News in brief: People urged to continue getting Covid jabs despite blood clot concerns
Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme (VPDP) at Public Health Wales, has stressed that people should continue to get the Covid jab when offered, despite safety concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine and warned any delay “ increases the chances of an earlier and larger third wave”.
Last Friday the Welsh Government announced that people under 40 who have with no clinical risk factors will be offered an alternate to AstraZeneca and said this change will be implemented immediately, following new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) following a small number of deaths due to blood clots being linked with the vaccine.
PHW revealed that nine people in Wales suffered the type of blood clots linked with the AstraZeneca jab and two of those subsequently died.
“JCVI is not advising against using AstraZeneca vaccine in 30-39 year olds, only that other vaccines are preferred, Dr Roberts said.
“JCVI advise that anyone who has already received a first dose of AstraZeneca should continue to receive the same vaccine for their second dose, there are no clotting safety concerns with the second dose. It is the second dose which gives stronger and longer protection.
“Extremely rare cases of thrombosis (blood clots) with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been reported to the MHRA after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a rate of 10.5 per million doses. There is a trend to a higher rate in younger age groups. The condition can be severe, with a fatality rate of 20 per cent.
“Coronavirus itself also causes clotting, and blood clots have been a very common complication in the hundreds of thousands of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 infection in the UK, also causing deaths. The Covid-19 vaccine can reduce the risk of you getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus by over 90 per cent, including preventing blood clots caused by Covid-19. The balance of risks and benefits have been taken into account by the JCVI.
“In Wales nine cases of this rare type of blood clot have been reported by the MHRA, 2 of the cases sadly died. Over 1 million people in Wales have received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.”
“Information on how to identify this rare condition is available in the PHW website. You should seek prompt medical advice if you get any of these symptoms starting from around four days to four weeks after being vaccinated:
- a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse.
- a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over.
- a headache that’s unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
- a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain”.
Over 1.2million people have received the AZ vaccine in Wales since its introduction in January. According to today’s figures 1,935,003 have received one dose of vaccine and 846,180 have had both and are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, PHW has reported four further deaths due to Covid and 104 new cases of the virus in today’s report.
Following recent changes to the way data on the pandemic is reported, today’s figures cover the 48 hours up to 9am on Sunday.
Two of the newly reported deaths are in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area and Hywel Dda and Swansea Bay each reported one further death.
Cardiff (27) recorded the highest number of new cases over the weekend, followed by Newport (25) and Carmarthenshire (11).
Newport continues to have the highest weekly case rate in the country at 26.5 per 100,000 people and the highest positive test rate at 2.7% per 100,000 tests in the week ending 9 May.
Over the course of the week just 238 people have tested positive for the virus across Wales and national case rate is currently 7.5 and the test rate is 0.9%.
Pressure grows on Liberty Steel owner as Tata sues over late payments
Tata Steel is suing Sanjeev Gupta, the owner of Liberty steel, over late payments linked to the £100 million deal that saw Tata’s specialty steel business sold to Liberty in 2017.
Tata is seeking £7.9 million pounds over the missed payments, as Mr Gupta battles to keep his beleaguered business empire afloat.
Liberty Steel is the third largest steel company in the UK and currently employs 3,000 people at 11 sites in the UK, including over 200 at its plants in Newport and Tredegar.
Last month the UK Government rejected a plea from the company for a £170 million emergency loan following the collapse into administration of Greensill Capital, the main source of finance for Mr Gupta’s conglomerate GFG Alliance, which owns the steel business.
In documents filed at the High Court in London, lawyers for Tata say Liberty claims it had run into difficulties as early as May 2020 when demand for steel was hit due to the pandemic.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Mr Gupta’s is in talks with a US based investment company in an effort to secure a loan of over £200m to save his business empire from collapse.
According to the BBC, a skeleton agreement has been agreed with California-based investment firm White Oak Global Advisors.
Any loan secured would need the approval of Gupta Family Group’s creditors which include Credit Suisse and Tata Steel.
Reports last week also suggested three Liberty Steel group companies could face winding up orders over the coming weeks.
New PCC for North Wales prepares for new role after nail-biting win
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
Labour’s Andy Dunbobbin survived a nail-biting run-off to secure his position as the new Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales.
He won the run-off with 98,034 overall votes defeating his Conservative rival Pat Astbury by 7,885 votes after second preference ballots were added in.
Speaking in Connah’s Quay, where the results were announced yesterday, he said: “I take this role seriously.
“I understand I will be measured against my manifesto pledges by the people of North Wales.
“I’m very much looking forward to starting this work from now.”
After being sworn in by police area returning officer Colin Everett, Mr Dunbobbin had a brief chat with chief executive of the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Hughes.
Work will start from Today on putting those manifesto pledges into action.
In some ways Mr Dunbobbin was an outsider for the position, given his relatively new ascension to the Police and Crime Panel, which pores over what the PCC does.
His rival Mrs Astbury was chair of the panel and Plaid Cymru’s candidate Ann Griffith is a former deputy PCC.
After the initial round of voting Mrs Astbury led by a little more than 6,000 votes from Labour’s Andy Dunbobbin.
Mrs Astbury polled 75,472 votes across the North Wales counting centres to Mr Dunbobbin’s 69,459.
Losing out by just 1,783 votes was third-placed Plaid Cymru candiate Ann Griffith, who many had tipped to follow-on from her party colleague Arfon Jones, who stood down for this election.
Ms Griffith said she was “absolutely gutted” to have lost out” at the first hurdle.
Lisa Wilkin of the Liberal Democrats secured 120,149 votes and Independent candiate Mark Young polled 15,907.
It left Mrs Astbury and Flintshire county councillor Andy Dunbobbin slugging it out for second preference votes from the ballot papers of the three defeated candidates.
First round results in full:
Mark Young – Independent: 15,907
Andy Dunbobbin – Labour: 69,459
Lisa Wilkins – Liberal Democrats: 10,149
Pat Astbury – Conservatives: 75,472
Ann Griffith – Plaid Cymru: 69,672
Turnout: 46.08% (+5.26%)
Second preference votes:
Andy Dunbobbin – 28,575
Pat Astbury – 14,677
Andy Dunbobbin – 98,034
Pat Astbury – 90,149