Booster jabs 70 to 75 per cent effective against omicron – live

UK: Omicron Spreading Quickly; Time To Work From Home Again

Coronavirus booster vaccines are 70 to 75 per cent effective against symptomatic infection from the new omicron variant, early analysis by the UK Health Security Agency has suggested – with protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death expected to be significantly higher.

Downing Street had earlier said that while it would impose tougher coronavirus measures in England “if necessary”, it did not currently plan to do so, amid reports that officials have drawn up contingency measures including the return of table service in pubs and increased mask-wearing, dubbed “plan C”.

Meanwhile, a further 58,194 new Covid infections were reported on Friday – the highest daily leap in infections since 9 January, as Nicola Sturgeon warned of a “tsunami” of omicron infections in Scotland, where the new variant will likely become dominant in “days, not weeks”.

“Given the volume of people who could be infected by omicron because of its greater transmissibility, even if most of those cases are mild, the number of cases of serious illness will put massive strain on the ability of the NHS to cope,” Scotland’s first minister said.


Pandemic ‘is not going to go on forever’, NI health minister says

Stating that new Covid restrictions are not inevitable for Northern Ireland in January, the region’s health minister assured the public that the Covid-19 pandemic is not going to last forever.

“It is not going to go on forever. We know how we can get these different waves under control, we know what we need to do,” Robin Swann said. “This time last year we had just started using the vaccine, we had just produced a vaccine that was able to be used in the general public.

“Now we have over three million deployed in Northern Ireland alone, we have over half a million third doses and boosters deployed here. We also have to rely on people’s hope and goodwill and their ability to come together to tackle this pandemic and we will get there.”

He added: “In regards to Omicron, we are watching what is happening across the rest of the world but also in England and Scotland in regards to the veracity, the ability of transmit, but also how that translates into hospitalisations as well.

“Until we see what is actually in front of us we will take each day as it comes.”

Andy Gregory10 December 2021 17:45


Daily cases will reach one million by end of month on current trajectory, UKHSA says

In a briefing on the results of research into the omicron variant, the UK Health Security Agency said if current trends continue unchanged, the UK will exceed one million daily infections by the end of the month.

Its analysis of 581 people with confirmed omicron cases showed the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines provided “much lower” levels of protection compared with the delta variant, but that vaccine effectiveness “considerably increased” in the early period after a booster dose, providing around 70 to 75 per cent protection against symptomatic infection.

Andy Gregory10 December 2021 17:31


Breaking: Covid booster jab up to 75 per cent effective against omicron, UK analysis suggests

Early government analysis indicates that Covid booster jabs are 70 to 75 per cent effective against symptomatic infection from the new omicron variant, our science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports.

Protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death after a third dose is expected to be higher, according to scientists from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Omicron is transmitting more effectively than delta and is expected to be become the dominant variant by next week, at which point it will account for more than 50 per cent of all infections, the UKHSA said.

You can refresh this breaking report below for more updates:

Andy Gregory10 December 2021 17:00


A further 469,479 booster and third doses of Covid vaccines have been administered across the UK in the latest 24-hour period.

This brings the total to 21.7 million.

Andy Gregory10 December 2021 16:44


Breaking: UK reports nearly 60,000 new Covid cases

The UK has recorded 58,194 new coronavirus cases, the latest official figures show – the highest daily leap in infections since 9 January.

A further 120 people were also reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 171,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Andy Gregory10 December 2021 16:35


Government site giving over-40s wrong info on booster jab timing

The government’s website is wrongly telling people to wait six months for Covid booster jab after the minimum wait period was halved last month, writes science correspondent Samuel Lovett.

The website is incorrectly informing over-40s that they need to wait at least six months after their second jab to receive a booster.

The UK’s vaccination watchdog, the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), announced at the end of last month that booster doses should be offered at a minimum of three months after the second vaccine dose.

The emergence of the omicron variant pushed the JCVI to shorten the waiting period.

Lamiat Sabin10 December 2021 16:15


Indoor mask mandate in New York City until January 15

People in New York will have to wear masks indoors from Monday unless the businesses or venues implement a Covid vaccine requirement.

New York governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement today based on the state’s weekly seven-day case rate, as well as the increasing number of hospitalisations.

The mask mandate applies to both customers and staff and will be in effect from 13 December to 15 January before the rule is reviewed.

Ms Hochul said in a press release: “As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy.

“The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season.”

Several states already have mask mandates, including Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico.

Lamiat Sabin10 December 2021 16:00


Business sector asks chancellor for rate or VAT cut over Covid rules

Business leaders have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to offer rates relief or to temporarily cut VAT to 5 per cent to mitigate the “impending damage” to economic recovery caused by the partial return of Covid restrictions.

In an open letter, the British Chambers of Commerce says it is concerned about the financial effects of the ‘Plan B’ rules introduced this week that limit access to large events and will see millions of Britons working from home during the Christmas period.

Full story here by Grace Almond

Lamiat Sabin10 December 2021 15:40


Wales to review Covid guidance every week in coldest months

The Welsh Government will review its coronavirus guidance on a weekly basis over winter.

It will be shifting away from the current three-week cycle in response to the threat from the omicron variant.

First Minister Mark Drakeford warned the public to prepare for the number of omicron cases to rise “quickly and steeply” over the coming weeks.

Speaking at a press conference today, he said: “We don’t yet know how serious this form of the illness will be, but the sheer speed at which the variant moves means it has the potential to infect large numbers of people.”

He continued: “That would then translate to a large number of hospital admissions over the next month just at the time the NHS is already under severe and intense pressure.”

So far, one million people in Wales have had their booster jab, and the Welsh Government are to offer a third dose to everyone over 18 by the end of January.

The Welsh Government said on Thursday evening that despite omicron, the alert level remains at 0.

Lamiat Sabin10 December 2021 15:20


No 10 mooting stricter Covid rules if needed to tackle omicron

Downing Street has said that it will bring in stricter Covid regularions if the omicron variant is found to be more dangerous and widespread than initially thought.

But No 10 did not detail what the rules would include.

Today, additional measures such as mandatory wearing of masks in some indoor settings and guidance to work from home have returned in England.

It comes after it was reported that contingency measures, dubbed a ‘plan C’, have been drawn up by officials.

The plan C rules for England are thought to include the return of table service in pubs and mask-wearing in more settings.

The full report here by deputy political editor Rob Merrick

Lamiat Sabin10 December 2021 14:50

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