Covid live: UK records 36,100 new cases; Pfizer vaccine safe for children aged 5-11, company says

1 month ago

Construction sites across the state of Victoria in Australia are to close for at least two weeks following violence at anti-vaccine protests earlier today.

From Thursday 23 September construction workers will be required to show proof that they have had at least one vaccine dose in order to continue to work, local media report.

Hundreds of construction workers wearing hi-vis vandalised the Victoria branch of Australia’s Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The CFMEU condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the attack on its Melbourne office, where members had shown up in support of the government mandate, saying the violence occurred after the protest was “infiltrated” by right-wing groups.

The Master Builders Association of Victoria informed members of the development in a Facebook post, saying the government was concerned about “an increase in Covid-19 transmissions in the building and construction industry, combined with the riots in Melbourne today”.

They said the shutdown would be in place from 11.59pm Monday.

Updated at 12.05pm EDT

UK records 36,100 new Covid cases

The UK has recorded 36,100 new cases in the latest 24-hour period, with the number of COVID patients in hospital now at 7,847.

It is the first time since 7 September that the number of patients has been below 8,000.

There have been a further 49 deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus within the past 28 days.

The 7 day average of how many people have tested positive in a week is down by 12 per cent.

Updated at 11.29am EDT

The British prime minister has welcomed the news that the US will lift Covid-19 travel restrictions to allow fully vaccinated passengers from the UK and EU to travel into the country from November.

Boris Johnson said the easing of US travel rules for fully vaccinated travellers was “a fantastic boost for business and trade” adding it was “great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again”.

The move by president Joe Biden will mark the end of a travel ban imposed by Donald Trump more than 18 months ago in the early stages of the pandemic, and comes after intense lobbying from Brussels and London.

In addition to the UK and the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, the move will also apply to Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India.

Updated at 11.20am EDT

Pfizer and BioNTech said trial results showed their coronavirus vaccine is safe and produces a robust immune response in children aged five to 11, adding that they would seek regulatory approval shortly.

The vaccine would be administered at a lower dosage than for people over 12, they said. “In participants five to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well-tolerated, and showed robust neutralising antibody responses,” US giant Pfizer and its German partner said in a joint statement.

They plan to submit their data to regulatory bodies in the European Union, the United States, and around the world “as soon as possible”.

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health and a leading Covid expert in the US, called it the “good news” many parents had been waiting for.

A health certificate showing proof of immunity from Covid-19 immunity will be required to enter the Vatican as of 1 October, the city state said.

Residents, workers, and visitors will have to carry the so-called “green pass” that is already widely used in surrounding Italy, the Holy See said in a statement. An exception will be made for those attending mass “for the time strictly necessary for the rite”.

The pass – originally conceived to ease travel among European Union states – shows that someone has been vaccinated, has tested negative, or has recently recovered from the coronavirus.

Updated at 11.02am EDT

Austria will require protective face masks and Covid-19 passes for the use of ski lifts this winter as it tries to attract foreign skiers for the first time in two years and also prevent coronavirus outbreaks.

The conservative-led government outlined the rules for the coming season at a news conference that underlined the importance of reviving tourism, which directly contributes about 5% of economic output in Austria.

The new rules stop short of requiring all skiers to be vaccinated and left many details unclear even though public frustration over confusing coronavirus rules has grown.

“This year there will definitely be winter holidays in Austria,” the tourism minister Elisabeth Koestinger said. “We have developed strict rules for a safe winter.”

Updated at 11.02am EDT

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown has criticised western governments for an “unconscionable” over-purchasing of Covid vaccines.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme today that “because of over-ordering and over-purchasing, we have about 300m vaccines this month that should be available to get to the rest of the world”.

Brown, who is an ambassador for global health financing for the World Health Organization, described the situation as morally wrong, saying: ‘”What’s really unconscionable is that, when we have this surplus of stocks available, the distribution is so inequable.

“We’ve really got a world that is divided between the vaccine-rich and the vaccine-poor.”

Updated at 11.03am EDT

The British government is being urged to help thousands of people who took part in Covid-19 vaccine trials who cannot prove their vaccination status.

About 15,000 Britons took part in the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial. The vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the UK and trial participants have described being “trapped” and “in limbo” because they are unable to get a licensed Covid-19 vaccine. This means they can’t travel abroad.

