Covid news - live: Biden and Boris Johnson discuss ‘green and sustainable’ coronavirus recovery in first call

Kate Ng and Vincent Wood
·2-min read
Immunisation Nurse Debbie Briody (R) fills in forms prior to administering the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to Staff Nurse Amanda Thompson at the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital at the SEC Campus in Glasgow (AFP via Getty Images)
Immunisation Nurse Debbie Briody (R) fills in forms prior to administering the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to Staff Nurse Amanda Thompson at the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital at the SEC Campus in Glasgow (AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden discussed the future of their response to the Covid-19 pandemic as the world leaders grapple with high levels of infection of death in their first call since the Democrat was named US president.

Sharing news of the call on Twitter Boris Johnson said they had discussed the forging of a green and sustainable recovery from Covid-19 - the death toll for which now stands at 97,329 according to the department of health.

It comes as a leading scientist defends the government’s decision to describe the new coronavirus variant as more deadly after others claimed the evidence is still unclear

Professor Peter Horby, who chairs the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), defended Boris Johnson’s decision to reveal the information on Friday, but cautioned that the news needed to be “put in perspective” and that the risk of the strain being more deadly was still “very, very small” to most people.

But others cast doubt on the PM’s claim, saying it is still an “open question”. Some said they were “quite surprised” that the government chose to make the announcement, as the evidence was “based on a relatively small amount of data”.

Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said it is still not “absolutely clear” that the new variant is more deadly, adding that there are “several investigations going on at the moment” and more work needed to be done to determine if that was actually the case.

And as the number of people to have received at least one dose of a vaccine reached more than 5.8 million, the nation’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam urged those with the partial immunity to continue to socially distance.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he said: “Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don’t yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission.”