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Sidmouth, Covid and care homes

  • by JW

Sidmouth has “one of the highest vaccination rates in the country”.

“But the fact is immunization doesn’t eliminate all cases.”

“We do not yet have complete confidence that vaccinated people are not infectious.”


Will Humphries writes in today’s Times online:


Sidmouth: The seaside town that Covid forgot

Only a small number of areas in the country have had so few cases of the coronavirus this year that they haven’t registered on the national database in the past two months.

The quiet retirement destination of Sidmouth in Devon, with its wide shingle beach flanked by an imposing curtain of red sandstone cliffs, is one of those places.

Thanks to its rural location, a highly cautious and compliant elderly population and one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, the wide range of independent shops on the high street that are allowed to open are bustling with masked shoppers.

When The Times visited, residents stopping to chat to each other kept their distance, mask-wearing outdoors was common and people stepped off the pavement…


However, on the very same day, the national and regional media is reporting some disturbing news:

Resident dies at Devon care home after large Covid outbreak | West Country | ITV News

East Devon Covid cases rise again after care home outbreak – Devon Live

Second Covid death confirmed at Devon care home under police investigation – Devon Live


Here’s the BBC report from an hour ago:


Covid-19: Police investigation into Sidmouth care home outbreak

There has been an outbreak of Covid-19 at Holmesley Care Home in Sidmouth, Devon, and one resident has died.

Detective chief Insp Matthew Bourne, from Devon and Cornwall Police’s public protection unit, said the outbreak involved “a number of residents and staff”. The police are leading the investigation in partnership with the Care Quality Commission.

Public Health Devon said there was no evidence to suggest the infection had spread into the local community…. it knew the “significant outbreak” was concerning for residents, their families and staff within the home.

On Wednesday, the BBC reported a resident at Holmesley Care Home had died and a “high number of positive cases” had been confirmed at the home. The home said most residents and staff at the home have received their first vaccine dose, and are due to receive their second soon.


The point being that getting vaccinated neither protects you 100% – nor stops you from infecting others.


From British Columbia, where there have been similar outbreaks in care homes:


Health Minister Adrian Dix, speaking Wednesday on CBC’s The Early Edition, said people need to remember the first dose of the vaccine does not start working right away. “The really important point for everyone who’s immunized out there is it takes some period, really 21 days, for the vaccine to take effect,” said Dix. “But the fact is immunization doesn’t eliminate all cases. When we talk about vaccines that are 92 per cent effective, 92 per cent is not 100 per cent.” 

COVID-19 outbreak declared at another B.C. care home where more than 80% of residents were vaccinated | CBC News

Laurie Tjernstrom said her husband, Howard, resides at the care home and has received two doses of the vaccine. “I was really surprised because I thought everyone was vaccinated. I was under the illusion that you were somewhat protected, but I realize now that there are some people with underlying health problems that maybe can’t have the vaccine, they are not giving me any information,” Tjernstrom said.

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna long-term care facility despite vaccinations |


And, finally, from Tim Harford, writing in the FT:


The vaccines seem to be very good at preventing serious illness — just how good depends on the vaccine, and what exactly we mean by “serious illness”. But let’s assume they reduce the risk of death by a factor of 20. The other thing that reduces the risk of Covid death by a factor of 20? Being about 20-25 years younger. A vaccinated 70-year-old has roughly the same low risk of death as an unvaccinated 47-year-old…

We do not yet have complete confidence that vaccinated people are not infectious. The latest numbers on that question look very encouraging, but we cannot yet be sure that vaccinated people pose no risk to others.

TIM HARFORD: The painful politics of vaccination (paywall)

Start Up No.1501: CDC says the vaccinated can mix indoors, MWC aims for June, the loss of the internet commons, encode a parachute!, and more | The Overspill: when there’s more that I want to say


But back in Sidmouth, taking into account all the day’s news, the final comment:


The people spoken to by the Times reporters agreed that Sidmouth’s senior population have been extremely vigilant about preventing the spread of Covid, with one interviewee, 89-year-old Thea Vincent, saying: “Because we’re an older society we’d rather stay alive a little longer.”

The high vaccination rate has also played its part; it is believed all the over-70s in Sidmouth, about 2,100 of them, have had their first jab, as have 966 out of the 3,132 under-70s.

This has made people feel a little more relaxed, the article says, but on the whole Sidmouth residents are remaining cautious, and are content with the slow pace of the return to normality mapped out by the Government.

This attitude is backed by Ian Barlow, chairman of Sidmouth Town Council. In response to the article, he said: “As the recent outbreak shows, the virus is still among us and should remind us that we all need to remain vigilant, even if you are privileged and lucky enough to have had the vaccine.”

Sidmouth is the town that Covid forgot, according to national newspaper report |