“These vaccines are potentially backup as the viruses are still mutating and transmitting widely in many parts of the world,” Hoft said. “It’s very scary to see everyone in the U.S. think, ‘Well, the pandemic is over,’ when the virus is mutating, and if we don’t contribute to helping the rest of the world getting transmission under control, it’s going to come back to haunt us.”
Covaxin’s COVID-19 jab, developed and manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, generates antibodies that can effectively neutralise the Alpha (B117) and Delta (B1617) variants of SARS-CoV-2, the US National Institutes of Health has said, citing results from two studies of blood serum from people who received the shots.
Covaxin comprises a disabled form of SARS-CoV-2 that cannot replicate, but still stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the virus.
The NIH said an adjuvant, developed by the agency, has also contributed to the success of the highly efficacious Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine, which roughly 25 million people have received to date in India and elsewhere.
Adjuvants are substances formulated as part of a vaccine to boost immune responses and enhance a vaccine’s effectiveness.
“Ending a global pandemic requires a global response,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “I am pleased that a novel vaccine adjuvant developed in the United States with NIAID support is part of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine available to people in India.”
The adjuvant used in Covaxin—Alhydroxiquim-II—was discovered and tested in the laboratory by the biotech company ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas with support exclusively from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Programme.
The adjuvant comprises a small molecule attached in a unique way to Alhydrogel, a substance frequently called alum that is the most commonly used adjuvant in vaccines for people.
Alhydroxiquim-II travels to lymph nodes, where the small molecule detaches from alum and activates two cellular receptors. These receptors, TLR7 and TLR8, play a vital role in the immune response to viruses. Alhydroxiquim-II is the first adjuvant in an authorised vaccine against an infectious disease to activate TLR7 and TLR8.
Molecules that activate TLR receptors stimulate the immune system powerfully, but the side effects of Alhydroxiquim-II are mild. This is because, after Covaxin is injected, the adjuvant travels directly to nearby lymph nodes, which contain white blood cells that play an essential role in identifying pathogens and fighting infection.
Results from Phase 2 trials of Covaxin indicate that it is safe and well tolerated, while unpublished interim results from the Phase 3 trials indicate that the vaccine has 78 per cent efficacy against symptomatic disease, 100 per cent efficacy against severe COVID-19, including hospitalisation, and 70 per cent efficacy against asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2.
Bharat Biotech signed a licensing agreement with ViroVax to use Alhydroxiquim-II in their candidate vaccines in 2019. This license was expanded during the Covid-19 pandemic to include Covaxin, which has received Emergency Use Authorisation in India and more than a dozen other countries.
Bharat Biotech developed Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology. Bharat Biotech expects to produce an estimated 700 million doses of Covaxin by the end of 2021.
The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.
Missouri seeing alarming rise in virus cases
Missouri is becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the country: It is seeing an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases because of a combination of the fast-spreading delta variant and the stubborn resistance among many people to getting vaccinated. (June 23)
The claim: Spike protein of COVID-19 vaccines is causing new Delta variant
In recent weeks, many states began relaxing coronavirus restrictions as COVID-19 cases dropped and vaccination rates crept toward President Joe Biden’s target of partially vaccinating 70% of American adults by July 4.
The U.S. is expected to fall short of that goal, and now the nation faces another setback: the spread of the contagious Delta variant. It now accounts for at least 20% of COVID-19 cases and is on the rise.
Variants aren’t unexpected. Whenever a virus replicates inside its host, random genetic errors – resulting in slightly altered versions of the original – are a common occurrence. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been thousands of coronavirus mutations. Some strains, like the Delta variant, are more contagious than others.
But some on social media are claiming cases from the new strain aren’t due to the virus but shedding from COVID-19 vaccines.
“The new ‘vARiAnT’ is nothing more than the VX spike pr0teins inf*cting those vxd and unvxd,” claims a tweet shared in a June 27 Instagram post. Both Twitter and Instagram accounts are owned by the same user, who USA TODAY has reached out to for comment.
The tweet perpetuates a widely circulating, but grossly incorrect theory that the spike protein generated by the COVID-19 vaccines can somehow cause disease or be shed and affect surrounding unvaccinated individuals.
