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Boris Johnson’s wish to pick fights with his old enemies risks making the UK a pariah

‘No way out’: Commentator predicts Boris Johnson’s future 02:10

London (CNN)UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have spent much of this week fighting with the EU and rowing with a European human rights court, all while playing down accusations that they are breaking international law and pandering to his party’s base.

On Monday, Johnson’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, revealed the long-awaited Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, a piece of legislation that, if passed, would allow the British government to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal it agreed with the EU in 2019.
Two days later, the EU responded by launching legal proceedings against the UK over its failure to implement parts of the protocol to date, while Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president, said that “there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement … let’s call a spade a spade: this is illegal.”
UK government officials responded angrily by insisting that the bill, if passed, would be perfectly legal. Suella Braverman, the attorney general who gave the new bill a green light, went on television to defend the proposed legislation. In doing so, she accused the BBC of painting the EU as “the good guys” and told ITV’s political editor that his assertion the bill would break that law was “Remaniac make-believe.”
On Tuesday, the Johnson government found itself cursing the name of another European institution, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), after it was forced to abandon a flight that would transport asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The UK announced a deal in April under which asylum seekers in the country could be relocated and granted asylum in Rwanda. The UN’s human rights agency had previously warned the UK that the policy might be unlawful, as it could expose those refugees to human rights abuses in Rwanda.
Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda, at Gatwick Airport near Crawley, Britain, June 12, 2022.

The scheme had been widely criticized by human rights organizations, which succeeded in numerous legal challenges against individual removals but failed in their bid for an injunction suspending the flight. However, when the ECHR intervened on Tuesday night, saying that the last asylum seekers due to be on board had not exhausted their legal options in the UK, the plane was grounded.
Again, government ministers responded by insisting that the plan was lawful. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has since suggested that the UK will introduce its own Bill of Rights that could effectively allow it to ignore the ECHR.
Johnson’s willingness to have public spats with large, international institutions makes sense when you look at recent history. Both Johnson and his predecessor, Theresa May, picked fights with the judiciary and the EU during the most frustrating days of Brexit. This, so the theory goes among Conservatives, gave both leaders a boost among their core supporters for attacking elitist bodies that were blocking the will of the people.
“Historically, Boris has done well hitting out at big institutions like the EU and courts,” says a former government minister told CNN. “These were not artificial fights, both Rwanda and Northern Ireland are proper government policy. But the hardline way we’ve defended them suggests to me that Boris sees a silver lining,” they added.
In one sense, this logic makes sense. Johnson has been hit by scandal after scandal and has seen his personal approval ratings tank, along with national polling for his Conservative Party.
He has had to fight off a vote among his own party to remove him as leader and on Thursday night saw his own ethics adviser Christopher Geidt resigned, saying that Johnson’s government had put him in an “impossible and odious position.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he takes questions at the House of Commons in London, Britain June 15, 2022.

So, a fight with the lofty elites in Brussels and Strasbourg over real red-meat Conservative issues like Brexit and immigration could be just what Johnson needs to get things back on track.
However, every time a government becomes so fixated on domestic policy, it risks forgetting that allies and enemies around the world are paying attention.
CNN spoke to multiple Western diplomatic sources who said that Johnson’s government had cast a dark shadow over their perception of the UK. One senior Western official who has worked closely with the UK during the Ukraine crisis said that while allies still coordinated with the UK, the sense of concern that they don’t know what version of Johnson they will get has become normalized.
“He is not Donald Trump, but he is so unpredictable that it’s easy for allies to think of him as being like Donald Trump,” said a Western diplomat.
A European diplomat told CNN that “it’s hard to overstate just how much damage has been done. Trust has been hugely damaged.” They pointed to the issue over Northern Ireland, saying that “on our side, we know that there are solutions to the protocol. But those solutions rely on trust. Why should we trust him not to tear up any new agreement in the future?”
Western officials say, with some sadness, that there were moments in the immediate aftermath of Russia invading Ukraine where they thought Johnson might start behaving like a “stable and predictable” leader, as the Western diplomat put it.
A European official agreed, saying that “there were moments when we looked at the UK with some admiration and thought there might be some path forward. Ukraine was something bigger than our squabbles.”
However, the official continued that this feeling of optimism faded quickly, after Johnson compared the Ukrainian fight for freedom to Brexit.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, June 3, 2022.

