Great Britain

Covid news - live: Hunt for missing patient narrowed to 379 households and third vaccine dose may be needed

Single dose of Covid vaccine cuts risk of hospital admission in elderly by 80%, new figures show

The search for a mystery missing patient with the more virulent Brazilian variant of Covid-19 has been narrowed down to 379 households in the South East, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary said just 0.1 per cent of people who take tests fail to fill in a registration card, after Downing Street was unable to confirm the extent of the problem.

Officials have been hunting for the individual, who is one of six people in the UK infected with the “variant of concern” from Brazil, but the only one who provided no information about themselves.

Mr Hancock told the House of Commons a third vaccine dose may be needed over the autumn to protect against new variants of the disease.

He said: “We know for sure that we seek to vaccinate with two doses every adult in the UK – there may well be a need for a third vaccination over the autumn against variants and there is currently a clinical trial considering the vaccination of under-18s.”

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England on course to end social distancing in mid-June, Matt Hancock says

England is on course to end all social distancing in mid-June, Matt Hancock says – even though a review is not due to conclude until then.

Asked if the pace of vaccinations and falling hospitalisation and death rates offered “real hope” of hitting that target, a beaming health secretary replied simply: “Yes.”

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details:

Comment goes further than ‘roadmap’ - which said review will decide, based on progress over next three months

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Universities told to compensate students after Covid disruption

Universities have been made to compensate students for the effects of coronavirus on their courses, with one individual receiving £5,000.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has released a series of complaints by students about the impact of Covid-19 on their studies.

Jon Sharman has more details:

One person gets £5,000 after hands-on clinical placements cancelled

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Overweight people might need bigger Pfizer dose, Italian study says

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may offer less protection for overweight people, a new study suggests.

If the results were replicated by larger studies, it would be worth exploring the option of giving obese people bigger doses of the vaccine, researchers in Italy said.

Antibody presence correlated with BMI, age and sex, pre-review research suggests

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Scotland to consider whether easing restrictions can be accelerated

The Scottish government will next week consider if easing of restrictions can be accelerated, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Updating MSPs in Holyrood, the first minister said figures in the past week were encouraging and that she and ministers would be considering if the exit from lockdown can be moved forward.

She said: “I have always said if we can go further and faster, then we will not hesitate to do so.

“All of us want to move on as quickly as possible - and, as a priority, to see friends and family again. I hope that day is now not too far away.”

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Third vaccine dose against new variants may be needed in autumn, says Hancock

There may be a need for a third Covid-19 vaccination dose over autumn against new variants, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary told the Commons: “I was very pleased to see that Covax has started vaccinating in Ghana last week and while we do currently look as though we may have excess vaccines in the future, we have clearly committed that we will make them available around the world.

“Now, we know for sure that we seek to vaccinate with two doses every adult in the UK, there may well be a need for a third vaccination over the autumn against variants and there is currently a clinical trial considering the vaccination of under-18s.

“So the exact number of vaccines that we will need for the UK population is not yet known, but we are absolutely keen to ensure that we then go on to support with vaccines as well as with money that we have already pledged to support the vaccination of the most underdeveloped parts of the world.”

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Google announces new features so home workers don’t lose out if colleagues return to the office

Google is adding a range of new features to its Google Workspace functions, in order to ensure its users can continue to access its products in a post-pandemic world where many continue to work remotely.

Google says the tools and features are to help people manage their time better and “collaborate equally”.

Adam Smith has more details:

Google Assistant, Calendar, and Meet are all getting new functions

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Not having contact details happens in ‘about 0.1% of tests’, says Hancock

Matt Hancock told the Commons: "Not having the contact details happens in about 0.1 per cent of tests. In this case, we think that the test was done as part of a home test kit where obviously it is incumbent on the individual to set out those details.

"Because home test kits can be both sent to your home, in which case, of course, we have the details of where it was sent, or in response to surges, they can be taken round by the local authority teams and dropped off and, therefore, we need to find out exactly where this one was dropped off.

"The team have done a very, very good job of narrowing down to 379 households where this may be. The call-out at the weekend has been answered with a number of leads and we're working hard to make sure that we can find the individual concerned."

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Search for missing patient narrowed to 379 households, Matt Hancock says

Health officials are closing in on the mystery missing patient with the more virulent Brazilian variant of Covid-19, Matt Hancock says.

The search has “narrowed down to 379 households in the south-east”, the health secretary told MPs, adding: “We are contacting each one.”

Follow our breaking news story for more details:

Health officials are closing in on the mystery missing patient with the more virulent Brazilian variant of Covid-19, Matt Hancock says.

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Surge testing to target two London areas after South African variant detected

Surge testing will be deployed in the areas of Wimbledon Park in Merton, southwest London, and East Finchley in Barnet, north London, where the South African Covid variant has been found, the Department for Health has said.

The increased testing is being introduced in addition to existing extensive testing.

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

Enhanced contact tracing will also be used for individuals testing positive with a “variant of concern”. This will involve contact tracers looking back across an extended period to determine the route of transmission.

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One in four people in England estimated to have Covid antibodies, says Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said one in four people in England are now estimated to have antibodies against Covid-19.

He told the Commons: "This morning, the Office for National Statistics published new data on the levels of protection people have.

"They show that up to February 11, one in four people are estimated to have antibodies against coronavirus in England, up from one in five.

"The levels are highest in the over-80s, the first group to be vaccinated, showing again the protection from the vaccine across the country."

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