Coronavirus vaccine news UK – Astra-Zeneca blood clotting fears sees Oxford covid jab SUSPENDED in five countries

FIVE countries have halted the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccines over fears of fatal blood clots.

Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have suspended use of one batch following a handful of dangerous blood clotting conditions in people who had recently had the jab.

The European Medicines Agency is now launching an investigation but at present there is no firm evidence to suggest the blood clots are actually linked to the vaccine and there have been no reports in the UK.

The suspension comes after a person in Austria died of multiple thrombosis – formation of blood clots within blood vessels – 10 days after their vaccine.

A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism – where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs – but is now recovering.

As of Tuesday this week, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients in Austria that had received a dose from the same batch.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    ROUGH SLEEPERS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SUPPORT CAN BE HOUSED DURING PANDEMIC – JUDGE

    Rough sleepers who would not usually be eligible for housing can be given emergency accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic, a High Court judge has ruled.

    People living on the streets, including those whose immigration status meant they were not entitled to state support, were helped into accommodation during the first lockdown which began in March last year under what became known as the "Everyone In" policy.

    However, Brighton and Hove City Council refused to provide accommodation to failed asylum seeker Timon Ncube when he applied in September last year.

    Mr Ncube brought a High Court challenge against that decision, supported by housing charity Shelter. By the time his case reached the court in December last year, the Zimbabwean national had been moved to Home Office accommodation in Swindon. But the court went ahead with hearing the case, saying it raised issues of "public importance".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    HOMELESS PEOPLE SHOULD BE PRIORITISED FOR VACCINES SAYS JCVI

    Homeless people should be prioritised to receive a coronavirus vaccine, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said.

    The JCVI said people who are homeless or sleeping rough are likely to have underlying health conditions and should be offered jabs alongside those in priority group six.

    They should also be offered the vaccine without the need for an NHS number or GP registration, it added.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING

    The number of people to die with Covid in the UK continues to drop – with fatalities at the lowest level of any Thursday so far this year.

    A further 181 people were recorded to have died after battling the virus – a drop of 73 per cent on this time last month when 678 people died.

    Meanwhile, a further 6,753 people tested positive overnight – a drop of 50 per cent on February 11, when 13,494 people were newly diagnosed.

    In hospitals in England, a further 159 people lost their lives to the virus. The casualties were aged between 35 and 99, and all but 11, who were aged 64 to 91, had known underlying health conditions.

    Nine more people died in Northern Ireland, while 22 further deaths were recorded in Scotland and 12 in Wales.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CORONAVIRUS NEEDS TO STAY CONTAINED AND WE HAVE TO BE VIGILANT, SAYS EXPERT

    The coronavirus situation in the UK is quite "contained" but we have to be "vigilant" and make sure it stays under control, an expert has said.

    Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (Cog-UK), said the virus may be behaving in a similar way around the world, but no one knows what might happen in the future.

    Speaking at a webinar as part of the Royal Society of Medicine's Covid-19 Series, Prof Peacock said: "We have to be vigilant as ever and make an assumption that at the moment it's quite a contained situation, but that we have to keep watching every day and every week to make sure that it stays like that.

    "At the moment we've reached a situation where viruses around the world are behaving in quite similar ways. But then there comes the question what else might happen? And so if people ask could the virus become completely resistant to vaccine, could it become more lethal?

    "And our answer to that is that I think it's very unlikely that we'd ever get to a situation where the virus is completely resistant to vaccines because the vaccine manufacturers have been absolutely fantastic, and very innovative in keeping ahead of the curve. So, I would anticipate that vaccines will stay ahead of where they need to, but we can't predict the future."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'HORRENDOUS'

    A grieving mum is facing a £10,000 fine and court after releasing balloons in memory of her dad-in-law who died of Covid-19.

    Vicki Hutchinson, 34, is charged with breaking lockdown rules after allegedly hosting a gathering of more than 30 people in Peterlee, County Durham.

    The sunbed salon owner is accused of organising the socially-distanced memorial event for her father-in-law Ian Stephenson, 58, who died in November.

    She branded the charge and fine threat "absolutely disgusting" and said "I'm not paying anything".

    Defiant Ms Hutchinson told Teeside Live: "I understand we were in tier four but to hit a family who have just lost their father, how are you expecting families to pay these sort of fines? I asked people to social distance and wear a mask, I thought if everybody was distanced I didn't see what the problem would be. I thought with it being outside there was lots of social distancing on a massive field."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MUTANT FEAR

    A new Covid variant has been found in England, Public Health England confirmed today.

    It emerged after two infected people returned from Antigua to the south east of England.

    It was declared a Variant Under Investigation on March 4, and has two mutations which can evade vaccines and speed up transmission.

    No other cases have been found of this variant so far, after teams worked to speak to any close contacts and the pair isolated.