Neither is possible. The COVID-19 vaccines simply help the body develop immunity against the virus, including against the Delta variant.
Vaccine spike proteins cannot cause disease on their own
Vaccine shedding can occur in rare cases with some types of vaccines, but not with the ones currently available for COVID-19.
“As none of the current COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the USA contain live SARS-CoV-2 virus, viral shedding is not an issue for these vaccines,” Dr. Matthew Laurens, an infectious disease specialist and vaccine researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, previously told USA TODAY.
The vaccines authorized in the U.S. contain instructions for the spike protein either in the form of messenger RNA (a type of genetic code ordinarily used by our bodies to make proteins) or via a weakened virus stripped of its ability to replicate.
Regardless of the delivery system, the spike protein cannot cause disease on its own.
When a coronavirus enters your body, usually through breathing in virus-laden droplets from other infected people, the infection unfolds like this: The virus binds to a protein on the host cell surface, enters the host cell, replicates, destroys the host cell as new viral particles are made and dumped into the bloodstream.
A vaccine’s spike protein can’t do any of this since it’s genetically engineered to only enhance an immune response, is extremely localized once injected and lacks the genetic code to assemble a fully-formed viral particle. Once antibodies against it are made, the spike protein is mostly broken down by the host cell.
Delta variant is more contagious, but vaccines do help
Emerging in India this year, the Delta variant is the newest variant of concern – what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling a group of coronavirus strains that appear to be more transmissible and result in more severe disease – especially for those who haven’t been vaccinated, experts say.
What makes the Delta variant so contagious and worrisome to scientists are two mutations that enable easy viral transmission – it’s reported to be 50% more transmissible than the dominant Alpha variant – and immune system evasion.
This poses a grave concern and threat to poor countries with little to no vaccines, as well as vulnerable areas in the southern U.S. where vaccination rates severely lag behind the Northeast and West Coast.
“A variant like (Delta) that has more transmissibility will lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths among a population that has low vaccination coverage,” Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s division of preparedness and emerging infections, told NBC News.
The key protection against this contagious strain is being fully vaccinated.
A May study from the U.K.’s Public Health England showed two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, and even more successful at preventing hospitalization and death. The study, however, found one dose of the Pfizer vaccine was only 33% protective.
Data on how protective the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine is against the new variant is still in the works, but experts say booster shots likely might provide broader protection, including against the Delta variant.
Our rating: False
We rate the claim that the spike protein of the COVID-19 vaccines is the cause of the new Delta variant FALSE, based on our research. The Delta variant is a genetically unique version of COVID-19 that was not created by vaccine shedding. Vaccine shedding is a real phenomenon for other vaccines, but it is not possible with the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines since they do not contain live virus. The spike protein contained in the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. is not at all capable of causing disease by itself.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, June 29, COVID-19 restrictions: Map of COVID-19 case trends, restrictions and mobility
- USA TODAY, June 22, Biden administration says it won’t make 70% COVID-19 vaccine goal. What we know
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 24, About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19
- Vox via YouTube, June 16, Why so many Covid-19 variants are showing up now
- CNN, June 23, More infectious variant now makes up 20% of coronavirus samples tested, Fauci says
- Next Strain, accessed June 29, Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus – Global subsampling
- USA TODAY, May 13, Fact check: COVID-19 vaccinated people don’t ‘shed’ viral particles from the vaccine
- USA TODAY, June 17, Fact check: White pine tea likely not helpful against COVID-19; vaccinated don’t ‘shed’ particles
- Stanford Medicine, Oct. 15, 2020, The invader: How the coronavirus penetrates, exploits and kills cells, and how an army of scientists aims to destroy it
- Science, May 4, In the Pipeline: Spike Protein Behavior
- Uri Manor, May 2, Twitter thread
- Full Fact, June 17, Claims that Covid vaccine spike proteins are harmful are unevidenced
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 23, SARS-CoV-2 Variant Classifications and Definitions
- USA TODAY, June 16, Delta is the ‘most serious’ COVID-19 variant, scientists say, How will it affect the US?
