Coronavirus news live: Boris Johnson to call EU on vaccine row


UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly expected to speak with EU leaders this week amid a row over Covid-19 vaccine supplies.

EU leaders are expected to hold virtual talks on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ban on Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine exports to the UK.

However, the prime minister is expected make the case against blocking exports before the discussions take place, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, a much-awaited US trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has found the jab to be both safe and effective.

The vaccine was found to be 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic illness in the US trial and was found to be 100 per cent effective at preventing severe or critical disease and hospitalisation.

The study also did not identify safety concerns around blood clots, which should provide some reassurance amid to European countries that temporarily paused the vaccine’s rollout over fears of a possible connection.

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Minister warns against ‘vaccine protectionism’

Health and social care minister Helen Whately has warned against ‘vaccine protectionism” amid reports that the EU is considering the possibility of blocking exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the UK.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today, Ms Whately said: “What we’re hearing at the moment is some speculation, some conjecture, an element of rhetoric.

“But what is actually important is that the EU and no country should follow vaccine nationalism or vaccine protectionism,” she said, according to PA.

Addressing reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to call EU leaders to urge them against blocking vaccine exports, Ms Whately said: “We expect the European Union to stick by their commitments and I’m sure the Prime Minister will be in contact with European counterparts – he speaks to European counterparts regularly- but I don’t think this debate is helpful to anybody.”

“What matters is for all countries to be getting on and deploying and vaccinating their population” she said.

Asked whether the UK would ever retaliate if the EU did decide to block vaccine exports to Britain, the health and social care minister said: “I don’t think it is very helpful to speculate at the moment. I don’t think this is a helpful line to go down.”

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 09:30

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UK vaccination programme ‘on track’ despite fears over EU ban on vaccine exports, Helen Whately says

Health and social Care Minister Helen Whately has said she has not seen any analysis suggesting an EU ban on vaccine exports to the UK could delay Britain’s vaccination programme by two months.

The concern was outlined in a report from The Guardian, which reported that if the EU does proceed with such a ban, it could have a significant impact on the UK’s vaccine programme and lead to up to two months of delays.

Ms Whately said she had not personally seen an analysis supporting that claim.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, she said: “I haven’t seen that but as I’ve said, we’ve been doing a tremendous job with our deployment.

“We are absolutely on track,” she said.

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 09:17

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Watch: Helen Whately urges Britons to ‘hold off’ booking foreign holidays

Health and social care minister Helen Whately has urged Britons to “hold off” on booking foreign holidays to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“I think what I would council is caution at the moment for people to hold off on booking because as anybody can see, we’re in a situation where there are rising rates in many countries in Europe,” she said, speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning.

The government minister warned that with rising rates comes the “increased risk of variants”.

“I would say to people, just hold off,” she said.

Government minister urges people to ‘hold off’ booking foreign holidays

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 09:09

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Wales lifting ban on non-essential sales in supermarkets

Wales is set to see restrictions on non-essential retail lift, with garden centres opening for the first time this year as the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions.

Today, the country will lift a ban blocking supermarkets from selling non-essential items, such as books and toys.

Garden centres will also be able to re-open, becoming the first non-essential retail shops to open their doors since the country’s lockdown began.

Read more on the lifting of restrictions:

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 09:02

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European confidence in AstraZeneca jab takes hit over blood clot concerns, poll finds

Confidence in the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine has taken a hit in European countries, including Germany, France and Spain, following reports of rare blood clots, a new poll has found.

Many of the European countries that had paused the rollout of the jab resumed its use on Friday after regulators in the EU and the UK found the vaccine to be safe and effective to use, though the European Medicines Agency did not rule out a possible link to rare cases of blood clots.

Despite the regulators’ reassurances, however, a new YouGov poll, which saw around 8,000 people in seven European countries surveyed between 12 and 18 March, found that people in Germany, France, Spain and Italy were more likely to view the AstraZeneca vaccine as unsafe than safe.

Some 55 per cent of Germans said they viewed the jab as unsafe, compared with less than a third who said they did see it as safe.

Meanwhile, in France, 61 per cent of people said they see the jab as unsafe.

In Italy and Spain, the rates of those who view the vaccine as safe plunged from 54 and 59 per cent respectively to 36 and 38 per cent.

The poll that it was only in Britain that blood clot concerns had little to no impact on the public’s confidence in the jab.

The majority of UK participants, or 77 per cent, said they feel the jab is safe.

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 08:54

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Oxford researcher who co-developed AstraZeneca vaccine says team is ‘hugely excited’ by US trial findings

Teresa Lambe, an associate professor at the University of Oxford who co-developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, says her team is “hugely excited” by the findings of a US trial of the jab.

In a study involving more than 30,000 participants, the US trial found the vaccine to be 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalisation.

It also did not identify concerns around blood clots, which should provide reassurance to European countries that temporarily halted the vaccine’s rollout over fears of a potential connection.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Ms Lambe said it was “really encouraging” to see the US trial’s findings.

“It supports all the results we’ve already seen with this vaccine,” she said.

The researcher said her team was “hugely excited” by the data, particularly because it will allow them to put together a package for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider for the possible rollout of the vaccine in the US.

She said her team was also currently focused on looking into the “longevity of the immune response” provided through the jab.

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 08:38

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Helen Whately says it is too soon to say how long social distancing measure will be in place

Health and social care minister Helen Whately has said it is too soon to say how long social distancing measures will be in place.

Her comments come after Public Health England’s head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay suggested that “lower-level” restrictions could be in place for a “few years”.

Speaking on BBCBreakfast, Ms Whately said: “There is a specific piece of work going on to look at what social distancing measures we are going to be needing and I don’t think I should pre-empt the outcome of that work.”

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 08:28

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US trial finds AstraZeneca vaccine safe and highly effective

A much-awaited US trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine has found the jab to be both safe and highly effective.

In a study involving more than 30,000 participants, the vaccine was found to be 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalisation.

Researchers also said they found no concerns associated with blood clots, which should provide further reassurance to countries that temporarily paused the rollout of the jab over fears of a link.

Read more on the study’s findings here:

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 08:13

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Boris Johnson to call EU leaders amid vaccine exports row

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to speak with EU leaders this week amid a row over Covid-19 vaccine supplies. EU leaders are expected to hold virtual talks on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ban on exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the UK.

With the EU having struggled to get the supplies of the vaccine it had expected, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the EU has the power to “forbid’ the export of vaccine doses.

Mr Johnson is hoping to speak with EU counterparts to make the case against such a move before the EU talks can take place according to the BBC.

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 08:03

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog tracking the latest developments on Covid-19.

Chantal Da Silva22 March 2021 07:49



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