Coronavirus news – live: Domestic passports could ‘undermine vaccination programme’ as fears grow over NHS app

‘Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet’, says Liz Truss

A strict or poorly-designed domestic Covid vaccine passport regime could unintentionally undermine the UK’s vaccine rollout, MPs have been warned.

Experts said a system that required vaccination for access to non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants could be seen as persuading people to get their jabs.

Professor Steve Reicher, a top social psychologist from St Andrew’s University, told a hearing of the All Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus earlier: “There is a very traditional, well-known psychological process called reactance: that if you take away people’s autonomy, if you force them to do something, they will reassert their autonomy, even if that means not doing things that they would otherwise want to do.”

It comes amid reports from No 10 that the NHS app may not be ready to carry the international version of Covid passports when travel resumes on 17 May.

The government is expected to announce a green list of destinations – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine – on Friday, and then review this list every three weeks.

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to ministers.

Meanwhile, ministers have said there are “no plans” to bring forward the earliest date for lifting Covid-19 restrictions from 21 June despite what Downing Street has called “hugely encouraging” data on coronavirus transmission.


Royal Albert Hall to allow full-capacity events by 6 July

London’s Royal Albert Hall will begin hosting full-capacity concerts again this summer with a performance by James Blunt.

The popular venue will reopen from 29 May with a series of socially-distanced events before returning to a full house from 6 July.

The hall has been mainly shuttered since March 2020, refunding more than £7.5m worth of ticket sales.

A family concert featuring the house band, titled Back With A Bang, will reopen the space, followed by Messiah with the Royal Choral Society on 30 May.

Handel’s Messiah has a special significance, having been performed at the hall every year since 1876 – a tradition interrupted only by the blitz and coronavirus.

A Country Night In Nashville will follow on 1 June before Dame Darcey Bussell hosts the British Ballet Charity Gala on 3 June.

Only 1,000 tickets will be available for each of the concerts, about 20 per cent of the hall’s usual capacity, before it reopens as normal in early July.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 20:00


Carbon emissions spike when Covid restrictions ease – data

Coronavirus lockdowns last year led to a 10 per cent fall in the UK’s carbon emissions, new research suggests, though the same data shows figures spiking as lockdown restrictions eased.

The numbers from global management consultancy group Sia Partners revealed that as the pandemic progressed, and restrictions relaxed, carbon emissions began to rise again towards the end of last year

In the first lockdown in March, emissions were down by 29 per cent across all sectors of the economy, with airlines and transport leading the way. But household emissions were up by 6 per cent as millions were forced to stay at home and a boom in remote working took place.

During the summer, though, when much of the economy reopened, emissions were almost back to normal levels.

In total, the UK pumped 330 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year, down by 35 million tonnes compared to 2019.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 19:42


PHE publishes advice for post-lockdown anxiety

Public Health England today shared some helpful tips for anyone feeling anxious about going back into the world as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

The next stage, on 17 May, will see the indoors of pubs and restaurants open under the guidance of the rule of six. Cinemas, children’s play areas and other indoor entertainment venues will also be permitted to reopen.

Overnight stays between households will also be allowed, and people will be allowed to go on holiday in multiple household groups with hotels in England reopening.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 19:20


‘No plans’ to remove social distancing in Northern Ireland

There are no plans to remove the one-metre plus social distancing rule in Northern Ireland, the deputy first minister has said.

It comes after Boris Johnson indicated the rule in Britain could be ditched next month. Though he warned the final decision on whether the change can be brought in from June 21 will depend on data available at the time,

Michelle O’Neill said there have been no discussions in the Stormont Executive for a similar move but she did say the conversation will be had “in due course”.

“We make our decisions based on the advice from our own public health team, and certainly at this moment in time there is no advice that suggests that this is where we can change things,” she told MLAs.

“Ultimately of course it’s where we want to get to but it has to be done in a safe and steady way, it has to be done in a way that doesn’t walk us into a corner where we would have to reverse. There are still risks out there, there are new variants, we need to be very, very careful.”

Northern Ireland has enjoyed a number of lockdown relaxations in recent weeks, including the reopening of outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail.

No further deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were notified on Tuesday but the country’s Department of Health said there had been an additional 83 cases of the virus confirmed the same day.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 18:54


EXPLAINER: How much Pfizer has made from its Covid vaccine

It turns out creating a way to both protect people from a deadly virus and return them to their normal lives is quite profitable, reports Graig Graziosi.

Pfizer, the drug manufacturer that produced one of the first viable coronavirus vaccines, decided it would not be selling its shot at cost, and as a result has turned a profit on the vaccine.

The pharmaceutical giant’s data, released on Tuesday, shows it made $3.5bn (£2.5bn) in revenue during the first three months of 2021.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 18:35


Lancashire sees biggest week-on-week rise in Covid cases

Of England’s 315 local areas, 103 (33 per cent) saw a rise in Covid case rates in the seven days to 30 April, 195 (62 per cent) saw a fall and 17 were unchanged.

Data for the most recent four days (1 to 4 May) has been excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.

Hyndburn, in Lancashire, currently has the highest rate, with 124 new cases in the seven days to 30 April – the equivalent of 153.0 cases per 100,000 people. This is up from 38.3 in the seven days to 23 April.

Bolton has the second highest rate, up from 46.3 to 73.4, with 211 new cases, while north Lincolnshire has the third highest, up from 64.4 to 71.4, with 123 new cases.

The five areas with the biggest week-on-week rises were:

  • Hyndburn (up from 38.3 to 153.0),
  • Bolton (46.3 to 73.4),
  • Wellingborough (27.6 to 48.9),
  • South Holland (29.5 to 48.4),
  • Blackburn with Darwen (33.4 to 51.4).

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 18:15


Inside Delhi’s hospitals as Covid overwhelms Indian capital

Amid soaring infections that have seen the country rise above 20 million cases in total, 355,000 of which were added on Tuesday, Delhi’s healthcare system has collapsed.

Families face a daily struggle to acquire basic medical supplies by any means they can, and even hospitals and Covid facilities like this centre in the affluent south of the city face repeated uncertainty over their oxygen supplies, writes Stuti Mishra.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 17:55


Care home residents ‘skipping doctors appointments to self-isolate’

Care home residents are skipping healthcare appointments because of a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the home for certain visits.

Campaigners are calling for the requirement, set out in government guidance issued over the weekend, to be urgently scrapped for all visits out, including external medical appointments and overnight stays.

Ministers this week removed the rule for care home residents leaving the home for “low risk” outdoor visits, such as walks or sitting in a garden, but the supplementary guidance did not cover visits for medical appointments or overnight stays with family members.

It followed a threat of legal action from carers rights group John’s Campaign, which said it encouraged care homes to act unlawfully by “falsely imprisoning” residents.

The charity is writing to health secretary Matt Hancock, calling on him to remove the requirement for all visits out when the guidance is next updated.

If not, the group says it will start legal proceedings.

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 17:35


Number of UK adults fully protected against Covid – data

Over 15-and-a-half million people in the UK have now received both doses of a Covid vaccine and are fully protected against the virus – 29.7 per cent of the adult population.

But how does each country compare?

As of 3 May, 13,072,543 people had received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine, according to NHS England, which amounts to 29.5 per cent of the adult population.

Figures show that an estimated 87 per cent of people aged 80 and over are now fully vaccinated, along with 92 per cent of 75 to 79-year-olds, 71 per cent of people aged 70-74, 31 per cent of people aged 65-69 and 20 per cent of people aged 60-64.

For younger age groups, the estimates are 17 per cent of 55-59 year-olds, 15 per cent of 50-54 year-olds, 12 per cent of 45-49 year-olds and 8 per cent of people aged 16 to 44.

As of 3 May, 772,527 people have received both doses, according to Public Health Wales, which is the equivalent of 30.6 per cent of the adult population.

Around 89 per cent of people aged 80 and over and 75-79 are estimated to have received both doses, along with 84 per cent of 70 to 74-year-olds, 39 per cent of 65 to 69-year-olds and 20 per cent of 60 to 64-year-olds.

Meanwhile, around 18 per cent of 55 to 59 year-olds are fully vaccinated, along with 17 per cent of 50 to 54-year-olds, 14 per cent of 40 to 49-year-olds, 11 per cent of 30 to 39-year-olds and 8 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds.

As of 4 May, 1,348,050 people had received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Scottish government, which amounts to 30.4 per cent of the adult population.

An estimated 92 per cent of people aged 80 and over have received both doses, as well as 91 per cent of those aged 75-79, 89 per cent of people aged 70-74, 73 per cent of those aged 65-69 and 22 per cent of those aged 60-64.

Among younger age groups, the estimates are 20 per cent for people aged 55-59, 17 per cent for 50-54, 14 per cent for 40-49, 10 per cent for 30-39 and 7 per cent for 16-29.

Northern Ireland

As of 3 May, 436,887 people had received both doses, the Northern Ireland Department of Health said, which is the equivalent of 30.1 per cent of the adult population.

Around 89 per cent of people aged 80 and over are now fully vaccinated, along with 84 per cent of people aged 70-79, 50 per cent of 60-69 year-olds, 22 per cent of 50-59 year-olds and 15 per cent of 40-49 year-olds.

Some 12 per cent of people aged 30-39 are also likely to have received both doses, along with 9 per cent of those aged 18-29.

Data compiled by PA

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 17:15


AstraZeneca has ‘no engineers to share vital vaccine technology’

AstraZeneca has claimed it does not have enough engineers to help share its vital Covid vaccine technology with other global manufacturers, after the World Health Organisation warned there is an “urgent, near-term need to unlock additional Covid vaccine supply”.

Campaigners have said that the only way to address the current bottleneck in production – a number of companies, including AstraZeneca, have struggled to meet their early targets – is to share vaccine technology among manufacturers.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

Sam Hancock4 May 2021 16:55


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