- Science, June 25, Delta variant triggers new phase in pandemic
- WebMD, June 11, COVID-19 Vaccine Rates Lag Behind in Southern States
- NBC News, June 27 , Threat of delta variant looms large in unvaccinated South
- Public Health England, May 22, Vaccines highly effective against B.1.617.2 variant after 2 doses
- Reuters, June 28, Booster may be needed for J&J shot as Delta variant spreads, some experts already taking them
- CNBC, June 29, Young, unvaccinated, over 50 or just had one dose? You’re most at risk from the Covid delta variant
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
June 29, 2021 — A new coronavirus variant that has infected thousands in South America has now been discovered in the UK.
Classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 17, the lambda variant has been detected in 29 nations — seven of them in Latin America. In Peru, where it was first identified, the lambda variant now accounts for 82% of new infections.
Now, 6 cases of this COVID-19 variant have been found in the UK, all linked to overseas travel.
Public Health England (PHE) say that the Lambda variant has been designated as a variant under investigation (VUI) due to a rise in international cases and several notable mutations.
Virologist Pablo Tsukayama and his team at Lima’s Cayetano Heredia University have traced the evolution of the lambda variant in Peru for months after identifying it through genome testing.
“With 187,000 dead and the highest mortality rates in the world, we are the country that has struggled most when it comes to the coronavirus,” Tsukayama told DW news. “Therefore, it is probably no wonder that the new variant has gotten its start here.”
Alpha (B.1.1.7), beta (B.1.351), delta (B.1.617.2) and gamma (P.1) are categorized as “variants of concern” by the WHO. The classification indicates that they are more transmissible and more difficult to treat.
“So far we have seen no indication that the lambda variant is more aggressive,” the WHO virologist Jairo Mendez-Rico said. “It is possible that it may exhibit higher infection rates, but we don’t yet have enough reliable data to compare it to gamma or delta.”
PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence this variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective.
A further 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19 in the week up to June 21. Of these, 304 were unvaccinated.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
If the new health secretary is to be believed, we are about to embark on an “exciting new journey” come 19 July. Sajid Javid, like the prime minister, appears confident that restrictions will be lifted irreversibly on that date. The data, however, is beginning to tell a different story.
When Boris Johnson said his government would be guided by “data, not dates”, the scientific community – for the most part – endorsed the cautious approach. Now, the signs are ominous. Driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, cases are once again starting to rise exponentially. Vaccination rates have slowed. An exhausted NHS is seeing a rise in hospitalisations. Over half of all people in the UK are not fully vaccinated.
The government’s strategy – to ease restrictions as vaccines reach more people, walking the tightrope between opening up society and not overwhelming the NHS – hangs in the balance. The heavy reliance on the vaccine programme as cases continue to surge, say scientists, may not just leave the NHS to pick up the pieces yet again, but potentially create fertile ground for new and even more dangerous variants to emerge.
The good news is that the vaccines have tremendously weakened the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths. In the last seven days, there have been 116,287 cases reported in the UK, compared with 122 deaths (although deaths from these latest infections won’t be seen for two to three weeks). Nearly 62% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.
But it seems unwise to underestimate this variant, which now accounts for 99% of new Covid cases. It’s roughly 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which previously dominated, is linked to a greater risk of hospitalisation, and is somewhat more resistant to vaccines, particularly after one dose.
The problem with putting all our eggs in the vaccination basket is that we need a large majority of the population (potentially including teenagers) to be fully inoculated to be protected as a society, so that when there are outbreaks – as there inevitably will be – there are fewer people who are susceptible, and the likelihood of cases spiralling out of control is much lower, according to Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist and associate professor at the University of Leeds school of medicine. We might need to hold on to some restrictions beyond 19 July until we can hit that high level of vaccination, scientists say, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed in the short term, and to limit the number of long Covid cases and indeed slow the growth of the ballooning backlog over the long term.
“If we are failing to contain the pandemic now, I can’t see how removing restrictions will make it easier,” says Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “I also don’t understand how, as the new health secretary seems to be implying, he can be confident that the virus will not mutate further to escape vaccine-induced immunity.”
