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Covid vaccine booster shots are not needed for the general population and should be reserved for the elderly and those with a weakened immune system, one of the creators of the Oxford Astrazeneca jab has said.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, speaking to The Telegraph, said immunity is “lasting well” for most people and suggested extra doses should be directed to countries with a low rate of vaccination.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he expects a booster programme to start later in September but is still awaiting advice from experts on the scale of any campaign to offer extra shots to people.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has yet to give its advice to ministers.
US to make decision on jab for under 11s next month - sources
22:11 , Barney Davis
Top U.S. health officials believe that Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine could be authorized for children aged 5-11 years old by the end of October, two sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.
The timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer, which developed the shot with Germany’s BioNTech, will have enough data from clinical trials to seek emergency use authorization (EUA) for that age group from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) towards the end of this month, the sources said.
Fines of up to £10,000 for Covid travel test ‘cowboys’ – Javid
20:05 , Barney Davis
Companies “messing around with costs” of PCR tests for holidaymakers will face fines of up to £10,000, the Health Secretary has said following a review by the UK competition regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned there is a “race for the bottom” in the PCR testing market which could see travellers lose out and called on the Government for an “interventionist” response.
The CMA advised that the Government should create a one-stop shop list of “approved test providers by significantly improving the basic standards to qualify for inclusion and remaining on the gov.uk list”.
147 people of Covid-19 have died in past 24 hours
16:43 , Barney Davis
The Government said a further 147 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 133,988.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 158,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
As of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 37,622 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.
Late summer rush sees Franco Manca owner Fulham Shore revenues soar above pre-pandemic levels
16:12 , Leah Sinclair
UK economic recovery stalls and tough winter may loom
16:11 , Leah Sinclair
London to Sydney flights could resume in November, travel boss says
16:01 , Leah Sinclair
Welsh NHS under huge pressure, first minister warns
15:54 , Leah Sinclair
The NHS in Wales remains under huge pressure as a rise in coronavirus infections sees hospital admissions increase, First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned.
Mr Drakeford said he expects to see in the coming weeks 100 people a day needing hospital treatment having fallen seriously ill with Covid-19.
He said the peak of the third wave of the Delta variant would come before the end of September and urged people to get vaccinated as that was the best way to avoid serious illness.
“If the virus continues to spread at its current rate, we have to expect to see around 3,200 new cases of confirmed coronavirus every day as this wave continues towards its peak,” Mr Drakeford told a Welsh Government press conference.
“Following the rapid spread of coronavirus in our communities, pandemic pressure on the NHS is increasing once again.”
Scotland sees highest level of Covid infection since estimates began
15:41 , Leah Sinclair
UK needs to provide protection from Covid both at home and abroad, says Downing Street
15:35 , Leah Sinclair
Downing Street said it agreed that the UK needed to provide protection from coronavirus both at home and abroad after those who designed the Oxford AstraZeneca jab said donating vaccines to countries where people are still awaiting a first dose should be prioritised over a wholesale domestic booster programme.
Asked about the comments made by Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, and since backed up by Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “I think Sarah Gilbert also recognised that elderly people should receive boosters but, as we have said before, the JCVI are looking at this as the independent body and they will submit their evidence when they have finished examining the rationale for it.
“I would point you to interim advice which they published earlier this year that talked about the need to ensure we provide some protection to those who are immuno-compromised and those who we need to keep safe over the winter.
“It is for the JCVI to come forward with advice - they are the experts in this field.”
The spokesman added: “I agree with the principle we should provide protection both here in the UK and also to those overseas.
“We are already providing nine million doses to developing countries. You will remember that the Prime Minister committed us to providing 100 million in total, 30 million of those will be before the end of year, so I would say we are doing both - we have demonstrated our commitment to providing protection to those overseas and we’ll continue to provide protection to the British public as well.”
