UK Covid news LIVE: Chris Whitty says Covid jabs for 12 to 15 year-olds will help reduce school disruption

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UK Covid news LIVE: Chris Whitty says Covid jabs for 12 to 15 year-olds will help reduce school disruption
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Disruption to schooling is likely to be significantly reduced if enough 12 to 15-year-olds are vaccinated against coronavirus, Professor Chris Whitty has said.

England’s chief medical officer led a press conference today with the UK’s other CMOs setting out the reasons behind their decision to recommend one Covid vaccine dose for children aged 12-to 15 .

He said that he is “confident” that vaccination will reduce disruption to education as fewer children will become infected with the virus, but stressed that other Covid-19 measures should remain in place in schools as "we do not think this is a panacea, it is not a silver bullet".

Meanwhile, Vaccine passports could still be brought in this winter, a minister had said, just hours after the health secretary announced a U-turn on their introduction.

It comes as the Prime Minister is set to announce his winter Covid plan on Tuesday.

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Professor Whitty - Doctors not saying children ‘must’ get the jab

17:06 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said senior doctors were not saying children “must” get the jab, but there were benefits to them doing so.

“What we are not trying to do is say to children ‘you must, must, must, must, must’ but what we are saying is we think – on balance – the benefits both at an individual level and in terms of wider indirect benefits to education and, through that, to public health, are in favour,” he said.

“Otherwise we would not be making this recommendation.”

Professor Whitty says no conflict between vaccine plan and JCVI advice

16:55 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said there is no conflict between his advice on vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds and the suggestions of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

He said: “Our view, which is a view of the great majority of doctors and public health professionals, is that these two are not in conflict.

“What JCVI has said is there is a marginal advantage but by their assessment that was not sufficient by their ordinary standards to recommend it, and quite appropriately they’ve kept to their independent view.

“They suggested further things and what we’ve done is we’ve added in some wider considerations as JCVI has suggested and I don’t think, in our view … we do not see a conflict between these.”

Professor Wei Shen Lim, of the JCVI, added: “I want to stress that this by no means there is any conflict between the advice provided by JCVI and the advice and the decision made by the CMOs to the Secretary of State.”

Children’s vaccine will not affect booster-jab roll-out says Professor Whitty

16:45 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said he was confident that rolling out the vaccine to children would not affect the roll out of the booster jab.

He said: “We have plenty of vaccine stock”.

He also told reporters he had “no plans at the moment” to even think about lowering the age range of the children being vaccinated.

Children’s vaccine will not affect booster-jab roll-out says Professor Whitty

16:45 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said he was confident that rolling out the vaccine to children would not affect the roll out of the booster jab.

He said: “We have plenty of vaccine stock”.

He also told reporters he had “no plans at the moment” to even think about lowering the age range of the children being vaccinated.

Children’s vaccine will not affect booster-jab roll-out says Professor Whitty

16:45 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said he was confident that rolling out the vaccine to children would not affect the roll out of the booster jab.

He said: “We have plenty of vaccine stock”.

He also told reporters he had “no plans at the moment” to even think about lowering the age range of the children being vaccinated.

Regulator says vaccine side-effects are ‘mild'

16:39 , Robert Dex

Dr June Raine, of the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has said the side effects of 12 to 15 year-olds being vaccinated are “mild”.

She told a Downing Street press conference on Monday: “There has been a particular interest in reports of heart inflammation, myocarditis and pericarditis.

“These both happen very rarely in the general population and our job is to continually review the balance of what we observe against what we expect to see.

“We’ve undertaken a very thorough review, both of the UK and the international reports, there is a consistent pattern, slightly more often frequently do we see cases in young males and after the second dose.

“But, overall, the conclusion of our expert advisers is these are mild cases, individuals usually recover within a short period of time with standard treatment.

“Our advice remains that the benefits outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated, and this includes those aged 12 to 15.”

Professor Whitty - vaccination “not a silver bullet” to end school closures

16:29 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said vaccination was “not a silver bullet” to end all school closures.

He said the effect of closures were “most apparent in areas of deprivation”, adding that vaccination “will reduce education disruption” but “we do not think this is a panacea, it is not a silver bullet”.

“We think it is an important and potentially useful additional tool to help reduce the public health impacts that come through educational disruption,” he said.

Vaccine decision based on benefits to children, says Whitty

16:23 , Robert Dex

Professor Whitty said the decision to recommend a first dose of vaccine for 12-15 year olds was based on the benefits to children of that age, rather than wider society.

He said the chief medical officers “fully agree with” the assessments made by the MHRA medical regulator and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on the issue.

“We have not gone over any of their data again, we have simply taken it as read,” he said.

Professor Whitty says benefits outweigh the risks for vaccines for children aged 12-15

16:18 , Robert Dex

Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said it had been “a difficult decision” to decide whether to give vaccines to children aged 12-15.

He said: “What you are always trying to do is balance risk against benefit”.

Speaking at a press conference with his counterparts from across the UK, he said education was “central” to the thinking about the issue and that rolling out the vaccine as a “universal offer” would benefit pupils.

