Welcome, once again, to an information press conference from No6 Convent Place.
I am very sorry to have to report to you today an additional death from COVID-19.
The death has arisen in a male in the age 60 to 65 group.
The death is reported as being FROM COVID.
My condolences and the condolences of the whole Government and the People of Gibraltar to the family of the deceased.
This sad death brings the total number of persons who have died as a result of this disease in Gibraltar to 84.
53 of these deaths have been in our Elderly Residential Services .
74 of the total deaths are registered as being FROM COVID.
And 10 are registered as deaths WITH COVID.
The deaths have occurred predominantly in this calendar year, with 77 of these deaths reported since the 1st of January.
We are seeing what we hope will be the last spate of deaths.
But I have to be honest with you all and tell you that I expect that we shall continue to see at least a handful of further such deaths.
Overnight, the numbers of persons infected with COVID- 19 in our community has increased by 9 of which 6 are residents and 3 are not.
The R rate REMAINS below 0.5.
This result is extrapolated from 1,119 tests carried out yesterday.
We have now carried out a remarkable 171,263 tests as at last night.
That gives you a feel for the pressure our equally remarkable laboratory staff have worked under, in particular in the months of December and January.
Today, the total number of active cases of COVID-19 in Gibraltar is down to 78.
That is six less than yesterday.
Since we identified patient zero in Gibraltar in February of last year, we have had a total 4,212 cases of COVID cases in Gibraltar.
516 of these have been in non-residents.
In respect of vaccinations, the total number of doses administered as midnight last night was 23,103.
Of these, 15,436 were first doses.
7,667 were second doses
Everyone in an ‘at risk’ group has now had or been offered a second dose.
Everyone over the age of 70 has now had or been offered a second dose.
Everyone in our frontline services has now had or been offered a second dose.
And everyone over the age of 60 has now had or been offered at least a first dose.
All our teachers have had or been offered a first dose and will be offered a second dose this weekend.
Already we are booking citizens in their 50s for their first appointments.
We have been able to do this because of the incredible support we have had from the United Kingdom.
And what an incredible job our vaccination team is doing.
More generally, the picture in St Bernard’s Hospital is now as follows:
There have been no admissions to the Critical Care Unit overnight.
The overall picture in CCU is of 8 COVID patients in that unit now, with 6 of them ventilated.
There has been only one overnight admission to the Victoria Ward, now our only COVID ward.
The overall picture in Victoria Ward is of 8 patients in that ward now, of whom 7 are stable or improving.
This is a significant improvement in numbers at St Bernard’s especially in the Critical Care Unit where patients are now starting to step down and off ventilators.
There are now 0 active cases in residents in ERS
All three are stable or improving.
This is frankly a tribute to the hard work, diligence and effectiveness and professionalism of our Critical Care Unit, Victoria Ward and ERS staff.
They are owed a huge debt of gratitude.
The GHA’s Mortuary capacity is now also restored.
The sustained decrease in new cases of COVID- 19 is a vindication of our lock down strategy.
It is also a good reason to reassess the restrictions in place and how we can safely start to remove these.
In doing so, we are mindful of the World Health Organisation warning today against hasty unlocking.
We will therefore ensure that the measures we lift are designed to deliver a process of unlocking which is safe and responsible.
For that, we need to take one step at a time.
We need to act in a way which allows us to monitor the effects of each measure and permits us to tighten up again if we need to.
As Gibraltar remains on a Major Incident posture, I convened COVID Platinum to consider all these matters on Wednesday.
Our decision is to continue our unlocking programme in a measured manner.
Our thinking and logic revolves around the fact that our four most at risk cohorts will be 7 days post second dose by the weekend of Friday the 19th February.
Golden Hour will therefore continue until the 1st March, but not beyond.
But the over-70s lockdown WILL NOT be renewed once it lapses next week.
If you are over 70, please behave AS IF you were in lock down until have had7 days after your second dose.
