Researchers from Imperial College London who studied 143,000 randomly selected people found that 1.58 per cent were positive for the virus between 6 and 15 January. In London the figure was 2.8 per cent.
They say infection levels may have risen in early January, despite the lockdown beginning on 6 January, because people’s activity increased after the Christmas holiday ended.
The report’s data is more up to date than the government’s daily case figures, the scientists claim, because it does not rely on those being tested developing symptoms.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced that the NHS is vaccinating people against Covid-19 at a rate of 200 jabs each minute, adding that 4.6 million people had now received a total of five million doses.
Scotland records smallest rise in hospitalisations since Christmas
Scotland has recorded the smallest increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations since Christmas.
During the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said 2,004 people are in hospital with the virus, up one in 24 hours, and 161 patients are in intensive care – an increase of five since Wednesday.
Hospital numbers have steadily increased in recent weeks, with the previous smallest figure being on 25 December when a drop of 35 was recorded.
The R number in Scotland – the average number of people infected by each person with Covid-19 – is now estimated to be around 1 and has “probably fallen during the last week”, Mr Swinney added.
Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 13:19
UK vaccines may not be enough to achieve herd immunity, scientists warn
The government’s vaccination programme may not be sufficient to achieve herd immunity in the UK, especially when taking into account the highly transmissible new variant, scientists have warned.
Their findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, are based on a modelling study assessing the effectiveness of the UK-wide rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia said their results indicate that everyone, including children, would need to be inoculated with the “more effective” Pfizer jab for the UK to achieve herd immunity.
The scientists recommend that all health and social care professionals be vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna jabs, both of which have reported around 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials, to prevent patients and vulnerable people from becoming infected.
Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:52
Scotland reports 89 more deaths
Scotland has recorded 89 deaths from coronavirus and 1,636 positive tests in the past 24 hours, deputy first minister John Swinney has said. It brings the death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days to 5,468.
He also said three new walk-in testing centres were opening in Scotland this week. One opened in Paisley on Tuesday, with further sites opening in Dunfermline and Glenrothes later on Thursday.
Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:45
Too soon to say when lockdown will end, says Johnson
It is too early to say when the national lockdown in England will end, Boris Johnson has said, calling yesterday’s fresh record in daily deaths “appalling”.
“I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions,” Mr Johnson said.
A survey known as React-1 suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government says the impact of the new lockdown is not yet reflected in the numbers.
“What we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the React survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas. There’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed,” the PM said.
Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:32
People ‘jumping queue’ for jabs thanks to IT loophole
People who are not yet eligible for the coronavirus vaccine have been able to skip the queue and arrange appointments ahead of those on the priority list using an IT loophole in the online system.
Website links designed to allow the over-70s and healthcare workers in England to book their jabs have been shared on social media, Adam Forrest reveals:
Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:20
Wales records 1,153 new cases
A further 1,153 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 185,035. Public Health Wales reported another 46 deaths, taking the total there since the start of the pandemic to 4,392.
Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:16
Starmer says Williamson has failed as education secretary
Labour leader Keir Starmer has said Gavin Williamson’s promise to give schools two weeks’ notice before reopening was “good news, coming from an education secretary that normally gives them about 24 hours’ notice”.
Mr Starmer told reporters at Labour headquarters that Mr Williamson “has failed as education secretary”, adding: “I think the country has given him an F, I think you would struggle if you went around anywhere in the UK talking about schools to find many people that would give him more than an F.”
Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:59
Health secretary urges ‘caution’ after vaccination as it ‘doesn’t work immediately’
Matt Hancock urged people to be cautious after receiving their Covid-19 vaccine as he underlined that it does not immediately provide protection.
The health secretary underlined it was important that people were aware that they can “still catch coronavirus for several weeks” after being vaccinated.
He said: “When people are vaccinated, they are told essentially the time that it takes and the limit of the effectiveness, especially in that early period, and told very clearly that you have to still follow the rules.
“That’s an important part of this, especially until we can measure the effectiveness of the vaccination programme on transmission. In fact, only yesterday I reviewed the communications that go to people when they’ve been vaccinated and they are very clear and robust.
“It’s important that everybody post-vaccination continues to follow those rules, both to bring the number of cases down because of the impact on transmission and also to protect themselves.”
Mr Hancock added: “The vaccine is the way out but it doesn’t work immediately and people still need to be cautious.”
Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:47
Fire breaks out at site of world’s largest vaccine maker in India, say reports
A “big” fire broke out on Thursday at the site of Serum Institute of India (SII), known as the world’s largest vaccine maker, but it will not affect the ongoing production of the Covid-19 vaccines, according to local media reports.
SII, located in the western Indian city of Pune, is involved in producing coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, which is locally branded as Covishield.
Rituparna Chatterjee and Stuti Mishra have more details on the fire that has broken out at at the site of the Serum Institute of India:
Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:43
Thailand approves AstraZeneca vaccine
Thailand’s drugs regulator has approved AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, a health ministry source told Reuters.
It is the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country.
Thailand’s Matichon newspaper also reported the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, giving the green light for the first inoculations to begin in February.
Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:28