That may exacerbate inequality at a sensitive time, according to leaders in the less-developed world.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has now spoken out against countries such as the UK ordering large quantities of vaccines like Moderna, Bloomberg reports. He accused richer countries of hoarding the shots and leaving poorer countries with no access to vaccines.

Jamaica is not expected to receive any doses until at least April, leaving the largely tourism-dependent economy in turmoil. Holness has called for the vaccines to be shared across the globe “to reach a certain threshold in vaccination in order for us to defeat the virus.”

Incidentally, his country has COVID-19 statistic the rest of us can only dream about. It has reported 13,411 cases of the coronavirus and 307 deaths due to COVID-19.

The UK government is back on loudspeaker mode this weekend. The message: “Your compliance is more vital than ever!”

Yesterday 1,325 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test were reported in the UK, the worst day to date. With the new variant spreading quickly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for the public to comply with the lockdown rules.

Britain currently has the world’s fifth-highest death toll at almost 80,00 people. The Government’s new TV campaign, fronted by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, brings into stark contrast the pressure that the virus is putting on the NHS and the likelihood of hospitals becoming overwhelmed. As of Thursday, there were a reported 28,246 in-patients – 11,000 more than a fortnight ago.

With this winter wave proving more deadly than the first, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has declared it a “major incident” in the capital, the first since the Grenfell fire of 2017. Khan claimed yesterday evening that whilst 1 in 50 people across the UK have COVID-19, some London boroughs have as many as 1 in 20.

“The situation in London is now critical, with the spread of the virus out of control,” Khan said. Declaring a major incident will now trigger a coordinated response plan from the city’s emergency services and will act as a bargaining tool to request more help from the government.

London follows four other UK regions in declaring an emergency.

In more positive news, the Moderna vaccine got the stamp of approval from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) yesterday, joining the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZenica vaccines. 17 million doses of the vaccine (which is 94% effective) have been ordered by the British government but it is predicted the rollout will not be possible until Spring.

The approval does, however, allow for Johnson’s target of 15million vaccinated people by mid-February to be more tangible as it eases supply concerns. It is likely that Johnson sees this vaccination drive as a chance to redeem himself after months of policy U-turns, confusing lockdown rules and criticism from his own ministers during the pandemic.




Dechra Pharmaceuticals
Ian Page, the chief executive of the veterinary drugs group, Dechra, is interviewed in The Times on the impact coronavirus has had on his business. The first six months were said to be incredibly difficult, “probably as challenging as it’s been” since Mr Page joined the industry in the 1980s, especially in the domestic market. With the higher level of consolidation among vet practices in Britain meaning that many were closed during the first lockdown, Dechra’s sales on its home soil were “decimated.” Among other things under discussion, Page suggested that for now, any planned M&A is off the table owing to the difficulties of visiting companies to conduct due diligence during lockdowns.


Consumer & Retail

The boss of pub chain Marston’s has urged the government for additional support for hospitality firms, as the company revealed it expects its sites to be closed until at least March due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The company, which has been forced to close all of its pubs due to the third nationwide lockdown, said yesterday it does “not have certainty about the timing of reopening” and called on the government to extend the business rates holiday and VAT cut for hospitality firms. Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said extending the support schemes to the end of the year is a “minimum requirement.” It is “vital that the government reviews urgently the opportunity to continue to support pubs as we reopen the economy in the coming weeks,” Findlay added.


Rishi Sunak looking to delay tax rises and end the stamp duty holiday – The Times

Children’s mental health referrals hit record high as lockdowns and school closures bite – The Telegraph

UK records highest daily death toll since start of pandemic Financial Times