Coronavirus UK news live: Latest updates as Cop26 president made red list trips ‘without isolating’

Boris Johnson urges 16- and 17-year-olds to get Covid vaccine

Climate minister and Cop26 president Alok Sharma has been accused of flying to some 30 countries in the past 30 months – six of them on the UK’s travel “red list” – without isolating upon his return, in a move branded “bizarre and dangerous” by Labour.

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics estimates that some 34,000 children are living with long Covid in the UK – experiencing symptoms that have persisted for a period of four weeks or longer, such as fatigue, headaches, or loss of smell.

It comes amid concerns that the vaccination of 16 and 17-year-olds is coming too late to stop the spread of the virus in schools from September, with scientists criticising the “unnecessary delay” in jabbing that age group. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) changed its policy to advise offering vaccines to over-16s on Wednesday.

Experts are also fearful that children will be left vulnerable to infection and persistent symptoms upon their return to school next month unless the vaccine rollout is expanded to children aged 12 and above – with some warning that any hope of achieving herd immunity is dependent upon inoculating that age group.

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Covid vaccines to be mandatory for care home staff from November

Covid vaccines will be compulsory for all staff working in care homes in England from 11 November unless they are medically exempt, according to new government guidance.

As well as care home staff, anyone entering a care home, such as healthcare professionals, Care Quality Commission inspectors, tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, must have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

However, friends and relatives of the care home resident will be exempt from the regulations, as well as residents themselves, members of the emergency services and those offering bereavement support.

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 09:16


Here’s more of the reaction to the allegations that Alok Sharma flew to several red list countries without self-isolating this year ahead of the Cop26 summit.

Lib Dem transport spokesperson Sarah Olney told the Daily Mail: “As usual with this government, it’s one rule for them and another for everybody else.

“While Alok Sharma flies to red list countries with abandon, hard-working families can hardly see loved ones or plan holidays as the government changes travel rules on the hoof.”

Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb added: “I do understand it’s very good to meet people in person, but this is excessive. When you’re in charge of Cop26, to take this many flights is hypocritical.”

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 09:01


Government unveils £750m insurance scheme for live events – branded ‘bare minimum’

The government is backing a £750m insurance scheme for live events in a bid to stop a second summer of mass cancellations due to coronavirus – but Labour has warned it covers only the “bare minimum”.

Industry figures have been calling for such a scheme after many organisers found that insurers would not cover them for cancellations caused by the pandemic.

As part of the Treasury’s Plan for Jobs, the government will partner with Lloyd’s to act as a “reinsurer” and offer a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer products to cover organisers if state restrictions shut events down.

But Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said it was the “bare minimum”, adding: “Anything less than lockdown, like the reintroduction of social distancing or artists or crew having to self-isolate, isn’t covered.

“Yet again the government has dithered, delayed and come up with a solution that doesn’t address the problem. Under this scheme, the government essentially takes no risk and the live events sector carries it all.”

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 08:47


Climate minister ‘flew to red list countries without isolating’

Alok Sharma, the minister responsible for the critical Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, has been accused of flying to some 30 nations in the past seven months – six of them on the travel “red list” – without isolating upon his return, thanks to a special exemption.

More than half of the trips took place while international travel was all but banned for Britons, according to an audit by the Daily Mail.

Mr Sharma, who is currently visiting Bolivia and Brazil – both red list countries – is tasked with securing commitments from key countries ahead of the conference.

Asked about the allegations, Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy told LBC: “That’s hugely worrying. I mean, the lack of self-isolation is bizarre and dangerous. And I think that it is probably impossible not to fly, of course, but I think he should be leading by example clearly.”

My colleague Celine Wadhera has the details here:

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 08:33


Herd immunity dependent upon vaccinating over-12s, scientists suggest

With the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) having changed its policy to advise offering vaccines to over-16s on Wednesday, some experts are pushing for the jab to be extended to those aged 12 to 15.

