Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
27 January 2021
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- The news this morning is dominated by the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths in the UK being passed yesterday. Britain has the highest death toll in Europe and has the highest death rate per million people in the world.
- To combat the virus’ high prevalence, later today Home Secretary Priti Patel will announce the Government’s new borders policy. Despite speculation about a full temporary closure of the borders, the announcement is instead expected to only restrict the requirement to stay in quarantine hotels to Britons returning from 30 high-risk countries that are covered by a travel ban. The 30 countries include South America, Portugal and countries near South Africa.
- Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC the prime minister delayed acting on scientific advice over lockdowns three times. Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Ashworth said he did not believe Boris Johnson did everything possible, adding: “I do not accept that.” He acknowledged that coronavirus had posed a challenge for all governments as it rapidly swept the globe, but he said the prime minister had scientific advice to impose lockdowns and “pushed that back” – not only in March but again in September and December.
- Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy has called for a cut in jury sizes in order to clear the backlog of cases in the justice system as a result of the pandemic.
- The Scottish government looks set to introduce tougher travel measures than those Priti Patel will announce today, though any divergence won’t begin until next week. Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed yesterday that Scotland would look to introduce additional travel controls if U.K. restrictions are only “at a minimal level”.
- The Welsh government is under pressure to meet its aim of offering a vaccine to all top four priority groups by mid-February, after missing its first target of vaccinating 70 per cent of over-80s by last weekend, with the figure nearer just 50 per cent as of yesterday. First Minister Mark Drakeford admitted in the Senedd his government wouldn’t meet the target and blamed the delay on “an interruption to the program” over the weekend due to heavy snow and ice.
- The head of AstraZeneca has defended its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the EU, amid tension with member states over delays in supply. Pascal Soriot told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that his team was working “24/7 to fix the very many issues of production of the vaccine”. He said production was “basically two months behind where we wanted to be”. He also said the EU’s late decision to sign contracts had given limited time to sort out hiccups with supply. Mr Soriot, chief executive of the UK-Swedish multinational, said a contract with the UK had been signed three months before the one with the EU, giving more time for glitches to be ironed out.
- French politicians have reacted with dismay to news that the prestigious Pasteur Institute is abandoning its main coronavirus vaccine after disappointing test results. Researchers at the institute said clinical trials on its vaccine had shown it was less successful in combatting the virus than hoped. It had been trying to adapt an existing vaccine used against measles, in partnership with the US company Merck.
- The German government is discussing reducing to almost zero the number of flights into Germany in an effort to prevent more virulent mutant Covid variants gaining a foothold in Germany, the interior minister, Horst Seehofer, told Bild.
- Ahead of Patel’s announcement this afternoon on the new border policy, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said: “It cannot be restricted to only a handful of countries, leaving gaping holes in our defences against different strains of the virus emerging around the world. The government must also announce a sector support package for aviation.”
- Most poor countries will not achieve mass Covid-19 immunisation until at least 2024 and some may never get there, according to a new forecast, which maps a starkly divided world over the next few years in which a handful of developed countries are fully vaccinated while others race to catch up. Countries such as the UK, US, Israel and those in the EU will probably achieve “widespread vaccination coverage” – meaning priority and vulnerable groups, and almost all of the rest of the population – by late 2021, according to analysis from the Economist Intelligence Unit.