Coronavirus UK news update – EU heads for vaccine 'disaster' after suspending AstraZeneca despite no blood clot evidence

THE EU is heading for "disaster" after multiple countries decided to suspend their AstraZeneca vaccine rollout over unsubstantiated blood clot fears, an expert has warned.

Germany yesterday became the 14th country to suspend the jab following Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Italy and Thailand.

And just an hour later France revealed it was shutting down its AstraZeneca rollout for 24 hours as well while the blood clot claims were looked into.

The evidence for such blood clotting appears to be patchy at best though and research in the UK suggests the vaccine has no discernible impact on the likelihood of developing a blood clot compared with not taking it.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, this morning told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it is very clear that the benefits of being vaccinated at the moment so far outweigh the possible concern over this rather rare type of blood clot.

"It really is a completely one-sided argument statistically that we need to be vaccinating.

"I think it is a disaster for the vaccination uptake in Europe, which is already on slightly unsteady ground in some countries."

Asked why he thought so many countries were pausing the rollout Professor Openshaw said: "I think the committees are probably afraid of not making that decision to pause on the basis that they might be in some way thought culpable if they didn't, but actually these are such rare events."

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on March 10 it would be investigating a spate of blood clotting cases in Europe.

But it later urged countries to continue vaccinating because the benefits of being protected outweigh any potential risk.

The UK medicine regulator – the MHRA – also says the jab is safe and encourages Brits to accept their offer of a vaccine when it arrives.

And the World Health Organisation also reiterated its guidance that the Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine is safe.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Alice Peacock

    OPERATIONAL COST OF PANDEMIC FOR THE NHS COVERED BY GOVERNMENT

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the operational cost of the pandemic for the NHS will be covered by the Government.

    When asked by the Health Select Committee about the extra £7 billion the NHS needs for Covid-related costs, Mr Hancock said working out the cost of the pandemic for the NHS was complicated.

    But he said the issue will be resolved soon, and added: "We have been clear we will find the Covid costs and just working out exactly what they are is complicated, not least because you have to see where we are in the pandemic.

    "Thankfully we are in a far better place in the pandemic than we were in November when the Spending Review was settled, nor indeed in January or February.

    "So working out the exact operational costs will be published shortly but what all parts of the NHS know is the direct operational costs of Covid will be covered."

  • Alice Peacock

    MODERNA TESTING VACCINE ON CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS SIX MONTHS

    Moderna Inc. has begun studying its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged six months to 11 years in the U.S. and Canada.

    The move comes as the latest effort to widen the mass-vaccination campaign beyond adults, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    The company today said the first children have received doses in the study, which Moderna was conducting in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    “This pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said.

    The majority of Covid-19 vaccination campaigns across the world have focused on protecting adults – who were at higher risk of severe disease caused by the virus.

  • Alice Peacock

    MATT HANCOCK DEFENDS 1% PAY RISE FOR NHS WORKERS

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a 1% pay rise for NHS workers was an increase, not a cut.

    Giving evidence to the Health Select Committee, he said that NHS workers had been "carved out" of the pay freeze in the rest of the public sector.

    When asked why it was 1% when the NHS 10-year plan made a 2.1% provision for annual pay increases for NHS workers, he said: "The NHS was carved out of the pay freeze that has been applied due to the enormous pressure on the public finances, that has been applied to everyone else in the public sector.

    "We put in place evidence reflecting what is affordable and we of course will study what the pay review body says."

    Asked whether it was a pay increase or a real-terms pay cut, Mr Hancock added: "Inflation is below 1% and therefore a proposed 1% pay rise is indeed a pay rise and that's simply a matter of fact."

  • Alice Peacock

    RAIL CATERING FIRM PROBING ALLEGATIONS WORKERS WENT TO WORK KNOWING THEY HAD COVID

    A rail catering firm is probing allegations two workers went to work 'knowing they had covid'.

    Rail Gourmet, which provides catering for LNER, has launched an investigation into claims two members of staff knowingly went to work with covid.

