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London losing out in Covid vaccine race as Sadiq Khan calls for more jabs to be distributed

London losing out in Covid vaccine race as Sadiq Khan calls for more jabs to be distributed

n urgent call was made today for more Covid vaccines to be distributed in London as the Evening Standard revealed that the capital is losing out to the rest of the country.

Mayor Sadiq Khan told Boris Johnson that additional supplies were desperately needed – and that Londoners aged 40 to 60 had to receive it as soon as possible after the elderly and health and care workers received their jabs.

The problem came to light on Tuesday when the NHS chief in charge of the Covid response in the capital revealed the capital was receiving fewer doses of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines per head of population.

This is because the vaccines are being distributed equally between primary care networks across the country, on a supposed “fair share basis”.

Because London’s population lives more geographically closely together, it means there are fewer vaccines to give to all those due to be inoculated. The current strategy also fails to take account of the fact that London currently has by far the highest rates of Covid in the UK.

Martin Machray, joint chief nurse and Covid incident director at NHS London, said: “Per head of population, we are not getting quite as much vaccine as maybe more rural parts of the country.”

Mr Khan, in a letter with the capital’s top councillor, Georgia Gould, to the Prime Minister, said: “We urge you to look again at the formula for the distribution of the vaccine that will leave London, with a population of nine million, and other major conurbations, with fewer vaccines per head of population compared to less densely populated regions.

London mayor on his decision to declare ‘major incident’ in London

“We call on you to review this formula and urgently scale up vaccine distribution in London.”

The letter also called for tougher lockdown restrictions, including:

  • Stricter guidance on retailers avoiding unsafe queues, crowding or mixing
  • Prohibiting large non-essential retail chains from operating click and collect services
  • Stronger guidance to restrict the size of weddings, receptions, wakes, funerals and burials.

Mr Khan, who last Friday declared a major incident because of the pressure on the capital’s hospitals and high infection rates, said the planned vaccination of younger age groups should be accelerated as they are “presenting at hospitals in large numbers”.

He added: “It is also this group which is spending longer in hospital because they are less likely to die from the virus, but require longer hospital treatment to recover.”

Elderly residents of care homes and their carers, NHS frontline staff, Londoners over 70 and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are first in the queue.

This should reduce deaths and disease by 65 per cent, Mr Machray told the London Assembly.

Vaccinations are currently being offered by 100 primary care networks in the capital – where GPs are working with neighbouring practices to deliver the jabs. In addition, the ExCeL conference centre in Docklands has been set up as a mass vaccination site.

The amount of vaccine due to be received by the capital over the next month is said to have already been determined – but supplies are expected to increase after mid-February as national shortages ease.

Mr Machray said: “I’m certainly confident we have the resources to give every drop of vaccine that we get.

“I’m also confident that if more vaccine comes to the city we will be ready to give that, but we can only give what we have got to give.

“The reason why we have given so far less per head of population is because we are the most densely populated bit of the [country].”

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Young London SOS: Early intervention for mental health is key. That’s why the time to act is now

Young London SOS: Early intervention for mental health is key. That’s why the time to act is now

Dear Londoners,

Half of all people who develop lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by age 14, and experts say that early intervention is key.

We all know that many Londoners are struggling right now and that includes our children and teenagers. That is why today the Evening Standard launches a new campaign — Young London SOS — to address the rising crisis in mental health among young people in the wake of the pandemic.

In our special investigation led by our campaigns editor, David Cohen, we revealed the alarming scale of the situation: 500,000 children and teenagers who had no mental health problems before Covid-19 now need mental health support.

These figures come on top of the one in six already identified by the NHS.

Headteachers say “it’s the worst it has been and getting worse”. That is why we have teamed up with Place2Be, the UK’s leading provider of schools-based mental health services.

Young London SOS: Early intervention for mental health is key. That’s why the time to act is now
( )

The charity is in 150 primary and secondary schools in London but its aim is to double the number of pupils they reach by 2025 and — given the urgency of the situation — we want to turbo-charge this effort with you, our readers.

We are all proud Londoners and we care about our citizens and neighbours — as was so powerfully demonstrated in the first lockdown last year. It costs £33,000 to put a Place2Be team of experts and counsellors into one additional school for one year, directly engaging, on average, one third of the pupils, as well as the teachers and parents.

