Covid news live: Latest updates as Scotland mulls permanent emergency Covid powers

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Scientists have developed a “roadmap” for future research into the “unknown territory” of long Covid, with governments and global bodies being urged to focus on 20 key issues in new studies.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is considering whether to make its emergency Covid powers permanent, which would allow it to impose lockdowns, close schools and release prisoners early. A consultation published by the government suggested a law change would allow the government to respond to any future public health threats more “effectively and rapidly”.

It comes after the UK recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since 12 March, with 170 new fatalities on Tuesday, and new Office for National Statistics data showed that – in the week to 6 August – coronavirus accounted for more than 1 in 20 deaths in the UK, also the highest proportion in four months.

Further afield, the Red Cross has warned that the Southeast Asian countries need more help securing vaccines as the region continues to see soaring infections, as the World Health Organisation sounds the alarm over the supply of fake AstraZeneca vaccines in India.


Moderna jab approved for over-12s in UK

The Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in 12 to 17-year-olds in the UK, our health correspondent Shaun Lintern reports.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced on Tuesday that it was extending the permission for use of the vaccine, called Spikevax, after concluding it was safe for use.

It paves the way for the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise the vaccine can be used in teenagers as part of the wider vaccination programme using the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine.

Andy Gregory18 August 2021 08:50


Call for focus on ‘long Covid’ research

Scientists have developed a “roadmap” for future research into the “unknown territory” of long Covid, with governments and global bodies being urged to focus on 20 key issues in new studies.

Among the priorities identified, and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, are a focus on patients suffering diseases of the airwaves, and drives to understand if the severity of Covid-19 while in hospital is linked to worse recovery after discharge and discovering how often complications such as heart attacks or strokes occur after an acute case of coronavirus.

“The challenges of long Covid cannot be understated – this is an entirely new disease which we need to understand better so we can treat better,” said Professor Tony De Soyza, professor of pulmonary medicine at Newcastle University, who led the research.

Andy Gregory18 August 2021 08:36


G7 nations will have stockpiled a billion spare Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021, analysis shows

Analysis suggests that the G7 nations will have accumulated close to a billion spare vaccine doses by the end of 2021, our science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports.

Scientific advisers to the UK government have urged ministers to take more action in supporting overseas vaccination efforts to combat rising global infections and to prevent new variants emerging, while the WHO has condemned international leaders for stockpiling doses and making them unavailable to the rest of the world.

A billion vaccines would be enough to fully immunise the 30 least-vaccinated countries, the majority of which are in Africa.

Andy Gregory18 August 2021 08:23


Scottish Government mulls making emergency Covid powers permanent

Here’s more on the news that the Scottish Government is considering making some of its emergency coronavirus powers permanent.

Currently, the additional powers are set to end in March 2022, but can be extended by six months with Holyrood backing.

My colleague Joanna Taylor reports that Nicola Sturgeon’s government is seeking the public’s views on the possible permanent expansion, which they say could help to “protect the people of Scotland” from “any incidence or spread of infection” that could harm them even beyond Covid-19.

The powers — which also include the ability to move court sessions online and allow a wider range of healthcare workers to administer vaccines — would be deployed when “necessary and proportionate”, ministers say, but the Conservatives have accused them of being “unwilling to give up their control over people’s lives”.

Andy Gregory18 August 2021 08:01


UK reports highest daily death toll since March

Hi, this is Andy Gregory taking the reins of the liveblog in the UK, where the government has reported the highest daily death toll since 12 March.

A further 170 deaths and more than 26,000 new cases were recorded on Tuesday – compared with 146 deaths and some 23,000 infections on the same day last week.

The latest figures came as new Office for National Statistics data found that – in the week to 6 August – more than 1 in 20 death certificates in the UK mentioned Covid-19.

This is also the highest proportion since March.

Andy Gregory18 August 2021 07:33


Pope Francis encourages people to get inoculated against Covid-19

Pope Francis, in a public service advertisement that will start circulating online and on television from Wednesday, has said that getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is “an act of love.”

The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics joined a media campaign by the Ad Council to boost confidence in Covid-19 jabs.

Pope Francis said: “Thanks to God and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19.”

The ad is in Spanish with English subtitles. It shows church officials from the United States, Mexico, Brazil and other countries describing vaccination as a “moral responsibility.”

He also says that the vaccines “grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we work together.”

Maroosha Muzaffar18 August 2021 06:50


US extends mask mandate for travellers till January

The US has extended its mask mandate for all people visiting the country till 18 January 2022, according to a statement by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday.

The TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz told the media that the mandate “covers airports, as well as planes, buses, trains and shuttle buses connected to airports, and all public buses, trains, subways and ferries.”

TSA had initially put a mask mandate in place earlier in February this year. It was supposed to end on 11 May. However, in April, they extended the mandate till 13 September.

Now the mask mandate is in place for all travellers till 18 January next year.

Ms Koshetz said that children under the age of two are exempted from the mask requirement and so are people with certain disabilities.

Maroosha Muzaffar18 August 2021 06:41


India reaches a new peak of 8.8 million vaccinations in a day

The Indian union health ministry data said on Tuesday that the country reached a new peak of 8.8 million vaccinations in a day Tuesday.

A total of about 560 million doses were administered till 9 pm IST Tuesday across the country, according to the health ministry data.

So far in India, 13 per cent of the eligible population is fully inoculated. And 47 per cent of the adult population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Indian government has said that it plans to fully inoculate the entire adult population by the end of the year.

Maroosha Muzaffar18 August 2021 06:35


WHO issues medical alert for fake AstraZeneca vaccine

The World Health Organisation has raised alarm over the supply of fake AstraZeneca vaccines — known by the name Covishield — in India.

The WHO’s global surveillance and monitoring system for substandard and fake medical products identified fake vaccines in Uganda as well.

The health agency has now asked India to increase vigilance on hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and other suppliers of medical products.

WHO said that fake Covid-19 vaccines “pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to detect and remove these falsified products from circulation to prevent harm to patients.”

Maroosha Muzaffar18 August 2021 06:26


Southeast Asia needs Covid-19 vaccine access to curb record deaths, says Red Cross

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has warned that the Southeast Asian countries need more help securing Covid-19 vaccines as the region continues to see soaring infections.

In recent weeks, the region has seen the highest deaths globally.

Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said: “This Covid-19 surge driven by the Delta variant is claiming a tragic toll on families across Southeast Asia and it’s far from over.”

He added: “In the short-term, we need much greater efforts by richer countries to urgently share their millions of excess vaccine doses with countries in Southeast Asia.”

Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have been registering record Covid-19 infections or fatalities. On Wednesday, Thailand reported 312 coronavirus deaths — a record increase for the second day in a row, the Strait Times reported.

The most populous nations in Southeast Asia — Indonesia and the Philippines — have fully vaccinated around 10 to 11 per cent of their population. Vietnam has fully inoculated less than 2 per cent of its eligible population.

Maroosha Muzaffar18 August 2021 05:39

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