UK Covid news LIVE: WHO asks rich countries to hold off Covid booster jabs

·18-min read

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked rich countries to delay Covid booster jabs until the end of the year.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked the UK among other well off countries to donate their vaccines to the poorer parts of the world.

“I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” he told a news conference.

“We don’t want any more promises. We just want the vaccines.”

The WHO boss said he wanted the delay to ensure every country could vaccinate at least 40 per cent of its population.

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17:08 , Lily Waddell

Third booster coronavirus jabs may not be needed, says AstraZenca boss

Rolling out third doses of the Covid vaccine too quickly would be an “unnecessary burden” on the NHS, the head of AstraZeneca has said.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot, writing in the Telegraph, called for patience from the Government stressing the UK was “a few weeks away” from having a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two doses in providing “continued, protective immunity”.

“Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of these insights, leaving this important decision to rest on limited data,” he said.

“A third dose for all may be needed, but it may not. Mobilising the NHS for a boosting programme that is not needed would potentially add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months.

“Because NHS staff and resources are scarce, another national mobilisation would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other care provided by doctors and nurses each day.”

The comments come after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs a vaccine booster programme is “ready to go” as soon as the JCVI gives approval.

WHO calls on rich countries and vaccine manufacturers to fulfil pledges to help low-income areas

16:57 , John Dunne

The World Health Organization has said low-income countries were ready to run effective Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and it was now down to manufacturers and rich countries to deliver the pledged doses to ease global health inequalities.

About 80% of the 5.5 billion vaccines doses that have been administered globally went to high income countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Wednesday.

More than 91m covid vaccine doses given in UK

16:52 , John Dunne

More than 91m doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the UK, government data up to September 7 shows.

Of the 91,940,381 jabs given, 48,319,435 were first doses, a rise of 26,624 on the previous day.

Some 43,620,946 were second doses, an increase of 85,848.

Tory leader Ross: Vaccine passport plans for Scotland an ‘absolute sham’

16:23 , Tom Ambrose

Scottish Government plans for coronavirus vaccine passports have been branded an “absolute sham” by Tories, with the First Minister coming under fire for having so far failed to put forward details of how the scheme will work.

MSPs are due to vote on the planned introduction of a vaccination certification scheme in Holyrood on Thursday.

But a week after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to bring in such a scheme for venues such as night clubs, and events such as larger football matches and music festivals, the Tories said key questions still needed to be answered.

Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, challenged Ms Sturgeon on the issue at Holyrood, saying that while she may have promised to publish a paper on how the system would work, it was “not good enough” to do this “just hours before Parliament is expected to vote”.

The Tory hit out: “So far there is no details and no answers on the SNP’s plans.

“We wanted to look at the content of the First Minister’s proposals – but quite frankly there is nothing to scrutinise.”

Mr Ross continued: “We need specifics but we don’t have them. We don’t know how the scheme will be administered, or enforced. We don’t know if the data concerns have been fixed.

“We don’t know if the SNP will rule out extending them indefinitely or rolling them out to further venues at short notice.”

Minister faces fierce Tory backlash in the Commons over vaccine passports

15:57 , Tom Ambrose

Tory MPs urged the Government to drop plans for vaccine passports after accusing a minister of talking “rubbish” and picking an “unnecessary fight” with them.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi also caused head-shaking among colleagues when he told MPs there will be “some essential services which will not need” people to show a Covid passport – heightening their fears over the Government’s proposals.

The Government has confirmed it wants to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs, an idea which has previously been met with criticism from MPs in both main parties, by the end of September.

The scheme would see members of the public required to show proof they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Zahawi said the policy is “designed to reduce transmission and serious illness”.

Wales should be scrutinised over Covid-19 decisions, says minister

15:34 , Tom Ambrose

All the administrations of the UK should receive the same level of scrutiny over decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh Secretary has said.

