December 08: The First Vaccine, The Failure to Purchase Vaccines, and Penny Pasta

December 08: The First Vaccine, The Failure to Purchase Vaccines, and Penny Pasta

The First Vaccine

In the first story today, we discuss the making of history. It should go without saying that trailblazers, as in those that have done things first, have been the ones to make their way into history books. Think about Niel Armstrong stepping foot on the moon, George Washington becoming the first President of the US, T-series being the first YouTube channel to reach 100 million subscribers. Well, we can now add one to that list: Margaret Keenan has become the first person to be vaccinated in the UK for the coronavirus.

This comes a week following the regulatory approval of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine in the UK. The government is now pursuing a policy of vaccinating those most at risk, and then moving down to eventually vaccinating the rest of the population. Ms. Keenan was clapped by staff as she was transported to the room where she would receive the vaccine. She is currently 90, and will celebrate her 91st birthday next week.

On the vaccine, Ms. Keenan said “it was a great opportunity” and that she hopes that others will do “what I did”. On the media attention that surrounded her, she said “I don’t mind the attention. It doesn’t bother me”. 

She is clearly a very bold woman, and we hope that she is the first of many to be vaccinated against this awful disease. As a bit of a side note, the second person to be vaccinated was actually called William Shakespeare – which we thought was worth mentioning!

The Failure to Purchase Vaccines

In the second story in the Daily Briefing today, we talk about the President’s failure to purchase vaccines. While the UK has purchased a total of 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine – which should be enough to vaccinate 15 million people. This amounts to around 22.5% of the population being able to be given this specific vaccine. The US has ordered a total of 100 million doses, which will be able to vaccinate around 50 million people. This amounts to only about 15.2% of the population.

This is a significant difference, especially considering that the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was developed by US and Germany companies with some US government assistance. Even though Pfizer rejected the offer to be part of Trump’s Operation Warp speed program, we would still expect the US government to be able to cut a fairly good deal with the manufacturers. 

For example 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, developed in the UK, have been purchased by the UK government. This is enough to vaccinate almost the entire country. This is the sort of deal we would expect the US government to cut.

It has today been reported that the White House actively chose not to purchase additional doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. It has been suggested that the White House may now want to purchase additional doses – especially considering that the vaccine has been shown to be so effective (around 95%) and is soon to be approved by the FDA.

The issue is that Pfizer has already made deals with other countries, and will likely need to fulfill these commitments first. We’ll need to see whether the President is able to cut a deal with them.

Penny Pasta

In the third story of the Daily Briefing, we move back to the UK to discuss the Tier 2 rules… again. You may remember from one of the briefings last week that there has been a big debate in the UK over whether a scotch egg constitutes a ‘substantial meal’. Well, while this is still as yet unresolved, some pubs are finding other creative ways to get around the Tier 2 restrictions.

Just for those of you who don’t know or can’t remember, pubs in Tier 2 in the UK can only serve alcoholic drinks if they accompany a ‘substantial meal’. One pub (the Queens Head in Norfolk) has opted to sell a pasta for 1 pence. They’ve named the dish “Penne-y pasta”. To promote this deal, they have come up with the slogan “pasta la vista, Boris”. This is certainly one way to get around the rules…

Another way that some restaurateurs have started using to get around the Tier 2 rules is by putting on live music. The rules state that the substantial meal rule does not apply to “a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event.”

So, if a pub puts on live music, it seems like customers can order alcohol without needing to eat as well. It should be noted that the customers would need to purchase tickets for this to be the case.

We’ll need to see whether the rules are amended to get stop these loopholes being used.

Anyway, for those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s Daily Briefing.

July 20th: Britain Buys 90 Million Vaccines, France Mandates Face Masks & China/UK Extradition Agreement Ends

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