If you have not been vaccinated and you are over 70 or in one of the four at risk categories, please contact the GHA immediately.
As a result of this logic, also, whilst non-essential shops will need to remain closed on Bank Holiday Monday of this week, they will be able to re-open on Saturdays as from the 20th of this month.
That will mean a full re-opening schedule for our non-essential shops for two out of four weekends this month of February.
Those who can of course, should continue to work from home until the 1st of March if possible.
Gibraltar will hopefully be able to STEP DOWN from Major Incident posture on the 1st of March.
Catering establishments will also be able to open as from the 1st of March.
Until then, the catering industry will continue to receive 100% BEAT.
I am also pleased to confirm that our Business Support measures will continue for February and a full statement will be issuedon Tuesday detailing these for each of the sectors.
Our update for businesses will include details for those that we have closed and those that remain open, albeit with very limited trade.
TO BE CLEAR: businesses that have been ordered to close for February will also have the increased rental discount scheme rolled over for the month of February.
In this respect, private landlords are encouraged to provide a 50% discount to their tenants for February also, with the discount being reduced to 25% for the month of March.
Within the parameters that are available to us, we are seeking to continue providing critical support to our business community and totheir employees.
This has been our intention from day one and will continue through this pandemic to live up to that requirement to support our businesses and to give our workers the shield they need from its worst effects of the pandemic.
We have also been working closely with the Department of Education and with the Teachers’ Union on all aspects of lockdown education and on unlocking.
The Minister for Education has been meeting the Teachers’ Union this afternoon.
I can confirm that Minister Cortes will therefore be progressing the opening of schools for the 22nd of February.
This will put the vast majority of our teachers more than 7 days post their second dose of vaccine when we re-open our schools.
Our 16 to 18 year olds have been offered the vaccine and many have already had a first dose.
Our school buildings are being prepared for re-opening.
You will recall we legionnaires disease in some school buildings last time we re-opened after a lengthy lockdown.
We have ensured that we have dealt with all those issues as we now move to reopen our schools again.
Children’s extra-curricular activities and training will be able to start also from the 22nd February.
Also on the 22nd, we shall see our bus services returning to normal.
That will include of course the schools bus services.
With our schools re-opening on the 22nd, we consider that we need to monitor carefully the effect of that re-opening.
We expect that there may be more infections, but that these will NOT lead to hospitalisations in large numbers that the GHA will not be able to handle.
The lower numbers of hospitalisations should also lead to many less instances of severe illness or death.
Our aim throughout the past year has been to act to prevent the GHA being overwhelmed.
We believe that these unlocking measures will lead to increases in infections but NOT to the GHA being overwhelmed.
I emphasise that because that is the key logic driving our decision making.
If the GHA were to be overwhelmed, we would have to reassess and potentially we might have to lock down again.
But this is something of course we want to avoid at all costs.
In order to ensure that we do not suffer an unexpected relapse in the numbers of cases which might lead to the GHA being overwhelmed, a number of lighter restrictions will therefore have to remain in place.
Curfew will continue for now from 10pm to 6am.
We expect we will be able to undo curfew by mid-March.
But will nonetheless keep this under weekly review in case we can undo curfew earlier.
The number of persons who can gather will continue to be restricted.
That number will increase from 8 to 12 as from the 22nd February also.
Wearing of masks will continue to be a requirement everywhere for the rest of February.
We will review this in keeping with the WHO advice for the month of March.
Public worship will be permitted from Saturday the 20th February, but with appropriate and very strict social distancing and mask-wearing continuing to be observed.
For the same reason, sports training etc will need to be reintroduced as it was at the time we last unlocked in spring and summer.
We must be clear in one thing.
This exercise in unlocking is a balance of risk.
We have an obligation to protect personal freedom and your civil liberties.
We have a concurrent duty to protect life and to avoid serious illness or injury.
That balance will only permit the legitimate imposition of restrictions on freedom where we believe that we need to do so to protect the GHA’s ability to provide treatment.