He said: “The disruption in education which has happened in the last period since March 2020 has been extraordinarily difficult for children and has a big impact on mental health and long term public health”.

Covid vaccine boosters not needed for general population, experts say

15:26 , Tom Ambrose

Coronavirus vaccine boosters are not appropriate for the general population at this stage of the pandemic, experts have suggested.

A review by an international group of scientists found that vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19, even the Delta variant, is so high that top-up doses are not currently needed.

Experts looked at the available evidence from randomised controlled trials and observational studies published in peer-reviewed journals and pre-print servers.

The observational studies revealed that vaccines remained highly effective against severe disease, including that from all the main viral variants.

Averaging the results reported from the observational studies, vaccination had 95% efficacy against severe disease both from the Delta variant and from the Alpha variant.

Chief medical officers recommend Covid jab for children aged 12 to 15

14:54 , Tom Ambrose

Children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) have said.

The decision takes into account the impact of the pandemic on children’s education as well as the risks to their mental health from missing school.

The move means that around three million children could be eligible for the jab and comes despite the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) deciding not to recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds.

It is expected the vaccinations could be given through schools as soon as possible once the advice has been considered by the Government.

Vaccine passports ‘will be worth it’, Sturgeon says

14:19 , Tom Ambrose

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted vaccine passports will “make a difference” reducing the spread of coronavirus but hopes they will not be required for the long term.

Scotland’s First Minister said requiring proof of vaccination to nightclubs and large events “will be worth it” if helps to keeps businesses open and reduce the likelihood of restrictions being reimposed.

The UK Government shelved plans for vaccine certification over the weekend after backlash from Tory MPs.

But Scottish ministers are persisting with plans to require the vaccine passports at indoor seated events of 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 people in the audience and “any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance”.

Covid jabs for millions of teenagers ‘get the go-ahead’

14:16 , Leah Sinclair

Covid jabs for millions of teenagers ‘get the go-ahead’

‘After the jabs, now jobs’: Boris Johnson’s £650bn push to boost economy

13:35 , Leah Sinclair

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Downing Street: There was ‘no question' of having to introduce regional lockdowns on current Covid-19 levels

13:32 , Leah Sinclair

While another national lockdown would be a “last resort” measure, Downing Street also said there was “no question” of having to introduce regional lockdowns on current Covid-19 levels.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are not seeing anything that suggests our NHS is about to be overwhelmed so there is no question of using those measures at the moment.”

Downing Street also defended the U-turn over the mandatory use of Covid passports after dropping plans to make them a requirement for entry to England’s nightclubs.

“We keep all plans under review and no final policy decision was taken,” the spokesman said.

“The latest data suggests we can continue with our current system of defence which leads with vaccines, testing, public health advice and variant surveillance.”

Certification will be kept “as a potential option as needed”, the spokesman said.

Vaccine passports to be kept ‘in reserve’, Johnson says after U-turn

13:01 , Tom Ambrose

Boris Johnson has said ministers will work to “avoid vaccine passports, if we possibly can”, after the Government shelved plans to introduce them this month.

The Prime Minister vowed to set out more details on Tuesday when he reveals his plan for dealing with coronavirus this winter, when cases could soar once again.

Facing criticism from Tory backbenchers and the hospitality industry, the Government backed down on plans to make vaccines mandatory at crowded venues such as nightclubs before October.

But Mr Johnson made it clear their possible introduction in England will be kept “in reserve”.

“What we want to do is avoid vaccine passports, if we possibly can, and that’s the course we’re on,” he told reporters during a visit to Leicester.

“But I think you’ve got to be prudent and you’ve got to keep things in reserve in case things change.”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

More than 300,000 arrivals may have broken quarantine rules – report

12:35 , Tom Ambrose

Almost one in three people arriving in England and Northern Ireland this spring may have broken quarantine rules, according to figures seen by the BBC.

The corporation said data obtained under Freedom of Information laws show 301,000 cases were passed to investigators to check people were self-isolating between March 17 and May 31.

During this period, arrivals from amber list locations were required to quarantine at home for 10 days and provide evidence of negative coronavirus tests.

A Government spokeswoman said: “The Home Office looks to visit all individuals referred to us by NHS Test and Trace who are required to isolate at home following international travel.

“We visit over 99% of the cases referred to this service by NHS Test and Trace.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told the BBC the figures “confirm our worst fears” about the Government’s “lax border policy”.

He went on to accuse the Home Office of “gross negligence”.

Announcement on Covid jabs for healthy children expected

12:13 , Tom Ambrose

Coronavirus vaccines for healthy children are expected to be approved by the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) on Monday.

The CMOs were asked to assess the societal benefit of vaccinating 12-to-15-year-olds, including the impact the pandemic has had on education.

It is expected the advice to ministers will be published later on Monday, sources have told the PA news agency, and the BBC reported the recommendation was to approve rolling out the jabs.

If they give the programme the green light then more than three million children will be eligible for the jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds.

JCVI experts said that Covid-19 presents a very low risk for healthy children so vaccination would only offer a marginal benefit.

