Coronavirus news live: Latest updates as Johnson says vaccine success due to ‘greed’

Key moments from past year of lockdown

Boris Johnson has been heavily criticised after claiming “capitalism” and “greed” were the reasons behind the UK’s successful vaccination campaign.

The prime minister’s remarks, first reported by The Sun newspaper, were said to reveal “just how warped his understanding of this crisis is” by Nick Dearden, director of the group Global Justice Now.

It comes as Mr Johnson prepared to be grilled by senior MPs over his handling of the pandemic. The prime minister admitted the events of the last year would live with him for the rest of his life.


Home secretary says she has not ruled out border measures remaining in place over summer

The home secretary has not ruled out border measures remaining in place over the summer to prevent new coronavirus variants arriving from overseas.

Priti Patel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We rule nothing out in terms of the approach we take when it comes to infection control and the safety and security of our public from this virus.

“We will take all measures basically to protect our country and our citizens from new variants.”

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 09:23


Belgian MEP repeats claims AstraZeneca vaccine is linked to blood clots

A Belgian MEP has repeated claims that the AstraZeneca vaccine is linked to blood clots, despite it being declared safe by the European Medicines Agency.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Philippe Lamberts said: “Did we witness secondary effects in a very limited number of cases? It would seem so.

“Norwegian studies seem to point to causality between the vaccine and some blood clots.”

He made the comments after criticising the pharmaceutical company for allegedly failing to deliver on its commitments to the EU.

Pressed on whether the UK-based vaccine-maker is entitled to accuse the EU of orchestrating a smear campaign against it, he admitted some politicians may have “instrumentalised” their citizens’ concerns to “do some AstraZeneca bashing”.

He continued: “Does AstraZeneca have problems fulfilling its delivery promises? Yes, absolutely, and that’s one issue.

“Does AstraZeneca have unexpected secondary effects? Let’s study this before taking extraordinary measures.”

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 08:58


No decision made on extending vaccine programme to children

No decision had been made yet on extending the Covid-19 vaccine programme to children, according to Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

He told Good Morning Britain: “As far as I know there has been no decision made to immunise children starting in August, or indeed any decision been taken to immunise children at all at this point.

“But it’s certainly something that we might need to do.”

Referring to a clinical trial on the use of the Oxford vaccine in children, he added: “That’s why we’re doing the study and we will be doing more studies of the other vaccines in children over the coming weeks.

“In order to establish that vaccines can safely be used in children, we need to do that.”

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 08:46


Priti Patel praises pharmaceutical firms after Johnson’s ‘capitalism’ and ‘greed’ comments

Priti Patel has praised pharmaceutical firms after Boris Johnson privately told Tory MPs the UK’s vaccine programme was successful because of “capitalism” and “greed”.

The home secretary told Sky News: “The prime minister always acknowledges the strong success we’ve had in terms of the vaccine, not just the rollout, which is incredible, but also our ability as a country to develop the vaccine, the role that pharmaceutical companies and science and technology has played in that.

“And actually I think that speaks to a great strength we have as a country.

“And linked to that, of course, look at our contributions to Covax, the international scheme, to get the vaccine supplies elsewhere and demonstrate that we are a very, very strong force for good internationally when it comes to vaccines, science and pharmaceutical development.”

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 08:29


NHS staff should be allowed to regroup and recharge ahead of reopening of health service, head of NHS employers says

The head of NHS Employers has called for NHS staff to be allowed to regroup and recharge ahead of the full reopening of the health service once restrictions ease.

Danny Mortimer told the Today programme: “The first thing to say is that by making sure our people are able to do simple things like take the annual leave they have not been able to take because they’ve been working so hard over this last year.”

He continued: “(And) by making sure there’s time built into the working day for people to access the psychological support within their workplaces that they may well so desperately need, that will prevent absences in the short term and (help) keep people for the longer term.”

Mr Mortimer said such an approach would mean the NHS would be able “to deal with the growth we have seen in our waiting lists, the growing demand for mental health services, the impact of long Covid on our communities”.

He added: “The NHS will be more resilient in the longer term to address those issues whilst hopefully the government invests in longer-term recruitment, particularly into degree-level professionals into the NHS.”

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 08:16


Boris Johnson vaccine ‘greed’ comments show ‘warped understanding of crisis’

Boris Johnson has been accused of having a “warped” understanding of how the UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme has been so successful.

In comments first reported by The Sun newspaper, Mr Johnson told a video call with Conservative backbenchers: “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.”

Nick Dearden, director of the group Global Justice Now, said: “The prime minister will call this comment a slip of the tongue, but it’s an incredibly revealing remark. It shows just how warped his understanding of this crisis is.”

Policy correspondent Jon Stone has more details:

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 08:00


Good morning and welcome to the latest coronavirus updates.

Samuel Osborne24 March 2021 07:54

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