Coronavirus vaccine news live: Latest Covid updates as over UK infection levels continue to fall

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A “very low” number of vaccinated patients are being admitted to hospital, scientists have said, in what is seen as confirmation that the Covid-19 jabs are working as expected within the community.

The clinical trials used to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines showed that they are capable of offering high levels of protection against infection, hospitalisation and death.

However, a small minority of people – particularly those who are frail, elderly and immunologically compromised – will not acquire protection against Covid-19 through vaccination, the trials demonstrated.

It comes as infection levels continue to fall across the UK, with England and Wales reporting the lowest figure seen since early September in the week to 24 April. Scotland and Northern Ireland registered the smallest number since estimates began in October during the same week.

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Surge testing deployed in London borough of Redbridge

Surge testing has been deployed in the east London borough of Redbridge after two cases of the South African Covid variant were found.

The testing will be carried out in the IG1 and IG6 postcode areas as well as some parts of the IG5 and IG7 postcode areas, the Department of Health said.

The individuals are self-isolating after testing positive.

The cases are not linked to travel or to a cluster of cases with the variant recently detected in south London.

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The confirmed cases are self-isolating and their contacts have been identified.

“There are no links between these cases and the cluster of cases recently identified in the South London area.”

Officials are encouraging everybody above the age of 10 who resides or works in these postcodes to take a Covid-19 PCR test, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. The contacts of anyone who tests positive with a variant of concern will be traced.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 16:01


Brazil calls on countries to share spare vaccine doses

Brazil has urged countries with spare vaccine doses to share the shots with the battered Latin American country to help it meet its goal of inoculating all citizens by the end of 2021.

Speaking to a World Health Organisation (WHO) briefing, health minister Marcelo Queiroga said Brazil had administered 41 million vaccine doses but needed more supplies to meet a daily target of 2.4 million.

“We need to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and in line with this we would like to call on those countries with extra doses to share them with Brazil as soon as possible so we can also broaden our vaccination campaign and contain the pandemic at this critical time, and avoid the proliferation of new variants,” Mr Queiroga said.

Brazil on Thursday became the second country to pass 400,000 Covid-19 deaths after the United States.

Experts warned the daily toll could remain high for several months due to a slow vaccination rate and the relaxation of social restrictions. 

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 15:59


Indian states run out of vaccines amid dramatic rise in cases

Several states in India have run out of Covid-19 vaccines as the pandemic tears through communities at a staggering pace that has seen cases rise by more than 300,000 daily for nine days in a row.

Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India now does not have enough for itself in the midst of its crisis– hindering a plan to ramp up and widen inoculation from Saturday.

Only about 9 per cent of its 1.4 billion people have had a dose.

Authorities in Mumbai said inoculation centres were closing for three days, while citizens in Delhi were asked not to show up for vaccinations on Saturday as doses had not yet arrived.

Karnataka state postponed its new vaccination drive for adults that was to start on Saturday.

Second only to the United States in its caseload, India reported another global record of 386,452 on Friday.

Total deaths have surpassed 200,000 and cases are nearing 19 million – nearly 8 million since February alone.

Medical experts say real numbers may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally as hospitals struggle to find medical oxygen and beds for patients.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 15:45


Spain extends gap between AstraZeneca doses to 16 weeks

Spain is widening the gap between first and second AstraZeneca vaccine doses to 16 weeks for people under 60, the government has announced.

The country is the first to diverge from the European Medicines Agency’s authorisation for a 12-week interval.

Authorities are extending the gap in order to determine the safest way to administer the vaccine, the health ministry said.

The country restricted use of the vaccine among under-60s following concerns about very rare blood clots.

By extending the interval between doses, authorities will be able to evaluate the results of trials on mixing different vaccines before deciding whether those groups will receive a second AstraZeneca shot or another drug, the ministry said.

A government-backed study trialling combining vaccine doses in younger people is underway, with results expected in mid-May.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 15:25


Indian doctors warn against trying to make medical oxygen at home

Doctors and scientists in India are warning of the dangers of trying to make medical oxygen at home as various tips on how to do so circulate online amid shortages.

Google Trends data showed searches for the phrase “how to make oxygen at home” peaked on 25 April as the crisis worsened, while YouTube videos detailing such processes have amassed hundreds of thousands of views.

“There is a scientifically proven method to produce medical oxygen through concentrators. Any other means to try making the gas at home involves many risks like chances of toxic gases being inhaled and explosions,” A Ravikumar, secretary of the Indian Medical Association for the southern state of Tamil Nadu, told Reuters.

Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist at the ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai, called the attempts to make homemade oxygen “untested and unreliable methods”.

“Such an approach could even be deleterious if it leads to delays in seeking appropriate healthcare,” he told Reuters.

Many hospitals are turning away Covid patients due to shortages of medical oxygen as the country faces a devastating rise in cases.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 14:58


Scotland records no new deaths, 191 new cases

There have been no new coronavirus deaths recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours, the latest data shows, while 191 further cases have been registered.

It means the death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,659.

Scottish Government figures published on Friday show the daily test positivity rate was 1.1 per cent, up from 0.8 per cent the previous day.

There were 67 people in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down three in 24 hours. Of these patients, nine were in intensive care, also down three.

So far 2,802,152 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 1,224,861 have received their second dose.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 14:30


More than 3,000 slept rough in London during third lockdown

More than 3,000 people were seen rough sleeping in London during the third lockdown, figures show, with more than half sleeping rough for the first time.

Outreach teams identified 3,002 rough sleepers in London between January and March, according to data from the Combined Homelessness And Information Network (Chain). This number was down almost a fifth (19 per cent) from the same quarter last year.

More than half (52 per cent) of these were sleeping rough for the first time, and 11 per cent were known to be permanently living on London’s streets, the figures show.

The Chain figures show that 1,587 people were placed in emergency accommodation between January and March after local authorities were urged to find accommodation for people as the country entered lockdown.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 14:18


‘Good real world evidence’ Covid vaccines work after first dose, Sage analysis shows

A “very low” number of vaccinated patients are being admitted to hospital, scientists have said, in what is seen as confirmation that the Covid-19 jabs are working as expected within the community.

The clinical trials used to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines showed that they are capable of offering high levels of protection against infection, hospitalisation and death.

Read the full report by Samuel Lovett:

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 13:59


Wales reports 36 new cases, no deaths

Wales has reported a further 36 coronavirus cases, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 211,494.

Public Health Wales said there were no new deaths, with the total in the country since the start of the pandemic remaining at 5,550.

A total of 1,830,964 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in Wales, the agency said. 748,700 second shots have also been administered.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 12:51


Infection levels continue to fall across UK

Around one in 1,010 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to 24 April – a fall from one in 610 the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the lowest proportion since the week to 5 September 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 1,400.

In Wales, around one in 1,570 people is estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to 24 April – down from one in 840 in the previous week, and the lowest since the week to 10 September.

In Northern Ireland, the estimate is around one in 940 people, down from one in 660 in the previous week and the lowest since estimates began for Northern Ireland in October.

The estimate for Scotland is around one in 640, down from one in 560 and the lowest since estimates began for Scotland in October.

Clea Skopeliti30 April 2021 12:37

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