But we must be clear in our understanding that, as we unlock, we can expect the number of infections to rise.
We must keep an eye on that.
But we must also not be surprised by the rise in infections.
We will once again need to be very alive to the work of the contact tracing bureau and to the need for testing, tracing and isolating where appropriate.
Let us be clear also that the State cannot nanny each of us.
As we move out of different lock down stages, each of us has a responsibility to bear for our actions.
For example, our people should not go to Spain to do there what is not allowed here.
We each have our part to play.
We have to understand how we can protect ourselves or others or how our recklessness can expose and lead to us being infected or to others being infected as a result of our actions.
So I once again implore my fellow Gibraltarians follow our rules on social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene as well as mask wearing.
My dear friends, today should have marked the start of our children’s first ever winter midterm break, with a bank holiday on Monday to help parents to spend more time with their children.
Let us be very prudent as we see our children take a break from online learning and as they gear up for a much desired return to school.
Let us ensure our actions are designed to reinforce the work done in lockdown and to not to throw it away.
Let us ensure that the sacrifices so many have made these past months are honoured by us all now.
So please do not waste the effort Gibraltar has made by running off to crowded bars and restaurants in Spain.
All you will achieve if you do that is that YOU will bring the virus back to Gibraltar.
YOU will be the vector that potentially creates a new spike in infections.
YOU could be the reason for a new lock down.
It’s that simple.
Finally, many of you have continued to get in touch to tell us of Gibraltarian clinicians working on COVID around the world.
I emphasise that we are as proud of those of our clinicians who are working outside of Gibraltar as we are of those who are working here.
No more and no less.
Dr Khemani who is working round the clock in West Middlesex and Northwick Park.
Dr Pitto who is working in the COVID- 19 ward in Kings College Hospital, in London.
Ms Mascari who is a radiographer in Harrogate in North Yorkshire.
And the other Dr Khemani who is an NHS dentist -providing emergency dental care during the pandemic in London.
Happily Dr Meenal Viz is now with us here in Gibraltar.
She popped in to see me this week as she has started a short stint here in Gibraltar alongside our own, brilliant, GHA and ERS clinicians.
Gibraltarians around the world, doing their bit to help deal with COVID- 19.
Now its down to us Gibraltarians in Gibraltar to follow the rules and ensure we do what we need to do to keep COVID-19 at bay.
Now I’ll take questions from journalists here at No 6 Convent place and from some who have sent their questions in.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:00:06] Good afternoon, Chief Minister Jonathan Scott from GBC. You've said that the lockdown for over 70 years won't be renewed. So what date will they be able to legally leave their houses if they're over 70s?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:00:20] The lockdown for the over 70s expires on Sunday night from Sunday to Monday at midnight. There is, of course, still a curfew in place in Gibraltar, as I've explained. So at 6:00 a.m. in the morning on Monday would be the time when over 70s would be free, like any other citizen, to then wander into the streets with a caveat I've set out in explaining the logic of what we're doing. I would urge all over 70 year olds to ensure that they are at least seven days post their second dose before they come out of their homes. And then, of course, in the same way as every Gibraltarian is urged to come out of their homes, being absolutely critically careful of social distancing ensuring that they're wearing their masks and ensuring hand and respiratory hygiene.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:01:08] What percentage of over 70s do you think have been vaccinated in Gibraltar?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:01:14] The calculations that have been shared with me suggests that we are well in the region of over 95 percent of those who are eligible being vaccinated. That's not to say that you have a five percent of the over 70s who have turned down the vaccination. You have some people who may not be able to take the vaccination because of other pre-existing conditions. We may not have been able to reach some over 70 year olds for reasons that might relate to their own family circumstances. They may have decided, although registered in Gibraltar, to have travelled out of Gibraltar, et cetera. And I am told from the numbers that I have seen and the dates that we are working with, that in the over 70s cohort, those 95 percent who have been vaccinated will be seven days’ post second dose by next Friday.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:02:01] That's very good news, I'm sure. And what percentage of the other three high risk categories do you think have been vaccinated?