Conservatives in Westminster have mixed views on how bad this all is. Some worry that Johnson’s continued scandals and rhetoric are making the UK a pariah. Worse, they fear that a country like the UK — a longstanding member of the rules-based, international order — playing so fast and loose with international law sets a terrible precedent at a time when democracy is under threat in many parts of the world.
On the other hand, some MPs think that Johnson’s critics are getting worked up about something that normal people don’t care about. They say, not unreasonably, that a G7, NATO member with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council — and one that has in many respects led the way on Ukraine — is not about to get cut out by its allies.
Ultimately, Johnson’s international spats are most likely to play out in the domestic political arena. Some will love that he is taking a hardline stance. Others will feel a deepening sense of embarrassment that this man is their prime minister.
“If you are in Boris’s position, then you may as well double down on some of this stuff. What does he have to lose?” a senior Conservative MP told CNN. “Either things are so terminally bad that he’s doomed whatever he does, or he’s got two years to turn things around before the election. So why not go out there and have fights on your own pitch?”
That summary makes a lot of sense when you are sitting in Westminster, talking to people who spend too much time in Westminster. However, Johnson’s decisions seriously impact the lives of people who spend no time in Westminster and for whom this really is not a game. Especially as the UK is going through the worst cost-of-living crisis it has suffered in decades.
Johnson won’t know if his red meat gamble has paid off with the public until the next general election — unless he’s removed from office before then. There will undeniably be people who see him as the same Brexit street fighter who stands up for Britain against the bullies seeking to do it down.
But there will be an awful lot of people who think that instead of picking fights with the EU and ECHR, Johnson should be thinking of ways to improve their lives.

Boris Johnson is still in charge. But behind closed doors, rivals are plotting his ouster

Boris Johnson ends the week with reason to be cheerful. On Monday, he survived the biggest challenge to his leadership since becoming Prime Minister, after his Conservative MPs backed him in a confidence vote to remain party leader by 211 to 148.

That victory does, however, come with some major caveats.
Johnson’s government is currently thought to have somewhere between 170-180 MPs on its payroll. As the vote was private, that means as a best-case scenario, Johnson was only able to secure a handful of backbench votes. In a worst-case scenario, people on the payroll voted against him the second they were given the protection of anonymity.
While Johnson and his allies have since claimed the victory was convincing and a decisive result that hands the PM a refreshed mandate, the reality is 41% of his own MPs do not want him in power. That number is worse than the result of a confidence vote in Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, in 2018 and is likely to rise in the coming months.
For now, though, Johnson’s job is safe. Conservative Party rules protect him from another confidence vote for 12 months. There is speculation that the party might try and rewrite those rules, but given the private nature of the Conservatives, it’s hard to get a real sense of how likely this is.
So, what happens next?
Johnson is announcing a flurry of policy ideas designed to cheer up his backbenchers and voters. More houses, more doctors, more police, crackdowns on illegal immigration to name a few.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, June 3, 2022.

Meanwhile, those who most want to see his downfall are not sitting on their hands. Publicly, MPs say that the result of the confidence vote means they owe Johnson their loyalty — for now. He deserves the time to turn things around, they say.
However, multiple sources confirmed to CNN that those with an eye on the top job are already building their power bases and getting ready to launch leadership bids, should the time come.
Dinners with donors who would fund individual campaigns have already taken place, organized by MPs who have already picked their choice for leader. Influential MPs have been courted to test the water.
“The phone calls tend to start with 15 minutes of insisting that Boris has their full support and that they don’t think a leadership contest will happen. Then they outline their vision of how they would improve things. It’s discreet, but it’s happening,” a senior Conservative told CNN.
The hopefuls acting most openly are unsurprisingly long-term critics of Johnson.
“Most of the activity seems to be around Jeremy Hunt and other former Remainers,” says one veteran Conservative and former cabinet minister, referring to those who wanted the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. “That makes sense as they never wanted Boris in the first place and have the least to lose.”
Hunt, who has held three cabinet posts, most notably health, is without question the highest-profile contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the party. However, he comes with baggage and sources from the opposition Labour Party have told CNN they are already writing attack lines.
Jeremy Hunt is without question the highest-profile contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the Conservative Party.

A senior Conservative said that their fellow MPs are aware of this. “It can’t be Jeremy. Labour can say he was running healthcare for six years and failed to prepare for a pandemic. They can say when he was culture secretary he chummed up to the Murdochs during the phone hacking scandal. He will get crushed,” the source said.
Other potential candidates for this side of the party include Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and the current Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi.
Tugendhat has impressed colleagues with his oratory and seriousness, most notably when he spoke about the fall of Afghanistan, a country where he’d served while in the army.
Despite voting to leave the EU in 2016, Zahawi is widely admired among the moderates in the party. Crucially, as one Conservative source put it, “he’s not been in government long enough to have any obvious defects and, despite supporting Boris even after the confidence vote, is not too tainted by association.”
Obviously running a stealth leadership campaign is harder if you are a sitting cabinet minister. How do you square defending the prime minister after the confidence vote while courting MPs to test the water?
That is the problem facing those considered to be the Leave candidates.
Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, voted Remain in 2016, but has since become one of the loudest Euroskeptic voices in the government, particularly on Northern Ireland. She has a formidable and dedicated team around her — some of whom previously worked in Number 10 — which has been producing slick videos and photos of her looking thoroughly statesmanlike. Which might come in handy if she were to run for leader, a cynic might say.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss voted Remain in 2016, but has since become one of the loudest Euroskeptic voices in the government, particularly on Northern Ireland.