Covid rates increased for those aged two to school year 11 and those 35-49
15:07 , Leah Sinclair
When modelling the level of Covid-19 infections among different age ranges in England, the ONS said rates have increased for those aged from two to school Year 11, and for those aged 35 to 49.
The percentage testing positive decreased for those aged 25 to 34 and 50 to 69, while the trend is uncertain for all other age groups.
Around one in 35 people from school Years 7 to 11 and from school Year 12 to age 24 are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to September 3 - the highest positivity rate for any age group.
Biden’s new Covid vaccine order: “We are in the tough stretch"
14:47 , Laura Sharman
US President Joe Biden has announced sweeping new vaccine requirements affecting 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to curb the surging Covid-19 delta variant.
Employees at large companies will be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing under the sweeping new Covid measures.
Two thirds of the country’s workforce will be impacted by the change, including more than 17 million healthcare workers.
Percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 increases in north-east England
14:45 , Leah Sinclair
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in north-east England, remained level in London and south-east England but decreased in north-west England, the ONS said.
The trend for all other regions is uncertain.
North-east England had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to September 3: around one in 45.
Eastern England had the lowest estimate: around one in 90.
Wales: One in 65 people estimated to have Covid-19
13:39 , Leah Sinclair
In Wales, around one in 65 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to September 3, up from one in 110 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to December 23 2020.
In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 60, up from one in 65 in the previous week. This is slightly below the estimate of one in 40 for the week to August 20, which was the highest since estimates began for Northern Ireland in October 2020.
For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 45 people had Covid-19 in the week to September 3, up from one in 75 in the previous week and the highest level since estimates began for Scotland in October 2020.
All figures are for people in private households.
Comedian Janey Godley dropped from Covid ads over offensive tweets
13:31 , Leah Sinclair
There is a ‘race for the bottom’ in the PCR testing market, says regulator
13:30 , Leah Sinclair
The UK competition regulator has warned there is a “race for the bottom” in the PCR testing market which could see travellers lose out.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has advised that the Government should create a one-stop shop list of “approved test providers by significantly improving the basic standards to qualify for inclusion and remaining on the gov.uk list”.
It also called for a more comprehensive monitoring and enforcement programme to ensure test providers meet the Government’s standards and receive swift sanctions for failings.
London hits 11m Covid vaccines - but still lags behind rest of country
13:02 , Leah Sinclair
Around one in 70 people in private households in England had Covid-19
12:39 , Leah Sinclair
Around one in 70 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to September 3, unchanged from the previous two weeks, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
One in 70 is the equivalent of about 754,600 people.
At the peak of the second wave in early January, around one in 50 people in England were estimated to have coronavirus.
WHO chief: Jab the world plea amid Covid vaccine booster row
12:12 , Leah Sinclair
Sturgeon: Vaccine passports are not a magic wand but can get us through winter
11:58 , Leah Sinclair
Around half of parents worried about their child returning to school - ONS
11:28 , Leah Sinclair
Around half of adults are worried about their child going back to school or college after the summer holidays, figures suggest.
Some 48 per cent of adults with dependent children said they were very or somewhat worried about their child returning to education settings, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) said they were somewhat unworried or not worried at all.
The main reasons for those worried was fear about their child catching coronavirus (58 per cent), spreading coronavirus (31 per cent) and concern about their mental health and wellbeing due to changes in the school or college setting (30 per cent).
A quarter were worried about how prepared their school or college will be for keeping pupils safe, while 15 per cent were worried about sending them back before the vaccine rollout has finished.
The ONS analysed responses from 3,387 people, including 470 responses from adults with dependent children, between August 25 and September 5.
Acas offers advice to employers over rules for care home staff vaccinations
10:45 , Leah Sinclair
Employers are being offered advice on how to retain care home staff and avoid resignations ahead of new rules around vaccination.
From November 11, anyone who works inside a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home in England must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus unless they are exempt.
The conciliation service Acas said employers should take all necessary steps to retain staff and avoid resignations or dismissals.
