Coronavirus vaccine news live: Latest Covid updates as over 40s offered jab
People aged 40 and over in England are now being invited to book their coronavirus jabs after the NHS began sending text messages on Friday allowing them to arrange their vaccination appointments.
With people aged 42 to 44 having already been texted this week it means 2.5 million more people have been invited for their jab.
The expansion of the vaccine rollout comes as the latest data showed an estimated 91.5 per cent of people aged 45 and over in England had received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine by 25 April, and just over four-in-five aged 70 and over had been given both doses.
Meanwhile, a report said the prime minister will be told that social distancing for large events can be scrapped from June after results from a trial found no spike in cases among those who attended.
Travelling after 17 May explained
After 19 weeks of a complete ban on international leisure travel, from 17 May the government hopes to allow holidays to resume (from England, at least).
Travel correspondent Simon Calder looks at which destinations are likely to make the green list and which ones involve quarantining:
Here is a rundown from an exclusive online event held by The Independent where our expert Simon Calder answered questions about what travel could like as Covid restrictions begin to ease
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 11:26
One in seven did not socially distance over last week, ONS figures show
Around one in seven adults said they did not always or often socially distance while meeting up with others over the last week, figures show.
This rose to 24 per cent of adults aged 16-29, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figure show.
The most common reasons were because they were seeing friends (59 per cent) and family members (47 per cent), the ONS said. Its poll took place between 21 and 25 April as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
In addition, one in ten adults met indoors with someone not from their household or bubble in the last seven days. This has remained relatively stable since January – it was 10 per cent between 20 and 24 January.
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 11:08
Ireland may resume indoor hospital in late July, Taoiseach says
People in Ireland should not expect a return to drinking inside a pub until late July, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers outdoors from early June, while all retail and services will resume in May.
Asked for a timeline about when indoor hospitality will resume, Mr Martin told the Newstalk radio station: “The indoor pint? Certainly not in May or June. It may be possible towards the end of July.”
The Taoiseach said it was possible that international travel could be return in July or August as the EU introduces digital health passes for vaccinated citizens.
Ireland has the strictest rules on travel in the EU, with arrivals from United States, Canada, Belgium, France and Italy made to quarantine in a hotel for up to 14 days.
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 10:49
Culture venues in Belgium reopen in defiance of coronavirus rules
Dozens of theatres, cinemas and other cultural venues in Belgium are reopening their doors in protest of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
Venue owners in the Still Standing For Culture collective said the ban on indoor events, which has been in place for more than six months, shows “an unacceptable inequality of treatment”.
“There is no evidence that culture should take second place to supermarkets, zoos or any other activity that generates social contact,” the group said. “The health situation does not explain why the fate of cultural venues has been systematically ignored for months, nor why new conditions are pulled out of the government’s hat when their reopening is finally discussed.”
Outdoor culture events will begin on 8 May, with a maximum of 50 mask-wearing people attending.
Indoor events with a maximum of 200 attendees may resume in June, the federal government has said, on the condition that infection levels subside sufficiently.
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 10:35
Labour says catch-up scheme ‘failing’ as tuition reaches only 1% of pupils in England
A government catch-up tutoring scheme is “failing to deliver on promises,” Labour says as data shows it has provided tuition to around one per cent of England’s pupils.
The schools minister said on Thursday 110,000 students have started to receive tutoring under the programme, which is designed to help bridge gaps in children’s learning who have been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest available figures from January last year puts England’s school population at 8.89 million.
Labour said this suggests 1.2 per cent of country’s pupils have received tutoring through the National Tutoring Programme to date – months after it was launched.
Read Zoe Tidman’s report here:
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 10:14
Northern Ireland economy minister announces high street voucher scheme
Diane Dodds, Northern Ireland economy minister, has announcing a high street voucher scheme which will be rolled out over the summer.
The initiative will entitle 1.4 million people in Northern Ireland to a prepaid card, which will give them £100 to spend in shops in Northern Ireland.
Announcing the details, Ms Dodds said: “This is a huge investment in the high street, in retail because retail has suffered enormously during the pandemic, and with this almost vicious cycle of lockdowns.”
From BBC Northern Ireland’s business correspondent:
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 09:53
Northern Ireland opens up vaccine programme to 30 to 34-year-olds
Northern Ireland is opening up its vaccine programme to some people aged between 30 and 34.
Most of the available appointments are at the mass vaccination centre in Belfast’s SSE Arena, with bookings opening at 10am on Friday.
Appointments may also become available in community pharmacies.
Robin Swann, the health minister, urged people who were eligible to step forward and take up the “limited number of slots”.
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 09:41
UK to host global vaccine summit
The UK will host a global summit alongside a major scientific coalition aimed at supporting plans to accelerate vaccine development in response to any future pandemics.
Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock have announced that the UK will host a summit in 2022 in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).
It will raise investment from the international community in support of the UK and Cepi’s goal of slashing vaccine development time to 100 days – about a third of the time that it took the world to develop a coronavirus jab.
Dr Richard Hatchett, chief executive of Cepi, said: “The United Kingdom has extraordinary human and institutional resources and an incredible record of scientific accomplishment and innovation.
“We take great pride in partnering with them to begin building a better, safer, more equitable future.”
Tom Batchelor30 April 2021 09:30
Social distancing for events can be scrapped from 21 June, PM to be told
Boris Johnson will reportedly be advised next week that social distancing can be ended for large events from late June.
The advice follows preliminary results from a trial scheme which found that cases did not spike among attendees, The Telegraph reports.
The report, seen by the newspaper, said the social distancing can be scrapped from 21 June as long as other measures including proper ventilation are in place.
Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 09:21
Young people more likely to be affected by rare vaccine clots – MHRA
Younger adults are particularly affected by the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the UK’s medicines regulator has said.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there were 209 cases in the UK of the rare combination of blood clots with low platelet counts following being vaccinated the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, with 41 deaths, up to 21 April.
This is up from 168 cases and 32 deaths the previous week.
New data, published by the MHRA for the first time on Thursday, also gives breakdown the of the jab’s side affects by age.
It shows 23 cases in people aged 18 to 29, 27 in those in their thirties, 30 in people in their forties, 59 in people in their fifties and 57 in those aged 60 and above, with the age not known in the remaining cases.
Around a quarter of the rare blood clots were in people aged under 40, and two-thirds in those under 60, the data shows.
This contrasts to the proportion of people who have been vaccinated, with the latest NHS England data showing that 5.5 million people under 45 had received a first dose by 25 April compared to 22.6 million of those 45 and over.
The MHRA said that the data suggested there is a higher incidence reported in the younger adult age groups and advised that this evidence should be taken into account when considering the use of the vaccine.
Tom Batchelor30 April 2021 09:18