Since this lockdown began they have immediately pivoted their care online as well, meaning they have not abandoned the thousands of teenagers badly in need of it.

We are calling on you, as well as corporates and charitable foundations, to donate generously. Every £100 you give could deliver a whole school service to one vulnerable child for one year.

To kickstart our campaign, we have secured a £33,000 grant “in principle” from the endowment of the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund.

It is a tragedy that so many teenagers feel they have to go through overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression, or self-harm, alone, when help could be at hand.

Let’s give young people the support they need. The time to act is now. 

Emily Sheffield

Editor, Evening Standard

Donate today

You can support the Young London SOS campaign by donating to Place2Be HERE

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Adil Ray, Sadiq Khan and Meera Syal among stars urging vaccine take up by ethnic minorities in new video

Adil Ray, Sadiq Khan and Meera Syal among stars urging vaccine take up by ethnic minorities in new video

amous faces from across Britain’s ethnic minority communities have fronted a new video campaign to encourage take-up of the coronavirus vaccine.

Presenter Konnie Huq, London mayor Sadiq Khan and cricketer Moeen Ali are among the big names participating in the clip, titled ‘If you could save someone’s life’.

The independent initiative was spearheaded by Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray, who shared a link to the five-minute video on Twitter on Monday.

He tweeted: “A group of us have come together to encourage people from Ethnic Minority communities to take the vaccine. Please share, retweet and watch here.”

It comes after experts called for targeted campaigns to address worrying vaccine hesitancy among the British Indian community and other minority groups.

Some 56 per cent of British Indians said they would take up a vaccine when asked by the 1928 Institute, a new think tank led by academics from the University of Oxford.

The think tank said much of this reluctance stems from people feeling they are not informed enough about the vaccines, while a significant proportion feel other people deserve to receive a jab more.

But the ‘If you could save someone’s life’ campaign encourages ethnic minority viewers to take ownership of the nation’s vaccination efforts and to trust in its safety and efficacy.

It begins with comedian and writer Meera Syal telling the audience: “Hello, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal and As-Asalaamu ‘alaykum.

“This past year has been the most challenging for many of us. We have suffered in unimaginable ways, and many of us have lost our loved ones.”

Actor Shobna Gulati then takes over, saying: “But we will find our way though this, with our friends and our families.

“All we have to do is take the vaccination.”

England cricket star Ali continues: “Many in our community have suffered the most, largely due to our efforts on the frontline at the NHS or as key workers.”

Ray then says: “Looking after others and serving our community is what we do.

“It’s why we have such immense pride when a family member becomes a doctor or a nurse.

“They need our respect now more than ever.

“They need our help.”

<p>Abdullah Afzal hails the achievements of BioNtech founders Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci</p>

Abdullah Afzal hails the achievements of BioNtech founders Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci

/ Adil Ray/YouTube )

Actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal goes on to point out that “the scientists who developed the most widely used vaccine (the Pfizer/BioNtech jab) are Muslim”.

The participants then dispel common misconceptions, stressing: “There is no scientific evidence to suggest the vaccine will work differently on people from ethnic minority backgrounds; the vaccine does not include pork or any material of foetal or animal origin; and the vaccine does not contain the live virus itself.”

It continues: “There may be other concerns that you have read online or via a text message – we urge you, please, to address these with your doctor.”

The clip concludes with Baronness Sayeeda Warsi reassuring viewers: “By taking the vaccine, we will soon be able to live normal lives again.”

“Soon we will be reunited with our friends and family provided we do one simple thing: take the vaccine,” cricketer Ali adds.

ITV presenter Ria Hebden then says: “Just one simple step will mean we can once again eat, drink, pray and hug together.

Finally, actor Nina Wadia OBE says: “Not only will you be saving your life, you will be saving other lives, too.” 


Nina Wadia ends the video with a poignant, and life-saving, message

/ Adil Ray/YouTube )

The video’s participants include:

Adil Ray (Organiser of video)

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Air passengers coming into Britain will be sent to quarantine in hotels, confirms Boris Johnson

Air passengers coming into Britain will be sent to quarantine in hotels, confirms Boris Johnson

Under plans being decided by ministers over the next 24 hours, some travellers will be put on buses and driven directly to isolation centres.

At the very least, the measure will apply to Britons returning from countries such as Brazil and South Africa, which are known to have dangerous new mutations of the coronavirus.

