Doctors have warned that Manchester is running out of hospital beds, with 12 hospitals in the region already at full capacity, according to a leaked NHS document.
Hospitals in Salford, Stockport and Bolton were already struggling to find beds to put the influx of 110 new patients with covid-19 needing vital treatment on Friday, a document seen by The Guardian revealed.
With a renewed sense of urgency Boris Johnson last night offered Greater Manchester tens of millions of pounds in extra support if the region agrees to accept the toughest level of lockdown restrictions.
Adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the Government yesterday criticised Labour mayor Andy Burnham in public while offering him additional financial aid in private.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove savaged the Greater Manchester mayor, warning his ‘posturing’ would cost lives in a city that has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country.
Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days
He told Sky News: ‘I want them to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in and I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.
‘Instead of press conferences and posturing, what we need is action to save people’s lives.’
But hours later the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Sir Edward Lister held talks with Mr Burnham in which he is said to have made a significant new financial offer.
Whitehall sources said the cash could run into ‘tens of millions’ of pounds to help ensure compliance with the swingeing Tier Three restrictions ministers want to introduce.
The offer is in line with deals struck with Merseyside and Lancashire, which have both been granted an additional £30million in recent days to help support businesses and jobs.
But it falls short of Mr Burnham’s demand for the furlough scheme to be extended in full to provide 80 per cent of the wages of those unable to work.
Images taken within a Liverpool hospital’s coronavirus ward last week show the harrowing struggle for life that is still happening across the country
Adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the Government yesterday criticised Labour mayor Andy Burnham (left) in public while offering him additional financial aid in private. Boris Johnson (right) offered tens of millions of pounds in extra support
Its replacement, the Job Support Scheme, will provide only 66 per cent of wages, although ministers insist the low-paid will also get Universal Credit top-ups.
Mr Burnham’s office last night described the talks with Sir Edward as ‘constructive’, with the mayor expected to consult with other local leaders overnight.
Downing Street indicated last week that Greater Manchester would be forced into Tier Three regardless today.
But last night it appeared ministers were ready to take a little longer to try to clinch a deal.
Mr Gove yesterday refused to comment when it was suggested to him that Greater Manchester would be in Tier Three from today.
Ministers fear compliance with new restrictions would be low if Mr Burnham and other local leaders reject the crackdown, although Greater Manchester Police last night confirmed officers would enforce any new regulations, which are likely to include pub closures.
An estimated 82 per cent of critical care beds in the Greater Manchester area are now being filled by patients with covid-19 – 211 beds out of 257. Pictured: Paramedics take Patient into St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster, London
Mr Gove yesterday contrasted Mr Burnham’s hardline stance with that of leaders in Merseyside and Lancashire, who have reluctantly agreed to enter Tier Three.
South Yorkshire is also thought to be close to agreeing on a package of Tier Three restrictions and support.
But attempts to isolate Mr Burnham politically have been undermined by the support of local Conservative MPs, who also oppose further restrictions in the region.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said politicians across Greater Manchester were ‘pretty united’ against the plans.
He told the BBC’s Broadcasting House show that local MPs and council leaders had ‘not been given the evidence it would be effective’.
He added: ‘We can see no reason for taking that significant economic hit especially if it does not come with full compensation for the economic hit when there is no evidence being advanced as to why it might work.’
And he warned the PM not to impose the restrictions, adding: ‘If you have got a situation where the MPs, the council leaders and the mayor are standing up for the people they represent, it would be unwise to impose it over their heads.’
Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, also questioned the value of further measures in Greater Manchester at this stage.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he said average cases in the city had fallen by 20 per cent in the first week of October, suggesting measures might be working already.
‘If policy keeps intervening at the first sight of rising cases then we will never learn if any given intervention has worked,’ he said. ‘The time has come to follow the data, watch the trends and slow down the thinking.’
Artist Peter Barber works on a mural in Manchester city centre yesterday, depicting nurse Melanie Senior after The National Portrait Gallery commissioned the mural based on a photograph by Johannah Churchill
A group of women in Manchester sing as the 10pm curfew approached yesterday evening. The city has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country
Mr Burnham acknowledged the region faced a ‘serious situation’, but accused the Prime Minister of having engaged in an ‘exaggeration’ of the severity of Covid-19 in the region, saying intensive care bed occupancy was still well below its April peak.
An estimated 82 per cent of critical care beds in the Greater Manchester area are now being filled by patients with covid-19 – 211 beds out of 257, reports Manchester Evening News.
Meanwhile, the latest daily figures revealed a further 16,982 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases to 722,409.
The Government also said a further 67 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of Sunday. This brings the UK total to 43,646.
‘There is light at the end of the tunnel’: SAGE expert Jeremy Farrar predicts a Covid vaccine WILL be ready within first three months of 2021 as Pfizer video shows thousands of doses rolling off production line
- Jeremy Farrar, SAGE expert, said the next three to six months in the UK will be ‘very, very difficult’
- Drug firm Pfizer rattling off thousands of doses of Covid-19 vaccine in Belgium
- Drug is being stockpiled if the contents prove safe and are effective treatment
- US company can make 100 million doses available if allowed to move forward
A top government advisor has said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as he predicts a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of March 2021.
Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK faces a ‘very, very difficult’ period over the next three to six months.
But the Wellcome Trust director said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as he believes a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment will be ready in the first quarter of 2021.
It comes as England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said the vaccine being prepared at Oxford University could be ready by December.
Meanwhile, drug giant Pfizer has released a video showing that production of their vaccine is well under way at the manufacturing plant in Belgium.
Prof Farrar told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed, claiming there could currently be 50,000 coronavirus cases per day across the UK.
He said: ‘The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.
‘Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.
SAGE expert Jeremy Farrar (pictured) has said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as a vaccine could be rolled out as soon as March 2021 but says next few months will be difficult
‘It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.’
Asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said he does not believe a vaccine will be ready in time for the festive period.
He added: ‘Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
‘I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
‘The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
‘It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.’
Prof Farrar said a short national lockdown known as a circuit-breaker is needed to reduce transmission rates, as previously recommended by Sage last month.
He said the ‘best time’ to have introduced the temporary lockdown would have been around September 20, but added ‘it was never too late’.
He said: ‘The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.
‘So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.’
In regard to a potential vaccine and effective treatments, Prof Farrar said he believes they are ‘three to six months away’.
Hundreds of thousands of doses of possible vaccine have been prepared by a plant in Belgium
Meanwhile, new footage has emerged which shows the vaccine that could end the Covid misery engulfing the planet.
Drug giant Pfizer has already manufactured ‘several hundred thousand doses’ of the jab at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
They are being stockpiled ready to be rolled out worldwide if clinical trials are a success, and regulators deem it safe and effective.
The US giant hopes to make 100 million doses available this year, of which 40 million are destined for the UK – a figure that will be dwarfed by the 1.3 billion jabs the company aims to manufacture in 2021.
Every patient who receives the vaccine will need two doses.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday today, Pfizer UK boss Ben Osborn says: ‘It was great to see the first vial coming off the manufacturing line.
‘It just brought a tremendous smile to my face to see all of this work actually result in a product.’
Pfizer, which is working with Germany’s BioNTech, is currently running a trial on 44,000 people, and last week said it plans to apply for emergency US approval of its vaccine in November.
That puts Pfizer in pole position in the race to launch a Covid vaccine.
Separately, Osborn said Pfizer’s laboratory in Sandwich, Kent, has unearthed drugs that could provide a potential cure for Covid-19.
It comes as it was today reported that the NHS is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine soon after Christmas.
The row over local lockdowns came as the Mayor of Greater Manchester (pictured: People enjoy a night out in Manchester), Andy Burnham, blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for being ‘the problem’ in the standoff over moving the region into Tier Three
Meanwhile, in Leeds, people were also out on the town last night despite the area being on the brink of a Tier Three lockdown
The UK’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, reportedly told MPs last week that stage three trials of the vaccine created at Oxford University, which is being produced by Astra Zeneca, could be rolled-out in December, reports the Sunday Times.
According to the paper, he said: ‘We aren’t light years away from it. It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas.
‘That would have a significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths.’
Thousands of NHS staff are to undergo training to administer a vaccine before the end of the year, the paper adds.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is under growing pressure from furious Tory grandees to set out a ‘clear end date’ for local lockdowns.
Senior Conservative Party figures have warned the Prime Minister he must announce a ‘strategy for returning life to normal’ as they said an indefinite cycle of localised shutdowns is not acceptable and would wreck the economy.
Bars and pubs were also busy in London, which has recently been moved into Tier 2 of the new alert system
Labour: We’d shut down UK again and again
Labour’s plans for a temporary lockdown could see the economy and society shut down ‘multiple’ times this winter, senior figures admitted yesterday.
Sir Keir Starmer last week called on Boris Johnson to impose an immediate circuit breaker lasting for two to three weeks.
But Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green yesterday admitted that the lockdown, which would include the closure of shops, pubs and restaurants, might have to last longer than three weeks to be effective.
And the shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the exercise might have to be repeated several times in the coming months.
Asked whether Labour accepted that the measure might be required ‘multiple’ times through the winter and spring, Miss Reeves told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘If that is what is needed then that is the approach that has to be taken, because we’ve got to get a grip on this virus.’
She added: ‘The tiered approach isn’t working. Tier Two is just a holding ground before you go into Tier Three.’
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove yesterday said he was ‘concerned’ by the admission from Miss Reeves.
Asked if some form of national clampdown was inevitable, he replied: ‘No.’
Mr Gove insisted that it made sense to take tough action in the areas of ‘highest incidence’ rather than imposing blanket national restrictions, which he said would damage the economy while providing little health benefit.
Wales’ 17-day circuit break
Wales could be put into a full lockdown lasting 17 days by Labour leaders.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make an announcement today.
The circuit-breaker would run from 6pm on Friday until the evening of November 8.
A leaked letter from the Welsh Confederation of Passenger Transport suggested it had already been given the green light.
It said the restrictions ‘will take us back to the situation in March’. Primary schools would reopen after half-term but secondaries could remain shut for the lockdown.
Cases in Wales reached 950 today with the Health Minister saying local lockdowns across the nation were not effective and so could be replaced by a full ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown