As things stand, less than one in four of the under-30s will have full vaccine protection on 19 July. Many younger groups have only recently become eligible for vaccines, so have not been able to get a second dose.
Older age groups were jabbed first, so have much higher rates of vaccination. However, even in groups that have been eligible for vaccines for months, there remains a proportion of people who are not fully vaccinated. This is lowest among the over-70s: only 6% of those aged 70-79 in England have not had both doses. However, for 50- to 54-year-olds, who have been eligible for vaccines since mid-March, the number not fully vaccinated stands at 19%.
It’s packed full of charts setting out exactly where we are as England embarks on this grand experiment. Read it in full here.
No matter who you are, or what sports you enjoy, the Olympics remains the greatest show on earth. It’s bigger than anything in football. Bigger than anything in any other sport. And, while I know there are many who don’t feel it is right that Tokyo 2020 is taking place during a global pandemic, I respectfully disagree and can’t wait for the Games to get under way.
Let me try to explain why. It’s about wanting the best athletes in the world to have the opportunity to display their talents on the biggest stage of all, so they can provide a better life for themselves and their families.
It’s about those 70% of athletes for whom Tokyo will be the only Games of their careers, fulfilling their childhood dreams, and hopefully inspire the next generation to do the same.
In the UK, Labour’s opposition shadow secretary for health Jon Ashworth has been suggesting that there is not going to be an easy ride when parliament convenes later from the government over the weekend’s self-isolation U-turn shenanigans.
Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadim Zahawi is still going in to bat to defend it …
Tokyo 2020 Olympics sponsor Toyota will not run Games-related TV commercials amid lacklustre public support for the Olympics, with two-thirds of Japanese doubting organisers can keep the Games safe during the Covid pandemic, according to a local media poll.
The CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, and other executives will not attend the opening ceremony, the company said on Monday.
“It is true that Toyota will not be attending the opening ceremony, and the decision was made considering various factors including no spectators,” Reuters quotes a spokesperson saying.
“We will not be airing any commercials related to the Games in Japan,” she added.
Sixty Japanese corporations who have paid more than $3bn for sponsorship rights to the postponed 2020 Olympics and now face a dilemma of whether or not to tie their brands to an event that has so far failed to win strong public backing.
BBC to screen Laura Kuenssberg interview with Dominic Cummings tomorrow
Advanced warning that you may need to get some popcorn in.
A huge media focus at the moment on asking representatives from the business world to moan about people being sent into self-isolation because of the NHS app, but Robert Colville has just shared this graphic that shows that of the 1.8 million people in England being told to self-isolate last week, the largest number was children being sent home from schools, not “pings” from the app.
Just again briefly on what we expect on “jabs for kids” in the UK today – this is what vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sky News:
The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) have just delivered their advice, and we’ll consider it. In fact, after my morning round, I will make a statement to parliament. But suffice to say they’ve looked very closely, especially at children who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid, children who live with adults who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid, and of course, 17-year-olds who are close to becoming 18, so three months from their 18th birthday. We will take that advice on boards and I will make a statement to parliament later today.
The approach appears to be a contrast to some other countries that have happily begun to vaccinate children from age 12 and older.
Minister: reimposition of curfew measures in France cannot be ruled out
The reimposition of curfew measures to curb the spread of Covid cannot be excluded in France if infections continue to climb, junior European affairs minister Clément Beaune told BFM TV this morning.
Reuters notes that France reported more than 12,500 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the third day that the tally has been above 10,000, as the rapid spread of the Delta variant has led to a jump in new infections.
He also said that the UK’s imposition of restrictions on travellers from France seemed “excessive”. Reuters quotes him saying that “We don’t think that the United Kingdom’s decisions are totally based on scientific foundations. We find them excessive.”
This is a really important point from my colleague Peter Walker, about a distasteful note that has crept into some of vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi’s messaging.
Douglas Barrie was at Glasgow airport for PA Scotland, watching people depart for the Balearics. He reports that passengers on the first flight expressed few concerns about quarantining when they get back despite the islands moving to the UK’s amber travel list.
Under the new guidance, people who are fully vaccinated or under 18 and are arriving from an amber list country do not have to self-isolate – but adults and children over 12 must still take tests before travelling and on their second day after arriving.
One woman, heading to Ibiza for a week with her partner, told PA Media: “We booked when it was on the green (list) and then we did kind of wonder what to do when it moved to amber. But because we’re double-vaccinated we don’t have to quarantine. Both my girls have only got one vaccine so they’re just not going at all because it’s too much of a risk.”
However, friends Poppy and Shannon, both 20, were on the same flight and facing the prospect of quarantining when they return next week.
Neither of them has received a first dose of vaccine yet, but that was not going to stop heading for the sun any longer.
Shannon told PA Media: “With all the right information we’ve been totally fine to just book it – there’s always safe ways to go about it. We’ve been waiting two years and had Ibiza booked twice so we’re finally getting to go away.”
Poppy added: “I’m not even caring, I just want to be in the sun. I’ve had so many holidays booked that have been cancelled.”
