Coronavirus UK news – AstraZeneca vaccine’s link to blood clots NOT found as more EU countries suspend jab

FEARS of a link between the Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine and blood clots has seen more EU countries suspend its rollout.

The Netherlands today became the fifth country to suspend the jab following Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

Meanwhile other countries, including Austria and Italy, have black-listed a particular batch of the jab over concern the Astra-Zeneca jab could lead to higher incidents of potentially lethal bloodclots.

The evidence for such a reaction appears to be patchy and research in the UK suggests the vaccine has no impact on the liklihood of developing a bloodclot compared with not taking it.

The World Health Organisation also reiterated its guidance that the Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine is safe and the risks of not being vaccinated against Covid-19 far outweigh the risks of getting a jab.

The suspensions add yet another layer of chaos to the EU's bungled vaccine rollout, which ranges from a shambolic jab procurement scheme to leaders such a French president Emmanuel Macron engaging in disinformation.

The UK jab rollout is set to increase in coming days thanks to renewed supplies and a staggering 36% of the population already vaccinated – all signs of a bright summer ahead and an early end to lockdown.

But on the continent vaccine take-up is so painfully low that cases are once again spiking, with Italy today being forced back into a new national lockdown to prevent hospitals being overrun and France having to run special covid planes to evacuate patients from an overwhelmed Paris.

Meanwhile in Germany Angela Merkel's CDU party was hammered in two state elections as the public lost faith in the country's Covid response.

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

  • Debbie White

    THIRD WAVE HELL FOR ITALY

    Italy has been plunged back into lockdown as a third Covid wave sweeps across Europe.

    The country recorded nearly 27,000 cases and 380 deaths on Friday as hospitals struggle to cope with rising numbers.

    Its struggle comes as the French government is to evacuate patients from Paris using special planes as hospitals reach breaking point amid the chaos of the Europe's vaccine roll out.

    Germany and Poland are also seeing a surge in cases and the infection rate EU is now at its highest level since the beginning of February, with the spread of new Covid variants behind the rise.

    The new wave of cases comes amid the shambles of the EU's vaccine rollout, which has been hampered by production delays, political infighting and public scepticism over the Astrazeneca jab.

  • Debbie White

    SOUTH AFRICA VARIANT FEARS

    Scientists have warned the South Africa Covid mutation, named 501YV2, is feared to be at least 50 per cent more contagious, with hundreds more undetected cases thought to be in the country.

    Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and a member of SAGE, said: "This variant is identified through genetic sequencing and we sequence between five per cent and 10 per cent of all cases, so you can immediately tell from that that we have a big under-estimation of the number of cases.

    "We would expect we're seeing the tip of the iceberg of community transmission."

  • Debbie White

    SURGE TESTING… CONTINUED

    A Department of Health statement said: "The increased testing is being introduced in addition to existing extensive testing and, in combination with the public following current lockdown rules and Hands Face Space advice, will help to monitor and suppress the spread of the virus.

    "Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase our understanding of Covid-19 variants and their spread within these areas.

    "Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern. This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission."

    Health officials said mass testing would help it to closely monitor any community spread of the new variant, and restrict further transmission.

  • Debbie White

    SURGE COVID TESTS IN LONDON TO TACKLE SOUTH AFRICA VARIANT

    Surge testing has been deployed in parts of London to stop the spread of the South Africa Covid strain.

    More cases of the mutated virus have been found in Southwark (SE5) Harrow (HA2 and HA3).

    People living in these spots should get a Covid test when they are offered it – regardless of if they have symptoms.

    Anyone who has symptoms should book a free test online or by phone to get tested at a testing site or have a testing kit sent to them at home.

    So far 318 cases are thought to have been found in the UK, with eight new discoveries found recently.

  • Alice Peacock

    CONTINUED

    More than seven in 10 (71.8%) people who described themselves as black, or black British, said they would be unlikely to get a jab.

    Meanwhile 42% of people with Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage said they were unlikely to have the vaccine.

    One in five (21%) women indicated they were hesitant to get the jab compared to 14.7% of men.

    And 28.3% of younger adults aged 25-34 reported they wouldn't take up the vaccine, compared to only 14.3% in the 55-64 age group, 8.1% in the 65-74 age group and 4.5% in the 75 years and older group.

  • Alice Peacock

    WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO REJECT THE OFFER OF A VACCINE JAB?

    A new study has highlighted different groups who were less likely to take up their offer of a Covid-19 jab.

    Young people, women and those from some ethnic backgrounds are less likely to take-up a Covid-19 vaccine when offered, according to new UK-wide research.

    The intention to take up the offer of a vaccine was high overall with more than four in five (82%) saying they were likely to accept the offer, according to the study, published in the journal Brain Behaviour and Immunity.

    The researchers, from the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, surveyed more than 12,000 people across the UK.

  • Alice Peacock

    TOO MANY FAMILIES NOT REUNITED WITH CARE HOME RESIDENTS, CHARITY SAYS

    A charity is concerned too many families have not been reunited, despite the Government saying care home residents in England can receive indoor visits from a nominated person.