Even Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates globally, is not immune to the wrath of Delta. The country was forced to reimpose mask mandates last week due to a steep rise in cases, just 10 days after lifting the requirement. Given the dramatic spread of the variant, the World Health Organization has also advised even the fully vaccinated to “play it safe” and continue wearing masks and socially distancing until vaccination rates improve globally.
Much like the health secretary, we all are desperate for a sliver of normality. We all want the restrictions to be lifted for good. But we can’t just wish for these things, says Stephen Reicher, member of the Sage subcommittee on behavioural science; we need to take action to squash the exponential rise in cases. Otherwise, the quest to embark on this “exciting new journey” may be handicapped by a decidedly grimmer reality.
Sajid Javid, the new UK health secretary, on Monday said the country has to “learn to live” with Covid-19, in a bullish statement to MPs in which he confirmed the government’s plan to return England to economic normality on July 19.
In a sharp break with the tone of his predecessor Matt Hancock, Javid aligned himself with the views of many Conservative ministers who believe it is time to discard caution and reopen the country.
“No date we choose comes with zero-risk for Covid,” he said in his first House of Commons statement since returning to the cabinet on Saturday. “We cannot eliminate it, instead we have to learn to live with it,” he added.
Hancock was seen by some Tory MPs as being too cautious in his approach to lockdown restrictions, while Javid, who hails from the right of the Conservative party, appeared to place economic wellbeing on a par with health issues.
“My task is to help return the economic and cultural life that makes this country so great, while of course protecting life and our NHS,” he said.
Javid declared that data on Covid-19 vaccinations was heading in the right direction and final coronavirus restrictions would soon be lifted in England: “We see no reason to go beyond July 19,” he told the Commons.
In spite of a sharp rise in the number of cases of the Delta variant of coronavirus first identified in India, Javid said that uptake of vaccines was “sky high” and that two-thirds of adults would have had both jabs by July 19.
Javid said the ending of restrictions on large gatherings and the opening of certain businesses, including nightclubs, would be a final and “irreversible” step.
According to the latest government data, the UK on Monday reported 22,868 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, the highest number since January, reflecting the spread of the Delta variant.
Three additional coronavirus deaths were reported, while 1,505 people were hospitalised with Covid-19.
The rise in coronavirus cases is causing major disruption in schools in England, as they send home increasing numbers of pupils to self-isolate after some children test positive for Covid-19. Department for Education figures for the week to June 19 showed 214,000 children were off school and self-isolating, with a further 9,000 at home having tested positive.
Javid acknowledged the surge in cases, adding that while deaths remained “mercifully” low, hospitalisations had increased, particularly within the north-east and south-west of England.
The vaccination programme has been accelerated in recent weeks ahead of the planned July 19 reopening, as the government aims to offer all over-18s their first dose.
Labour health spokesperson Jon Ashworth pressed Javid to explain how the government would reduce infections.
“I want to see an end to restrictions, our constituents want to see an end to restrictions,” said Ashworth. “But I hope his confidence today about July 19 does not prove somewhat premature or even, dare I say it, hubristic.”
Health leaders urged Javid to adopt a cautious approach to lifting restrictions, warning that hospitalisations across the country remained a concern.
“Covid is the most pressing issue,” Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organisations, told the BBC. “[Javid] needs to be a voice of caution in the cabinet in terms of the potential pressures in the health service.”
Heralding what are likely to be bruising negotiations with chancellor Rishi Sunak over funding, Javid promised a “fair pay settlement” for NHS workers.
On social care reform in England, including funding, Javid said a “long-term, sustainable solution” was needed, adding: “That is something the government is absolutely committed to.”
The U.S. is “never going to have zero” new daily Covid cases, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday.
“We’re always going to have some level of spread,” the former FDA chief said, predicting infections will become endemic, meaning they will remain present in the American population. Seasonal flu, for example, is an endemic respiratory illness.
Gottlieb’s comments come as concerns increase about the Covid delta variant, first discovered in India and now wreaking havoc in the U.K. It’s starting in the U.S., threatening to cut into the nation’s hard-earned progress in reducing virus prevalence through mass vaccinations and other public health strategies.
On “Squawk Box,” Gottlieb said that while spread of the delta variant will continue to increase in the U.S., the response to new cases there may not follow the blueprint being used in other parts of the world. He pointed to Israel as one example. That country, which garnered acclaim for the success of its vaccine rollout, recently reinstated its indoor mask mandate, less than two weeks after first lifting it.
