As it happenedended
A member of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said earlier the government needs to enforce more testing, social distancing, and mask wearing to “get things under control soon enough to stop a real meltdown in the middle of the winter.”
Prof Adam Finn also told Sky News that vaccines, by themselves, are “not enough at the present time to keep the spread of the virus under control”, pouring cold water on Boris Johnson’s claim Covid jabs will “steer Britain through the winter”.
“We do need to see people continuing to make efforts to avoid contact … just getting more people vaccinated could run the risk of making things worse rather than better,” Prof Finn added.
It comes after government figures on Saturday showed a further 39,962 cases of Covid were recorded in the UK in the last 24-hour period. Seventy-two people died in the same time.
Boris Johnson continues to resist pleas for tighter restrictions despite health secretary Sajid Javid saying new Covid cases could reach 100,000 a day.
Good morning. Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Covid-related news.
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 08: 07
Lateral flow tests for travel come into effect from today
Travellers are now allowed to use cheaper lateral flow tests upon arrival in England instead of more expensive PCR tests.
Fully-vaccinated people arriving from a non-red list country can now use a lateral flow test on, or before, day two of their return.
Wales will make the same change a week from now. Scotland and Northern Ireland have suggested they may follow suit.
The lateral flow tests for returning travellers must be bought from private providers before travelling to England, with prices listed on the government website starting at £19.
Passengers need to send a picture of their lateral flow test to verify the result, and failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000.
NHS tests cannot be used for travel.
Full details here:
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 08: 14
Number of Covid cases in eastern Europe to exceed 20 million
Coronavirus cases in eastern Europe will soon surpass 20 million, according to a Reuters tally today.
Three of the top five countries reporting the most deaths in the world are in eastern Europe – Russia, Ukraine and Romania.
Countries in the region have the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than half of the population having received one dose.
Only 19 per cent of people in the Ukraine have been inoculated, compared to Hungary that has seen 62 per cent of its population having gotten at least one jab, according to Our World in Data.
New infections in the region have steadily risen and now average over 83,700 new cases per day, the highest level since November last year.
Although it has just 4 per cent of the world’s population, eastern Europe accounts for roughly 20 per cent of all new cases reported.
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 08: 38
Africa sees more than 8.4m cases of Covid across continent
More than 8.4 million cases of Covid have been confirmed in 55 countries in Africa, according to statistics.
The countries with the most reported cases – at least 500,000 – are South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco.
A total of 216,779 Covid-linked deaths have been reported in Africa as of today.
More than 106 million vaccinations have been administered across the continent.
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 09: 00
JCVI Prof: ‘We can’t be complacent, this is a worsening situation’
People have been warned against being “complacent” about Covid as the situation for the NHS is “worsening”, a scientist said this morning.
Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), was asked by Trevor Phillips on Sky News whether it would “matter” if daily new case numbers hit 50,000 or 100,000 if the rate of hospitalisation is not rising.
Prof Finn said: “Unfortunately they are rising and they will go up as the number of cases goes up – because the virus will reach people who are vulnerable and who may get seriously ill.
“So I think we can’t be complacent, this is a worsening situation for the NHS, which is already under enormous pressure.”
Prof Finn said that waning immunity from vaccines “exists” and is a risk among the oldest and most vulnerable people who had their first two jabs early.
The “biggest risk is to those not vaccinated at all”, he added, and “many people we are seeing [in hospital] now are unimmunised.”
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 09: 15
JCVI Prof: ‘Indiscriminately’ giving Covid booster jabs a ‘waste’
Prof Adam Finn also told Sky News that he disagreed with the government’s proposal to extend booster vaccines to people aged 50 and to administer them one month earlier than planned.
The member of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said efforts should be focused on getting people to have their third jab if they had their first two doses early on in the UK’s vaccination scheme.
He said that there needs to be more testing, social distancing, and mask wearing to “get things under control soon enough to stop a real meltdown in the middle of the winter.”
Prof Finn also said: “[Vaccines] are not by themselves enough at the present time to keep the spread of the virus under control. We do need to see people continuing to make efforts to avoid contact … just getting more people vaccinated could run the risk of making things worse rather than better.
“If you boost people before they even need the vaccine it is, in some senses, a waste of vaccine.
“It also means you’re immunising them earlier. This may make a smaller response to the vaccine and the response may wear off earlier.
“So I think the idea of getting more doses indiscriminately into people’s arms is not really necessarily going to solve the problem.”
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 09: 38
Labour says government should reintroduce some Covid rules
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the government should introduce its so-called Plan B to tackle the rising rates of coronavirus.
She was asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning what Labour’s position was on reintroducing restrictions such as the wearing of face coverings and working from home.
Ms Reeves said said: “We’ve seen today that Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) are saying that some aspects of Plan B, like wearing masks on public transports and in shops, and also working from home more flexibly should be introduced.
“I think the first thing is the government have got to do more to make Plan A work … But there are also things not in A or B that need to be done, like paying statutory sick pay from day one and also better ventilation in public spaces.”
Asked directly whether Plan B should be introduced now, she said: “Yes, but let’s not let the government off the hook with Plan A either.”
Full report from my colleague Adam Forrest
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 10: 10
92 per cent of schools still waiting on Covid air monitors – poll
The vast majority of schools are still waiting for airflow monitors, which are used to help reduce the spread of Covid indoors.
Just 8 per cent of the 300,000 CO2 monitors have been delivered to primary and secondary schools this term, according to a Twitter poll, The Observer has reported.
This is despite education secretary Nadhim Zahawi promising that a third of the units would be delivered by the end of this month.
The poll of 1,617 people was set up by Simon Smith, headteacher at East Whitby Academy, a primary school in North Yorkshire.
A number of teachers who responded to his post said CO2 monitors that did arrive at the schools appeared to be unreliable, and that some of the staff had bought their own monitors.
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 10: 30
Health chief and PM insist booster jabs will ‘protect Christmas’
PM Boris Johnson and senior health chiefs are continuing to call on the nation to get vaccinated against Covid amid increased concern over rising infection levels ahead of the winter months.
NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said getting a booster will “protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned”.
The repeated calls for people to get jabbed comes as Mr Johnson resists pleas from health leaders for tighter restrictions despite the rising number of cases.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day.
But Downing Street insisted there was still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B measures – including working from home guidance and compulsory wearing of face masks – would only be implemented if it came under “significant pressure”.
Medics have told The Independent that the NHS is facing “its worst winter ever”.
Mr Johnson, who has said there are no plans for another lockdown, said: “Vaccines are our way through this winter.”
Those eligible for boosters include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers.
Mr Javid will tell NHS leaders to allow people aged over 50 to be able to book a third shot a month five months after their second dose, a month earlier than they can currently, The Mail on Sunday reported.
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 10: 50
A&E units ‘already struggling to cope’ in run up to winter
Accident and Emergency departments are in a “terrible place” right now with ambulances queuing outside waiting for space for patients, an expert warned this morning.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, was asked if she thinks A&E departments are going to be able to cope this winter.
Before the pandemic, hospitals already had a shortage of beds and Covid pressures make it even harder for them to clear their backlogs for elective procedures – she said.
She told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “We’re already struggling to cope. This is not something that’s coming in the next couple of months.
“We’re already in a terrible place where we have got large queues of ambulances with vulnerable people waiting in those ambulances to be offloaded into departments and other patients at home waiting to be picked up by the ambulance.”
Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 11: 11