    Some care homes have said they would not open to visitors until April 12, while others will not allow indoor visits until residents have had their second vaccine dose, the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA) said.

    Others are refusing to allow access to visitors who provide essential care and support to their loved one, which was also allowed from last Monday, its helpline has heard.

    The R&RA said families who have been able to visit have been "disturbed" by the significant weight loss, pain, distress or loss of cognition of their loved one.

  • Alice Peacock

    CALLS FOR RETURNING STUDENTS TO GET MENTAL HEALTH ASSESSMENTS

    Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is calling for a "personal comeback plan" for students returning to school following lockdown.

    Sarwar's proposed plan would include a mental health assessment for students when they returned to school.

    He has called for all schoolchildren's progress and mental welfare to be assessed as part of the coronavirus recovery.

    Addressing the impact of lockdown on pupils' education, Mr Sarwar said the country has a "moral imperative to ensure that our next generation do not carry the weight of the pandemic".

    Outlining proposals for guaranteed exam re-sits, free college places and activities for children during the summer, he said: "This is a plan that delivers hope for our young people, restores Scottish education, supports teachers, and makes sure that every child has the right to a decent start in life.

  • Alice Peacock

    CONTINUED

    Writing on the social networking site about the new features, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the campaign would "help bring 50 million people a step closer to getting Covid-19 vaccines".

    "The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They're our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I'm looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too," he said.

  • Alice Peacock

    FACEBOOK EXTENDS COVID-19 INFORMATION CENTRE TO INSTAGRAM

    Facebook has extended its Covid-19 Information Centre to Instagram – in its latest effort to stop the spread of misinformation around the pandemic.

    The social network's information hub includes facts around the virus and vaccine safety and eligibility from official sources, including Public Health England and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    Posts that discuss vaccine safety on either Facebook or Instagram will now also be given new labels which state that vaccines go through safety tests before being approved, a move the company hoped would reduce hesitancy about receiving a jab.

    The range of new features forms part of the social media giant's ongoing response to the pandemic – during which Facebook and other online platforms have been criticised for failing to adequately slow the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19.

  • Alice Peacock

    POLICE INVESTIGATE CARE HOME AFTER FIVE DIE FOLLOWING OUTBREAK

    Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating a local care home after five people died following a Covid-19 outbreak.

    Five residents of Holmesley Care Home have died since Sunday March 6, with each testing positive for the virus before their passing.

    Ten more residents are being treated at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and a member of staff from the Sidford based home also has the virus.

    As part of their enquiries, officers are speaking to staff and conducted a search of the home.

    Post-mortems have been conducted on three of the deceased residents.

  • Alice Peacock

    COVID-19 FIGHTING NOSE SPRAY COULD BE COMING TO THE UK

    The Israel-led maker of a nose spray that kills Covid-19 has applied for a rollout in the UK.

    The Israeli CEO of SaNOtize, which has reported a successful British trial, says it is a "hand sanitiser for the nose," Jewish News has reported.

    The firm said its testing showed the spray successfully reduced the severity of the virus in patients, as well as preventing the virus from being transmitted to others.

    The Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) was designed to kill the virus in the body's upper airways – in doing so, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs.

  • Alice Peacock

    TWO VACCINE DOSES OFFER SIMILAR COVID-19 PROTECTION AS PRIOR INFECTION

    New research suggests two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offer similar protection against coronavirus as natural immunity after infection.

    None of the 1,456 healthcare workers at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust who had received two vaccines had a symptomatic infection when followed up more than 14 days after their second vaccination.

    The study saw the same high level of protection in unvaccinated healthcare workers who had contracted Covid-19 naturally.

    They had 98% fewer symptomatic infections than unvaccinated individuals who had not been infected before, researchers say.

    Most of the healthcare workers in the study had only received one vaccine to date.

  • John Hall

    LOCKDOWN PET BOOM DRIVEN BY MILLENIALS AND GEN Z

    More than three million Brit households have got pets since the start of the pandemic – largely driven by Millennials and Gen Z.

    Almost two-thirds of the new pooches and moggies were bought by people aged between 16 and 34.

    Young people have been looking for pets to keep them company during the various lockdowns.

    Research carried out by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association found a whopping 74 per cent claim their new pet has helped their mental health during the pandemic.

  • John Hall

    OXFORD PROFESSOR SEEKS TO REASSURE PUBLIC OVER ASTRAZENECA COVID VACCINE

    The head of the Oxford University vaccine group has sought to reassure the public over its Covid-19 jab.

    Professor Andrew Pollard said that while it was right that regulators investigate reports of blood clots in people who have had the vaccine, data from millions of people was "very reassuring" that there was no link.

    It comes after the Netherlands became the latest country to suspend use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about possible side-effects.

    Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand have all also temporarily suspended their use of the AstraZeneca jab.

    The Dutch government said the precautionary move will last until at least March 29, following a similar decision made by the Republic of Ireland.