“Israel is a poor proxy in terms of what they’re doing relative to our situation here, because Israel is really going for a situation where they want zero Covid,” said Gottlieb, who serves on the board of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer. “We’re not going to try to get this down to zero cases a day” in the U.S.
“Israel is trying to get it down to zero cases a day, so that’s why you see them taking different kind of measures than us,” he added. “Hong Kong is trying to keep it out completely; that’s why they’re banning travel.”
Despite predicting the U.S. will have “persistent infection,” Gottlieb said the nature of the cases, in both scale and geography, will vary significantly from earlier stages of the pandemic, which is defined as an epidemic gone global.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a situation like we did last winter, where there’s 200,000 cases a day. I think we’re talking about tens of thousands of cases, perhaps, a day, here in the United States as it starts to take hold across the country,” said Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration.
The highest single day of infections in the U.S. was 300,462 on Jan. 2, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The most U.S. Covid deaths in one day was 4,475 on Jan. 12.
Unlike earlier this year, the most-significant outbreaks are now likely be “highly regionalized,” he added, hinging considerably on the percentage of a local population that has been vaccinated “There’s part of the country that are going to be largely impervious to a lot of spread, and other parts of the country that are more vulnerable.”
The U.S. is averaging just under 12,000 new coronavirus cases per day, over the past seven days, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. That figure is steady compared with one week ago. The seven-day average of new daily Covid deaths being reported in the U.S. is 306 — that’s up 9% compared with a week ago.
Roughly 46% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against Covid, while 54% has received at least one dose, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Crucially, about 78% of American age 65 and up have been fully vaccinated and nearly 88% have had at least one dose.
Gottlieb said that even as the U.S. experiences new coronavirus spread, “that represents far less impact than it did a year ago because more of the vulnerable people who are going to be more susceptible to this infection now are protected through vaccination.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion Inc. and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”
LONDON — Spain has put up new coronavirus barriers to people from the U.K.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González said people coming from the U.K. to Spain will need proof of two COVID vaccines or a negative test.
It comes after Germany led efforts to encourage other EU states to take a unified approach to U.K. travelers, due to increasing case numbers of the Delta variant in Britain.
Since late May, there had been no testing requirements or other restrictions for those heading to Spain, according to U.K. government guidance.
González initially tweeted Monday morning that, “From tomorrow British citizen [sic] will require a certification of full vaccination or a negative PCR (72hrs) to enter Spain.”
But Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez later clarified that visitors would have more time. “We will apply the same requirements to British tourists going to the Balearic Islands than to the rest of European citizens. Therefore, they will need to be fully vaccinated or have a negative PCR test result. We would apply this within 72 hours so tourism operators and British tourists can adapt to these new rules,” Sánchez told Cadena Ser radio station in an interview.
Arancha Gonzalez then said the 72 hours start to start from the moment the decision is published in Spain’s official journal, which should happen tomorrow.
At the European Council summit last week, EU leaders agreed to be “vigilant and coordinated with regard to developments, particularly the emergence and spread of new variants.”
Portugal has also tightened its rules, requiring arriving Brits to self-isolate unless they have had two vaccines.
U.K. government officials are in talks with EU nations to prevent a blanket tightening of restrictions.
The European Commission said it was in discussion with representatives of EU countries on whether to apply to ban, as a bloc, all non-essential travel from the U.K.
Spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz said: “For U.K. travelers, the rule is that non-essential travel should only be open to people who have been fully vaccinated.” Those who don’t fall into that category should not be let in “and from the Commission side, we very much expect member states to fully apply that recommendation.”
Hans von der Burchard and Cristina Gallardo contributed to this article.
This article has been updated.
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UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures
The lifting of all restrictions on 19 July is “possibly too early”, the government has been warned, with public health experts calling for more caution in the weeks ahead amid the continuing spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The rapid emergence of Delta forced Downing Street to delay the full reopening of society on 21 June by four weeks, and some scientists concerned that the UK will remain vulnerable to a significant surge in cases, hospitalisations and deaths once all measures are removed later next month.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will reportedly “urge” Angela Merkel to drop plans for an EU-wide quarantine on UK arrivals during a face-to-face meeting in London on Friday. A UK government source told the Mail that the Prime Minister will encourage the German Chancellor to drop the plans, which are set to be proposed to the EU this week.
