Ian Rankin hits out at lack of Covid jab advice for people with learning disabilities

Crime writer accuses governments in UK of ignoring people like his 26-year-old son, who is in a care home

The crime writer Ian Rankin has criticised the “woeful” lack of information on the Covid vaccine rollout for people with learning disabilities after revealing his son is still awaiting his jab.

Rankin, whose 26-year-old son, Kit, has Angelman syndrome and lives in a care facility close to the family home in Edinburgh, accused governments and the media of “ignoring” the learning disabled in an interview with the disability campaigner Nicky Clark.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Johnson needs a clear route out of lockdown – or he’ll risk a Tory rebellion | Katy Balls

The MPs who believe the prime minister is in thrall to his scientific advisers are increasingly restive

Throughout the pandemic, Boris Johnson has sought to reassure both the public and his MPs that if they waited long enough, a scientific breakthrough would arrive and transform the landscape. He’s talked about the “distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill”, and in November, after a study suggested the Pfizer vaccine was 90% effective, declared that the “toot of the bugle is louder, but it’s still some way off”.

Now that the government has hit its 15 million vaccination target for the top four priority groups early, many Tory MPs believe the bugle call is deafening and the cavalry can charge down the hill. Their new concern? The prime minister can’t hear it. The growing fear in the Conservative party is that the goalposts have been moved. As the prime minister puts the final touches to the government roadmap to easing lockdown, MPs sense a shift in strategy. For all health secretary Matt Hancock’s promise of a “great British summer”, social distancing could be here for some time, with ministers reported to be considering a 1-metre rule until at least the autumn.

In the past, Johnson has spoken of a coronavirus strategy based on preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed. This is why many Tory MPs hold the view that once the first nine priority groups – whom the deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, says account for up to 99% of Covid hospitalisations and deaths – have had their first jab, the bulk of restrictions can start to be lifted. But in recent weeks, MPs believe Johnson’s focus has moved to transmission. “He [Johnson] seems to have been swayed by the whole argument about how you can’t have many cases,” says a government insider. With scientific advisers warning Johnson that community spread of the virus could spark new variants, there’s increased talk of cases needing to fall to the hundreds before significant socialising can occur.

Related: UK Covid live: England lockdown to be eased in stages, says PM, amid reports of nationwide mass testing

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Millions more people are finally shielding from Covid. Why did it take so long? | Frances Ryan

Members of a high-risk group have had to fend for themselves in the pandemic because the government misidentified them

What a difference an algorithm makes: 1.7 million people have been added to the government’s shielding list in England, almost doubling the number overnight. A new risk analysis tool has for the first time factored in people’s socioeconomic conditions and underlying health problems, hugely expanding the number of people identified to be at high risk from the coronavirus.

To put that another way: millions of people who have been told throughout the pandemic that they were safe to go about their lives like the general public are now being advised to shield. Some of these people will have been voluntarily staying at home 24/7 already, but crucially they will have had to do so without the help that comes with being on the government’s official list, such as statutory sick pay, medicine deliveries and priority shopping. For others, the announcement will be a sudden and significant change to their lives – with no advance warning. Until now, 2.2 million people had been on the official shielding list, including those with lung disease and some who had received transplants.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Biden and Harris call for teachers to be vaccine priority – US politics live

Alexandra Villarreal reports for the Guardian:

As a brutal winter storm pummeled much of Texas, Cecilia Corral scoured social media posts written by fellow Austinites. From single mothers and their newborns, others in her city were freezing without heat or desperately needed food.

Related: Winter storm amplifies power grid inequalities for disadvantaged Texans

Donald Trump’s name is no longer part of the skyline in Atlantic City, after the implosion of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino this morning.

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino imploded in Atlantic City, NJ.

Former President Trump cut ties with the casino in 2009 after a series of bankruptcy filings.https://t.co/MeQpmoGExN pic.twitter.com/GpocEJJJaB

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

New York sues Amazon over claims it failed to protect workers from pandemic

Lawsuit claims ‘disregard for health and safety requirements’ and retaliation against employees who raised alarms

New York is suing Amazon, claiming the company failed to provide workers with a safe environment at two warehouses in the state as Covid-19 infections surged nationwide.

The suit from Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, landed just days after Amazon preemptively sued to block the suit over its coronavirus safety protocols and the firing of one of its employees who objected to working conditions.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

New prime minister, Mario Draghi, vows to speed up Italy’s Covid vaccinations

Italy recorded 336 more coronavirus deaths – the second highest rate in Europe

Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, has pledged to speed up the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme as he presented his government’s priorities before a confidence vote in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday.

In his much-anticipated maiden speech, Draghi, who was sworn into office on Saturday, said the government’s first duty was to “fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens”.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Mass testing still a vital tool in Covid efforts despite vaccine success

Analysis: Operation Moonshot rhetoric has been toned down but tests will help spot variants

When the government’s Operation Moonshot plans for mass testing the population for Covid-19 were first revealed, the intention was to use that as the route out of perpetual cycles of lockdown.

It was described as a £100bn-plus endeavour, with resources likened to the Manhattan Project, the top-secret wartime endeavour led by the US to develop a nuclear bomb.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Kamala Harris echoes Biden promise to get vaccine to ‘all Americans’ by July

Vice-president touts speed with which government is sending Covid-19 vaccines to states, a 57% increase since the inauguration

Kamala Harris has sent a message to residents of Texas and other states hit by power outages and prolonged winter conditions that help is on the way.

“I just want to mention all of those folks in Texas and the mid-Atlantic,” the vice-president said in a live interview Wednesday morning on NBC’s Today show, her first national network interview since taking office.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

British American Tobacco profits rise despite drop in sales

Covid crisis affects duty-free cigarettes but demand for vaping kits surges

The owner of cigarette brands including Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Camel has posted a near 9% rise in profits, despite lower sales partly caused by the pandemic.

British American Tobacco (BAT) said the number of cigarettes sold fell nearly 5% last year, amid restrictions on travel that hit duty-free trade and and a sales ban in South Africa related to the Covid crisis. However, price increases meant the total value of cigarettes sold rose.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Ryanair to challenge EU court ruling on French and Swedish state aid

Irish airline to appeal after losing first round of legal battle over Covid bailouts for rival carriers

Ryanair is to appeal to the European court of justice after losing the first round of its legal battle against state bailouts granted to rival flag carrier airlines such as Air France-KLM and Scandinavia’s SAS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of the Irish airline, had accused nation states of “selectively gifting billions of euros to their inefficient flag carriers”.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

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