A source working in the Foreign Office told CNN that since Monday, Truss “has been in endless meetings with MPs,” adding that while the meetings are officially about Northern Ireland “it’s been insinuated that she’s seeing what her support base is, should the time come.”
Truss’s office denies that any covert leadership bid is coming. She said before the confidence vote that she backed Johnson “100%” and encouraged colleagues to do the same. After the vote, she urged MPs that it was time to move on “get behind the PM”.
Truss’s most obvious rival is current Home Secretary Priti Patel. One of the Conservative sources said that Patel’s stealth campaign “has been busy, organized and running for about a year.”
Patel is very popular among the party’s grassroots and more conservative wing. She is a longstanding Euroskeptic who has years of hard talk on immigration, crime and economics under her belt. She famously used to support bringing back the death penalty, although she has since distanced herself from this.
Both cabinet ministers publicly support the prime minister and officials say that their focus is on delivering Johnson’s agenda, nothing else.
However, a government minister told CNN that some cabinet ministers are “using their office to raise their profile and engage with MPs.”
While inviting influential MPs into your grand office of state is nothing new, the minister says that the tone in Westminster “has changed since Monday. Everyone expects that there will be a vacancy at some point in the near future.”
The next major hurdle for Johnson to clear is the two by-elections taking place on June 23. If he loses both, which is not impossible, his critics will move again. The party might try to rewrite rules so he faces another leadership vote.
If the party doesn’t rewrite the rules, he has an uphill struggle to turn around both his own popularity and the popularity of his party before the next scheduled election in 2024.
It’s an unenviable task, given the UK is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis and the Conservatives have been in power for 12 years. And under normal circumstances, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Johnson is safe as no one in their right mind wants the job.
But that’s how bad things are. Despite how grim the next few years look for the UK, ambitious politicians are willing to throw their hats in the ring at what might be the worst possible moment and risk their whole career. Because if they don’t, it’s anyone’s guess how far Johnson might pull his party down with him.

Boris Johnson is facing a make-or-break moment with report due into ‘Partygate’ scandal

The British Prime Minister has been under pressure for weeks over alleged summer garden parties and Christmas gatherings held in Downing Street when the rest of the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdowns. A report into the allegations, set to be released this week, could be the final straw for Johnson’s increasingly mutinous party.
Johnson’s approval ratings are plunging and there appears to be a growing sense among some parts of his ruling Conservative Party that he is becoming a liability. Two polls in the last week suggested that as many as two-thirds of voters want him to resign.
Is 'partygate' one scandal too many for Boris Johnson?
The parliamentary rebellion is growing. One Conservative MP defected to the opposition Labour Party last week and newspapers have reported rumors of more lawmakers demanding Johnson’s exit.
The Prime Minister has given unconvincing answers when asked about the numerous parties. First he said there were none. Once undeniable evidence emerged, he denied knowing about the gatherings. When a photo of him at one such event was published, he insisted he didn’t realize the gathering was a party, claiming he “believed implicitly that this was a work event.”
Johnson was even forced to apologize to the Queen after it emerged that a party was held in Downing Street the night before the funeral of Prince Philip. It was noted at the time that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Queen was forced to mourn her husband at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle while sitting alone.
Adding fuel to the fire, Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings red wing boots claimed this week he would swear under oath that the Prime Minister was warned about the true nature of one of the drinks parties. Johnson denied that vehemently, saying: “Nobody warned me that it was against the rules… because I would remember that.”
As new “Partygate” allegations emerged, Johnson and his loyalists tried to dismiss them as a “distraction,” steering the conversation away. Johnson has launched an inquiry into the gatherings, led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, whose report is due to come out this week, according to media reports.
Downing Street said on Sunday it had no control over when the report would appear. “It’s not for us to set out when it will be published. That is up to the investigation team,” a spokesperson told CNN.
On Thursday, as more Conservative lawmakers openly criticized the PM about the parties, allegations emerged of blackmail and bullying by government officials.
Conservative MP William Wragg said Thursday that “a number of members of parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister.”
What is the 'pork pie plot' and what does it mean for Boris Johnson?
Wragg told the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that the reports he has been made aware of “would seem to constitute blackmail.”
Johnson dismissed the reports of bullying, saying he has “seen no evidence” to support accusations of intimidation leveled at his government by a Conservative lawmaker.
Under Conservative party rules, if MPs want to get rid of their leader, they submit a confidential letter of no confidence to the chair of the 1922 Committee, a group of backbench MPs who do not hold government posts. The process is murky — the letters are kept secret and the chairman, Graham Brady, doesn’t even reveal how many have been handed in.
When 15% of Conservative lawmakers have submitted letters, it triggers a vote of confidence among all Conservative lawmakers.