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:02:09] Well, the information that I have suggests that in each of those categories you're looking at well over 95 percent in some over 96 percent, in some over 97 percent. So I think this is a demonstration, both of the trust that the population of Gibraltar has in the health authority and in the science that has been shared with them. And we've been very open with the information that we've put out into the public domain. And people, of course, will be taking information from international sources and not just the trust that those who are in scope for the vaccine have had in the health authority and in the vaccine that is being administered, but also the ability of the health authority to mobilise itself with a vaccination strategy that reached that made the offer to those over 70s and at risk in a way that was magnificently efficient and that then was able to deliver on that offer of a first and second dose in the time available. And of course, with the logistics nightmare that, you know, that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine represents in terms of needing to keep it cool, needing to keep it very stable and with, you know, I think the three most recent Gale force warnings coinciding with the arrival of the R.A.F. shipments on the rock.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:03:27] And Chief Minister, you reminded Gibraltarians not to go to Spain and now more Gibraltarians are receiving the vaccine, they're becoming immune. Is it the concern that they're going to bring in new variants? And so what is the concern of having that population that has an immunity to some extent and then mixing with a population that doesn't have immunity?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:03:55] So I haven't, with respect said that people should not go to Spain, said they shouldn't go to Spain to do the things that they cannot do in Gibraltar. So I fully respect that some people may need to go to Spain or may wish to go to Spain. They may need to go for the purposes of medical appointment. They may wish to see family members. If I've learnt something in the past year, it's that a government is unable to work out all of the permutations which citizens may need to carry out in their everyday lives. And so I'm very keen not to sound as if I'm telling people that they mustn't go to Spain and that that is inappropriate, because I do recognise that there will be perfectly legitimate circumstances in which a person will wish to go to Spain. What I've wanted to say very specifically is that people should not go to Spain to do the things which they are not permitted to do in Gibraltar. So, for example, and I think this is the example that is most relevant to the question that you've asked. If Spain now, Spain is a very big place, but Andalucia, Cadiz, in particular Campo de Gibraltar municipalities, if La Linea opens its bars and restaurants before Gibraltar bars and restaurants are open. The reason why Gibraltar bars and restaurants are not going to open is to avoid people congregating before people have the immunity that you're talking about. We know that the over 70s will have a second dose plus seven by the 19th of February, but many of those who will potentially wander into those restaurants and bars in La linea will not be over 70 and will not be post seven days beyond their second inoculation. So they will not have the maximum immunity the vaccination gives you. So what I think would be unnecessary is that people who have had, for example, the first dose go into La Linea and then they nonetheless get the infection because you've got 50 percent immunity, because you've got 60 percent immunity then etc. It's a wasted first dose. Right. Also, you're going to bring the infection potentially back into Gibraltar. If you've got an element of immunity, you might shed it less, but you might still shed it. So you're going to see numbers starting to go up more than we expect them to go up anyway because we're opening up in Gibraltar. But that might start to make it less controllable. It might start to potentially overwhelm the GHA. Then, of course, you talk about the level of immunity. We have to understand that a 95 percent immunity is extraordinarily high for a vaccine. It still means that one in 20 people will not have that immunity or that the vaccination will not work in one in 20 people. The more that we expose ourselves beyond our own community in the period when we're trying to get to that level of very high immunity, the more chance that the one in 20 can become one in 15. And so that's why I'm trying to say to people, by all means, if you have to go to Spain, of course you have to go to Spain. Remember that in the La Linea, bars and restaurants may open, but there might still be an inability to go beyond La Linea, what the Spanish called a cierre perimetral in one particular municipality or in another municipality. So movement is not entirely free yet. So you have to familiarise yourself with those rules. And all I'm saying is, look, discretion is the better part of valour. I know it's been many weeks since we started lockdown. We are unlocking slowly. People are really feeling desperate for their freedoms. I am desperate to be able to announce that we undo all of the restrictions. It's my job to ensure that we do that as quickly as possible, but in a way that is safe and responsible and the part of ensuring that the government of Gibraltar can undo the restrictions that we've had to impose in a way that is safe and responsible is for citizens and residents of Gibraltar to really be very careful in the way that the exercise freedom now so that they are as patriotic as they can be, not by Tub-thumping on National Day, but also by looking very carefully at what it is that they do today.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:07:48] And now that people are receiving their second dose and getting their cards, what does the government envision the card being used for in the future?