Chief executive Susan Clews, said: “Care home staff across England need to be prepared for the upcoming change in the law around vaccinations, which kicks in from November 11.
“Workers may not have yet received two vaccinations and some staff may be concerned that they won’t get a second vaccination in time for the legal change. Others could be unsure if they are exempt from the new rule.
“Our advice can help employers to prepare for the new law. It includes tips on how to support staff to be fully vaccinated and avoid losing talented workers.”
Acas said employers should talk to staff about why they are not vaccinated, discuss exemptions and see what support they can offer, such as agreeing to alternative work outside the care home premises, or taking short-term paid or unpaid leave.
If an employer is considering disciplinary action, including dismissal, Acas said they should get legal advice.
UK not seeing any ‘major breakdown’ in Covid vaccine protection – expert
10:35 , Leah Sinclair
Dowden: The Government has ‘no plans’ to extend mandatory vaccinations beyond where there is a ‘clinical need'
08:38 , Leah Sinclair
The Culture Secretary said the UK Government has “no plans” to extend mandatory vaccinations beyond where there is a “clinical need”, following US President Joe Biden’s ultimatum to big business on the other side of the Atlantic.
Mr Biden has warned all employers with more than 100 workers that their staff will be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing for the virus, affecting about 80 million Americans.
Asked whether ministers could pursue a similar policy, Oliver Dowden told Sky News: “In England - we have responsibility for the approach in England, it is up to the devolved authorities in their competencies - we are focusing it on whether there is clinical need for it.
“That is why, for example, in care homes we are already mandating it; we just announced yesterday a consultation for wider NHS workers - that is because they are in contact with very vulnerable people.
“At the moment, we have no plans to extend it to wider government.
“All I would say is that during this Covid crisis, you never know what is going to happen, but currently at the moment we have no plans to do that.”
Oliver Dowden: The UK is ‘not an outlier’ in embarking on a coronavirus vaccine booster scheme
08:02 , Leah Sinclair
Oliver Dowden said the UK was “not an outlier” in embarking on a coronavirus vaccine booster scheme.
It follows comments by Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the woman who led the development of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, that boosters were not needed for everyone, with jabs better sent to countries that need more doses.
The Culture Secretary told Sky News: “First of all, there is a range of opinion among scientists - this is why we have the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) to give us the authoritative advice and we’ll follow that advice.
“In terms of support for other countries, we are committed to 100 million jabs going by 2022, we have already delivered nine million, so it is not an either/or - we are doing both of those things.
“It is interesting because I was at an international conference earlier this week talking to my counterparts.
“Pretty much all nations are looking at doing a booster programme - Israel are already doing it - so we are not an outlier in doing this.”
He said guidance on the criteria for giving booster jabs was expected from the JCVI “very shortly”
The UK has a ‘moral’ obligation to help vaccinate other countries, says Prof Pollard
07:47 , Leah Sinclair
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said despite there being no current, “rapid” evolution of new coronavirus variants, the UK had a “moral” obligation to help vaccinate other countries around the world.
“We’re not seeing the rapid evolution of new variants that are threatening the world today but that may well happen in the future and it’s as likely to emerge in vaccinated populations as unvaccinated populations,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
“They key thing for vaccinating people in other countries is because they need to be protected.
“There is such a big risk, morally from our perspective, there’s a risk to trade, there’s a risk to economies, but also these are our friends and colleagues who need to be protected and we are losing them every day that goes by.”
Sir Andrew Pollard: The world needs to ‘turn the tap on’ to fight coronavirus internationally
07:45 , Leah Sinclair
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the world needed to “turn the tap on” to fight the “fire” of coronavirus internationally.
“At this moment there is a fire raging all around the world with huge pressure on health systems in many, many countries,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
“At the G7 meeting in early June there were very substantial pledges of money and of vaccines.
“A lot of that money has flowed, so Covax is now in a very good position to start buying their fire hoses for that fire.
“What we really need is to turn the tap on and get the water to those countries, and we need that to happen today.”