Covid vaccine news latest – UK to give away MILLIONS of surplus jabs to poor countries as Britain leads global fightback

BRITAIN will give away millions of doses of surplus coronavirus vaccine to poor countries, the government will reveal today.

As we lead the world in terms of vaccine rollout and with many countries desperately lacking resources to vaccinate their own populations, the UK will step in to help save millions of lives around the world.

As well as being a charitable act, the move isn't entirely selfless for two main reasons – the first being the widely held view that in our highly globalised world, nobody is really safe from covid until everybody is.

And it will also ease growing fears of Chinese vaccine colonialism, as Beijing looks to grab even more power around the world by forcinggrateful countries under their political influence.

The news comes a Brits as young as 40 could be offered a Covid jab within weeks in a move that could step-up pressure on the Government to lift the lockdown, according to reports. 

Government advisers are set to urge the next phase of the vaccine rollout to continue on the basis of age — rather than prioritising key workers, reports the Daily Mail.

This development would be a huge boost for the UK's vaccine programme at the same time adding pressure on ministers to ease the lockdown sooner.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest UK politics news

  • Alice Fuller

    CONTINUED

    Sadiq Khan told LBC: "I think it is really important. I know all of us are frustrated and want to get out of this lockdown as soon as possible.

    "But we learnt the lessons of the mistakes made in the past and I will give you some stats which give you an idea of the scale of the challenge we face.

    "Back in June last year when the Prime Minister announced that we would be coming out of lockdown, when you compare the numbers of people in hospital versus now, at the moment as I speak to you we have six times as many more people in hospital now than last June when lockdown was eased.

    "We have eight times as many people on ventilators in London now than last June and I'm afraid the really sad news, 15 times as many deaths.

    "So what I'd hope the PM would do is learn the lessons of the mistakes made in the past and when he announces the roadmap on Monday, make sure he follows the data and the science rather than the shouting and hectoring from his backbench MPs."

  • Alice Fuller

    KHAN URGES PM TO LEARN LESSONS OF PAST MISTAKES

    Sadiq Khan has demanded that Boris Johnson ignores the pleas of business chiefs and Tory MPs to swiftly end the lockdown.

    The Mayor of London insisted the PM must dismiss "shouting and hectoring" from his backbenchers who want a rapid rolling back of restrictions.

    He insisted that he is "as impatient as the next person" to end the curbs but that No 10 must "learn the lessons of the mistakes made in the past".

    And he warned the number of people in hospital, which is six times higher than when the last lockdown was eased in June, shows now is not the time to drop restrictions too quickly.

  • Alice Fuller

    MP JAMES CLEVERLY REVEALS FAMILY COVID LOSS

    Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has revealed he has lost a cousin to coronavirus.

    Speaking to LBC this morning, he also urged BAME communities to get the vaccine.

  • Alice Fuller

    'NOT PRACTICAL TO ELIMINATE COVID'

    Professor Adam Finn told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "living with the disease does involve quite a lot of effort – you can't just live with it and let it rip".

    Prof Ferguson, who said he had not yet booked a holiday, added: "I don't think it's practical to eliminate (Covid), we would be isolating ourselves forevermore.

    "We're not going to eliminate globally so we won't eliminate here. I would like to see this virus become like influenza and managed in similar ways.

    "And I think the one thing this pandemic has generated is a whole new generation of vaccines which frankly are much more effective than the influenza vaccines we typically use year to year.

    "And so I think long-term we do have very promising prospects for pulling down the burden of disease, the mortality caused by this virus, quite dramatically."

  • Alice Fuller

    BACK TO SCHOOL IN WALES CONFIRMED

    All primary school children in Wales will return to face-to-face teaching from mid-March provided the coronavirus situation in the country “continues to improve”, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

    Mr Drakeford confirmed to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that children in the foundation phase of Welsh education – pupils aged between three and seven – would return to primary schools from Monday.

    “I’ll be saying today that on Monday March 15, provided things continue to improve, all primary school children will be back in face-to-face education and those students in secondary schools who are facing examinations, we aim to get them back in the classroom as well,” Mr Drakeford said.