A UK-wide public inquiry into the decisions taken by Boris Johnson’s Government is due to begin next year, while the Scottish Government under Nicola Sturgeon has announced its own independent inquiry.

Opposition politicians in Wales and those who have lost family members to Covid-19 have called on the Welsh Government to hold its own inquiry.

The Welsh Government said last month it was engaging with the UK Government on the detail of the UK-wide inquiry.

Scotland records 17 new Covid deaths

14:20 , Rachael Burford

Scotland has recorded 17 coronavirus-linked deaths and 5,810 new cases in the past 24 hours, the latest figures show.

The data published by the Scottish Government indicates the death toll under the daily measure - of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days - is now 8,198.

There were 883 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid, up 112 on the previous day, with 82 in intensive care, up five.

A total of 4,130,841 people have received the first dose of vaccine and 3,749,767 have received their second dose.

Government’s Covid passport policy ‘unsupportable'

14:14 , Rachael Burford

A Tory backbencher has branded the Government’s Covid passport policy “unsupportable”.

North East Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller said: “The measures as presented by the minister today are unsupportable... because they are bereft of any rationale.

“I would ask the minister to think very carefully about whether this Government wishes to take powers which were deemed to be emergency powers, and make them normal powers of a government in a free society? I for one think that’s extremely unwise and there is no case for them.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he would rather take the “arrows from colleagues” over the passports scheme than have to close nightclubs.

“These are not normal times that we are enduring,” he said. “This is a measure that we are having to take.

“I say to him with a heavy heart, I would much rather stand here and take the arrows from colleagues in the back, or the front, rather than come back here to this House and have to close down nightclubs because the virus has caused a superspreader event and have to explain that to the whole industry.”

Coronavirus-related deaths continue to rise, NRS figures show

13:34 , Tom Ambrose

A total of 10,612 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The latest data shows 58 fatalities which mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate were registered in the week from August 30 to September 5 – an increase of 10 on the previous week.

Of the latest deaths, 17 people were aged under 65, 12 were aged 65-74, and 29 were 75 or older.

There were 10 deaths in Glasgow City and six each in North Lanarkshire and City of Edinburgh.

The latest data confirms 42 people died in hospital, eight in care homes and seven at home.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Major vaccination drive for NI students announced

12:51 , Tom Ambrose

A major drive to vaccinate students in Northern Ireland against Covid-19 has been announced.

The “Jabbathon” initiative will involve 60 walk-in clinics across some 30 campuses – offering first jabs to students in universities and further education colleges.

The effort follows the Big Jab Weekend last month in which 12,052 first doses were administered, along with 9,622 second doses.

The take-up rate for first doses in Northern Ireland is now close to 90% of the adult population. However, concerns have been raised that vaccination rates have not been as high among younger members of society.

The new academic year for university students begins later this month.

PMQs: Helpline operators ‘laughing’ at stranded Afghans

12:43 , Tom Ambrose

Johnson is asked by Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck about non-British nationals who remain in Afghanistan.

She says a constituent was made to wait hours on a government helpline to talk to someone before hearing the call handler laughing and say they were having to lie to people, giving them false hope because “the whole thing is an entire scam”

The PM says we should be proud of what the UK has done to help people but adds that he is sorry to hear about the case she raises and says he will take it up.

PMQs: Johnson quizzed on carers’ allowance

12:37 , Tom Ambrose

Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has asked if the PM will raise carers’ allowance and change employment law so families can balance their responsibilities with work.

The PM says everyone acknowledges the “massive debt” to carers and thanks them for everything they do.

He goes on to say that the plan will “bring changes across the board” and bring “dignity and progression” for care workers.

12:29 , Tom Ambrose

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford says Boris Johnson’s health and social care plans impose a “regressive tax on millions of Scottish workers”.

The PM responds that people have told him they want more funding for the NHS, adding that all the SNP can talk about is another referendum.

Blackford comments that there is “no chance” of economic recovery.