Americans are sneaking extra coronavirus shots as officials weigh who should get them

Christy Foreman pulled out of the drive-through coronavirus vaccination site in March, a jab of Johnson & Johnson in her arm, and breathed a sigh of relief.

A long year of hunkering down in her Baton Rouge apartment and ordering her groceries on Instacart was finally over. The 61-year-old, like the rest of the country, was ready for the slow return to normal. If cases kept falling, she’d even be able to go back to teaching in person at Louisiana State University in the fall.

Then came a drumbeat of reports showing the Johnson & Johnson shots skechers outlet might not offer the same level of immunity as other vaccines. Worried she might develop a breakthrough infection – or worse, face symptoms like brain fog- Foreman decided she needed an extra shot. She’d have to lie to do it. But other countries were already giving boosters, while U.S. health officials seemed to be waffling on the issue, she said. It was worth the risk.

“We’re being left to make our own decisions,” Foreman said. “We were told at the beginning not to wear masks and not to buy masks because they wanted to save them for health-care workers. Then they had to backtrack, which caused all sorts of confusion. It’s sort of the same thing.”

Across the country, vaccinated Americans have sought out extra shots because they fear their current doses aren’t enough to ward off a virus once again raging in all 50 states. It’s not clear how many have taken matters into their own hands. For Pfizer and Moderna recipients alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.1 million have received additional shots, according to an internal document reported Wednesday by ABC News.

The trend reflects broad public confusion about the protection offered by the vaccines at a critical time in the nation’s pandemic response, with the hyper-transmissible delta variant causing infections and hospitalizations to soar.

Frustrated by what they consider murky guidance from health authorities, people have received third or even fourth immunizations from local pharmacies and vaccination sites, where their previous appointments haven’t caught the attention of health workers. Some say they’ve bucked advice from their own doctors, turning instead to Google for information on whether the extra shots are worthwhile.

“The chaos is, in part, due to lack of guidance and trust,” Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said in an email. “I hope there will be full transparency and a plan/timeline for the public to address these concerns.”

People are seeking out extra vaccines – a phenomenon Topol dubbed “booster-mania” – even as the government is moving to make additional shots available to some vulnerable individuals.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected as soon as Thursday to clear the way for extra doses of vaccines for people with compromised immune systems. An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to meet Friday to consider any FDA action – and is likely to recommend that the immunocompromised talk to their doctors about getting the shots.

Meantime, the FDA over the next several weeks will be scrutinizing golden goose sneakers data and weighing whether to authorize booster shots for other groups, including older people, health-care workers and residents of nursing homes.

In addition, by the end of this summer, the FDA is expected to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That means that doctors will be able to give additional vaccine shots to anyone they choose, regardless of whether the FDA has specifically authorized it.

Questions about the strength of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were enough to convince some to seek out one of the mRNA-based shots. The single-shot regimen remains highly effective in slowing transmission and preventing severe illness, but it isn’t as robust as the Pfizer or Moderna shots.

Roger Beatty, 68, received the Johnson & Johnson shot in March through his health-care conglomerate and soon had a nagging feeling he might need a booster. He devoured news articles and research to figure out the right course of action. He talked with his doctor, who was “studiously noncommittal” about the risks or benefits of an extra shot, he recalled. Ultimately, a news article that mentioned German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to mix-and-match vaccines tipped the scales.

“I was looking for anybody who had any basis for saying ‘This is dangerous, don’t try this,’ ” said Beatty, a retired Silicon Valley high tech manager who lives in Boston’s suburbs. “I couldn’t find anything anywhere.”

In June, Beatty went to a local CVS for another jab. He said a clerk asked him if it was his “first or second” – a question he assumed referred to the Pfizer shot. First, he told her. “Five minutes later there was a needle in my arm,” he said.

Beatty said he never would have gone in had there been a vaccine shortage or a possibility of sending the doses to others in need. But the shots were more widely available than ever, and the threat of more dangerous variants weighed on him. “At my age,” he said, “I’m not going to mess around with this.”