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:08:00] So at the moment, the card is only a record. It's a record that you've had your inoculation. So as people will know, since we are babies and we're inoculated, the GHA has a record of all the inoculations that we have. It is becoming apparent that the world will want to know who are in the cohort of those vaccinated and who in the world are in the cohort of those not vaccinated. And it appears that commercially it may be necessary to demonstrate vaccination and inoculation for the purposes of being able to do certain things in the future; fly into a place, stay in a place, visit a place. So what we're trying to do is to ensure because we're moving so fast through the inoculation process, that we've got something that you have today, which is your government's demonstration and evidence that you have been vaccinated. Now, we have said throughout that we believe that there is likely to be a European or international standard for a vaccination passport of sorts. I mean, I remember I think I said before, during the course of these press conferences, I have a WHO yellow passport which has some of the inoculations I've had when I've travelled to more exotic nations. Now, it may be that the WHO falls back on that paper, yellow inoculations, passport. It's very likely, and in fact, there are reports already of electronic mechanisms to record whether you've been inoculated or not and that there will be international European standards for that purpose. We're already talking to those that are talking about those standards so that Gibraltar can adopt those standards as soon as possible and translate your little bit of plastic when you've had your second dose into something which is more representative of the international standard to be able to demonstrate that you've had those necessary inoculations.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:09:39] Could the card in the future, be used, for example, not even in Gibraltar but I know it's being talked about globally of been using it even to, for example, go into an event or go to the cinema, for example. Is that something that we could see in our future?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:09:57] I've stopped trying to look into the crystal ball anymore, but I can tell you that that would potentially raise issues of civil liberties. But the approach I would take is to say, well, look, if I'm vaccinated, I'm all right, Jack. If the person who is not vaccinated, who's putting themselves at risk by going to a place where others may be and where there may be others who are not vaccinated, then they may create a vector for infection for themselves between the unvaccinated class of people in a particular place. So I think this is full of civil liberties pitfalls. It's full of conjecture and hypothesising at the moment. And I'm not going to go there other than to say that we are giving you a way to demonstrate that you have been vaccinated in case that becomes relevant in the future.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:10:44] Chief Minister, do you know when the next batch of covid vaccines will arrive in Gibraltar?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:10:50] I do.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:10:51] But you can't say at this moment.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:10:53] Not at this moment in time.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:10:54] But you are confident that the so far steady supply will continue?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:10:58] Well, I'm confident that the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are working in a way that is designed to ensure that steady supply. Again, you know, two Fridays ago, the supply of vaccine to the United Kingdom was making world headlines because of a dispute between the United Kingdom, an apparent dispute between the European Union and the vaccine producers, which was manifesting itself into a dispute between the European Union and the United Kingdom. That changed radically overnight. I think at the moment it's not prudent to say anything other than we are working to ensure the continued flow of vaccine in an uninterrupted way to Gibraltar, as we have been able to see, has been the case since the first dose arrived. I think our vaccination staff have been idle only for a few hours on one particular day as they run out of doses. And were waiting for the replenishment to come into the fridges overnight. And we thought it was prudent to give them those few hours off.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:11:55] I'm sure they'd earned it.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:11:57] Indeed they had.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:11:57] And chief minister, a listener on Radio Gibraltar wanted us to ask if partners are likely to be allowed more time in maternity ward any time soon.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:12:09] Well, I really don't have the answer to that question. You know, the you must understand and whoever does ask the question, please must understand that the last thing the government want to do would be to stand between partners at such a joyous moment and potentially also difficult moment as childbirth. We would want to ensure that as much facility as possible is granted to people to be together at that magnificent, magical moment of childbirth. If the medical advice is that for purposes related to the spread of the infection, the protection of the mother, the child and indeed the partner, we have had to impose restrictions. Those restrictions will not be there for a moment longer than the medical advice tells us is necessary. But they will not be there for a moment less than the medical advice tells us is necessary.