EUROPE has backed away from threats of a vaccine war with the UK after emergency talks with Boris Johnson and EU chiefs.
No 10 and Brussels issued a rare joint statement vowing to work together and strike a deal on jabs supplies.
The bloc is livid with AstraZeneca for providing jabs made in Europe to Britain, but the pharma giant says it is duty-bound because the UK got in first.
In a joint statement issued last night, No 10 and the EU said: "We have been discussing what more we can do to ensure a reciprocally beneficial relationship between the UK and EU of Covid-19.
“We are working on specific steps we can take in the short, medium and long term to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens."
An EU source said: "A win-win means both the UK and EU should share in getting less than anticipated.
“This is what is under discussion. We have to strike an agreement there and I really hope we can manage."
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Alex Winter just now
JABS HUBS ‘PRESS PAUSE’ OVER VACCINE DELAYS
More on that last post.
Bosses at jabs centres in Devon, Kent and Cornwall are among those who say they will "have to pause" because of supply issues.
Over 50s can book their vaccine on the NHS website , where they can choose from more than 1,600 jabbing sites across the country.
And Brits aged 18 and over who are clinically vulnerable can also book now.
Alex Winter 23 minutes ago
‘OVER 50? GET YOUR JAB BOOKED NOW’
One of the big stories of the day is that England’s top doctor is urging over 50s to book their jab before many centres ‘close for weeks’.
Professor Stephen Powis’ plea comes as Britain's looming vaccine supply issues threaten to hamper the country’s jab blitz.
He called on over 50s or any vulnerable adults to book a jab before the NHS stops taking appointments on Monday, the Daily Mail reports.
More in the next post.
Niamh Cavanagh Today, 00:50
FRANCE REPORTS MORE THAN 60,000 CASES ON WEDNESDAY
France reported 65,373 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, more than four times the number of cases officially registered the previous day, health ministry data showed.
The number of deaths due to the COVID-19 disease was up by 248 over the last 24 hours, totalling 93,180, the ministry said.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 23:54
BRAZIL’S ANVISA SAYS JANSSEN FILES FOR EMERGENCY USE OF ITS COVID-19 JAB
Brazil’s federal health regulator Anvisa said on Wednesday that Janssen had filed for emergency use authority for its COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 23:28
NO JAB, NO PINT!
Pubs are to be allowed to ban drinkers who have not had a Covid vaccination.
Punters may have to show proof of a jab or a recent negative test to get a pint.
Boris Johnson told MPs yesterday it "may be up to the landlord" — adding: "The concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us."
But last night Tory MPs slammed the idea of showing "papers for the pub."
Government sources told The Sun that allowing pubs, bars and restaurants to set their own rules was within the scope of a review being led by Michael Gove and due to report back next month.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 23:00
Taylor Swift has donated £36,000 to a mother of five whose husband died of Covid.
The superstar and her mum gave the cash to a GoFundMe appeal set up to support Vickie Quarles and her five children.
Her husband Theodis Ray Quarles, 48, of Memphis, Tennessee, US, died before Christmas, according to the fundraiser.
The huge donation from Taylor, 31, and mum Andrea, 63, meant the GoFundMe page met its $50,000 target in one go.
It has so far raised more than $60,000 (£44,000).
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 22:43
BRAZIL COVID-19 DEATH TOLL PASSES 300,000, HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS
Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 passed the 300,000 mark on Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.
The South American country had 89,992 cases of coronavirus reported in the last 24 hours and 2,009 COVID-19 deaths, the ministry said, one day after reporting a record 3,251 deaths.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 22:01
HOL HATH NO FURY
Summer holidays were today plunged into further doubt as Boris Johnson issued a fresh warning about Europe’s third wave.
It comes as France could be slapped on the UK’s travel red-list – forcing people to quarantine in hotels for ten-day on their return.
The PM told MPs: “I’m afraid we cant rule out tougher measures and we will put them in if necessary”.
On April 5 he will reveal more details of what experts will recommend for after lockdown is lifted – as no final decisions have been made.
But he warned “it’s looking difficult on the continent”.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 21:41
IRELAND’S RISING COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS ‘A DEFINITE CAUSE FOR CONCERN’ – VARADKAR
Ireland’s rising Covid-19 case numbers are “a definite cause for concern”, Leo Varadkar told his party.
A meeting of the Fine Gael on Wednesday night heard that the Government will have to take this into account before any decision on easing restrictions, due on April 5.
Case numbers, hospital admissions, intensive care unit numbers and the progress of the vaccination programme will all be considered before any decision is made, TDs and Senators heard.
The Fine Gael leader said more than 700,000 vaccines have been administered nationwide and more than 10% of the population have received one vaccine.