But ministers are not ruling out extending the plan to all passengers and countries to defend against the risk of another mutation that nobody yet knows about.

“We have to realise that there is at least the theoretical risk that there is a new variant, a vaccine-busting variant coming in,” he said. “So we will need to keep that under control.”

The dramatic move to defend the UK from more deadly mutations of Covid-19 is by far the toughest border measure yet.  

The key question to be settled by ministers, who are in meetings with scientists today, is whether to target the measure only at passengers who have visited countries such as Brazil and South Africa or whether to target passengers from other countries.  

Hawks in the Cabinet, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, say mutations could exist in countries that lack advanced genome monitoring without anybody realising the threat exists until it arrives. 

The most severe option is to insist on quarantine for all passengers, which would require thousands of hotel rooms and monitoring. Passengers will have to pay their hotel bills and will also have to take a negative test for coronavirus before they are released.

Mr Johnson continued: “At the moment the UK already has one of the tightest regimes in the world. Don’t forget everybody when you’re coming into the UK, that you have to have a test 72 hours before you fly, you have to have a passenger locater form, the airline will kick you off if you don’t produce either of those. And then they test your passenger locater form. And then of course you need to quarantine for 10 days — five days with another negative test.”

Some 6.3 million people have now been vaccinated in Britain.

Mr Hancock signalled his backing for tough measures when he said yesterday: “The new variant I really worry about is the one that is out there that hasn’t been spotted.

“There’s probably those elsewhere that simply haven’t been picked up because the country doesn’t have that genomic sequencing service.”

Air passengers coming into Britain will be sent to quarantine in hotels, confirms Boris Johnson

There are 77 known cases of the South African variant in the UK and nine of the Brazilian. All the cases of the South African variant have been linked to travel. He said that Brazil and South Africa spotted the variants because they had “decent-sized” genomic sequencing programmes but other countries were less well covered.

Yesterday, the Health Secretary took a swipe at influencers and celebrities as he criticised people travelling overseas amid the pandemic. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hancock said: “International travel, right now, should not be happening unless it’s absolutely necessary. No parties in Paris or weekends in Dubai. That is not on and in most cases it’s against the law.”


Number of known cases of the South African variant in Britain.

There are nine Brazilian

The comments came after a number of social media influencers were criticised over trips to Dubai that they documented on Instagram.

His reference to “parties in Paris” comes after model Kate Moss spent her 47th birthday in the French capital with her boyfriend Nikolai von Bismarck and daughter Lila Grace.

Sources told The Mail on Sunday that Moss had to travel for work and had been forced to break off a Caribbean holiday to do so.

In other developments, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is self-isolating for the third time after he came into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Sir Keir wrote on Twitter: “This morning I was notified that I must self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“I have no symptoms and will be working from home until next Monday.”

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West Ham fans and stars unite to support each other during pandemic

West Ham fans and stars unite to support each other during pandemic

More than 6,000 people have joined the Hammers for work and support Facebook page, set up by fans to find jobs or talk about the strain the pandemic has placed on their lives.

The group has attracted endorsements from former players Tony Cottee and Carlton Cole, as well as famous fans including author Irvine Welsh, actor Perry Fenwick and TV presenter Ben Shephard. In his video message, Welsh says: “When I first came to London in my teens I was embraced by, not so much a bunch of football supporters, but a real community, people who looked after each other.  

“To me West Ham embodies the best of London, a sense of community, a sense of solidarity and they are still doing that in these difficult times.”

<p>Danny Panrucker, who launched the Facebook page, with his son Jack in a West Ham shirt&nbsp;</p>

Danny Panrucker, who launched the Facebook page, with his son Jack in a West Ham shirt 

/ Danny Panrucker )

Cottee adds: “We are the only club in the country doing this.”

East London has been one of the areas hardest hit by coronavirus in the UK. In Newham, where West Ham is based, the number claiming Universal Credit has almost tripled since March 2020, with more than 52,000 residents now claiming government benefits.

The page was started nine months ago by lifelong Hammers fans Danny Panrucker and Neil Taylor and is monitored by Alexandrea Clark and Lindsay Hoy.


Danny Panrucker and daughter, Ava 

/ Danny Panrucker )

Mr Panrucker said he was inspired to set it up after attending a fellow fan’s funeral during the first wave of the pandemic and hearing about people in the East End who had lost jobs or been detrimentally affected by the pandemic.