The chair of the UK’s advisory group for new and emerging respiratory virus threats (NERVTAG) has said he thinks a “stronger” border could have delayed or stopped the Delta variant from arriving into the UK.
During an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Professor Sir Peter Horby said “stronger border measures may have delayed that, may even have prevented” Delta from arriving from India, where it was first detected. He also predicted it will spread throughout Europe.
Sadiq Khan, also appearing on the programme, said London will “hopefully” reopen fully on 19 July despite a rise in infections, and called for young people to “please, please, please” get vaccinated for Covid.
As people aged 18 to 29 turned out in the hundreds of thousands to get vaccinated across the UK on Saturday, Mr Khan said he was hopeful of reopening in almost three weeks — and that he was “reassured” by Wembley hosting the Euro 2020 finals in a fortnight.
Across the UK, half of all adults aged 18 to 29 will have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Sunday in England – three weeks after appointments were opened up to under 30s.
Amid fears of a third wave of Covid, the UK on Saturday recorded 18,270 infections – its highest figure in four months, and a 20 per cent rise on Friday. A further 28 additional deaths were recorded, bring the country’s toll to 128,089.
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of UK Covid news.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 07:56
Cases at a February high, with 18,270 confirmed on Saturday
The number of UK daily Covid-19 cases jumped to 18,270 on Saturday as stadiums, shopping centres and other large venues were opened up as walk-in “grab a jab” vaccination centres in a boost the number of people getting immunised.
It is the highest figure since 3 February, and a 20 per cent rise on Friday’s total.
The steady rise in cases comes as experts warn the country is in the grip of a third wave of Covid-19 thanks to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 08:02
UK sequences half a million Covid tests
Scientists have sequenced half a million Covid tests in the UK, according to officials on Sunday, with the country accounting for almost half of all such testing carried out worldwide.
Genomic sequencing — which allows scientists to detect whether the virus has mutated — has allowed the UK government to get ahead of emergent variants including Alpha, and more recently, Delta.
Lord Bethell, the UK’s innovation minister, said the milestone for sequencing was “testament to the hard work, dedication and brilliance of researchers and scientists in laboratories across the country, as well as those on the frontline of our battle against this wretched virus.”
Jenny Harris, the chief executive of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) added: “The UK has shared its exceptional genomics capabilities with the world during this global pandemic and our expertise in this field will be at the heart of our mission at the UK Health Security Agency.”
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 08:17
UK population with first dose at 83.7 per cent
By Saturday, more than 44 million people had received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 32 million had received a second dose, across the UK.
It amounts to 83.7 per cent of the adult population receiving a first dose, and 61.2 per cent receiving a second.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 08:26
Half of all under 30s to be vaccinated by Sunday
Half of all adults aged below 30 in England will have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Sunday, officials have said, with over 4.2 million young people already jabbed.
It comes three weeks after Covid vaccines were opened up to people in their twenties — eradicating initial concerns that young people would not take part in the vaccination effort.
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s vaccines minister, praised the “phenomenal achievement”.
“It’s fantastic to see so many young people coming forward for their jabs, doing their bit to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 08:33
Experts call for Children over 12 to be vaccinated
Children over 12 in the UK must be vaccinated “as soon as possible” in order to reach the vital herd-immunity threshold needed to suppress the exponentially rising Delta variant, scientists have warned.
The call — from virologists at Oxford and Leeds — came as it emerged that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will not make any decision until later next month.
That is despite the UK’s medicines regulator approving the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for 12- to 15-year-olds three weeks ago.
Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said leaving millions of children unvaccinated would likely prevent the UK from reaching the “85 to 90 per cent” immunity threshold needed across the population to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 08:50
Arrests made on day of protests
Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters marched through central London on Saturday, with some seen throwing tennis balls at the UK parliament.
“They have little messages on them. Most of them are not very nice,” an unnamed protester said of the balls.