PMQs: Tories ‘underfunding NHS and cutting social care’, says Labour

12:26 , Tom Ambrose

Sir Keir Starmer asks the PM what he would say to Rosie, a single mother working on the minimum wage in a nursing home.

“She will lose £87 a month because of the cut in universal credit and will now be hit with a National Insurance tax rise,” says Starmer.

He adds that the Tories of underfunding the NHS and cutting social care but Johnson describes it as the "same old nonsense from Labour".

He says the best way to help Rosie is through building a “strong and dynamic economy”.

PM: ‘This plan deals with decades of catastrophic costs faced by millions'

12:18 , Tom Ambrose

The Prime Minister has said his Government’s plan for social care needs to “deal with NHS backlogs” in order to fix the care system, after being asked if people will still need to sell their homes to pay for care.

At PMQs, Labour leader Keir Starmer asked: “I want to ask the Prime Minister about the promise he made to the British people to guarantee that no-one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it. Does that guarantee still stand?”

Boris Johnson replied: “What this plan for health and social care does is deal after decades with the catastrophic costs faced by millions of people, the risks that they face up and down the country that they could face the loss of their home, their possessions, their ability to pass on anything to their children.

“This is the Government that is not only dealing with that problem but understands that in order to deal with the problems of the NHS backlogs you also have to fix social care.”

Starmer: ‘Working people will lose their homes to pay for care'

12:13 , Tom Ambrose

Keir Starmer has claimed people will still have to sell their homes to pay for social care.

He said: “People will still face huge bills, people will still have to sell their homes to pay for it, he didn’t deny it when he could have done.”

He added that while landlords will face no tax rises, the tenants - some earning minimum wage - will be left making up the cost of the tax rises and asked: “In what world is that fair?”

Johnson again tries to shift the focus back on to Labour but Sir Keir quotes Johnson in 2002 as saying “National Insurance increases are regressive”.

Johnson says Labour will vote against the plans tonight, adding: “Vote Labour, wait longer.”

PMQs gets underway

12:09 , Tom Ambrose

Prime Minister’s Questions is underway in the Commons.

Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer says the Prime Minister is not standing by his pledge that nobody would have to sell their home to pay for social care.

Boris Johnson replies and says the government is lifting the guarantee up to £100,000, “where nobody has to pay anything across the entire country”.

He challenges Sir Keir to put forward proposals to deal with backlogs in the NHS but the Labour leader replies that “those with the broadest shoulders [should] pay their fair share”.

Ukraine could tighten lockdown restrictions as COVID-19 picture worsens

12:04 , Tom Ambrose

A Ukrainian government commission will meet soon to decide whether to tighten coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told a televised government meeting on Wednesday.

Ukraine lifted lockdown restrictions as cases dropped over the summer but could impose a nationwide “yellow” code, which restricts mass events, and limits the occupancy rates of gyms, cinemas and other culture venues.

“The epidemiological situation in Ukraine is predicted to deteriorate ... we see a tendency towards an increase in hospitalizations of patients with Covid, but the situation is not critical,” said Health Minister Viktor Lyashko.

High demand for transport as summer holiday period ends

11:00 , Tom Ambrose

Transport usage has reached some of the highest weekday levels of the pandemic following the end of the summer holiday period and the return of schools.

The amount of traffic on Britain’s roads on Monday was at 100% of what it was before the coronavirus crisis, Department for Transport (DfT) figures show.

Demand for buses outside London was at a record 69% of pre-virus levels.

This is up from 58% on August 23, which was the previous Monday that was not a bank holiday.

Provisional figures show usage of mainline trains was at 60%, but the DfT said this is an underestimate.

In London, Tube and bus use was at 50% and 71% respectively.

Public transport campaigners have urged the Government to encourage more people to return to buses and trains rather than cars to prevent road congestion and help tackle climate change.

