Tougher travel restrictions on the way, Matt Hancock warns
People who have received the coronavirus vaccine may still be able to spread coronavirus to others and should continue to adhere to lockdown restrictions, the deputy chief medical officer for England has said.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned that if those who have been vaccinated become lax about following the rules, they are potentially putting others who are further down the vaccination priority list at risk of contracting Covid-19.
Meanwhile, four vaccination centres in Wales have been forced to close due to snowy and icy conditions, as the entire country is covered by a yellow weather warning that runs from 03am to 9pm on Sunday.
People who had appointments at the Bridgent, Rhondda, Abercynon and Merthyr Tydfil centres today will be rescheduled, said the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board.
Delaying second vaccine dose may give stronger protection in long term, says vaccines boss
The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that delaying a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine might give stronger protection in the long term.
Professor Anthony Harnden said: “We carefully examined the data from the Pfizer study and concluded that there was no real evidence that a second dose gave you substantially longer and better protection.
“We do believe you should have a second dose but we do believe that that can be delayed.”
Speaking on Sophie Ridge On Sunday, Prof Harnden cited data from a study of the Moderna vaccine – which uses a similar technology to the Pfizer vaccine – which showed 1,000 people had 90 per cent immunity two months after receiving one dose.
He added: “If you look at the AstraZeneca data – which I accept is a different technology – it may be that the longer you leave the second dose the better protection you have.
“Hopefully not only will this strategy get more people immunised and protect the vulnerable elderly and save thousands and thousands of lives, it may in the end give protection to the population as a whole.”
Kate Ng24 January 2021 10:00
Companies sign up for rapid testing in workplace
Rapid coronavirus testing is being extended to dozens of businesses and public sector organisations to test employees who cannot work from home.
The Royal Mail, the DVLA and Tate & Lyle are among those employers who have signed up to the government scheme, which will deploy millions of lateral flow test kits.
Get the full story below:
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:45
Matt Hancock defends decision to delay second coronavirus dose
Matt Hancock has defended the Government’s decision to delay the time between vaccine doses, saying that it was “essential” to save more lives, more quickly.
“We do know this policy is going to save lives,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
“So long as there is decent efficacy after the first dose, and we have a high degree of confidence that that’s the case, then in a situation where there is a limited supply… you want to get as many people to have as much protection as possible as quickly as possible.
“If you have grandparents who are both in their 70s or 80s you obviously would want each of them to have one dose when you know that one dose is effective, rather than one to have the full two doses and one to have no protection at all.
“That is why we have made this decision and it is essentially to save the most lives fastest and you can totally understand why we’ve done this.”
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:36
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson discuss Covid-19 recovery in phone call
Boris Johnson has spoken to Joe Biden for the first time since the new US president was inaugurated, and congratulated him during the phone call on Saturday night, said No10 in a statement.
Following the call, Mr Johnson tweeted: “Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening. I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from Covid-19.”
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:30
Possibility of new variant being more deadly drives home message to stay home, says Matt Hancock
Asked if the public were left wondering what to believe on the new Covid strain, Matt Hancock told Sky News: “No I don’t think that’s the case for the vast majority of the public actually.
“Communicating risk is challenging and it’s challenging for media outlets as well I understand that, but when we put the scientific evidence out there for instance, one of the studies says that this might by 10 per cent to 50 per cent more deadly, there are uncertainties in that, that’s the nature of science.”
He added: “Therefore we say there is a risk that the new variant is more deadly, we know that it is more contagious, more transmissible, all of that means it is even more important that people stay at home.”
The health secretary urged people to follow the rules, and said although he had just finished self-isolating after he was told to by the NHS Test and Trace app last week, he has yet to leave his home.
“We should be worried enough, all of us, about this pandemic to follow the rules and it is just so important that people do. This morning I’ve come out of my formal self-isolation, I haven’t actually left the house yet because I haven’t needed to,” he said.
“Whatever the exact nature of the UK new variant, and the scientists do think that it may be more deadly and they’ve put various estimates on that from about 10 per cent more deadly to a bit more than that, we are not exactly certain about how much more deadly.
“But in a way, for all of us, that doesn’t matter. What matters is we’ve got to get this virus under control and the only way you do that is by stopping the social contact and following the rules.”
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:16
Tougher travel restrictions on the way, Matt Hancock warns
The health secretary has warned that tougher travel restrictions are looming as “we can’t risk the progress we have made”.
Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Matt Hancock said the spread of new Covid-19 variants had “changed the discussion” , playing down any hopes of an early easing of lockdown.
Read our breaking news report:
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:09
Four vaccination centres in Wales close due to snow
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice for all of Wales apart from Anglesey, which means travel delays and power cuts are possible, and some rural communities may be cut off.
The Gym Taf Morgannwg health board said on Saturday night that it took the “difficult decision to close our four vaccination centres” due to the adverse weather conditions.
Patients who had appointments today at the Bridgend, Rhondda, Abercynon and Merthyr Tydfil community vaccination centres will be rescheduled.
Kate Ng24 January 2021 09:05
Vaccinated people could spread Covid, says Van-Tam
Jonathan Van-Tam has urged people who have received their Covid-19 vaccination to continue following lockdown restrictions, as they could still spread the virus and put others at risk.
During the Downing Street press conference on Saturday, he said: “Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don’t yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission.”
His warning came as the UK reported another 1,348 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, and a further 33,552 new cases of coronavirus.
Find out more from my colleague, Peter Stubley:
Kate Ng24 January 2021 08:59
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog following the coronavirus crisis as it develops.
Kate Ng24 January 2021 08:54