HERE'S everything you need to know about the Covid pandemic:
- Deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level since mid-September, new figures show. A total of 205 deaths registered in the week ending April 30 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the lowest number since the week ending September 18. The figure is also down 21 per cent on the previous week. The total number of deaths registered in England and Wales was below the five-year average for the eighth consecutive week, the ONS said.
- Boris Johnson has committed to set up a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of coronavirus during the current session of Parliament. “I can certainly say that we will do that within this session,” the Prime Minister said. “I have made that clear before… I do believe it’s essential we have a full, proper public inquiry into the Covid pandemic.” There is no fixed length for a parliamentary session, although they typically last for around a year.
- Protesters demanding that AstraZeneca share its Covid-19 vaccine technology have held a loud demonstration outside the pharmaceutical firm’s Cambridge headquarters. A protester, who held a sign which read “human life not profit,” chained himself to a door while others climbed on to the roof of the entryway and unfurled a banner that read “people’s vaccine not profit vaccine”. Supporters played the drums during the protest organised by Global Justice Now, which is calling for the British-Swedish company to commit to sharing the technology with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- The Prime Minister has put repairing the NHS following the Covid pandemic at the heart of the next programme for the government. The Queen’s speech to officially reopen parliament included an NHS “catch-up and recovery plan” detailing the “unprecedented challenge” now facing the health service, which includes 4.7 million people in England waiting for care and more than 380,000 waiting more than a year for treatment. As well as a commitment to clearing the backlog, the Government has pledged to “account for the returning demand of those people who have not come forward for care during the pandemic”. It wants to persuade these “missing referrals” to see their GP to find undiagnosed conditions, including cancer.
- A new study will look at the immune response to natural coronavirus infection and vaccination in patients with antibody deficiency. The Covid infection in patients with Antibody Deficiency (COVAD) study is part of a group of national studies examining the immune responses in patients considered at high risk of Covid-19. Immunodeficiency patients are considered vulnerable or extremely vulnerable to the virus and have had to undertake preventative measures to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus, including shielding. Patients with antibody deficiency do not make good responses – if any – to most vaccines, but it is not known whether they will respond to coronavirus jabs.
- The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased older people’s social care needs, with about one in four finding it harder to carry out everyday activities, a survey suggests. Some 23 per cent of people aged 60 and over questioned for Age UK said their ability to carry out everyday activities has worsened since the first lockdown. The charity questioned 1,487 older people about how difficult they were finding activities such as using the stairs, walking short distances, washing, and preparing and cooking food.
- The employment rate among young people fell last year, according to an official report, confirming the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the job prospects of the age group. Between the first quarter of 2020 and the final three months, the employment rate among 16-to-24-year-olds fell by 2.6 per cent to 51.9 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The fall was partly explained by the imposition of lockdown restrictions which had “considerable” impact on industries with higher employment concentrations of young people, such as in wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services, said the ONS.