Passengers on a Jubilee line Tube (PA Wire)
Passengers on a Jubilee line Tube (PA Wire)

Germany could see Covid case increase - RKI

10:50 , Tom Ambrose

Germany could see a “massive momentum” in new COVID cases in autumn if the vaccination rate does not increase, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease said on Wednesday.

"It is still in our hands," Lothar Wieler told a news conference, adding it was very important to intensify the vaccination campaign.

China gave 5.9m vaccine doses on Tuesday

10:10 , Tom Ambrose

China administered about 5.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on September 7.

It brings the total number of doses administered to 2.119 billion, data from the National Health Commission showed on Wednesday.

09:29 , Tom Ambrose

Reducing the size of gatherings is likely to be the first measure should an October firebreak lockdown be considered, an expert has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if any short lockdown is considered, shutting schools would not be a priority.

“Schools would not be top of the list of things we’d consider to shut in this scenario,” he said.

Dr Tildesley, a professor in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, added that, with children back in schools, it is “really important to monitor data”.

“It’s not just children in the classroom, it’s what children going back to school means for people,” he said.

With pupils back in class, more parents will go back to work, which Dr Tildesley said could also have an impact on what the Government decides to do as people return to offices.

He added that it should be kept in mind that, outside of the pandemic, “hospital admissions rise in the autumn anyway”.

South Korea concerned about eroding vigilance

09:04 , Tom Ambrose

South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus, approaching a one-day record set last month, as officials expressed concerns amid prolonged pandemic restrictions.

The 2,050 cases reported Wednesday was the sixth time the daily increase came over 2,000 in a span of a month, including a record 2,221 on August 11.

The capital Seoul and the nearby metropolitan area have had the country's toughest social distancing rules short of a lockdown for nine consecutive weeks.

The measures force night clubs and churches to close and prohibits private social gatherings of three or more people after 6pm unless the participants are fully vaccinated.

The health ministry said people's exhaustion and frustration with virus restrictions are becoming an increasing challenge.

08:32 , Tom Ambrose

Sajid Javid said he has not thought about a so-called firebreak in October.

He told Sky News: “I don’t think that’s something we need to consider.

“I haven’t even thought about that as an option at this point.

“I think the decisions that we’ve made in the last few weeks and certainly in the time I’ve been Heath Secretary, I think they’ve turned out to be the right decisions.”

He said no decisions are “risk-free” but insisted the “best defence” against another wave of the virus is the vaccine programme.

He added: “Vaccines are working. Yes, there are still infections, of course there still are. That’s true around the world. But the number of people going into hospital, and certainly those dying, is mercifully low, and that’s because of the vaccines.”

08:02 , Tom Ambrose

Sajid Javid has said he expects to hear from the UK’s chief medical officers in the coming days on their views as to whether there should be a mass rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds.

The Health Secretary told Sky News: “I want to give them the breathing space, it’s their independent view and that’s exactly what it should be. But I would expect to hear from them in the next few days.”

Asked how he would feel about children of that age group of his own having jabs, he said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to pass a judgment because I’m waiting for an independent view.”

He said consent will be sought from parents of 12 to 15-year-olds as it has been “for decades”, but if a child is believed to be competent enough to make the decision they “will prevail”.

Third Covid vaccine may not be needed, says AstraZeneca boss

07:52 , Tom Ambrose

Rolling out third doses of the Covid vaccine too quickly would be an “unnecessary burden” on the NHS, the head of AstraZeneca has said.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot, writing in the Telegraph, called for patience from the Government stressing the UK was “a few weeks away” from having a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two doses in providing “continued, protective immunity”.

“Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of these insights, leaving this important decision to rest on limited data,” he said.

“A third dose for all may be needed, but it may not. Mobilising the NHS for a boosting programme that is not needed would potentially add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months.

“Because NHS staff and resources are scarce, another national mobilisation would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other care provided by doctors and nurses each day.”

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