Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced several measures to support people affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. Much of Wednesday's budget (summed up here ) focused on the pandemic, with some schemes being extended and some new ones introduced to the tune of an extra £65 billion, bringing the total spend on COVID-19 since March 2020 into the next financial year to £407bn. Here are all the COVID -related announcements: Furlough Mr Sunak has extended the furlough scheme to 30 September. It was due to expire at the end of April after starting last March when the crisis began. Wages for millions who are unable to work due to the restrictions will continue to have up to 80% of their salary subsidised by the government, with a maximum of £2,500 a month. This will gradually be lifted, with the government reducing its contribution to 70% from July and employers having to pay 10% for hours not worked. In August and September, the government will pay 60% and employers 20%. … [Read more...] about Budget 2021: What COVID-19 support measures were announced and extended?
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The Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are both highly effective at preventing over-80s from being admitted to hospital, according to a new study. Researchers in Bristol found that 14 days after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, it was 79.3% effective at preventing people in that age group from developing symptomatic illness severe enough to be admitted. For AstraZeneca 's COVID-19 jab, the effectiveness was 80.4%. Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world What EU leaders said about AstraZeneca vaccine - and the data forcing a rethink The study tallies up with the Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Public Health England (PHE) reports released in February and on Monday respectively. Advertisement Professor Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics and chief investigator of the study at the University of Bristol, said his team took a different approach, using a smaller geographical area and … [Read more...] about COVID-19: Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines ‘highly effective’ at preventing hospital admissions in over-80s, study finds
Half of Germans believe the EU has handled the coronavirus vaccine rollout badly , according to a survey released by pollsters Kekst CNC on Wednesday. The poll cited 51% of German respondents saying EU institutions had done a poor job of acquiring jabs, a view shared by 35% of French and 24% of Swedish respondents. German voters say the vaccine rollout has been too slow "In Germany more people now disapprove of the EU than approve of its pandemic response for the first time," the report said. It also found that 46% believed the German government had handled the rollout poorly. "Responsibility is landing on politicians rather than business," the survey found. Kekst CNC conducted the poll last month amid a row between Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the European Commission. The EU executive has taken up the role of negotiating vaccine contracts. Merkel set to extend lockdown The apparent shift in public mood comes as German Chancellor Angela … [Read more...] about Germans unhappy with EU’s handling of vaccine scheme
Here are the key points from Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget speech: • Economy expected to return to pre-COVID levels by the middle of next year, six months earlier than previously thought • GDP growth forecast for this year downgraded to 4% (from 5.5%) according to Office for Budget Responsibility • Unemployment expected to peak at 6.5% • Forecasts show government borrowing reaching £355bn in 2020/21, of 17% of the national income - the highest level since the Second World War. For 2021/22 it climbs to £234bn, 10.3% of GDP. • Debt is set to peak at 97.1% of GDP in 2023-24. • An additional £65bn in spending in response to coronavirus takes total fiscal support to £407bn • £1.6bn will go towards continuing the vaccine roll-out and improving future preparedness • Chancellor confirms furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September, with the government paying 80% of salary though employers will asked to put in 10% from July and 20% from August • Help for … [Read more...] about Budget 2021 key points: What was announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s speech?
Germany's domestic intelligence agency has put the opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under observation on suspicion of extreme far-right sympathies, according to local media. The action by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) comes more than two years after it announced it was examining public comments by party members and links to extremist groups more closely. In January 2019, the agency put the youth wing of AfD as well as the party faction linked to a prominent leader in eastern Germany , Bjoern Hoecke, under covert surveillance over extremism allegations. At the time, the BfV cited the youth organisation's stated goal of creating an ethnically pure country and efforts by Hoecke's faction - known as "The Wing" - to downplay Germany's Nazi history. The Wing has also suggested it might pursue "revolutionary" means to achieve its political aims, warranting scrutiny from the BfV, which is tasked with monitoring all extremist … [Read more...] about Germany’s domestic intelligence agency ‘suspects Alternative for Germany party of far-right sympathies’