On plans for lifting restrictions, Mr Varadkar said schools staying open and people’s mental health with some extra freedoms were the current focus, according to sources present at the meeting.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 21:10
Brits desperate for their first pint after lockdown are struggling to get a beer garden table with hundreds of pubs now fully booked for months.
Claims on social media suggest some are selling their pub bookings three weeks before boozers open up their gardens for the first time in months.
Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas from April 12 in phase two of the lockdown easing.
They will then be given the green light to offer indoor seating from May 17, providing specific Covid conditions are met.
Thousands of punters have already booked slots in their locals but one said he called 20 pubs but "none have any space whatsoever".
Sarah Grealish 24th Mar 2021, 20:38
TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL FROM FRANCE
Boris Johnson is considering tougher restrictions on travel from France to prevent the importation of coronavirus variants despite the risks to cross-Channel trade.
The Prime Minister said a balance had to be struck between the need to protect public health and the major disruption that would be caused to the flow of goods including food and medicine.
His comments to MPs came amid concerns about the spread of the South African and Brazilian variants of coronavirus.
Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper said France had 2-3,000 cases of the variants and questioned why it was not on the “red list” of countries from which travel is effectively banned.
She acknowledged that the need for trade would mean quarantine was not appropriate for hauliers but questioned why they were not being tested for coronavirus.
Sarah Grealish 24th Mar 2021, 20:30
NO JAB, NO PINT
Pub landlords could be allowed to require customers to provide proof they are vaccinated against coronavirus, according to Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee that it may be left up to “individual publicans” as to whether they can ask punters for domestic vaccine passports to enter venues.
Ministers are currently reviewing the possibility of introducing a document providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against the virus or tested negative as part of the drive to return to normality.
Combining the two is understood to be one option being considered to avoid discriminating against those who decline the jab for health, or other, reasons.
Sarah Grealish 24th Mar 2021, 20:20
POSSIBLE FURTHER RESTRICTIONS FOR FRANCE
The French government is ready to take tougher measures if current restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus fail, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday.
Last week, France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course.
“We think these measures can help reverse the trend. If this does not happen, we will take tougher measures.
“We still have a few difficult weeks ahead of us,” Veran told the TV show “Quotidien” on the French TMC channel.
Sarah Grealish 24th Mar 2021, 20:15
DESPERATE FOR A JAB
Desperate Irish citizens have been trying to book vaccines in Northern Ireland but are being turned away from jab centres north of the border.
Hundreds of people from Ireland – some travelling from as far as Galway and Dublin – have tried to get vaccinated in the north where availability is much better.
The online vaccination booking system does not require people to provide their home address – but details must be provided on arrival at a centre.
People living in the Republic of Ireland have now been warned to stop booking jabs unless they are registered with a doctor there or have an NHS number, according to RTE .
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 19:45
WHAT IS STEP 1 OF THE NEW ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN?
From March 29, all of England will be in be under Step 1 restrictions.
This means the Rule of Six is back with outdoors gatherings, including in gardens, being permitted.
The rule means six people from two separate households will be allowed to meet up outside.
This also relates to sporting activities outside meaning playing football in a park will only be permitted within the Rule of Six.
However, people can take part in an ‘outdoor sports gathering’ organised by a business – meaning five-a-side football matches on private pitches involving 10 people are permitted while larger games in public parks are not.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 19:32
BBC CREATING COVID-THEMED DATING SHOW FOR PEOPLE WHO FOUND LOVE DURING LOCKDOWN
The Beeb is making a Covid-themed dating show featuring people who found love in lockdown.
It will help them with the nerve-wracking business of introducing them to family and friends, in one fell swoop.
It might lead to some awkward but amusing chats about having bent a few rules to see each other, or ingenious ways couples found to date safely.
I reckon it won't be long before the number of TV shows scuppered by the pandemic will be eclipsed by new, Covid-themed ones.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 19:07
SIGN OF THE TIMES
The grieving family of a World War Two hero have been told he cannot have a flag on his coffin at his funeral – due to coronavirus restrictions.
Major Frank Clark served with the Grenadier Guards and took part in D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle of Arnhem which was immortalised in the film; A Bridge Too Far.
The veteran, who fought in some of the bloodiest battles of WW2, passed away on March 11, at the age of 96.
But when his family came to arrange his funeral service at Southend Crematorium, Essex, they claim the crematorium said it could not grant Major Clark’s dying wish – to have a Union Flag on his coffin.
Major Clark’s family say they were told that people are not allowed to touch the coffin – meaning it would not be possible to lay a flag on top of the coffin.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 18:50
NEARLY HALF OF BRITS COULD QUIT THEIR JOBS AFTER LOCKDOWN IF EMPLOYERS DON’T OFFER FLEXIBLE WORKING
Nearly half of Brits could quit their jobs after lockdown if employers don’t offer them flexible working.