It has helped more than a dozen people back into work, found housing for homeless and given hundreds access to mental health services and support.

Perry Fenwick, Frank McAvennie and Stavros Flatley urge people to sign up

“I couldn’t believe how badly some people were struggling. We have a wonderful community fanbase and I thought it would be a good way of getting people together through the love of the club,” said Mr Panrucker, 48.

Mr Taylor said: “Connections are really important, especially at the moment when you can’t go out and people are struggling financially. The page shows everyone they’re not alone.”


TV presenter Ben Shepherd is among the famous fans to back the initiative

/ Ben Shepherd )

Karen Pullen set up mental health charity The Craig Tyler Trust in memory of her son who took his own life aged 22 in 2018.

“Craig was a massive West Ham fan,” Ms Pullen said. “I saw the page and thought what an amazing thing and posted that we were around for support.

“We have been inundated with messages and calls. The worst thing at the moment is the fact that we are not in control. There is no deadline for when we can get back to work or see people.”

In Newham, which still has some of the highest infection rates in the country, some 17,000 people have been placed on furlough. More than 27,000 extra people have had to claim benefits.

Last year Joey Chapman was in danger of losing the boxing club his father Ron set up 40 years ago. The Newham Boxing Club helps disadvantaged people train for minimal fees. But not being able to open put it at risk of closure.

Volunteers on the Hammers page have raised £3,000 to pay the club’s rent. Mr Chapman said: “Knowing it’s safe is a weight off everyone’s minds.”

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UK coronavirus LIVE: Schools must open before Easter, Boris Johnson told as lockdown ‘could start easing next month’

UK coronavirus LIVE: Schools must open before Easter, Boris Johnson told as lockdown ‘could start easing next month’

It comes as the Prime Minister suggested rules could start to ease next month. He told reporters this morning that the Government would be “looking at the potential of relaxing some measures” before mid-February.

His comments followed reports by the Telegraph that the country could reopen fully once all over-50s have had their vaccine, with life potentially returning close to “normality” by the first week of July.

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Newlyweds, 90 and 86, get their Covid jabs at converted former DIY store

A newlywed pensioner couple have urged everyone to get vaccinated as they became two of the first to get the jab at a new large-scale centre.

Geoff Holland, 90 and his 86-year-old wife Jenny were only marred in August after they met at the Town View independent living centre, where they live in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

As they got their jabs of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in a cavernous former Wickes DIY store this morning, Mr and Mrs Holland described how coronavirus has meant they only managed to marry in August at the third time of trying – and with just four guests to celebrate.

Mr Holland said: “We’ve only been married five months. We had to try three times with pandemic. We managed it on the third time.”

His wife added: “It was Geoff’s birthday at the beginning of April and we were going to celebrate that, his 90th, and, of course, that all went pear-shaped.

“And then we were going to get married on my birthday and that all fell through as well.

“We just kept making inquiries and then we got married at the register office.”

Mrs Holland said: “Originally, when we were going to get married, we had everything planned.

“We had the buffet bought and half paid for, and, for all that to go.

“But, never mind. As long as we’re married and we’re happy together.”

Asked how they met, Mrs Holland said: “Geoff came and sat at our table, we got talking and it just went from there.”

And she championed getting married late in life “as long as you find the right person”.

Mr and Mrs Holland said they both tested positive for coronavirus a couple of months ago after Mr Holland was feeling a bit under the weather and they got tested.

But both got through it without developing major symptoms.

Mr Holland’s daughter Kathryn Turner and her husband Roger said that they only see the couple very briefly when they drop off shopping.

Mrs Turner said: “We have missed them so much. They are so in love and such lovely people.”

They got engaged the following New Year’s Eve.

The Mansfield Vaccination Centre has joined 31 other new sites opening across England this week.

People aged 75 and over who live within a 45-minute drive of the centre are being invited to book their vaccination, the NHS said.

UK coronavirus LIVE: Schools must open before Easter, Boris Johnson told as lockdown ‘could start easing next month’
( PA )

The pandemic is proof of the Union’s strength – PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also asked if he would legally challenge Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for an advisory independence referendum if the Scottish National Party wins a majority in May’s Holyrood elections.