For people with compromised immune systems, concerns about the efficacy of the vaccines are even starker.

Terry Deneen, who received a double lung transplant in 2016, got the Moderna shots in the spring after struggling to find an appointment. The 70-year-old from Chicago said he was just starting to enjoy a taste of normalcy – visiting ecco shoes family, going out to dinner with friends from his apartment building – when doctors warned him that the vaccines offered little protective value for many transplant patients. A covid-19 case could be lethal.

Deneen had read about how Israel had begun administering boosters to seniors and figured officials would soon do the same here. So he decided to “beat the rush” and seek another round, he said, even though his doctors equivocated about whether it was a wise decision. Last week he got another Moderna injection at a CVS. Workers there didn’t ask about his vaccine history, and he didn’t volunteer anything, he said.

Afterward, Deneen reflected on how lucky he was to have received transplant lungs that his body accepted. “It was like somebody had grown a set of lungs just for me,” he said. “I’m not going to throw it away by not getting a third shot.”

A CVS spokeswoman, Tara Burke, said the pharmacy chain doesn’t give additional vaccines to patients who say they’re already immunized.

“We’re following CDC guidance that the administration of a booster dose at this time is not recommended,” Burke said in an email. “So patients who have been fully vaccinated at a CVS Pharmacy, or who inform us that they were fully vaccinated by another provider, will not receive another vaccine.”

Janet Handal, 70, who got a kidney transplant a decade ago, said she got her first shot of the Moderna vaccine in January and her second in February. Antibody tests – administered as part of a Johns Hopkins study that is following the effectiveness of vaccines in the immunocompromised – showed she had almost no antibody response.

She decided on her own to get a Johnson & Johnson shot in late April. She went to a drugstore where she was not asked whether she had been vaccinated, she said.

Her antibodies shot up, but doctors told her the level is far below that of an “immunocompetent” person.

She plays it safe. “I don’t feel as at risk as I did before, but I mask everywhere I go,” she said. “I’ll go into a grocery store but I would not go to Macy’s and shop for two to three hours.”

Some of the people who have gotten a booster dose are clinicians who were in the first group prioritized to receive the vaccines.

One emergency room doctor in Kansas City, Mo., said he decided to get a third shot of Pfizer because of the recent spike in covid-19 cases in southwestern Missouri, where he works, and because of two colleagues who became sick in recent weeks even though they were both fully vaccinated.

The 44-year-old doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to put the pharmacist or his hospital in jeopardy, said he received two doses of Pfizer in December.

He’s worried that the recent spike in cases is putting his health – and ability to treat patients – in jeopardy.

Late last year, every single hospital in the Kansas City area was “absolutely socked in,” he said in an interview. He works at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, in Kansas City.

“It was really a bad situation. Now we’re creeping back towards that. We’ve had multiple days in the last two weeks where the entire regional hospital network has gone on high volume status,” meaning no one can divert cases to another hospital and all are forced to stay open and accept patients, he said.

He suspects his level of immunity has declined since he got his shots in December – although research is not clear.

He said parts of Europe and Israel have been giving additional shots and their “quite good data” is showing “a little bit of decrease in immunization efficacy over six months.”

Two colleagues, both fully vaccinated and in their 30s and who are otherwise healthy, were sickened, he said. They weren’t sick enough to require visits to the hospital, but neither is back at work yet, he said. In the past several weeks, he has also seen four or five fully vaccinated elderly patients with underlying conditions – including a kidney transplant patient who also had COPD – be hospitalized for covid-19 illness.

When he made the decision, he went to a Walgreens in Kansas City. He told the pharmacist this was his first dose.

He has thought about the ethics of his action. “If there was a shortage of vaccines here and people were struggling to them, I would have hesitated and not gotten a third shot,” he said. “But particularly here in rural parts of America, outside of Kansas City, in the red states, they have more vaccine than they know what to do with. We’re seeing a lot of vaccine expiring.”

He agrees that there needs to be fairer global distribution system for vaccines, but that requires a centralized coordinated authority that has “some teeth,” something the World Health Organization is lacking, he said.

In the meantime, as an emergency room physician, “I got my hands all over covid secretions. I’m trying to keep myself safe to keep other people safe.”

In Baton Rouge, Christy Foreman, too, thought hard about whether her decision to mix-and-match vaccines would deprive someone else in need. Nothing she read convinced her that would be the case, she said. She went to an Albertson’s grocery store and got a dose of Pfizer to supplement her Johnson & Johnson injection. Her follow-up appointment is later this month, and she’s mulling whether to show up.

