Boris Johnson

Coronavirus UK news – AstraZeneca vaccine defended by Boris after ‘clear link to bloodclots’ claim by Euro regulators

BORIS Johnson has defended the AstraZeneca vaccine after Europe rasied more concerns about its rollout.

Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) claimed there was now “clear link” between the jab and blood clots, although he admitted he had zero evidence of what might cause them.

He said that CVSTs – bloodclot-related brain blockages that can cause strokes – were occurring more often than expected in younger people.

But Boris Johnson defended the jabs today during a visit to AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield plant this afternoon.

He said getting the population vaccinated was “the key thing”.

The PM told reporters at AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield plant it was “very important to stress that the best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that’s the key thing and that’s what I would advocate, number one”.

On the prospect of Covid status certification, Mr Johnson said several other countries were also looking at “the role of vaccination passports for overseas travel”, which was “going to be a fact of life, probably”.

His comments come as top experts revealed the UK’s looming third wave of coronavirus simply doesn’t risk overwhelming the NHS like the first two could have done.

Modelling by Imperial College London academics, who have previously provided some of our more ominous forecasts, said even with lockdown measures fully lifted in June, deaths would remain in the double digits.

The low numbers are due to the UK’s brilliant vaccine rollout which means the overwhelming our most vulnerable citizens should have some protection when the third wave does inevitably hit our shores.

While every death is a tragedy, those kind of numbers suggest the NHS would be more than able to cope with the number of increased hospitalisations, meaning lockdown measures are no longer necessary.

Modelling suggests even at the peak of the third wave, covid patients would take up around 5,000 hospital beds across the country – far fewer than the 30,000 beds we saw at the peak of the coronavirus crisis in January.

The modelling comes as the government was blasted for providing a grim vision of the next 12 months in which social distancing, twice-weekly covid testing and mandatory mask wearing could be required.

Scaling back some of his positive messaging around June 21 being “freedom day”, Boris Johnson did insist his lockdown roadmap was still on track at a press conference last night.

But earlier in the day data released by the government suggested the June 21 date could spark a fourth wave of coronavirus in the country by late summer / early Autumn.

The earlier the country unlocks, the worse the fourth wave will be, the report produced by the government’s SAGE advisory panel suggested.

SAGE also suggested social distancing and mask wearing would need to remain in place until this time next year – and said it only had “reasonable confidence’ that Covid will be manageable by spring 2022.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

   

  • SAGE EXPERT URGES BRITS TO CONTINUE GETTING ASTRAZENECA JAB

    Sage adviser Professor Calum Semple urged people to continue accepting Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs after a trial in children was paused while regulators investigate a potential association between the vaccine and a rare form of blood clot.

    He told Channel 4 News: “This has been done out of exceptional caution and the big story still is that for a middle-aged, slightly overweight man, such as myself, my risk of death is one in 13,000 – the risk of this rare clot, which might not even be associated with the vaccine, is probably one in a million.

    “So I’m still going to say it’s better to get the vaccine than not get the vaccine and we can pause and take time to carefully consider the value for children because they’re not at risk of death from Covid.”

    He added: “If you’ve been called for the vaccine then you’re in an age group that is very likely to benefit from the vaccine. So the bottom line is if you’ve been called for the vaccine I would urge you to take the vaccine.”

  • PM URGES PEOPLE TO GET JABBED (CONTINUED…)

    Mr Johnson defended the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as he visited the pharmaceutical giant’s manufacturing plant in Macclesfield.

    “On the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) say, our independent regulator – that’s why we have them, that’s why they are independent,” he said.

    “Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.”

    He added: “The best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that’s the key thing and that’s what I would advocate, number one”.

  • PM URGES PEOPLE TO GET COVID JAB DESPITE CONCERNS OVER POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS

    The Prime Minister has urged people to get their Covid-19 vaccine when invited, after concerns were raised about potential side effects of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

    Boris Johnson said getting the population vaccinated was “the key thing”.

    It comes as regulatory bodies from the UK and Europe are assessing data on the jab and a potential association with a rare form of blood clot.

    And the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that it will also convene a panel of experts to assess the information.

    The WHO and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have confirmed they will publish findings later this week.

  • BATTLE OVER ‘UN-BRITISH’ VACCINE PASSPORTS (CONTINUED…)

    Ministers have ruled out bringing in certification for either the April 12 or May 17 stages of the road map but the documents – either in paper form or on an NHS app – could be introduced later this year.

    Mr Johnson suggested that vaccination passports for overseas travel were “going to be a fact of life” because a lot of countries were looking at the possibility.

    On the domestic front, he indicated “we are also going to look at the role of a number of signals that you can give that you are not contagious”, highlighting the role for mass testing.

    “From Friday, everybody can get free lateral flow tests on the NHS and on the web, over the internet,” he said.

    “I think that will also be very, very valuable in giving people confidence to open up.”

  • BORIS JOHNSON FACES BATTLE OVER ‘UN-BRITISH’ VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Boris Johnson faces a battle to introduce domestic vaccine passports after running into fierce opposition from Tory critics and Labour.