A reminder that while the changes to rules in Scotland haven’t been quite as drastic as the dropping of pretty much all Covid preventative measures in England, there are changes today, when the country drops to level 0. Here’s those changes:
Physical distancing will reduce to 1 metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors. Informal social gatherings of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors without physical distancing. Gatherings of up to 10 people from four households will be permitted in all indoor public settings with 1-metre physical distancing.
Under-12s will no longer count towards the number of households that can gather indoors in public spaces and homes. Hospitality settings can open till midnight, if their current licence permits that, and customers will no longer be required to pre-book a two-hour slot to go to a pub or restaurant but will still be required to provide contact details to assist Test & Protect
Up to 200 people will be able to gather at weddings and funerals and employers are asked to continue to support home working where possible.
Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that death rates in the UK will remain low because of the jab, but warned that they will rise.
“The effectiveness of the vaccines against severe disease and hospitalisation and death remains extremely high against the variants which are around here in the UK,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. PA Media quotes him saying:
I think with that information, we can be very confident that the rates will remain low – but they are going to rise, and we know that. The modelling predicts that there will be an increase in cases as we have been hearing over the last few days.
Of course we’re seeing it, that there are more people getting infected, and that will unfortunately translate into an increase in hospitalisations and deaths. But it will be far lower than we have experienced in previous waves.
Dr David Nabarro: ‘No sense of freedom in my heart’
Dr David Nabarro, special envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organization, has just had this to say about England dropping restrictions on Sky News:
I’m going to be really clear with you. Of course, at some point, as ministers have said, we have to get on and get our lives going again. It’s just what is our attitude while we’re doing it? There is no sense of freedom in my heart. Unfortunately there’s a sense that this virus is very much here, and is giving us lots of surprises, lots of anxieties, and therefore, as a society, we go into the next period with our eyes wide open, knowing pretty well what to expect. That is: more disease, more long Covid, and more challenges.
We are expecting an announcement in parliament in the UK later today about the vaccination of children. Tom Newton Dunn sums it up:
Taiwan’s government approves Medigen vaccine for production
A quick snap from Reuters here that Taiwan’s government has approved the production of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s vaccine candidate.
The health ministry said in clinical trials in Taiwan the antibodies created by Medigen’s vaccine candidate have been proven to be “no worse than” those created by AstraZeneca vaccines, and that there were no major safety concerns.
In the UK, while vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was on Sky News, over on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme they were also talking about the NHS app and the instructions it is giving to workers to self-isolate.
Again it seems like there are two broad schools of thought – either the app is a nuisance that is causing over a million people, many of whom are vaccinated, to be told to stay at home when they are not at risk of developing a serious bout of Covid. Or it is a valuable diagnostic tool that is simply reflecting the fact that there are a lot of Covid cases out there in England, and it is spreading.
Nick Mackenzie. chief executive of pub chain Greene King, was on the radio asking for a change to the self-isolation rules. PA Media quotes him saying:
This is a problem and I think it could get worse. It is disruptive to the business. We had to close, in the last seven days, 33 pubs due to lack of staff because of self-isolation. Across the industry we think it is about one in five of our team members who have been affected by this and therefore it is causing a real issue for us setting up business on a daily basis – we’re having to have shortened hours in some circumstances.
He was asking the government to expand its test and release scheme to the hospitality sector.
Also on the programme was, Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym. Using the phrase “United Pingdom”, something I hope to never have to type again in my life, he said:
We’ve been talking for a while internally about living in the ‘United Pingdom’ and it has become a huge challenge for individuals and businesses. Up to 25%, in some areas, of our staff have been asked to self-isolate. We’ve been able, through flexibility and sharing of labour, to keep sites open so far but it has been a very close call in certain circumstances, and I would echo that I think there is a different way of reacting to the pings for vaccinated people and using lateral flow tests that would help industries of all sorts a great deal and keep the economy functioning.”
Stanley Widianto reports for Reuters from Jakarta that trust in Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s ability to handle the pandemic has fallen sharply among the public, as authorities struggle to contain a wave of coronavirus infections that has pushed hospitals to breaking point.
Indonesia has reported more new Covid cases than any country in the world, according to the latest seven-day average from a Reuters data tracker. It was second only to Brazil in terms of the number of deaths.
The government has faced criticism in some media of its handling of the pandemic with the Jakarta Post running an editorial on 3 July entitled “They did not have to die”, blaming a delay in bringing in restrictions for unnecessary deaths.
An opinion poll by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), which was conducted in late June before the worst of the current outbreak, showed trust that the president can handle the pandemic fell to 43% compared with 56.5% in a poll in February.
“Trust in the president’s ability to overcome the pandemic declined steeply in the past four months,” said Djayadi Hanan, LSI’s executive director, adding trust in the government was important to enforce programmes such as vaccinations and movement curbs.
The findings of the survey, which covered 1,200 respondents, showed overall trust in the president’s response still outweighed distrust with 22.6% not trusting his actions and 32% neutral.
Asked for comment on the survey, a spokesperson for the president said he has not studied the poll.