    “And then we will carefully review as part of our deal with our teaching unions and local education authorities.

    “We take a step, we collect the evidence, we decide what to do next.”

  • Alice Fuller

    A MATTER OF TRUSS

    Liz Truss is set to urge EU chiefs to join Britain in taking a tough line over China's "appalling behaviour" on the world stage.

    The Trade Secretary will travel to Brussels today for talks with top eurocrat Valdis Dombrovskis about a stricter approach towards Beijing.

    She wants the UK to act as the lynchpin in a three-way alliance with the US and the EU that will force China to act more responsibly.

    A Whitehall source said Ms Truss wants to "work hand-in-glove" with Europe on global trade "including tackling China’s appalling behaviour".

    They told The Sun: "Liz sees a role for Britain as great arbiters and power brokers, using our influence to bring the likes of the EU and US together to sort out the big knotty issues facing world trade."

  • Alice Fuller

    DISADVANTAGED FAMILIES MAY SHUN SCHOOL RETURN

    Think-tank IFS warns ministers need to think about how kids are coaxed back to the classroom, as disadvantaged families will often shun a voluntary return.

    They also warn selecting year groups to head back to class also increases inequality.

    Christine Farquharson, a Senior Research Economist at IFS, said: "Prioritising certain year groups widens the gaps between children of different ages.

    “A voluntary return to school from 8 March risks widening inequalities further if the poorest children stay home while their better-off peers choose to return to the classroom."

  • Alice Fuller

    SCHOOLS REOPENING WILL HAVE 'MINOR EFFECT' ON R RATE

    Schools reopening for all pupils will only slightly bump infections next month, a report shows.

    The Legatum Institute think tank says getting all kids back on March 8 will only see 789 admissions to hospital.

    This is based on Sage scientist estimates the R rate will increase by 0.2 to 0.5 when classrooms reopen.

    Legatum Institute boss Baroness Philippa Stroud said: "Policy makers are now faced with an unenviable task of making choices on how to unwind restrictions in a way that balances significant health, economic, and social costs and benefits."

  • Alice Fuller

    PM'S STANDBY STUDIO NOT USED

    Boris Johnson spent £2.7million of taxpayers’ cash on a White House-style TV studio, The Sun revealed.

    The revamped 10 Downing Street briefing room is modelled on Washington’s West Wing.

    It was due to host on-camera briefings from spinners and ministers but it is yet to be used.

    Downing Street declined to comment on the hefty bill last night.

  • Alice Fuller

    'MINISTERS MUST ALLOW CARE HOME VISITS'

    Tory MP Harriett Baldwin MP has urged ministers to allow care home visits after months in isolation.

    She said: “We must follow the science and believe in vaccines – not only their ability to protect us from Covid, but to release us from these devastating lockdowns and restrictions too.

    “Elderly care home residents haven’t been able to see their loved ones for almost a whole year, and three weeks from the end of January is 22nd February.

    “If care homes are not starting to open to visitors, in a cautious and safe way, from Monday, ministers need to explain why not so that the public can retain their confidence in the way we are handling the pandemic.”

  • Alice Fuller

    'STOP LONELINESS'

    Boris Johnson is being urged to give the green light to care home visits next week in a new campaign.

    After the success of the vaccine rollout, a new group – Believe In Vaccine – is launching to push the PM into allowing residents in care to be able to see loved ones again.

    They argue that trips to care homes are now safe after all residents were vaccinated and are calling for the ministers to start allowing care home visits, in a cautious and safe way.

    Ian Turner, Executive Chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association said: "Now that they have been protected from Covid-19 it is vital we also protect them from the more imminent threats of loneliness, growing anguish, and deteriorating mental health."

  • Alice Fuller

    GORDON RAMSAY PUSHES FOR FURLOUGH EXTENSION

    Chef Gordon Ramsay has heaped pressure on Rishi Sunak to extend the VAT holiday and furlough for struggling hospitality businesses at his Budget.

    The Hell’s Kitchen star sat down with the Chancellor this week to warn the schemes have been a “massive boost” and “pivotal” to supporting restaurants, bars and pubs during the pandemic.