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:12:53] Forgive me if I've misunderstood Chief Minister, but I think you said that the Minister for Education was working towards opening schools on the 22nd, but that wasn't written in stone for all schools at this moment in time.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:13:03] No, the way that I have expressed it was that he was now moving ahead for the opening of schools on the 22nd of February.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:13:10] All schools will categorically open on the 22nd of February?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:13:12] Insofar as anything is categoric in the world in which we now operate.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:13:21] Just to pick up on the point that Dr Rawal yesterday spoke of in a webinar with Gibrael, and he was discussing Gibraltar's vaccination programme and he was talking about herd immunity and saying that Gibraltar could achieve that within weeks. So what is your thoughts? Is Gibraltar achieving herd immunity so soon?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:13:44] So I think that the way that Krishna was representing those issues yesterday is exactly the same way as I would want to express in an aspirational sense. You know, this is exactly what we want to achieve. It's what the United Kingdom wants to achieve every country in the world wants to achieve. When we talk about her community, of course, we are talking about to a particular strain. And what I think is becoming clearer is that we are doing an incredible piece of work in terms of vaccination of our population in relation to the original strain of covid-19, which was identified and which the vaccines are designed to deal with. There are new strains. The ability of the vaccines to protect against those strains is still remarkably strong indeed, compared to most vaccines that we've had in the world until now, the ability of these vaccines to deal with the new strains is still very, very high indeed. Proportionately, the sort of thing that you would have considered a success in the past, but not as high as the mechanisms that have been put in place in the vaccine to deal with the original strain. So I think that herd immunity is not exactly how I would express it. But look, I'm not the clinical man. I would say that we are looking at having a whole population effect as quickly as possible in respect of the vaccination programme that is available to deal with the original strain. What I am reading, and no doubt you are reading about, too, and what we're being advised on is the fact that it's very likely that we will need boosters in the future. Those boosters will usually be designed to ensure that our bodies can deal with new strains of the virus as they come along in the likely autumn period again. And we have to be looking at a possibility to once again replicate the sort of vaccination programme that we have deployed now almost on an annual basis alongside when we might have had the flu vaccine. And these new boosters may come as part of the flu vaccine. They may come separately; they may come at the same time. They may come at a different time. So herd immunity against one particular strain is fantastic. But it's not going to be what gets us out of the grasp of the evil of covid-19. I think that's clear now.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:16:06] And as you're mentioning, strains, have any more been found in Gibraltar? I remember you said a while back that the UK strain had been found.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:16:14] Yes. So I said a while back because these things unfortunately take a while. We expect in coming weeks to have more information about the strains in Gibraltar. And I hope, as I said in parliament last week, that we will soon have the ability to have that diagnostic availability in Gibraltar. But even then, it's going to take time because this is genomics and genomics is not something that that we are yet able to do in an instant.
Gabriella Peralta - GBC [00:16:39] And picking up on a final point from Dr Rawal, he was talking about us returning to a kind of normal summer. So what do you, um, what do you think? Do we are we going to get into a summer that we can go out a bit more and be a bit more normal?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:16:59] I think that's the aspirational position. It's what we all want. It's what we want to achieve. I wouldn't want to talk of that today to persuade anyone that we are anywhere near yet able to take off our masks, throw caution to the wind and socialise as we might have. If that were the case, we would be looking to open the bars and restaurants, have no restrictions, no curfew, and simply enjoy ourselves as much as we all want to enjoy ourselves. But I think we have to be a little bit more cautious at this stage, not about the summer. I think Krishna's is aiming as we all are. And the brief given to the GHA, of course, is to try and with public health, bring things back to as close to normal as possible as soon as possible and aspirationally I think we're all looking in exactly the same options. But I would say that today in deepest, darkest February, we mustn't allow our imagination to run away with ourselves yet and we must ensure that when we leave this place this afternoon, we are as cautious as we were when we came in. And we don't allow dreams of summer to somehow make us a little bit more reckless in the coming days and weeks.