    A Government review into “Covid status certification” found they could “potentially play a role” in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events, and might also be used in pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing restrictions.

    The prospect of having to show a certificate to access shops or bars has outraged members of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservatives, while Labour hit out at the “discriminatory” and “poorly thought-through” proposals.

    The use of certificates – which would include vaccination status, test results or evidence of someone having contracted and recovered from Covid-19 – is opposed by at least 40 Conservative MPs.

    With Labour’s opposition also hardening, the Government would face difficulties in getting the measures through the Commons if Mr Johnson pushed them to a vote.

  • CHART: VACCINATION NUMBERS ACROSS EU MEMBER STATES

    Vaccine centres across Europe have been closing early leaving vaccines unused, despite being in the middle of a third wave

     

  • FEARS OVER CHILDREN’S SAFETY AS LOCKDOWN LIFTS

    Kate Garraway has revealed she’s got “fears” over her children’s safety.

    The GMB presenter was discussing the worry she feels after police found a body in the hunt for Richard Okorogheye.

    Kate said on the ITV breakfast show: “It is a challenge for many parents because they’ve had their children at home and suddenly to let them back out again, it’s a nerve-wracking time.

    “I was talking to mums of teenagers yesterday. We’ve had so many different spectres throughout this – awful attacks, sexual assaults – and suddenly you’re having debates about increasing amounts of freedom, which of course they’re desperate for, and me to have.

    “They have to learn to be good young adults.”

  • EU CLAIMS IT WILL VACCINATE MOST PEOPLE BY JULY – DESPITE EMPTY JAB CENTRES

    THE European Union will vaccinate the majority of the population by the end of JUNE, an internal memo has said.

    The claim comes as jab centres across Europe are left empty as citizens across the bloc refuse the vaccine.

    Citing an internal memo, Bloomberg News reported that Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands would have more than 55% of their populations vaccinated by the end of June.

    The Commission has claimed that the EU, with a population of 450 million, will receive around 260million does by the end of June in addition to 100million jabs that have been already shipped.

    Countries in Europe have been urgently attempting to ramp up what the World Health Organisation branded as an “unacceptably slow” start to its vaccine rollout.

    Read more here.

  • SCOTLAND FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON OPEN MINDED ON VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Nicola Sturgeon said she expects vaccine passports or certification in some form in Scotland and called for a “mature, grown-up debate” about their use.

    The First Minister said she was “open-minded” on the issue of vaccine passports but insisted that there needed to be public support and confidence in the idea.

    Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon warned that a scheme to enable people to prove their vaccine or infection status must not “gloss over the practical and ethical issues”.

    But she said that the Scottish Government should look “very carefully” at the concept of vaccine passports or certification if it could help society return to normal following the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I think we will see some kind of vaccine certification starting to be used,” Ms Sturgeon said.

  • GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • JABS BY JUNE, EU CLAIMS

    The European Union will vaccinate the majority of the population by the end of JUNE, an internal memo has said.

    The claim comes as jab centres across Europe are left empty as citizens across the bloc refuse the vaccine.

    Citing an internal memo, Bloomberg News reported that Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands would have more than 55% of their populations vaccinated by the end of June.

    The Commission has claimed that the EU, with a population of 450 million, will receive around 260million does by the end of June in addition to 100million jabs that have been already shipped.

  • ITALY SEES DEATHS RISE

    Italy has reported 421 coronavirus deaths today – up from 296 the day before.

    Meanwhile the daily tally of new infections fell to 7,767 from 10,680 the day before.

    Large swathes of the country are currently in lockdown following a sharp rise in cases in the past month.

    Credit: EPA
  • EXPERT INSISTS BLOOD CLOT INSTANCES ARE ‘RARE’

    Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol today said that instances of blood clots relating to the Astrazeneca vaccine remain rare.

    He said: “The second is that the vaccines that are available and in use in the UK prevent Covid very effectively.

    “The risks of Covid-19 are real, especially for the middle-aged and elderly people alongside those with medical conditions and occupations in health and social care who are currently being offered first and second vaccine doses.

    “Although numbers of cases are currently falling, making it less likely that people will get infected in the coming days and weeks, as the lockdown is relaxed we can expect transmission rates to go back up again.

    “The risks of death and serious illness from COVID-19 are therefore much greater for all these people than any possible risks due to vaccination.”

  • ‘NO LINK FOR THE MOMENT’ BETWEEN OXFORD JAB & BLOOD CLOTS

    Dr Rogerio Pinto de Sa Gaspar, director of regulation and prequalification at the World Health Organisation, said there is “no link for the moment” between the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

    He told a briefing: “The appraisal that we have for the moment, and this is under consideration by the experts, is that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine is still largely positive.”

    Dr Gaspar added: “For the time being there is no evidence that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine needs to be changed.

    “We know from the data coming from countries like the UK and others that the benefits are really important in terms of reduction of the mortality of populations that are being vaccinated.”

