United Kingdom

Covid cases fall for the ELEVENTH day in a row

Covid cases have fallen for the eleventh day in a row with a further 24,470 recorded in the UK today.

Last Sunday saw 29,173 cases recorded, meaning today's figures represent a fall of 16% from the July 25 figure. 

A further 65 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 129,719. Today's figure is more than twice that of last Sunday, which saw 28 deaths reported.   

The most recent data for vaccinations, which goes up to July 31, shows 88.6 per cent of the adult population have had one dose of the Covid jab, while 72.5% have had two. 

Government data up to July 31 shows that of the 85,196,986 Covid jabs given in the UK, 46,851,145 were first doses, a rise of 38,858 on the previous day.

Some 38,345,841 were second doses, an increase of 212,159.

The figures come as Boris Johnson faces a renewed backlash within his party over the 'threat' of domestic vaccine passports, with demands for MPs to be recalled from their holidays to debate the proposal.

Andrew Bridgen, one of 43 Conservative MPs to sign a declaration opposing vaccine passports, said Parliament should be recalled from its summer recess if ministers are 'serious' about asking people to show proof of their vaccine status to gain entry to domestic venues and events.

The call means cross-party backing is emerging for the Commons to return before September.

In other Covid news today:

Last week, the Liberal Democrats, said a change rolled out to the NHS app, allowing users to prove they had been double-jabbed to access domestic settings - as well as for international travel - warranted a recall.

Conservative grandee Sir David Lidington, who was de facto deputy prime minister under Theresa May, added his voice to growing numbers in the Tory Party who are concerned about the prospect of vaccine passports, which are being used in some European countries, including Denmark and France.

ALL over-50s will get Covid booster shots by autumn 

Tens of millions of Britons will be offered a Pfizer booster jab this autumn as the vaccine has proved to be the most effective against the Delta variant.

The booster scheme, which was announced earlier this year, is set to start in September and should see 23million over-50s, vulnerable Britons and NHS and care home staff offered a third dose. 

Extra vaccines would be rolled out in two stages — prioritising those most at risk of Covid, before the programme is extended.

While patients were initially expected to be offered the jab they were originally inoculated with, it is understood all patients will be offered the Pfizer jab as it has proven to be the most effective against the Delta variant.

The Department of Health has yet to confirm the official details of the booster scheme, plans of which were first shared by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in June.

The JCVI is expected to issue its final advice in regards to the booster scheme in the coming months. 

A senior government source also told the Times that those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would 'be getting an mRNA booster'.

MRNA is a type of vaccine and applies to the Pfizer and Oxford jabs while AstraZeneca is not an mRNA jab. 

A UK Government-backed study published earlier this year found that mixing and matching Covid vaccines may result in higher protection against the virus.

People who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca's jab initially and then received a top-up with Pfizer's had nine times more antibodies than those who stuck to the UK vaccine.

Although antibodies are just one part of the immune response, the Oxford University researchers said the findings strongly suggested the approach could enhance immunity.

But it is understood the mix and match approach is not going to be used in the short term more broadly because there is a 'strong supply' of each vaccine type.

A senior HSE source told the Times: 'Currently there's no need for it. Currently we have plenty of vaccines. The amount of vaccine isn't an issue at all. There's no plan to do it. It's not under immediate consideration, but I wouldn't rule it out.'

The Government said analysis has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is 96 per cent effective against the Delta variant while the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses.

The former cabinet minister told Times Radio that introducing a 'Government certificate of approval' to access certain events would set a 'dangerous precedent'.

The Prime Minister has announced that he intends to change the rules in September so that only those who are fully vaccinated can attend nightclubs, in a move designed to increase the take-up of vaccination among young people.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), about two-thirds of people aged 18 to 29 in England have received a first dose.

The nightclub stipulations would be stricter than the coronavirus status certificates used at some mass events in recent months, with clubbers not allowed to use proof of a negative Covid-19 test or evidence of having had the virus to gain entry.

But Mr Johnson was warned by one of his backbenchers that he faced an 'embarrassing defeat' if he put the 'authoritarian' proposal to a vote in the Commons.

North West Leicestershire MP, Mr Bridgen, told LBC: 'I think if the Government is serious about the threat of bringing in domestic vaccine passports then, of course, Parliament should be recalled.

'This is a very serious infringement on people's liberties, it is basically unprecedented in this country, and I and a number of colleagues would oppose it.'

There are also ethical concerns, with professor of medical ethics Dominic Wilkinson telling the same radio station the idea of using Covid passes as a 'stick to punish' those who have not yet opted to get vaccinated was 'ethically flawed'.

Mr Bridgen suggested the Government had looked to change tack in its approach to enticing young people to get jabbed because it knew objections to vaccine passes were growing.

Labour shadow environment secretary, Luke Pollard, said the party was 'very cautious' about domestic Covid passports, with leader Sir Keir Starmer ruling out supporting them for use in 'everyday life', setting up the possibility of a Government defeat on the policy.

Mr Bridgen said: 'I personally don't think it would get through the House of Commons in any event and that's why the Government has moved on to this carrot inducements for young people.'

The so-called 'inducements' will see young people offered vouchers and discounts for popular takeaways and taxi rides in exchange for getting a jab.

Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the brands who will be offering incentives to encourage youngsters to get inoculated, DHSC has announced.

Labour MP Mr Pollard, who dubbed the offer 'kebabs for jabs', said he doubted the concept 'is going to be enough to get that last 30% of young people' vaccinated, and called for youngsters to be given more of a role in leading the campaign to get protected from the virus.

The rumblings over vaccine passports have coincided with a row over travel restrictions, with reports that the Chancellor has warned the Prime Minister the UK's border policy is 'out of step' with international rivals and is hurting the economy.

Rishi Sunak, according to the Sunday Times, is said to be calling for Britain to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further.

The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: 'Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions.'

Pictured: A woman receives the AstraZeneca Covid19 vaccine at an NHS vaccination centre in Ealing, west London

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said it showed the two most senior figures in Government were 'in open disagreement' and accused the Tories of being 'in chaos over their border policy'.

Government data released on Sunday showed that a further 65 people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, while a further 24,470 lab-confirmed Covid cases were also recorded.

And more than 85 million Covid-19 vaccines, including first and second doses, have been administered in the UK - with more than 88% of adults having now had a first dose and more 72% getting both doses.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'In under eight months, health services across the UK have delivered more than 85 million doses - this is a phenomenal achievement. It has shown Britain at its best.

'Please get both of your jabs if you haven't already to protect yourself and your loved ones.'

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said some of the nine million spare AstraZeneca jabs donated to developing countries last week were 'going in arms in Jamaica', with batches also 'on their way' to Kenya, Guyana, Belize and Laos.

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