Olive Press [00:18:12] Good afternoon, Chief Minister. We've got a question from the olive press when is the hospital restarting postponed operations and routine clinical and primary care appointments?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:18:22] So as Dr Rawal has already said, having stepped down from black alert to red alert, the hospital is starting to look at how it can restart the treatments that people need, where they are elective, or even the ability to start to take people back in for primary appointments, etc... You will soon be contacted by the GHA in that respect and there will be public announcements by the GHA in that respect. Remember that Gibraltar is still in a major incident posture and it is unlikely that we will be able to step back from that major incident posture until the end of this month.
Olive Press [00:18:59] And the second question is, to what extent do you think the vaccines will protect us from the virus, considering the recent evidence that new strains like the South African one could be resistant to the AstraZeneca jab?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:19:11] Well, the evidence doesn't suggest that. The evidence suggests that there is less of a protection against the South African strain by the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that that less immunity is in the region of 50 percent. And that is not necessarily anything that arises from clinical testing that arises from apparent in the field results in South Africa, which are not the data that we are dealing with in the context of comparing it to other vaccines and how they've reacted clinically. So we've got to be very careful with newspaper reports, if I may say so, with respect, because we need to be guided here, not by headlines. We need to be guided by the real data. I have a lot of faith in science and in all of the vaccines because I think that each of them is designed for a purpose. The AstraZeneca vaccine is designed in particular to be able to reach places where the logistics of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, make it impossible to deliver any vaccine of that sort at all. But the AstraZeneca vaccine can be logistically delivered in those places. It is also cheaper for the purposes of circulation around the world. And therefore, I think that each vaccine will have a different sort of purpose. And we need to ensure that with the deployment of different vaccines, as much immunity is built up around the world as possible. I would guard against the talking up or talking down of any particular vaccine for any particular purpose, because I think each has a particular use and never before has the phrase horses for courses I think being better deployed because I think each of the vaccines will have a use in the context of trying to restrict the spread of covid-19 and its further strains around the world.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:21:11] Thank you, Chief Minister. In light of what you've just said, are you considering trying to source or are you trying to source the Oxford vaccine for people who have been unable to have the Pfizer vaccine for fear of an allergic reaction?
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:21:26] We've sourced it. It's here. It's available. And those who have those difficulties already been contacted by the GHA and the AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered in Gibraltar in those limited circumstances.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:21:38] And if somebody who has actually contacted GBC, who isn't in touch with the GHA but hasn't taken the Pfizer vaccine for that reason, they can just contact the GHA.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:21:45] If it's genuine. Yes, but this is not a question of choice.
Jonathan Scott - GBC [00:21:49] No, sure. If but if they've had an allergic reaction in the past, then they can. Thank Chief Minister.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:21:54] Thank you.
Chief Minister - Fabian Picardo [00:21:56] Thank you very much indeed for joining us once again, that number six commonplace, I started today with the very sad news that another Gibraltarian has succumbed to the virus in Gibraltar. We must all continue to be very vigilant to ensure that we follow the rules, to ensure that we observe the rules of social distancing, of hand and respiratory hygiene and of mask wearing. That is what is still going to be the key to get us out of these very difficult times. We've done a magnificent job already in the rollout of the vaccine. We're continuing to roll it out, but we are not out of the woods yet. Please, let's stick with it. Let's stick together and we will get through this. There will be better times we can aspire to a much brighter spring and summer. Thank you for joining us. And I will be here again next week to tell you the latest developments.