  • Alice Peacock

    NHS STAFF WHO REFUSE JABS COULD BE REDEPLOYED

    According to a new NHS document, hospitals can consider redeploying staff who have refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

    The material has NHS England outlining that employers could consider moving workers who have declined the vaccine to a "less exposure-prone setting".

    The document sets out steps on how employers can ensure their staff who have declined the offer of the vaccine are safe at work.

    Measures include making sure they have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they have had a mask fitting, if they need to use certain respirator masks.

    NHS workers should also have awareness of infection control and undertaken the appropriate training, and that they have an up-to-date risk assessment.

  • John Hall

    TURKEY PLANS TO WELCOME UNVACCINATED UK HOLIDAYMAKERS

    UK holidaymakers could be heading to Turkey this summer, without requiring proof of a coronavirus vaccine or negative test.

    Tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy said the country is "looking forward to welcoming British tourists with open arms".

    British nationals made more than 2.5 million visits to Turkey in 2019, according to Government figures.

    Mr Ersoy said: "We have world-class border processes in place for ensuring travel will be low-risk throughout Turkey.

    "We are working with the British authorities to ensure these necessary processes are world class and as up to date as possible."

  • John Hall

    ROGER DALTREY: I'M GRATEFUL TO HAVE RECEIVED MY CORONAVIRUS JAB

    The Who star Roger Daltrey has said he is "grateful" to have received his coronavirus jab.

    The singer, 77, who is also patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    "I haven't had blood clots and I haven't got horns growing out of my head. I'm really grateful," he told Good Morning Britain.

  • John Hall

    EU CONSIDERS TURNING TO SPUTNIK VACCINE

    The EU is reportedly in discussions to place an order of Russia's Sputnik vaccine.

    According to reports from City A.M., the bloc is considering a move to Moscow's Sputnik V vaccine as it attempts to speed up its lagging immunisation programme.

    The news comes as several countries pause their roll out of Astrazeneca’s Covid jab, over a handful of health concerns.

    The EU has approved four vaccines so far – the Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs.

    However, the bloc's vaccination programme has been slowed by production glitches and manufacturing scale-ups.

  • Alice Peacock

    SPIKE IN CASES EXPECTED AS UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RETURN TO CAMPUS

    Scientists have warned of a spike in Covid-19 cases as university students return to campus.

    Undergraduates were allowed to head back to continue their degrees from last Monday.

    However, researchers have said little can be done to avoid the inevitable boom in coronavirus cases.

    Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick modelled data from four scenarios, including a staggered return, and found that in all cases the same amount of people were likely to contract Covid-19 over the term.

    Measures only saw the inevitable spike delayed, researchers said.

  • John Hall

    CONTINUED

    Speaking via videoconference in Geneva, Ghebreyesus said “WHO is aware that some countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines based on reports of blood clots in some people who have received doses of the vaccine from two batches.

    “This measure was taken as a precaution while a full investigation is finalised.

    “It’s important to note that the European Medicines Agency has said there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and blood clots and that the vaccine can continue to be used while its investigation is ongoing.”

  • John Hall

    WHO ISSUES STATEMENT ON ASTRAZENECA VACCINE

    The World Health Organisation has issued a statement on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, after several countries suspend the jabs.

    Ireland, Norway and Thailand are among a handful of countries who have paused the roll-out of the vaccine, following a small number of reported health problems linked to its use.

    WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said: “As countries roll out Covid-19 vaccines, WHO is continuing to keep a close eye on their safety."

  • John Hall

    SIR KEIR STARMER RECEIVES JAB

    Sir Keir Starmer received his Covid jab yesterday and urged Brits to get their dose.

    The Labour leader, 58, praised the vaccination program as the “light at the end of the tunnel”— as a further 512,108 people got their first dose and 52,155 got their second.

    He popped in to London’s Francis Crick Institute in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency.

    It is one of five mass vaccination centres set up by University College London Hospital.

    Sir Keir said: “I am so grateful to the staff and volunteers at the Francis Crick Institute for their warm welcome and exceptional work throughout the pandemic.

  • John Hall

    'GET THE JAB,' MEDICS URGE

    People across the UK have been urged to get their coronavirus vaccine, despite a growing list of countries temporarily suspending use of the AstraZeneca jab amid concern around blood clots.

    The vaccine's manufacturer has insisted it is safe, saying a review of available data in more than 17 million people who have been vaccinated across the UK and EU has shown no evidence of an increased risk.

    After Ireland announced on Sunday that it was suspending use of the jabs as a "precautionary step", the UK's medicines regulator said the available evidence "does not suggest the vaccine is the cause" of clots.

  • John Hall

    VARIANT CAUSES WORST-EVER DEATH TOLL IN BRAZIL

    Things are starting to look much brighter in the UK.

    But in some countries, the situation is getting worse rather than better.

    Brazil reported 2,216 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours – the third day in a row that fatalities exceeded 2,000.

    That means the country is experiencing the worst run of deaths since the pandemic began a year ago.

    The health ministry also reported 85,663 new coronavirus infections, its second highest number for a single day.

    The pandemic is surging in the South American country, driven by a highly contagious new local variant.

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