    It comes as four more cases of the Brazil variant, known as P.1, have been found in the UK.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TOUGH TOLL

    Covid pressures left NHS staff so stressed they became ill – with nurses the worst hit.

    Almost half of all nurses, who bore the brunt of caring for patients in overwhelmed hospitals, said the burden had left its mark. 

    The NHS Staff Survey revealed the pandemic made huge swathes of workers unwell.

    It comes as 49 per cent of nurses said they suffered with work-related illness in the last year.

    Staff manning acute and community trusts and acute specialist trusts saw a worse effect of stress.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MINORITY OF NHS WORKERS SATISFIED WITH THEIR PAY, SURVEY SUGGESTS

    Only around one in three NHS workers are satisfied with their pay, a new study suggests.

    The GMB union said its survey of 600,000 staff in England also showed that more than two out of five said they felt ill due to work-related stress, rising to one in two ambulance workers.

    Just over a third of those polled expressed satisfaction with their level of pay.

    Almost half of respondents said they had gone to work despite not feeling well in the last three months.

  • Joseph Gamp

    FRANCE EASES COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

    France will ease some COVID-19 restrictions on international travel outside Europe, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

    The ministry said in a statement that travellers to or from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Britain and Singapore would no longer need a compelling reason to travel.

    French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said this easing was due to the improving health situation in those countries.

    "The list includes Britain, because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France," he said on his Twitter feed.

    All other restrictions, such as a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test less than 72 hours before travel, would remain in place, the ministry said, adding a decree was due to be published on Friday.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHAT ARE THE COVID VARIANTS AND WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?

  • Joseph Gamp

    ONE IN FIVE HEALTH AND CARE WORKERS SUFFERED PTSD LAST YEAR, STUDY SHOWS

    One in five health and care workers suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the pandemic struck last year, a new study suggests.

    Almost three in five health and social care workers suffered a mental health problem during the first lockdown, figures show.

    Some 58% of workers in these sectors were deemed to have a mental health disorder between May 27 and July 23 last year. And 22% met the criteria for PTSD, according to the study led by researchers from UCL and the University of Haifa, Israel.

    Figures from the Frontline Covid study, published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, examined data on 1,194 health and social care workers from hospitals, nursing or care homes and other community settings across the UK.

    The researchers found that 47% had clinically significant anxiety and 47% had depression.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WATCH: EXPERT SAYS OXFORD ASTRAZENECA VACCINE 'IS SAFE' AS SOME COUNTRIES PAUSE USAGE

    Expert says Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine ‘is safe’ as some countries pause usage whilst incidence of blood clots checked

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    YOUNG PEOPLE SUFFERING HIT TO MENTAL HEALTH DURING CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – POLL

    More than two-thirds of young people are suffering a deterioration in their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey suggests.

    Some 69% of 18 to 24-year-olds say the virus crisis has had a negative impact on their mental health compared with just 28% of over-65s, according to the poll for Network Rail and charity Chasing the Stigma.

    Symptoms have increased across all age groups, with many respondents reporting rises in anxiety (40%), loneliness (31%) and depression (31%).

    The survey of more than 2,000 UK adults was commissioned as part of Network Rail's There is Always Hope campaign which encourages those struggling with their mental health to seek help before they reach crisis point.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    REOPENING OF SCHOOLS TO GO AHEAD, STURGEON SAYS AS FALL IN CASES SPARKS OPTIMISM

    Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed lockdown easing plans are to go ahead as she told the Scottish Parliament the continued fall in coronavirus cases is giving grounds for "cautious optimism".

    The First Minster told MSPs that primary children will return to school next week as planned along with more senior secondary pupils.

    Children in primaries 4-7 are due to join their younger classmates back in school from Monday.

    Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that up to four adults from two households will be able to meet outside from Friday.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    VIABILITY OF GLASS VIALS FOR COVID VACCINES MUST BE ADDRESSED, SAYS EXPERT

    Consideration will have to be given to how vaccines continue to be manufactured as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, an expert has said.

    Dr Ian Muir, chief executive of Porton Biopharma and lead for the contract manufacture team of the UK's Vaccine Task Force, said there are only a few manufacturers in the world who can make the specialised vials the vaccines are currently delivered in.

    He told a press briefing: "We realised very early on in the Vaccine Task Force that this would be a key component and thinking ahead.

    "And so, as the UK and with the companies involved we made very definitive moves to make sure that we secured large quantities of vials and the stoppers."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SCOTLAND'S LATEST COVID FIGURES

    Scotland has recorded 22 deaths from coronavirus and 591 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon said.

    It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,483.

    Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said 207,747 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 207,156 the previous day.

    The daily test positivity rate is 2.5%, down from 3.1% the previous day.

    There are 556 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 26 in 24 hours, and 42 patients are in intensive care, down seven.