A total of three arrests were made by the Metropolitan Police during a day of multiple protests, which included a climate change demonstration.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 09:17
Sadiq Khan defends London’s vaccination rate
Sadiq Khan has defended London’s vaccination roll out after he was asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr why the city was “holding the country back”.
Mr Khan said on Sunday said that London was doing “far better” than other world cities of a similar size for vaccinations, given a more young and diverse population.
“The reason why we’ve got challenge in London as a global city is because our population is younger, its more mobile, its more diverse. We’re less likely to be registered with a GP which means normal channels of communication, which text information into your patient, the ringing up of your patient, aren’t there”.
“But also we have a large migrant population as well,” Mr Kahn continued, “who are less likely to be registered with a GP, but more than that, less likely to share their data to receive a jab”.
According to the mayor, more than 8.5 million Londoners having had a first dose of a Covid vaccine, and 3.5 million have had both doses — putting the city 8 per cent behind the rest of the UK’s vaccination effort.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 09:42
Mayor of London ‘hopeful’ of July 19 reopening
Asked about the risks of reopening the capital in a months time, the mayor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “Although the case numbers is going up, those in hospital is stabilising and in face are way lower than in wave one or wave two.”
“And indeed, if you’ve received both jabs, you’re more than 90 per cent less likely to go into hospital, which wasn’t the case in the first wave or second wave”.
“The reality is we are not going to be able to reopen on 5 July. I think we should hopefully, fingers crossed, fully reopen on 19 July. The key thing though, is for as many of us as possible to receive the jab. Why? Because it protects you from the consequences of the virus, but also you’re less likely to be in hospital”.
The mayor also told “The Andrew Marr Show” that he was “reassured” by UEFA and the government over the hosting of fans at Wembley for the Euros 2020 finals, amid a rise infections from the Delta variant.
“This gives us time to make sure that as many of us are protected”, he added of the four week delay to reopening theatres, pubs and other venues on 19 July.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 09:59
‘Busy weekend’ for London after anti-Covid protest
An anti-Covid protest on Saturday was among a number of demonstrations planned across the weekend in London, with the Metropolitan Police describing it as a “busy weekend”.
Thousands walked from Hyde Park Corner to Westminster with placards including “my body, my choice”, and chants of “shame on you”, and boos towards No 10 on Saturday.
Many taking part in the protest had travelled from across the UK, including a 29-year-old woman from Manchester who allegedly camped on Clapham Common for four weeks to take a stand against the UK’s vaccination initiative.
A protester who travelled from Devon, Iain McCausland, added that he was marching because “lockdown has come at the cost of our liberty and rights. Our freedom to assemble, our freedom to travel and work.”
Despite the protest — which took place alongside marches for trans pride and the climate — hundreds of thousands turned up to vaccination centres across London and the rest of the UK on Saturday.
Gino Spocchia27 June 2021 10:32
LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) – Britain’s mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign has weakened the link between infections and deaths but it has not yet been completely broken, the head of a scientific advisory body to the government said on Sunday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to lift most remaining coronavirus restrictions on July 19 after being forced to postpone any further easing this month because of a growing number of cases largely from the more infectious Delta variant.
Peter Horby, chair of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” that Britain was seeing a “much lower level of hospitalisation”.
He was asked if there was enough data to say vaccinations had broken the link between the virus and serious illness and death.
“They’ve certainly weakened the link,” Horby said of the vaccination programme, which has given a first dose to more than 80% of the adult population and a second dose to more than 60%, according to official data.
“We’re definitely seeing increasing infection rates, but what we’re seeing is a much lower level of hospitalisation, so that link is really, really much weaker which is really fantastic but it’s not completely broken.”
The United Kingdom recorded 18,270 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, the highest daily rise since Feb. 5, and 23 deaths, official data showed. Overall, Britain has had one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the world, with more than 128,000 deaths. read more
Horby also said there might be a case to argue that the arrival and spread of the Delta variant – which has driven the current wave of infections – could have been delayed or prevented if stronger border measures had been in place.
“But there is an obvious trade-off that policy makers and politicians have to make between absolute complete restrictions and stopping various viruses coming in,” he added.
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper
Editing by Frances Kerry
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.