PROFESSOR Stephen Reicher a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), warned their introduction could depress vaccine up-take.
“I don’t think that the idea of vaccine passports to get into the pub is a good idea and I think in many ways they could be counterproductive,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said: “The notion of in effect making them (vaccines) compulsory led to anger and to lowered uptake” among those who were already hesitant in a small survey in Israel, which is backed in other international studies.
“I think positive incentives, something that gives you something extra, is one thing. People actually aren’t adverse for vaccine passports to travel internationally.
“But when it comes to negative incentives, to in effect barring people from their everyday lives, from social activity, then actually they work in a very different way and people behave very negatively,” he said.
The comments come after it was revealed shops will be able to stay open until 10pm next month.
Meanwhile, Monday marks the next milestone in the government’s road to freedom out of lockdown.
Under the current rules, many Brits have been fined for not having a reasonable excuse for heading outside.
Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic…
SPAIN TO REQUIRE ANYONE ARRIVING BY LAND TO HAVE NEGATIVE COVID TEST
Spain is to require people arriving by land from France to present a negative Covid-19 test, the Health Ministry said on Saturday, amid rising numbers of French arrivals and an uptick in Spain’s coronavirus rate.
Anyone arriving by land from risk areas will have to present a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that was taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival.
“The order will take effect three days after its publication in the Official State Gazette and until the government declares the end of the health crisis situation caused by Covid-19,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The new requirement will not apply to truck drivers, cross-border workers, and people who live within 20 miles of the border.
Many French people, weary of their own lockdown, have been flocking over the border to enjoy open bars and restaurants in areas such as Madrid.
After receiving her jab, Mrs Foster said: “I’m just delighted to take my turn and get the vaccine today.
“There is a really positive community spirit here and across all of our centres in a collective effort to combat Covid-19.
“I am grateful to all of the wonderful team of medics and volunteers who are making this happen in GP practices and centres across Northern Ireland every day of the week.
“The programme is having real results. We are seeing falling levels of infection in our over-60s and I’m heartened to see the number of active outbreaks in our care homes reduce well into single figures.
“This week we hit more milestones as over 700,000 got the vaccine for the first time and over 110,000 people got their second jab.
ARLENE FOSTER GETS COVID JAB
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has received her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The DUP leader was given an AstraZeneca jab by a GP at the Castle Park leisure centre in Lisnaskea in her Co Fermanagh constituency on Saturday morning.
The 50-year-old politician became eligible for the vaccine earlier this month when Northern Ireland’s programme opened to the 50-and-over age cohort.
Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Health Minister Robin Swann will have to wait to be vaccinated as they are both in the 40 to 49 age bracket.
UNFETTERED INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ‘RISKS UNDOING VACCINE PROGRESS’
Keeping borders open for international travel could risk undoing vaccine progress, a scientist has warned.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), which advises the Government, has said allowing overseas trips without efficient testing and tracing in place could enable a vaccine-evading variant to enter the UK.
Under current guidelines, while it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays, travel for a range of professions including defence personnel and some HGV drivers is permitted.
Dr Tildesley, an infectious diseases expert, told Times Radio: “I can understand the need for wanting to keep our borders open for as long as possible, but if we are, there’s a risk there.
“We need to do what we can to minimise the risk, because what we don’t want is new variants coming in that undo all the good that our vaccination programme has done.”
VACCINE PASSPORTS COULD BE ‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’, GOVERNMENT ADVISER WARNS
The introduction of vaccine passports to gain access to pubs could be counterproductive in the fight against coronavirus, a social psychologist advising the Government has warned.
Professor Stephen Reicher said on Saturday that the measure being considered by the Government could compound hesitancy in those already sceptical of vaccines.
Boris Johnson has sought to calm fears over the possible introduction of coronavirus health certificates amid criticism from publicans and Tory backbenchers.
Ministers are reviewing their potential use, which could see access to hospitality venues granted only if customers have been jabbed, received negative tests, or developed antibodies through past infection.
But Professor Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), warned their introduction could depress vaccine up-take.
“I don’t think that the idea of vaccine passports to get into the pub is a good idea and I think in many ways they could be counterproductive,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
WAGAMAMA TO REOPEN AROUND HALF ITS RESTAURANTS FOR OUTDOOR DINING ON APRIL 12
Restaurant group Wagamama has unveiled plans to reopen around half of its restaurants for outdoor dining on April 12 as restrictions ease under Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown.