Just 1% of deaths involving Covid-19 in England were fully vaccinated

11:37 , Tom Ambrose

People who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 accounted for only 1% of all deaths involving coronavirus that occurred in England in the first seven months of this year, new analysis shows.

Most were infected before they had received both jabs or had tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of their second dose.

The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

They show the risk of death involving Covid-19 is consistently lower for people who receive two vaccinations compared to one or no vaccination.

Of the 51,281 deaths involving Covid-19 that took place in England between January 2 and July 2, 640 (1.2%) were people who had received both vaccine doses.

This total includes people who had been infected before they were vaccinated.

Some 458 deaths (0.8%) were people who died at least 21 days after their second dose.


Government ends Covid vaccine deal after ‘breach of obligations’, Valneva says

10:48 , Tom Ambrose

More information is being sought from the UK Government after a drugs firm said its contract to supply coronavirus vaccines had been terminated.

The French pharmaceutical company Valneva said the Government had alleged it was “in breach of its obligations” under the deal to supply the vaccine, which it is currently developing at its facility in Livingston, West Lothian.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the move would be a “blow” for the site – visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in February.

Mr Yousaf stated: “When it comes to their supposed alleged failure to meet their contract obligations, we obviously are looking for more information from the UK Government and would expect that shortly.”

The UK had ordered 100 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, with the amount to be supplied upped by 40 million back in February.

Work-from-home guidance and face masks could be brought back in winter

10:08 , Tom Ambrose

Guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks are likely to be retained as options in the Covid winter plan due to be set out by Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister will tell the nation on Tuesday how the country can learn to live with the virus, underlining how vaccinations will be a central part of the response to coronavirus in the coming months.

Covid laws that are no longer required will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large crowd venues have been shelved.

The travel traffic lights system is also expected to be scrapped and PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers.

Vaccine passport spot checks could be considered at football matches – Yousaf

09:42 , Tom Ambrose

Spot checks could be used to check the vaccine passports of football fans, Scotland’s health secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government is happy to engage with the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and that spot checks are one of the options they are “absolutely” happy to consider.

It comes after SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said the organisation is “concerned” about the practicalities of delivering the scheme and said spot-checking is the only way it can be done.

The Scottish Parliament voted last week to bring vaccine passports in for nightclubs and larger events from October 1.

This includes outdoor events of more than 10,000, which will cover football matches involving larger clubs.

‘Universal Credit workers can get extra hours to make up for £20 cut’

09:13 , Tom Ambrose

People who lose £20 a week from their Universal Credit payments under Government plans could work extra hours to make up for the cut, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has suggested.

The Cabinet minister on Monday defended the move to end the increase introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic by saying it had always been “temporary”.

But there have been calls to keep the extra money in place amid concern that the plans will heap further pressure on struggling families.

Ms Coffey told BBC Breakfast: “I’m conscious that £20 a week is about two hours’ extra work every week – we will be seeing what we can do to help people perhaps secure those extra hours, but ideally also to make sure they’re also in a place to get better paid jobs as well.”

08:54 , Tom Ambrose

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, said experts were seeing “slow increases in case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths” and he was supportive of booster shots.

The scientist, from Imperial College London, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that in the absence of social distancing measures, which he did agree with, “we are reliant on immunity building up in the population”.

He added: “That happens two ways – one through vaccination, and one through people getting infected and so the faster we can roll our additional vaccination, the better in terms of stopping people getting severely ill but also in reducing transmission.”

He said the UK had been leading in Europe on vaccination until recently but other countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Ireland “have got higher vaccination levels than us and that’s largely because they have rolled out vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds faster than us.

“They also vaccinated more recently, and we know now that vaccine effectiveness decays over time, we always expected that, and so they have more immunity in the population.

“They also principally used the Pfizer vaccine which against Delta is somewhat more effective than the AstraZeneca vaccine, so there are a set of countries in Europe with considerably more population immunity than us and I think if we want to stop the risk of the large autumn and winter wave we need to boost immunity in the population.”

08:42 , Tom Ambrose

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey confirmed that Boris Johnson will detail his plan for combating coronavirus this winter on Tuesday.

She told Sky News: “When we had a variety of regulations we said we’d go back to Parliament every six months to see if those regulations were still necessary, but also some of the ideas that we wanted to consider, and are still part of the toolbox, like vaccine passports.

“Again we said we were considering bringing these items in but it’s important that we look at exactly what benefits that will bring, and right now the Health Secretary indicated – although we haven’t made a formal decision – that he does not think it is necessary for the vaccine passports to be introduced by the end of the month.

“But the Prime Minister will be setting out tomorrow a lot more of the detail of the road map ahead, preparing for winter.”

Minister: Vaccine passports not ‘ruled out forever'

08:15 , Tom Ambrose

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the introduction of vaccine passports has not been “ruled out forever”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “As Sajid Javid set out yesterday, although the formal decision is still to be made, but having reflected and looked at the details of the proposal that it’s not deemed necessary at this moment in time.

“But they haven’t been ruled out forever. It’s reflecting the fact that a lot of young people have come forward and got their vaccinations over the summer.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey (PA Archive)
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey (PA Archive)
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