    But the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said the two staff, who had contracted covid, were facing disciplinary hearings 'for raising related health and safety concerns while they are in isolation and suffering significantly from the effects of the illness'.

    RMT accused the firm of 'silencing and disciplining hardworking staff who dare to raise genuine safety concerns'.

    It is understood the two members of staff are being investigated for "breach of trust" and "breach of health and safety concerning Covid 19".

  • Alice Peacock

    UK COVID CASES RISE EIGHT PER CENT ON LAST WEEK AFTER SCHOOLS RETURN

    UK Covid cases yesterday rose by 5,089 – up by eight per cent on the number of new infections recorded this time last week.

    It follows the reopening of schools last Monday, which scientists feared could lead to a rise in cases.

    It is not clear whether the reopening of schools has caused today’s slight rise in new cases.

    But Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), suggested last month it would be better to bring age groups back gradually, rather than open all classrooms at once.

    He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Of course there’s great needs to get our kids back in schools as fast as we can. But sticking to the epidemiology, yeah, of course, it’s always safer to take smaller steps and evaluate.”

  • Alice Peacock

    NEW COVID VARIANT FOUND IN NORTHERN FRANCE

    An entirely new Covid-19 variant has reportedly been discovered in the French region of Brittany.

    A statement from the French Ministry of Health said the new variant was detected in a cluster of cases in a hospital in the regional town of Lannion, City A.M. reported.

    The Ministry stressed that initial analysis had not shown that the new variant was more contagious or lethal than other mutations.

    No other details had yet been provided.

  • Alice Peacock

    WEALTHIEST HOUSEHOLDS 'HAD GREATER CAPACITY TO COPE WITH COVID RESTRICTIONS'

    The wealthiest households had greater capacity to cut back during Covid restrictions, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

    Overall, average weekly household spending in the UK was £587.90 immediately prior to the pandemic, down slightly from £603.10 the year before.

    Overall, households in the highest income decile spent almost four times as much as those in the lowest decile. However their average disposable income was around 11 times higher, which suggests they had a greater ability to save, the figures indicate.

    Before coronavirus, 54% of lower income households' spending went on essentials such as housing, food and transport compared with 42% of those on the highest incomes.

    The ONS said the figures suggested those on the highest incomes "may have had greater capacity to cut back on spending when restrictions were imposed during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic".

  • Alice Peacock

    CARE HOME RESIDENT COVID DEATHS FALL BY MORE THAN THREE QUARTERS IN MONTH

    Care home resident deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales have fallen by more than three quarters in a month, figures show.

    There were 2,175 care home resident deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate registered in the week ending February 5, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    The latest weekly figures show 467 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in the week to March 5 – down 78.5% in four weeks.

    The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

    The ONS data also shows that the overall number of deaths of care home residents have been below the average for this time of year for three weeks in a row.

  • Alice Peacock

    COVID-19 DEATHS AMONG THOSE AGED 80 AND OVER FALL BY 86%

    Deaths involving Covid-19 among people aged 80 and over have fallen by 86% since the second-wave peak, the latest ONS figures show.

    A total of 743 Covid-19 deaths in the 80 and over age group occurred in England and Wales in the week ending March 5, down from 5,339 deaths in the week ending January 22.

    Deaths for those aged 75-79 also dropped 86% in the same period, compared with falls of 85% for those aged 70-74, 75% for those aged 65-69 and 72% for those aged 60-64.

    People aged 80 and over were the second group on the priority list for Covid-19 vaccines, with doses being offered from early December.

  • Alice Peacock

    WEEK-ON-WEEK FALL IN NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS ACROSS ENGLAND

    ll regions of England recorded a week-on-week fall in the number of Covid-19 deaths registered in the week to March 5, the ONS said.

    South-east England saw the highest number of Covid-19 deaths registered: 328, down 32% from 481 in the previous week.

    Eastern England saw the second highest number: 277, down 18% from 337.

  • Alice Peacock

    ONE IN THREE HAD COVID ANTIBODIES IN MONTH UP TO MARCH 3

    In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, an estimated 1 in 3 people, or 34.6% of the population would have tested positive for antibodies against the coronavirus in the month up to 3 March 2021.