    Ms Sturgeon said 1,825,800 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, up 16,642 from yesterday, and 141,433 have received their second dose.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    HALF OF NHS STAFF WORKING DURING PANDEMIC FELT UNWELL DUE TO WORK-RELATED STRESS

    Half of NHS staff in England who worked in coronavirus settings felt unwell due to work-related stress, the NHS Staff Survey 2020 found.

    It showed that 50% of the staff who said they had worked on a Covid-19 specific ward or area at any time reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress.

    This compared to 41% of the staff who had not worked in Covid settings feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    COVID FRONTIER 

    EU countries are waiting for vaccines like "pioneers in a Western movie" as new Covid cases surge by 50 per cent, Italian media says.

    The rocketing number of infections across the continent is feared to be the start of a third wave as pitiful numbers of people have been vaccinated because of chronic shortages.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    VACCINES AND TESTING KEY TO RETURN OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL, SHAPPS TELLS MPS

    A combination of vaccines, testing and travel passes will help restart international travel, according to the Transport Secretary.

    Grant Shapps outlined the options being examined when pressed by MPs to help the ailing sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Speaking in the Commons, Conservative Simon Jupp (East Devon) raised concerns about the long-term effects of Covid on the aviation industry and asked when the Government will publish its aviation plan.

    The Transport Secretary replied: "Well on 12 April (Mr Jupp) can look forward to seeing that report published and we'll make sure that in there there is a route not only out of the lockdown for travel, but all being well – as long as the vaccination programme is going as it is at the moment here, but also internationally – the route open to international travel again. I do just want to stress to the House that whilst we are in control of our own vaccination programme – what is it, 44% of our adult population now vaccinated – we don't have the same control over other countries' vaccinations.

    "And that is why we think we will require a combination of vaccination, but also of testing, in order to have international travel work again."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TEST AND TRACE LATEST FIGURES

    Of the 44,508 people transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to March 3, 88.6% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

    This is down very slightly from 89.1% in the previous week.

    Some 10.9% of people transferred to Test and Trace in the week to March 3 were not reached, while a further 0.5% did not provide any communication details.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DODGY DOSES

    Five countries have halted the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccines over fears of fatal blood clots.

    Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia have suspended use of one batch following a handful of dangerous blood clotting conditions in people who had recently had the jab.

    It comes after a person in Austria died of multiple thrombosis – formation of blood clots within blood vessels – 10 days after their vaccine.

    A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism – where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs – but is now recovering.

    As of Tuesday this week, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients in Austria that had received a dose from the same batch.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TRAINLINE REVEALS PLUNGING TICKET SALES IN THE YEAR OF COVID

    The impact of a year of coronavirus on the UK's rail network has been laid bare as Trainline revealed a sales plunge.

    The train and coach ticket travel platform said net sales for the 12 months to the end of February were 23% of levels before the pandemic, with revenues of just £473 million, compared with £2 billion a year earlier.

    Business travel performed even worse, with £75 million in net ticket sales, compared with £1.2 billion a year earlier.

    It means the company saw total UK ticket sales of £548 million, compared with £3.24 billion previously.

    International sales fared better, falling by just over 50%.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    HOOK AND JAB

    Stephen Fry joked about old uni rivalries as he received the Oxford vaccine yesterday.

    The former Cambridge student, 63, joined the 22million and more already inoculated as he was given his dose at Westminster Abbey.

    Fry said it was "extraordinary" to have received his jab in such a "symbolic" place, and he hailed the "vindication of science and research."

    He said: "It's a wonderful moment, but you feel that it's not only helpful for your own health, but you know that you're likely to be less contagious if you yourself happen to carry it. It's a symbol of being part of society, part of the group that we all want to protect each other and get this thing over and done with.

    "I'm so excited and it's such a vindication of science and research and slow discovery and experiment. It's not over yet by any means but it's a wonderful step."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    GET IN LINE

    This Covid vaccine calculator reveals when you will get your first coronavirus jab – as those in their 30s are set to get their first dose as soon as next month.

    Millions of jabs have been given to the most vulnerable and 10 million more doses will be available from next week – giving even more Brits some protection against the virus.

    Scientific advisers have confirmed that the vaccine programme will continue to prioritise people by age after those in their 80s were put at the top of the list.

    People aged between 40 and 49 will be next in line for the jab, followed by the 30-39s age group and then all those 18 to 29.

    There will be a "rapid increase" in the number of people getting vaccinated in the coming weeks thanks to a "big uplift" in supply following a "dip" at the end of February, vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said today.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DEATH SPIRAL

    Brazil has been hit by more than 2,000 Covid deaths in a single day for the first time as infections skyrocket across the country.

    The deadly mutant strain which is ravaging Brazil has been dubbed a "threat to humanity" as hospitals face collapse in much of the country.

    Brazil has the second highest Covid death toll in the world – behind the United States – with more than 268,000 fatalities.

    The country recorded 2,286 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to a staggering 270,917.

    Brazil also confirmed 80,000 new cases of the deadly virus.

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