Bosses may face a major ultimatum as restrictions ease, with many workers reluctant to return to the office full time.
New research reveals 47 per cent of employees would likely leave their job if managers don’t offer the option of flexi-working once the pandemic is over.
Many workers (41 per cent) say they would even be willing to take a pay cut to have the option to work from home as and when they choose.
The study, by Envoy and Wakefield Research, also showed that nearly half of people want to work at least some days remotely, believing a mix of time spent in the office and at home would impact them positively.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 18:12
INDIA CLAIMS IT’S SPOTTED A NEW ‘DOUBLE MUTANT’ COVID VARIANT
A new “double mutant” of Covid-19 has been detected in samples in India, health officials have claimed.
Experts in the western state of Maharashtra are now working to understand whether or not it could be more infectious and resistant to vaccines.
It is believed that the variant has two mutations – which is not unusual for coronaviruses.
Viruses mutate all the time – but it is not yet clear if this one will make a difference on how the virus spreads.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 17:50
WOMAN ‘INFECTED WITH UK AND SA COVID VARIANTS AT THE SAME TIME’
An elderly woman is believed to have been infected with both the UK and South African Covid-19 variants, doctors in Austria have claimed.
The 80-year-old patient was admitted to a hospital in the Tyrol area and tested positive for Covid-19.
Local media reported that the woman had contracted both the UK strain of the virus as well as the South African strain.
Being 80-years-old, the woman would have been at the top of the priority list for vaccination – but it is not yet clear if she had been given a dose.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 17:31
Coronavirus deaths have dropped by nearly a third in a week – with another 98 fatalities recorded.
Cases have remained stable with another 5,605 reported today, taking the total to 4,312,908.
The rise in fatalities brings the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 126,382.
Today’s increase in cases is down on the 5,758 reported last Wednesday – and also below the 5,926 infections recorded on March 10.
Fatalities have also decreased from the 141 reported last Wednesday. They are far below the 190 deaths seen a fortnight ago.
Niamh Cavanagh 24th Mar 2021, 17:10
SICK PAY FOR MILLIONS SHIELDING FROM COVID ENDS NEXT WEEK
Sick pay for millions of Brits shielding from Covid ends next week.
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable cohort can emerge back into the world from March 31 – after spending weeks at home with very limited contact.
The payments for those unable to stay working and stay safe will end when the shielding period comes to a close next week.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson confirmed: “From 1 April CEV individuals are able to return to the workplace if they cannot work from home and as such, they will not be eligible for SSP on the basis of being advised to shield. Statutory Sick Pay remains available to those who are self-isolating because of coronavirus and is payable from the first day of work missed.”
Debbie White 24th Mar 2021, 17:01
FRANCE COULD BE PUT ON UK’S ‘RED LIST’
The PM said today that France could be put on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel.
Boris Johnson has indicated tougher curbs could be placed on movement from France due to concerns about importing coronavirus variants, even though he acknowledged that would cause disruption to cross-Channel trade.
Under questioning from Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper, Mr Johnson said there were currently exemptions for hauliers “the people involved in bringing in, for instance, medicines or food to the UK” and then quickly return to France.
“There is an issue about whether we decide to apply more stringent measures to them, with the delays that that would entail and the knock-on effects that would entail.
“We are certainly looking at that but people should be under no illusions that it would have consequences.”
Debbie White 24th Mar 2021, 16:55
PFIZER COMMENTS ON EU COVID JAB ROW
Pfizer is “deeply concerned by any legislation that threatens our ability to manufacture in, or export from, the European Union,” says a spokeswoman.
Responding to the EU’s threats on vaccines, she added: “Pfizer is currently assessing the full implications of the European Commission’s revised transparency and authorisation mechanism for the exports of Covid-19 vaccines.
“We have been clear and consistent with all stakeholders that the free movement of goods and supply across borders is absolutely critical to Pfizer and the patients we serve, particularly during this devastating global pandemic.
“We have an agreement with the European Commission to deliver 500million doses by the end of 2021 and an option for a further 100million doses.
“Based on current projections, we believe that we can deliver more than two billion doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine worldwide by the end of 2021.”
Debbie White 24th Mar 2021, 16:52
CORONAVIRUS VACCINE HESITANCY COULD LEAD TO THOUSANDS OF EXTRA DEATHS – REPORT
Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy could lead to thousands of extra deaths over a two-year period, new research has suggested.
Experts say high numbers of people refusing to take the jab could increase the mortality rate by up to eight times compared with ideal vaccination uptake when Covid restrictions are relaxed.
Daniela Olivera Mesa, of Imperial College London, said: “Getting vaccinated is an individual choice, however this choice has social consequences.”
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