    The Michelin starred chef, who employs around 600 people in the UK and thousands more around the world, told Mr Sunak that his interventions has been “instrumental in maintaining some positivity” across the hammered sector.

    He added: “I think we've been given one of the most incredible support systems from the furlough scheme, which was instrumental in maintaining some positivity. I think you delivered beyond.

    “But the downside for me is that we have lost some really good restaurants that were good, but sadly, there are going to be casualties.”

  • Alice Fuller

    ‘ONE MORE HEAVE’ ADVERTISING BLITZ

    Boris Johnson’s restrictions-lifting roadmap will be accompanied by an advertising blitz urging “one more heave” of lockdown.

    The Government is currently spending millions on a Covid public awareness campaign designed to shock people into staying at home.

    But ahead of the first restrictions easing on March 8, a new softer message will be deployed as more freedoms are restored.

    A source said: “As we wait for the vaccine rollout to reach everyone, it’s essential that the rules are not ignored at the final stretch.

    “The adverts will urge one more heave to get the country over the line.”

  • Alice Fuller

    MP URGES CHANCELLOR NOT TO HIKE FUEL TAX

    Tory MP Robert Halfon also urged the Chancellor not to increase the tax.

    He said: “Motorists and businesses have already been hit hard at the pumps and the last thing the government want to do is damage drivers and businesses by jacking up fuel duty.

    “There is just no case to answer.

    "Every way you look at it motorists are being hit by rising fuel costs."

    If wholesale prices soar to $100 a barrel – which banks say is possible next year – petrol and diesel could hit records of 143p and 148p respectively.

  • Alice Fuller

    FUEL COSTS SOARED SINCE DECEMBER

    Fuel costs have soared by £4 a tank since December as the average pump price nears 122p.

    It has heaped pressure on Rishi Sunak not to hike fuel duty at the Budget, which the RAC said would hit drivers hard.

    The RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “With the Chancellor’s Budget now less than two weeks away, the last thing drivers, and possibly the economy, need is a fuel duty increase – not least as petrol prices have now been rising for 13 consecutive weeks.

    “A hike in duty at a time of rising fuel prices could put unprecedented pressure on lower-income households and might have the negative effect of forcing everyone who depends on their cars to consider cutting back on other spending.”

  • Alice Fuller

    UK DEBT

    Government borrowing jumped to £8.8 billion last month as the country’s debt soared to another record high, according to official figures.

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it was the first January deficit in a decade and highest borrowing figure for the month since 1993.

    Public sector net debt has now risen by £316.4 billion over the 10 months since the start of April, following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Abe Hawken

    BACK TO SCHOOL

    All primary school children in Wales will return to face-to-face teaching from mid-March provided the coronavirus situation in the country “continues to improve”, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

    Mr Drakeford confirmed to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that children in the foundation phase of Welsh education – pupils aged between three and seven – would return to primary schools from Monday.

    “I’ll be saying today that on Monday March 15, provided things continue to improve, all primary school children will be back in face-to-face education and those students in secondary schools who are facing examinations, we aim to get them back in the classroom as well,” Mr Drakeford said.

  • Abe Hawken

    AGE PRIORITY

    Age should be the dominant factor in deciding the next phase of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, the head of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

    Professor Wei Shen Lim told an online audience of doctors that age “dominates by a long way” while underlying health conditions contribute “some increased risk”, the Daily Telegraph reports.

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that the Government is set to recommend the next phase of the UK’s vaccine programme continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers.

  • Abe Hawken

    COVID FIGHT

    Boris Johnson will pledge to donate the majority of surplus coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations as he tries to rally world leaders to work together on efforts to combat the pandemic.

    The Prime Minister will chair a virtual gathering of G7 leaders on Friday, including US President Joe Biden in his first major multilateral meeting, to discuss the response to the crisis.

    Mr Johnson will also urge them to back an ambitious target of supporting the development of vaccines for emerging diseases in 100 days in future, a third of the time it took to successfully develop the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

  • Patrick Knox

    ALMOST FIFTH OF 80-AND-OVERS IN LONDON NOT HAD FIRST JAB BY SUNDAY

    Nearly one in five people aged 80 and over in London were yet to have their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine at the start of this week, new figures suggest.