Foreman isn’t immunocompromised, but she worries about how her body would react to the virus. Her father’s struggles with brain fog have alarmed her since he fell ill with covid-19 last summer. She can’t risk symptoms like that interfering with her work as an English instructor, she said.

“I make my living using my brain. You can’t teach if you have that problem,” she said. “I just can’t afford that.”

America is about to hit a ‘vaccine wall’ as demand drops — with or without Johnson & Johnson

When U.S. officials temporarily paused the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to warn patients and providers of an “extremely rare” blood clotting issue that has so far affected just six of the millions of Americans who have received the vaccine — all six of them women ages 18 to 48 — many observers worried the abrupt move would stop a substantial number of Americans from getting vaccinated.

But if you take a closer look at the data, it’s clear that unless regulators end up pulling J&J from the market — an outcome experts have all but ruled out, given the vaccine’s robust track record of safety and effectiveness and the relatively minuscule risk of clotting — this week’s (likely brief) time-out may ultimately have little impact on the larger dynamics of America’s vaccination campaign.

A box of syringes to be filled with COVID-19 vaccine. At the Giorgio Companies site in Blandon, PA where the CATE Mobile Vaccination Unit was onsite to administer Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines to workers Wednesday morning April 14, 2021. (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
A box of syringes to be filled with COVID-19 vaccine. (Getty Images)

Why? Because even before the J&J news, the U.S. was already approaching a “vaccine wall” — the point at which supply outstrips demand, the country’s rapid pace of vaccination starts to slow down and every American who wants a shot can easily get whatever shot they want, whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna or the one-and-done J&J.

The question, then, is whether there will be enough Americans willing to get vaccinated — not whether there will be enough vaccines for Americans who are willing.

By all measures, the U.S. has made remarkable progress on vaccination. When President Biden took office on Jan. 20, the country was administering an average of 900,000 doses a day. Now, less than three months later, the pace has nearly quadrupled to 3.4 million daily doses. On Saturday, 4.6 million shots were reported — a new record. More than 63 percent of U.S. seniors have been fully vaccinated, up from 2 percent at the start of Biden’s term; nearly half of U.S. adults have already gotten at least one jab. And that’s before eligibility has opened up to all Americans 16 or older, a threshold the country is officially set to cross on April 19.

Again, remarkable progress. But things are about to change.

For the next few days or weeks, Americans won’t have access to J&J, and as a result demand for Pfizer and Moderna will rise. As the New York Times reported Tuesday, “mobile vaccine clinics in rural areas” of California and Colorado that depended on J&J doses “were canceled. In Chicago, vaccination events for restaurant employees and aviation workers were postponed indefinitely. At colleges in Ohio, New York and other states, where the one-dose vaccine offered a chance to quickly inoculate students before they left campus for summer, appointments were called off en masse.”

And so “in the very short term, we do expect some impact on daily averages as sites and appointments transition from Johnson & Johnson to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” White House pandemic coordinator Jeff Zients explained Tuesday.

People are checked in at the Northwell Health pop-up coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Staten Island on April 08, 2021 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
People are checked in at a coronavirus vaccination site in Staten Island, N.Y., on April 8. (Getty Images)

But the “very short term” won’t last long. First, as Zients put it Tuesday, the U.S. has “more than enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccine supply to continue or even accelerate the current pace of vaccinations”: 440 million doses to be delivered by the end of May, with an extra 3 million of those doses to be made available while J&J is sidelined this week (during a period when J&J supply was already expected to fall 80 percent because 15 million doses were ruined in a factory mixup). Second, longer-term U.S. supply — which could include up to 200 million Johnson & Johnson doses once this week’s issues are ironed out — will soon start to exceed demand.

In many places it already has. Last week, the New York Times reported that a “pileup of unclaimed appointments in Mississippi” — 73,000 open slots at the time of publication — “reflects … mounting supplies” but also “exposes something more worrisome: the large number of people who are reluctant to get vaccinated.”

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine batch fails quality check

Clarity for Catholics: It’s OK to get Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine – if it’s the only one available

Catholics might be somewhat confused by reports on differing messages about the acceptability of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to a cell line from an abortion being used in its production.

The differences have been resolved and Catholic teaching is clear: Catholics have a moral duty to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by being vaccinated. However, if given the choice, they should avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Should they choose not to be vaccinated, they have a moral obligation to mask, socially distance and “do their utmost” to avoid becoming infected or infecting others, the Vatican said.

The message was somewhat garbled when the Diocese of Bismarck in North Dakota issued a statement March 2 saying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was “morally compromised and therefore unacceptable” to be given or received by Catholics.

“The local bishop is taking a harder stance than either the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops or the Vatican,” said Dr. G. Kevin Donovan, a Catholic bioethicist at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.