    This suggesting they had the infection in the past or have been vaccinated.

    In Wales, an estimated 1 in 3 people (95% confidence interval: 1 in 4 to 1 in 3) would have tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 on a blood test in the 28 days up to 3 March 2021, suggesting they had the infection in the past or have been vaccinated.

    One in three (!!) people in England, Wales and NI (and one in four in Scotland) would have Covid antibodies in the month up to March 3 as jabs roll-out continues apace. People aged 70 and over are most likely to have antibodies now.

  • Alice Peacock

    CONTINUED

    He emphasised that the JCVI, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had all come out to say the vaccine is "safe".

    Prof Harnden said "clearly we need to keep a very close monitoring of this situation", but added: "It's really important to remember that Covid is a vascular illness and causes clots all over the body".

    "So the risk of developing blood clots from Covid far, far exceeds any potential risk from the vaccination," he added.

  • Alice Peacock

    RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS FROM COVID 'FAR EXCEEDS' POTENTIAL RISKS FROM VACCINATION

    An immunisation expert has said the risk of getting a blood clot from Covid "far exceeds" any potential risk from the vaccination.

    Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain that around 11 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine had been safely administered in the UK.

    Experts were "not seeing any increase" in signals of blood clots between those vaccinated and what would be expected in the general population, he said.

  • Alice Peacock

    UK ECONOMY WILL RECOVER TO PRE-COVID LEVEL BY 'END OF THIS YEAR'

    The UK economy will recover to its pre-Covid level by the end of this year, the Bank of England’s governor Andrew Bailey said yesterday.

    He said he was now much more upbeat about the economic future thanks to the jab roll-out.

    He said: “I’m more positive — but with a large dose of caution.”

    The recovery will come once lockdown eases and people start spending money saved while at home, he says.

  • Sarah Grealish

    PORTUGAL REMOVED FROM 'RED LIST'

    PORTUGAL has been REMOVED from the UK's "red list" which banned all travel to the country – in a huge boost for summer holidays later this year.

    Travel to the country has been prohibited over Covid variants, and returning Brits were forced to pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 days at a quarantine hotel.

    Portugal, the only country in Europe to have been on it, has now been taken off – giving Brits hope of a summer holiday later this year.

    This means travel will not be banned and anyone returning from the country can instead quarantine for 10 days at their own home.

    It was originally placed onto the red list due to the risk of new variants, in particular the Brazil variant due to its connecting flights to the country.

  • Sarah Grealish

    HALF OF ALL ADULTS JABBED BY WEEK'S END

    HALF of all adults in the UK could be vaccinated by the end of this week as the jab rollout surges ahead. 

    Some 24.4 million Brits have already been inoculated – under two million short of half of all over-18s in the country.

    It comes after over 770,000 jabs were given out over the weekend – with 512,108 doled out on Saturday alone. 

    Supplies are also set to receive a boost this week, with around four million doses to become available. 

    NHS England has written to vaccine providers to urge them to ensure they have the staff in place to ramp up capacity. 

  • Sarah Grealish

    DEADLY DELAY

    Pausing the use of AstraZeneca Covid vaccines could do “more harm than good”, a leading expert has warned.

    A growing list of countries, including Ireland, France and Germany, are holding off using the jab over blood clot fears, cancelling thousands of appointments.

    The “precautionary” move comes after reports of fatal blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine.

    However, UK and EU regulators, the World Health Organisation, and AstraZeneca, have said there is no proof the blood clots were caused by the vaccine.

    Experts say it is likely a coincidence.

  • Sarah Grealish

    CHILDREN'S HEALTH FEARS

    England's new children's commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on children and young people.

    She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the pandemic has had a profound impact on children and young people's lives, on many of them, on their education, on the time they spend with friends and family, on their mental health. There are some real worries.

    "But I have also been delighted by the return to school and I think that's where children and young people need to be and that's where we can really start to sort these things out.

    "So I think it's time that the adults recognise what the children have been through, I think it's time we put children at the heart and the centre of policy making.

