It has been confirmed that all parts of the UK have now received a supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for nationwide rollout tomorrow.
Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs across the country from tomorrow – reportedly dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock – with people aged 80 and older, care home workers, and NHS workers who are at higher risk, among those at the front of the queue.
Pfizer and BioNTech reported final trial results on 18th November, showing its vaccine was 95% effective in preventing coronavirus (COVID-19), with no major safety concerns.
Studies have shown the jab works in all age groups.
The UK government is confirmed to have ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine – which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as two doses are required – and there are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.
There are 50 initial hubs in the first wave of the vaccination programme in England.
Although it is not currently known when exactly all 50 hubs will receive vaccine doses – as they are starting to administer the jab at different times, with deliveries are expected throughout the week – more hospitals will begin to vaccinate in due course as the programme ramps up.
Saffron Cordery – Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers – said many hospital hubs had received their allocation of the initial 800,000 doses, and she expected there would be up to four million doses in the country by the end of December.
Staff at seven NHS hospitals across the North West – including two major Greater Manchester locations – are preparing to administer the vaccine tomorrow.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool University Hospitals
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
Wirral University Teaching Hospital
Countess of Chester Hospital
The UK’s leading medical professionals have been offering insight and reassurance to those who fall under JCVI’s priority list for vaccination rollout.
Professor Stephen Powis – National Medical Director at the NHS – said the distribution of the vaccine would be a “marathon not a sprint”, while Chris Hopson – Chief Executive of NHS Providers – said people need to “hang fire” and be assured they have not been forgotten if they have not received a letter or a phone call about the jab.
Mr Hopson added: “I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.”
JCVI’s priority list for the first phase of the vaccine rollout is as follows:
Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
All those 80 years of age and over& frontline health and social care workers.
All those 75 years of age and over
All those 70 years of age and over&clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
All those 65 years of age and over.
All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
All those 60 years of age and over.
All those 55 years of age and over.
All those 50 years of age and over.
The distribution of the vaccine across the UK is being undertaken by Public Health England and the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through systems specially adapted from those used for the national immunisation programmes.
After going through final quality control checks, batches will be placed in freezers to ensure they are kept at the right temperature until being used.
While NHS staff and hospital hubs are gearing up to administer the vaccine from tomorrow, there has however been challenges identified to overcome with vaccinating care home residents, despite them being at the top of the priority list.
Logistical issues mean there are difficulties in delivering the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to residents, as it needs to be stored at minus 70°C before being thawed out, and can only be moved up to four times within that cold chain before being used.
The vaccine boxes containing 975 doses will need to be split so they can be taken to care homes.
Mr Hopson has now said this rollout would begin in around a week’s time and would be led by primary care networks.
You can find more information regarding the UK’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine here.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
This hidden Manchester pasta and dumplings restaurant has just made the Michelin Guide
Michelin has just added some new additions to its guide, and one of our favourite Manchester restaurants has finally made the cut.
Loved by locals for its continental pasta and dumplings, gorgeous European wine list and sake collection, The Sparrows in the Green Quarter is something of a hidden gem – tucked in a disused railway arch on Red Bank.
It received rave reviews from local and national critics alike when it first opened in 2019 in a tiny space with room for just 12 covers. Since then, it’s relocated to a bigger home and its following has grown significantly.
After spending years wowing foodies in the know, the restaurant has made it onto the radar of Michelin’s inspectors at last – and we have to say, the accolade is well deserved indeed.
Front of house is headed up by Polish-born Kasia Hitchcock with her chef partner Franco Concli at the helm in the kitchen. Plates celebrate Franco’s Tyrolean heritage, with their signature dish spätzle, a rustic fresh egg pasta from which the restaurant takes its name, sitting front and centre.
Traditionally made by scraping dough from the wooden board straight into a pot of boiling water, these irregular-shaped delights translate from Swabian-German to mean “little sparrows.”
Served in multiples ways, they can be enjoyed either savoury or sweet – mixed with braised onions into a creamy gruyere and Emmental cheese sauce, as is traditional, or transformed into a pudding with a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter.
Joining the now seventeen Manchester restaurants to be featured in the prestigious guide, its description reads as follows: “Nestled under the railway arches in Manchester’s Green Quarter is a restaurant whose name is (almost) the English translation of the word ‘spätzle’ – which gives some clue as to the style of food on offer here.
“The dumplings and assorted pasta dishes are all made in-house and include excellent pierogi. The focus on Eastern Europe carries through to the wine list, which has a leaning towards Polish wines.”
A welcome new addition, if you haven’t yet visited then we recommend you book in swiftly. No doubt the news of its conclusion in the Michelin Guide will send reservations filling up pretty sharpish.
Feature image – Google Maps
New DNA evidence could clear ‘innocent’ man who spent 17 years in prison for Salford rape
A man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he has continued to claim he did not commit has now been granted a fresh appeal after DNA was linked to an alternative suspect.
57-year-old Andrew Malkinson from Grimsby was convicted by a jury verdict of 10-2 of strangling and raping a woman in Little Hulton in Salford back in 2003, and was jailed for life following a trial at Manchester Crown Court in February 2004.
The victim – who had been walking home alone in the early hours of 19 July 2003 – was sexually assaulted after being throttled until the point of unconsciousness, and also suffered a broken neck and a fractured cheekbone during the attack.
There was no DNA or other forensic evidence linking Mr Malkinson to the crime at the time, and the prosecution case relied mainly on identification evidence from eyewitnesses.
This is why he has always maintained his innocence and insisted it was a case of mistaken identity.
Mr Malkinson had twice been refused an appeal in the past after applying for his case to be reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – which is the body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice – but after being released on license from prison back in 2020, scientific techniques have advanced, and this has potentially lead to some new evidence.
The legal team at the charity APPEAL was able to commission new DNA testing that revealed the presence of unknown male DNA in samples taken from the victim and her clothing, and this “breakthrough” has therefore cast doubt on Mr Malkinson’s conviction.
APPEAL Director Emily Bolton said “the battle for justice is not yet over”, adding that the CCRC “will now form its own view of the fresh evidence and we hope they will agree that Andy’s conviction cannot now be regarded as safe.”
Mr Malkinson says he “finally has the chance to prove his innocence”.
“I am innocent,” Mr Malkinson questioned in a statement provided by his legal representatives.
“Finally, I have the chance to prove it thanks to the perseverance of my legal team at APPEAL. I only have one life and so far 20 years of it has been stolen from me. Yesterday I turned 57 years old. How much longer will it take?”
As well as the case having being referred back to the CCRC this week, in light of new information, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed last month that it had arrested a 48-year-old man from Exeter on suspicion of rape, but he has since been released under investigation.
Addressing Mr Malkinson’s case, CCRC chairwoman Helen Pitcher said: “The new results raise concerns about the safety of these serious convictions.
“It is now for the Court of Appeal to decide whether they should be quashed.
“New evidence can come to light years after a conviction, and in the ever-changing world of forensic science, it is crucial an independent body can undertake these enquiries and send cases of concern back to court.
“Following Mr Malkinson’s application, we used our special powers and expertise to re-examine this case, instructing experts to undertake state-of-the-art DNA testing.”