Retiree Gill Ince, who participated in the trial in September 2020, said she felt like she was “living in limbo”. The 61-year-old, from Oxfordshire said to PA Media: “I stepped forward early in the pandemic to participate in a vaccine trial. I wanted to do my bit to fight Covid but I feel utterly betrayed by the system and I’m trapped without any vaccination status.

“I was given reassurances that I would not be disadvantaged in any way at a later date. We have no idea if, where or when Novavax will be approved so now we are living in limbo.

“It’s incredibly stressful and I feel like a prisoner.”

A petition has been launched on change.org calling for help from the health secretary Sajid Javid.

The petition, launched by the Novavax UK Concerned Participants Group, states that UK volunteers are “significantly disadvantaged” because they face barriers to travel and are unable to get another Covid-19 vaccine.

“We call on the ministers to rectify the situation immediately so that Novavax volunteers can travel as freely as other vaccinated people,” the petition states.

On Sunday the Observer reported that England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam suggested to the government that the UK withhold clinical trial data if vaccine trial participants were not being allowed into European countries.

A government spokesperson said: “Volunteers in formally approved Covid-19 vaccine trials in the UK should not be disadvantaged in relation to vaccine certification policies, and we are committed to taking action on this issue.

Updated at 11.04am EDT

The UK will return to ”the normal world of travel” for those who are fully vaccinated, transport secretary Grant Shapps has said, according to PA Media.

Airlines and airports have been arguing in recent weeks – as well as throughout the pandemic – that the government’s continuing quarantine and testing rules are damaging their industry.

Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind cities including Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

Asked if the sector would recover, Shapps replied: “It will. Absolutely.”

He added that the UK would “not only get flying again”, but was also “leading on decarbonising aviation as well, which is a huge challenge”.

The cabinet minister said new rules for international travel announced last week would bring the UK towards “the more normal world of travel, which is that when you’re fully vaccinated you will be able to travel”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson and new foreign secretary Liz Truss are meeting US president Joe Biden and will be asking him to lift the ban on travel from the UK to the US.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to get to a situation where Brits are able to travel to one of our closest partners in the world, and the Prime Minister will be making it very, very clear that travel to and from the UK is safe.

He added that “there’ll be no need to bang any tables to get the point across”.

Updated at 9.29am EDT

Vulnerable adults had less benefit from the Covid vaccine and could benefit from a booster jab, Scottish study finds

The study, from Public Health Scotland and the University of Edinburgh found that individuals who were shielding – so were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable – were only 66% protected against severe illness after two vaccine doses, compared with 93% protection in those without any high-risk conditions.

Prof Helen Colhoun, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is clear that getting vaccinated with two doses is an effective way of reducing the risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19.

“However, our study did show that people who were previously asked to shield as a result of being clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 did have lower protection after two doses than those without their conditions.

“We found that out of over 3.5 million people who have had two vaccine doses in Scotland up to 2 September 2021, there were just 330 cases of severe Covid-19. Almost half of these are in people designated as extremely vulnerable and most of the remainder have been in people with moderate risk conditions.

“The fact that we see an increase in protection from the first to the second dose gives hope that a third dose might increase protection further.”

Updated at 9.30am EDT

Schoolchildren in England have been talking about how it feels to be first in the 12 to 15 age group to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations begin in that age group today for some of the 3 million eligible young people. Quinn Foakes, 15, was given the Pfizer vaccination at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Monday as the programme began.

Quinn said: “I was nervous at first but in the long run it’s going to be good because I can keep safe near my family and with my grandparents.

His mother Janine Lilleker, 44, who is a teacher at the school, said: “Their education has been hindered since Covid and by getting their vaccination done it’s a way of them protecting themselves and also protecting the wider community of the school.

The vaccine is expected to be delivered primarily within schools, and guidance has been issued to headteachers to contact police if they believe protests could be held outside their buildings. Jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, as is the case with the flu and HPV vaccines.

Johan Zweistra, the school’s vice principal, said there had been “significant uptake” by children.

He said the school has put two days aside for vaccinations and that they hope to get the majority of jabs done in that time.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “The vaccine is safe and effective and I would urge families to work closely with their schools based vaccination team to get their loved ones vaccinated when they are invited to protect themselves and their families ahead of the winter period.”

The rollout for 12- to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.

There has been controversy around jabbing this age group, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation saying they could not on balance recommend the Covid vaccine for young teenagers. They cited the low risk posed by Covid to this group and the tiny risk of adverse reactions.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty then gave the go-ahead, based on the wider protections such as schools staying open that the vaccines would provide to society and young people.

Updated at 9.31am EDT

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