Mr Johnson said: “The whole UK is going through a pandemic, I think what the people of the UK want to see is everybody focussing on beating that pandemic, which we are, rolling out the vaccine, and getting ready to bounce back from that pandemic and have the strongest possible economic recovery.

“I think people also can see everywhere in the UK the visible benefits of our wonderful union.

“A vaccine programme that is being rolled out by a National Health Service, a vaccine that was developed in labs in Oxford and is being administered by the British Army, so I think the strengths and advantages of the Union speak for themselves.”


Quarantine hotels are ‘definite’ possibility – PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said the Government was “definitely looking at” the possibility of travellers arriving in the UK being required to quarantine in hotels.

He said: “We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in, we’ve got to be able to keep that under control.”

Mr Johnson went on: “With this vaccination programme, we’ve done I think 6.3, 6.4 million people now in the UK as a whole.

“We are on target just, just, we’re on target to hit our ambition of vaccinating everybody in those vulnerable groups by the middle of February.

“We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad.

“That idea of looking at hotels is certainly one thing we’re actively now working on.

“We need a solution that gives us the maximum possible protection against reinfection from abroad.”


You can watch Therese Coffey’s awkward head-to-head with Piers Morgan here:


PM hints some lockdown restrictions could ease within next three weeks

The Prime Minister added the Government will be “looking at the potential of relaxing some measures” before mid-February.

But he could not give a guarantee schools would be back before Easter.

He went on: “I do think now this massive achievement has been made of rolling out this vaccination programme, I think people want to see us making sure we don’t throw that away by having a premature relaxation and then another big surge of infection.

“I totally understand the frustrations of parents, I really thank teachers for what they’re doing, the immense efforts they’re going to to teach kids online, and the Government has provided a lot of laptops… I know that’s no substitute for direct face-to-face learning.

“Believe me there’s nothing I want to do more than reopen schools, I’ve fought to keep schools open for as long as I possibly could.

“We want to see schools back as fast as possible, we want to do that in a way that is consistent with fighting the epidemic and keeping the infection rate down.”


PM refuses to give schools reopening ‘timetable’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited a vaccination site at Barnet Football Club in north London this morning, where around 13,000 jabs have been delivered since mid-December.

During his visit he talked to reporters about the issue of schools.

Asked if he could give a firm date for schools reopening, Mr Johnson said: “Daily we’re looking at the data and trying to work out when we’re going to be able to lift restrictions.

“Schools obviously will be a priority but I don’t think anybody would want to see the restrictions lifted so quickly while the rate of infection is still very high so as to lead to another great spread of infection.

“We’ve now got the R down below 1 across the whole of the country, that’s a great achievement, we don’t want to see a huge surge of infection just when we’ve got the vaccination programme going so well and people working so hard.

“I understand why people want to get a timetable from me today, what I can tell you is we’ll tell you, tell parents, tell teachers as much as we can as soon as we can.”

( PA )

Teachers aren’t more at risk of death from Covid than other workers, latest figures suggest

Covid-19 death rates for men and women working as teaching and educational professionals, such as secondary school teachers, were not statistically significantly raised compared with rates for the wider working population, the ONS found.

The rate for male teachers and educational professionals in England and Wales in 2020 was 18.4 deaths per 100,000, compared with 31.4 for all males aged 20 to 64; while for women it was 9.8 compared with 16.8.

For individual teaching occupations, the ONS said it was only possible to calculate a reliable rate for secondary education teaching professionals, with 39.2 deaths per 100,000 males and 21.2 per 100,000 females. The ONS said these were “not statistically significantly different than those of the same age and sex in the wider population”.


Starmer self-isolating after close contact with Covid case

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he has been told to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.


Taxi drivers and chefs among group most at risk of death from Covid – ONS

Process plant workers, security guards, chefs and taxi drivers were some of the occupations recording the highest rates of death involving Covid-19 for male workers in England and Wales in 2020.

People working in close proximity to each other, and in jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19, continue to have higher Covid-19 death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

For female workers, some of the highest rates of death involving Covid-19 were for jobs involving assembly lines and routine machine operations, such as sewing machinists, as well as care workers and home carers.

The figures cover deaths registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28 2020.


Therese Coffey cut her interview with Piers Morgan short this morning

She switched off her camera after accusing the presenter of making “insulting” comments:

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