    An estimated 81.2 per cent of those aged 80 and over in the capital had received their first jab up to February 14, according to provisional figures from NHS England.

    This is the lowest proportion for any region.

    The estimate for the whole of England is 93.4 per cent.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on February 14 that everyone in England in the top four priority groups, including those aged 80 and over, had been offered the vaccine.

    The Department of Health said many people will have booked their appointments for this week or a future date convenient to them and that the statistics in the weeks going forward will provide a clearer picture.

  • Patrick Knox

    KEIR STARMER ANNOUNCES RECOVERY BOND PLAN 

    In response to the Bank of England suggesting the "vast majority of savings built up during the pandemic won't be spent", Sir Keir Starmer said: "If I were prime minister, I would introduce a new British recovery bond.

    "This could raise billions to invest in local communities, jobs and businesses. It could help build the infrastructure of the future – investing in science, skills, technology and British manufacturing.

    "It would also provide security for savers and give millions of people a proper stake in Britain's future."

    It would be similar to the NS&I premium bonds, Labour said, though the money would go directly to the coronavirus recovery – potentially raising "billions" of pounds.

  • Patrick Knox

    BORIS JOHNSON TO MAKE VACCINES PLEDGE AS HE HOSTS G7 MEETING

    The PM will pledge to donate the majority of surplus coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations as he tries to rally world leaders to work together on efforts to combat the pandemic.

    The Prime Minister will chair a virtual gathering of G7 leaders on Friday, including US President Joe Biden in his first major multilateral meeting, to discuss the response to the crisis.

    Mr Johnson will also urge them to back an ambitious target of supporting the development of vaccines for emerging diseases in 100 days in the future, a third of the time it took to successfully develop the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

    The Prime Minister will use the meeting to confirm that the UK will share the majority of its surplus Covid-19 vaccines with the international Covax initiative to support developing countries.

    He will urge the G7, made up of the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, France and Italy along with the UK, to increase funding for Covax.

  • Patrick Knox

    THE SUN SAYS…

    If Boris Johnson is looking at data, rather than dates, before deciding the road map to recovery then yesterday’s figures should have him thinking about lifting restrictions sooner rather than later.

    Britain’s biggest virus survey has found Covid infections have dropped even faster than the scientists could have hoped for.

    Meanwhile, Covid deaths have fallen by more than 25 per cent in a week.

    The Prime Minister is right to remain cautious because this lockdown must be the very last, but it is clearly working and if the vaccine is as effective as expected we will finally be winning the war on the virus.

  • Patrick Knox

    GORDON RAMSAY TURNS UP HEAT ON RISHI SUNAK

    As revealed in The Sun, The Hell’s Kitchen star sat down with the Chancellor this week to warn the schemes have been a “massive boost” and “pivotal” to supporting restaurants, bars and pubs during the pandemic.

    Mr Sunak slashed VAT for the pub and restaurant trade to five per cent to help it survive the pandemic – but that measure is due to end on March 31.

    There are fears that he will not extend the measure as he attempts to fill the financial black-hole sparked by Covid.

    But The Sun is calling for VAT to be kept low in next month’s Budget as it has been such a lifeline.

    The Michelin starred chef, who employs around 600 people in the UK and thousands more around the world, told Mr Sunak that his interventions has been “instrumental in maintaining some positivity” across the hammered sector.

  • Patrick Knox

    PM’S JAB PLEDGE TO POORER COUNTRIES

    Boris Johnson will pledge to donate the majority of surplus coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations as he tries to rally world leaders to work together on efforts to combat the pandemic.

    The Prime Minister will chair a virtual gathering of G7 leaders on Friday, including US President Joe Biden in his first major multilateral meeting, to discuss the response to the crisis.

    He will use the meeting to confirm that the UK will share the majority of its surplus Covid-19 vaccines with the international Covax initiative to support developing countries.

    The PM will urge the G7, made up of the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, France and Italy along with the UK, to increase funding for Covax.

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