What does victory against the COVID-19 pandemic look like? USA TODAY’s vaccine panel weighs in

A week ago, however, the Bismarck Diocese walked back its initial hard line.

“The Catholic Church’s concern about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it is morally compromised as a cell line from aborted fetal tissue was used in its development and production,” said Father Robert Shea, diocesan ethicist for health care. “As the U.S. Bishops’ statement on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine indicates, it is possible to receive it in good conscience if given no other choice, but it should be avoided if there are alternatives (like Pfizer or Moderna) available.”

UK epidemic improves, Prime Minister Johnson announces roadmap for unblocking

After the UK launched a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination program, 17.6 million people have so far received at least the first dose of the vaccine, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s population. As the infection and death curve is showing a downward trend, on the 22nd, British Prime Minister Johnson officially announced the road map for unblocking England, and plans to gradually relax epidemic prevention measures starting in March.
According to Johnson’s unblocking plan, the school will be the first to unblock it. All schools in England will resume classes on March 8th, which will improve the safety of teachers and students twice a week, and the public will have limited outdoor social activities.

Johnson described that the epidemic has affected school children’s academic and physical and mental health, and resuming classes is the first step to return to a normal life. Although some teachers’ unions think that the government’s approval of the full resumption of classes is too reckless, the decision has been supported by members of the Labour Party who have always opposed the resumption of classes. Vaccine Minister Zahavi also emphasized that resuming classes is a safe decision under large-scale virus testing.

In Scotland, local kindergarten and primary one to three students returned to school on the 22nd. Schools need to arrange for students to wash their hands regularly, open windows for ventilation, and keep a distance of 2 meters between adults and between adults and children.

At the same time as classes resume, the authorities will relax restrictions on indoor visits in nursing homes, allowing one designated relative or friend to visit residents, and at the same time relax the outdoor gathering restrictions, allowing two people from different families to gather.

From March 29, the outdoor gathering limit will be relaxed to 6 people, and outdoor sports venues will be allowed to reopen. As for non-essential stores, they will be unblocked in April, bars and restaurants will be able to resume dining in May, and the six-person indoor gathering order will be relaxed in June. The goal is to resume normal life in July.

As one of the countries hardest hit by the new crown epidemic, more than 4.1 million people in the UK have been infected and 120,000 have died.

Since the beginning of January, the number of new confirmed cases and the number of deaths in the country have continued to decline. Some epidemiologists pointed out that in the past six weeks, the infection rate in the UK has dropped significantly; the number of new infections in the last seven days has fallen by more than 10% compared with the previous seven days, and the number of deaths has fallen by 27%.

Analysis believes that the “combined punch” of closing the city and adding vaccine has a significant effect on curbing the epidemic.

However, whether the lockdown should be lifted at present, many parties still hold their own opinions. The British Medical Association believes that only when the number of infected people drops below 1,000 per day can the restrictions be relaxed significantly. In the past seven days, the average number of new diagnoses in the UK every day exceeded 10,000.

In addition, schools in England are about to resume classes, and whether children should be vaccinated is also controversial. British Health Secretary Hancock said that many parties are conducting trials to assess the safety and effectiveness of the new crown vaccine for younger people. The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have announced the opening of clinical trials of the vaccine for children aged 6 to 17.

Edmonds, a key member of the British Emergency Scientific Advisory Group (SAGE), emphasized that the new crown epidemic “still has a major risk of re-epidemic before everyone in the country, including children, is vaccinated.” It will take several months for Britain to vaccinate the entire population.

[Unblock with caution, all stages must meet the “four major conditions”]

The United Kingdom has entered its third lockdown since the beginning of January. The Johnson government has been criticized for slowing epidemic prevention operations and premature relaxation of restrictions, which caused the epidemic to rebound.

This time Johnson promised to learn from the lesson. In order to prevent the unblocking pace from being too fast, Johnson proposed that the “four major conditions” must be met before each stage of unblocking. They are whether the progress of the vaccination plan is as expected by the government and whether the vaccine is effectively reduced. Severe cases and deaths, whether the level of infection rate will cause the medical system to collapse, and whether the emergence of new variant viruses will make the epidemic worse.

According to reports, the authorities have anticipated that after the school resumes, the confirmed cases and the infection rate may rise, but they believe that the most important thing is whether the number of severely ill patients will increase significantly and whether the medical system can bear it by then. , The authorities will not necessarily stop unblocking because of this.

However, many Conservative Party members criticized that Johnson’s road map for unblocking the ban was too conservative and believed that the ban should be completely unblocked as soon as possible. Some members pointed out that according to the current vaccination plan, people under the age of 50 should be vaccinated before mid-April. There is no reason why the authorities will not fully unblock it before the end of April.