The noodle and katsu chain confirmed that 72 of its eateries will be able to open for al fresco dining next month.
It comes under the Prime Minister’s plan to ease restrictions, with outdoor drinking and dining allowed at pubs and restaurants from April 12.
Restaurants and pubs in Scotland will be able to open for outdoor drinking and dining from April 26, with four Wagamama sites reopening on that date.
It will mark a welcome step for restaurants with outdoor space after the sector was forced to close to everything except takeaway orders since the third lockdown began at the beginning of the year.
RUSSIA RECORDS NEARLY 9,000 NEW COVID CASES
Russia on Saturday reported 8,885 new coronavirus cases occurring in the past 24 hours, including 1,551 new cases in Moscow, and 387 deaths nationwide.
Its total number of Covid-19 cases crossed the 4.5 million mark the previous day.
INDIA GREAT SACHIN TENDULKAR SAYS HE HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID
Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar has tested positive for Covid-19.
The 47-year-old, who is Test cricket’s all time leading run-scorer with 15,921, said he is suffering only mild symptoms and is quarantining at home.
In a post on Twitter, Tendulkar said: “I have been testing myself and taking all the recommended precautions to ensure Covid is kept at bay.
“However, I’ve tested positive today following mild symptoms. All others at home have tested negative.
“I’ve quarantined myself at home and am following all the necessary protocols as advised by my doctors.
“I want to thank all the healthcare professionals who are supporting me and many others across the country. Take care all of you.”
The over-70s could begin getting booster shots to protect them against new coronavirus variants in September under plans for the future of the vaccine rollout.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the first booster doses would go to the top four priority groups, including care home staff, NHS workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
He told the Telegraph that this would likely begin in September and was said to have added that the Government is expecting up to eight different jabs to be available by the autumn, including one protecting against three different variants in a single dose.
JAB BOOST FOR OVER-70S
Over-70s are set to be given Covid booster jabs from September under government plans to protect them against new variants.
Vaccines chief Nadhim Zahawi said some people will be given three vaccination doses within the first 10 months of the jabs being in use.
Those in the top four priority groups for the original rollout – over 70s and frontline NHS and social care workers – will be the first to get the booster jabs, The Telegraph reports.
Mr Zahawi also told the paper that ministers were expecting up to eight vaccines to be available by the autumn, including one that could protect against three different Covid variants in a single jab.
Asked when the booster jabs would begin, Mr Zahawi said: “The most likely date will be September.”
SIMPLY THE BREAST – GOING BRALESS AFTER LOCKDOWN ENDS
She adds: “While the rest of me has been cooped up at home, my ‘girls’ have been hanging loose and carefree — and I have learnt to love the feeling.
“Going braless was also a trend on this season’s catwalks, with Bella Hadid baring all for Vivienne West-wood, and Isabel Marant and Valentino models freeing the nipple under sheer fabric too.”
FACE MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING COULD CONTINUE FOR YEARS
Face masks and social distancing could be in place for the next decade as Brits were today warned the measures face becoming the “new norm”.
Former supreme court judge Lord Sumption warned that restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus could last as long as rationing did in Britain after the Second World War.
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose early modelling played a key role in the UK’s first national lockdown, said restrictions could be in place well beyond this summer despite the UK’s vaccine rollout.
The epidemiologist said the current vaccine rollout will have a “very major effect on deaths” but another will be needed in the autumn to “deal with new variants”.
Speaking of the nation’s jab progress, he told Sky News last month: “It’s not going to allow us to go back to normal – certainly not until the autumn.”
COPS FEAR BRITS WILL BE OUT OF CONTROL WHEN LOCKDOWN MEASURES EASE
Cops have admitted they will struggle to break up large gatherings as the coronavirus lockdown eases on Monday.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said it would be “challenging” to clamp down on law breakers when the Rule of Six returns next week.
But police chiefs worry that enforcing the rules as restrictions ease could be a challenge – with Brits tempted to gather in large groups in the warmer weather.
There are also fears that Brits could meet in larger groups than six people – but claim they are from two households.
Mr Hewitt told a press briefing: “As we look to March 29, it will become more challenging for our officers to distinguish between who is and who isn’t breaching restrictions out and about.”
SINGLE DOSE OF PFIZER VACCINE GENERATES STRONG IMMUNE RESPONSE, STUDY SHOWS
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine generates a robust immune response in 99% of people after one dose, new research suggests.