    "I would like to hear the Prime Minister and the Chancellor mention children, and policies for children, and children and the economic recovery in every speech."

  • Sarah Grealish

    UK COVID CASES RISE EIGHT PER CENT ON LAST WEEK AFTER SCHOOLS RETURN

    UK Covid cases yesterday rose by 5,089 – up by eight per cent on the number of new infections recorded this time last week.

    It follows the reopening of schools last Monday, which scientists feared could lead to a rise in cases.

    It is not clear whether the reopening of schools has caused today's slight rise in new cases.

    But Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), suggested last month it would be better to bring age groups back gradually, rather than open all classrooms at once.

    He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “Of course there’s great needs to get our kids back in schools as fast as we can. But sticking to the epidemiology, yeah, of course, it’s always safer to take smaller steps and evaluate.”

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NOT ON A ROLL

    Bakery chain Greggs has sunk to a £13.7 million pre-tax loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic – its first loss in 36 years, the company confirmed.

    The company, best known for its sausage rolls, steak bakes and vegan snacks, said on Tuesday it made a year to January 2 pretax loss of 13.7 million pounds, having made a record profit of 108.3 million pounds in 2019.

    Total sales fell 31% to 811 million pounds.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    OPEN FOR BUSINESS

    Special vaccine passports could speed up the full return to bars, restaurants and theatres, say reports.

    Michael Gove is heading a review into certification which could lead to Brits having to prove they have been vaccinated or received a negative test before heading out on the town.

    The Cabinet Office Minister said the passports could help "reopen the country and return to normal" but then added there may be ethical considerations.

    The review will now look at "the extent to which certification would be effective in reopening parts of the economy and society more quickly and more safely than otherwise".

    It will also consider the “ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects” of any scheme, reports the Mirror. Read the full story here.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    EU MAD?

    Piers Morgan has slammed the EU for causing “panic” after a string of countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. 

    The former GMB presenter, 55, said there was “no evidence” that the jab was harmful after Germany, France and Italy announced a ban. 

    Piers wrote on Twitter: "Great, more for us. There's no evidence to support this ridiculous EU panic.

    "Boris Johnson should tell AstraZeneca we'll take all their unwanted vaccines for Britain."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    JAB HOPE

    Half of all adults in the UK could be vaccinated by the end of this week as the jab rollout surges ahead. 

    NHS England has written to vaccine providers to urge them to ensure they have the staff in place to ramp up capacity. 

    Their letter states: “From the week of March 15 we are now asking systems to plan and support all vaccination centres and local vaccination services to deliver around twice the level of vaccine available in the week of March 1.”

    Should Britain continue to average giving out 280,000 doses per day, the government should be able to move on to the under-50s by March 29. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    WELSH WOODLANDS IN HONOUR OF COVID VICTIMS (CONTINUED)

    Mr Drakeford said: "Today we mark a deeply sad anniversary as we remember the first person in Wales to die from coronavirus.

    "Since that day too many people have been taken too soon. We remember them today and keep them in our hearts and our minds.

    "Today I am announcing the creation of two commemorative woodlands – one in north Wales and one in south Wales – as permanent living memorials to all those who have died."

    The woodlands' exact locations will be announced by the Welsh Government-sponsored body Natural Resources Wales (NRW). They will see a range of tree species planted to make them resilient to the changing environment.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WALES TO CREATE WOODLANDS IN MEMORY OF CORONAVIRUS FATALITIES

    Two woodlands will be created in Wales in memory of those who have died from coronavirus during the pandemic, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

    The locations in north and south Wales will be designed to act as a permanent memorial "where families and others can come to remember all those we have lost".

    Tuesday marks one year since it was confirmed a patient at Wrexham Maelor Hospital had become the first person to die from Covid-19 in Wales.

    Chief medical officer Frank Atherton said at a press conference on March 16, 2020, the person was aged 68 and suffered from an underlying health condition.

    Marking the one-year anniversary of the first death, Mr Drakeford said the two new woodlands would act as a symbol of Wales' resilience during the pandemic.

Source: Read Full Article