Lockdown road map: Families can visit indoors and stay overnight from 17 May at the earliest, Boris Johnson announces

Boris Johnson has oulined new rules that will allow the ‘cautious’ easing of lockdown restrictions. (PA)

People will not be able to stay overnight with family members until 17 May at the earliest, according to Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown.

The prime minister has announced what he dubbed a “cautious” approach for easing coronavirus restrictions across England, which involves a four-step approach to unlocking the country.

Ahead of his announcement to MPs on Monday, Johnson said he would prioritise the reopening of schools and safely reuniting loved ones.

According to the plan, six people or two households will be able to meet outdoors from 29 March as part of Step 1 of the plan, but will have to wait until Step 3 — not due to come into effect until 17 May at the earliest — to mix indoors.

It comes as part of a plan that could see England’s coronavirus restrictions finally completely lifted by 21 June.

Watch: These are the four tests the PM’s road map must pass

Many people across the country have been unable to see family members for long periods since the start of the COVID pandemic, either due to national lockdowns or regional tier restrictions that banned them from spending time with relatives indoors or travelling to see them.

For some, the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions in London and the South East just before Christmas meant they had to cancel plans to spend the festive period with family, with some forced to spend it alone.

Does that mean I have to wait until May to stay overnight with family?

Yes. The timescales set out by the PM on Monday are all the earliest dates that various steps will happen, with those dates subject to be pushed back if the data doesn’t support the move to the next stage.

Can I see my family outdoors?

Step 1 of the government’s plan includes being able to meet one other person to sit outside from 8 March, followed by six people or up to two households being able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens, from 29 March, which means people will be able to spend time with loved ones, but not inside.

The government’s road map contains four tests for easing measures, with the government set to examine data at each stage before unlocking further.

Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step.

The government has already said the tests are currently being met, allowing the first relaxation to take place on 8 March when schools are widely expected to return.

What about hugging my relatives?

A further piece of work, due to conclude by 21 June, is set to look at social distancing requirements – including hugs with friends and relatives – the use of face masks and requirements to work from home.

Johnson said it is hoped that all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June at the earliest.

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

Dashi Johnson blew himself up and infected with new crown

“Big Rock” Johnson infected with the new crown! American Variety Show said on the 3rd that Hollywood action star En Johnson announced on social media that he and his family were infected with the new crown virus. At the same time, he called on the public to pay attention to epidemic prevention, abandon political interpretation, and wear masks to avoid gatherings.

From the video, Johnson is in a good state of mind. He revealed that he was infected by a “close friend” two and a half weeks ago. “This is one of the most challenging and difficult things that our family can endure. This has hit me hard. I really wish I was the only one (infected).” Fortunately, the Johnson family’s condition is not serious. The daughter just has an uncomfortable throat, and he and his wife have only early symptoms. “We persisted.” After the Johnsons have persisted in treatment and isolation, they have recovered and are no longer contagious. The purpose of publicizing the illness this time is to call on the public to pay attention to the epidemic, “Don’t trust those politicians and politicize wearing masks. Wearing masks is not only responsible for yourself and your family, but also for all human beings.”

Johnson was born in a wrestling family in 1972 and was a star player in the World Professional Wrestling League (WWE). The nickname of “Big Rock” comes from the arena. After that, he successfully crossed the film industry. In 2001, he participated in the blockbuster film “The Mummy 2”, participated in the “Speed ​​and Passion” series and the restarted “Game of the Brave” series, and became a top Hollywood superstar. It has been determined that he will star in the DC universe superhero movie “Black Adam”. According to “Forbes” 2020 Global Celebrity List, Johnson ranks tenth with an annual income of US$87.5 million, and is the highest-ranked movie star on the list. On the list last year and the year before, he is also one of Hollywood’s top “suckers”. Big family”.

The current situation of the new crown epidemic in Europe and the United States is still severe. In the past, many film and television stars have been recruited. In March of this year, Oscar actor Tom Hanks publicly contracted the new crown and used his influence to warn the public to beware of the epidemic. Subsequently, the “bond girl” Oga Kurylenko, the British black actor Idris Elba, and the famous Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, who played in the “007 Break Quantum Crisis”, were successively infected. .

Last month, Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, world-renowned for his “Mask of Zorro,” revealed that he had to spend his 60th birthday in isolation because he tested positive for the new crown. Fortunately, these stars have mild symptoms and sufficient medical resources, and now they have basically recovered. But the 89-year-old Italian actress Lucia Posse and the 70-year-old Japanese comedian Ken Shimura passed away due to a serious illness, which is embarrassing.