While some scientists are fearful that children will be left vulnerable to infection and long-lasting symptoms upon their return to school in September, they are also warning that vaccinating this group will be key to the UK achieving herd immunity.

Professor Lawrence Young, vice president of Warwick Medical School, said that all children over 12 would eventually need to be included in the rollout for the UK to get a “wall of immunity”, adding: “The statements from the JCVI suggested they were considering it – so why don’t we just go for it?

“It would be morally wrong not to and let the virus rip through our young people. Why would we do that?”

And Dr Deepti Gurdasani of Queen Mary University London said: “Even if we do vaccinate more children, it will be quite hard to achieve herd immunity. We don’t know quite how much immunity we will get when the variants keep evolving. But we certainly won’t have any chance if we don’t vaccinate children.”

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 08:22


34,000 children living with long Covid, ONS figures suggest

Here’s more on our headline story this morning – the Office for National Statistics estimates suggesting that some 34,000 children are living with long Covid symptoms in the UK.

The figure is based on responses collected from people in private households in the four weeks to 4 July and then extrapolated to the rest of the population, suggesting that, in total, 11,000 two- to 11-year-olds and 23,000 12- to 16-year-olds are suffering from the condition.

Andy Gregory6 August 2021 07:57


China promises 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to other countries in 2021

Beijing has promised that it will send 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to other countries in 2021.

Xi Jinping also said that China will donate US$100 million to the Covax global vaccine distribution programme for developing countries.

Mr Xi said in a written message to an international Covid-19 vaccine cooperation forum: “China will continue to do our best to help developing countries cope with the pandemic.”

In May this year, Mr Xi had said during a Global Health Summit that China provided 300 million doses of vaccines to more than 80 countries and US$2 billion in aid to developing countries.

The World Health Organisation, given the widening gap between inoculation rates in wealthy and poor countries, also put a moratorium on booster shots till September.

Maroosha Muzaffar6 August 2021 06:44


Fully vaccinated people are three times less likely to get Covid infection, study reveals

A new study in the UK has revealed that people who are fully vaccinated are three times less likely to get infected with the coronavirus.

The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-1) study — one of the UK’s largest studies into Covid-19 infections — revealed that “infections in England have increased four-fold from 0.15 per cent to 0.63 per cent since the last REACT-1 report (from 20 May to 7 June).

However, it noted that there was a slowdown in infections since 12 July.

The study also suggests that fully vaccinated people are “less likely to pass on the virus to others.”

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our vaccination rollout is building a wall of defence that means we can carefully ease restrictions and get back to the things we love, but we need to be cautious as we learn to live with this virus.”

He added: “I urge anyone who has yet to receive a vaccine to get jabbed and take up both doses. The vaccines are safe and they are working.”

Maroosha Muzaffar6 August 2021 06:24


Delta variant now present in 135 countries: WHO

The World Health Organisation has said that the Delta variant has now been reported in 135 countries across the world.

It noted that more than four million new cases were reported across the world last week between 26 July to 1 August.

Delta variant — first detected in India — has since emerged as a dominant strain of coronavirus infections across the world.

As per Johns Hopkins University data, the global number of infections passed 200 million on Thursday.

In the US alone, the daily caseload of infections hit a six-month high with more than 100,000 infections reported on Wednesday.

Top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, has warned that the number of cases could reach 200,000 in a day in the coming week.

Maroosha Muzaffar6 August 2021 06:01


Rural India got 60% of all vaccine doses

A top government source has revealed that 60 per cent of all vaccine doses administered overall have been in rural areas in the country.

NK Arora, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has revealed that on 3 August alone, 4.63 million doses were administered in rural areas, compared to the 1.92 million in urban centres.

This is significant as there were fears concerning the “low” vaccination numbers in rural areas in the country.

Mr Arora said that those fears are unwarranted as rural areas, clearly, seem to be doing very well when it comes to the vaccination numbers.

So far, 490 million vaccine doses have been administered in India. But only about 10 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

Maroosha Muzaffar6 August 2021 05:48

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