  • COVID CASES FALL

    UK Covid cases have fallen by almost half in a week with 2,379 new infections in the past 24 hours.

    A further 26 deaths were recorded in the last day, bringing the total to 126,862.

    Today’s infection figure is down significantly from this time last week, when 4,040 positive cases were recorded.

    The death rate has also dropped compared to the 56 fatalities reported on March 30.

  • PUPILS TO CONTINUE WEARING MASKS

    Secondary school and college pupils will need to continue wearing face masks in class when they return after the Easter holidays, the Government has said.

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Schools and students have done a great job adapting to Covid-secure guidance and working hard to make sure it doesn’t impact learning.

    “We obviously all want to get back to facemask-free classrooms and we will do this in line with the latest scientific data while balancing the interests of students, teachers and the wider community.”

  • WORLD CUP FINAL STADIUM TRANSFORMS INTO VACCINE CENTRE

    France has started administering shots of the Covid vaccine inside the Stade de France, the national stadium that once hosted soccer’s World Cup final.

    Queues of people snaked around the concourse waiting for their jabs as part of a French bid to speed up its vaccination programme.

    Inside the stadium, a space that in pre-pandemic times hosted conferences and VIP dinners had been fitted out with tents that were being used as cubicles to administer the vaccine.

    Credit: Reuters

     

  • NEW WAVE OF COVID ‘INEVITABLE’

    It is “inevitable” that there will be a new wave of Covid-19 infections, an expert has said.

    Professor Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said face coverings and some sort of social distancing may still be needed if there is a new wave of infections later this year.

    Prof Hunter said: “I think it is inevitable that we will see another wave of infection because that’s how coronavirus behaves.

    “There are other coronaviruses that we’ve been living with for decades and they generally come in waves every two or three years.

    “Vaccines reduce the risk of transmission but they don’t totally prevent transmission.”

  • STURGEON ‘OPEN MINDED’ ABOUT JAB PASSPORTS

    Nicola Sturgeon said she expects vaccine passports or certification in some form in Scotland and called for a “mature, grown-up debate” about their use.

    The First Minister said she was “open-minded” on the issue of vaccine passports but insisted that there needed to be public support and confidence in the idea.

    Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon warned that a scheme to enable people to prove their vaccine or infection status must not “gloss over the practical and ethical issues”.

    But she said that the Scottish Government should look “very carefully” at the concept of vaccine passports or certification if it could help society return to normal following the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I think we will see some kind of vaccine certification starting to be used,” Ms Sturgeon said.

  • LONDON STILL LAGS BEHIND ON JABS

    NHS England data shows a total of 3,788,068 jabs were given to people in London between December 8 and April 5.

    This includes 3,248,123 first doses and 539,945 second doses.

    This compares with 5,207,565 first doses and 761,524 second doses given to people in the Midlands, a total of 5,969,089.

  • MODERNA JAB WILL BE ROLLED OUT IN WEEKS

    The Moderna coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in weeks, one minister has revealed.

    It will be administered to Brits alongside the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and the Pfizer/BioNTech offering.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “It will be in deployment around the third week of April in the NHS and we will get more volume in May as well.

    “And of course more volume of Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca and we have got other vaccines. We have got the Janssen – Johnson and Johnson – vaccine coming through as well.

    “So I am confident that we will be able to meet our target of mid-April offering the vaccine to all over-50s and then end of July offering the vaccine to all adults.”

  • ASTRAZENECA JAB REVIEW EXPECTED THIS WEEK

    Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said the results of the European Medicines Agency’s review of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected on Wednesday.

    She said: “In close contact with @EMA_News on the pharmacovigilance assessment of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Evaluation expected late Wednesday.”

  • SWEDEN SEES CASES RISE SHARPLY

    Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 21,802 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed today.

    The figure compared with 16,427 cases during the corresponding period last week.

    Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours’ but lower than in several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

  • ‘NO REASON TO CHANGE ROAD MAP’, BORIS INSISTS

    Asked about warnings from the Sage scientific advisory panel about a third wave of cases following the easing of lockdown restrictions earmarked for England in May and June, Boris Johnson said there was no reason to deviate from his road map.

    “I just think it’s important we take each step on the road map as it comes and continue to roll out the vaccine, build up our defences, build up the natural resistance of our whole population in the way that we are and then continue to look at the data in the intervals that we’ve set out,” he told reporters.

    “So we are going to see exactly what happens from the April 12 to May 17 openings and thereafter through to June 21.”

    “At the moment, as I look at all the data, I can’t see any reason for us to deviate from the road map that we have set out, we are sticking to it.”

  • FOOTBALL ACE TESTS POSITIVE

    Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Liverpool.

    The 27-year-old, a World Cup winner with France in 2018, was set to start the quarter-final first leg in Spain.

    But Varane will be unavailable for Zinedine Zidane’s side after testing positive for coronavirus on the morning of the match.

    Real said in a statement on their official website: “Real Madrid C. F. informs that our player Raphael Varane tested positive in the COVID-19 test he underwent this morning.”

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