One dose of the vaccine protects against severe disease and after two jabs, levels of protection are even stronger – underlining the importance of people coming forward for their second shot.
Between December 9 last year and February 9, researchers from the universities of Sheffield, Oxford, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham analysed blood samples from 237 health workers to understand their T cell and antibody responses following vaccination.
They found that after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, individuals who had previous infection showed higher antibody and T cell responses compared with people who had not been infected before.
Antibody responses were 6.8 times higher and T cell responses were 5.9 times higher.
NO FURTHER COVID-RELATED DEATHS IN NI
No further deaths of patients who previously tested positive for Covid in Northern Ireland were reported by the Department of Health on Friday.
Another 181 confirmed cases of the virus were recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.
On Friday morning, there were 143 Covid-positive confirmed inpatients in hospital, of whom 13 were in ICUs.
FEAR OVER JABS – 30% LESS EFFECTIVE AGAINST VARIANTS
Vaccines could be 30% less effective against the South African strain of Covid, new Sage analysis has warned.
There is growing concern that the variant can decrease the number of antibodies by four.
“Overall, evidence from clinical trials suggests a modest decrease in vaccine efficacy against B.1.351 infection,” analysis from the government’s scientific advisers states.
“It is not clear what the implications are for protection from severe disease.”
SAGE’s 83rd meeting, held on March 11, noted that prevalence of “variants of concern”, like the B.1.351 strain which originated in South Africa, was increasing in some parts of Europe.
COVID CAUSES WIDE RANGE OF SYMPTOMS
People with Covid-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness, says the Centres for Disease and Control and Prevention in the US.
Symptoms may appear two-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have coronavirus:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
COVID JAB TESTING ON KIDS – MODERNA & PFIZER
Researchers in the US and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure Covid vaccines are safe and work for each age group.
So far in America, teen testing is furthest along: Pfizer and Moderna expect to release results soon showing how two doses of their vaccines performed in the 12 and older crowd.
Pfizer is currently authorised for use starting at age 16; Moderna is for people 18 and older.
But younger children may need different doses than teens and adults.
Both companies are hunting the right dosage of each shot for each age group as they work toward eventually vaccinating babies as young as six months.
WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO FROM MARCH 29?
Outdoor meet-ups – On March 29, the rule of six will be re-introduced, allowing six people or fewer – or two households – to mix outdoors.
Sports – Outdoor team sports and activities, such as tennis and golf, will also return from March 29, with people able to head to their local sports clubs again.
Travel – We can meet up with friends and family locally, but travel abroad will still not be allowed, other than for a small number of reasons.
Weddings – Small weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be permitted. Up to six people can be in attendance – and events will no longer be limited to “exceptional circumstances”.
Parent and children groups – Outdoor parent and child groups will be allowed to resume from Monday. A maximum of 15 people, not counting those aged under five, will be permitted to meet for outdoor activities.
MORE FREEDOM FOR LOCKED-DOWN BRITS FROM MONDAY
Brits will get their first taste of freedom from Monday as the government ditches its ‘stay at home’ message.
The easing of lockdown restrictions will see the rule of six return and life will start to feel normal once more.
From March 29, friends and families will be allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to six.
Some team sports will also be permitted, while weddings can go ahead outside.
COVID CASES RISE IN NORTH-WEST ENGLAND
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid is estimated to have increased in north-west England, and there are possible signs of a rise in Yorkshire and the Humber, the ONS says.
Other regions have shown a fall, although the trend is uncertain for the East Midlands and north-east England.
Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to March 20: around one in 200 people.
North-west England had the next highest estimate: one in 250.
HAULIERS ARRIVING FROM EUROPE TO BE TESTED FOR COVID
Mass coronavirus testing is in store for lorry drivers arriving in the UK days after the PM flagged tougher measures to prevent Covid variants being transmitted from Europe.
Hauliers, border force officials and other specialist workers at the border have been exempted from testing.
Whitehall is tipped to announce this weekend that those previously exempted will instead have to take a customised test, though this will be done once they are in Britain rather than at the border to avoid delays that might lead to shortages in supermarkets.
Those staying longer than two days will have to have a test within 48 of arriving and then every 72 hours, with fines similar to the £2,000 penalties for travellers who fail to test during home quarantine.
Thrice weekly tests will be mandatory for Border Force staff engaged in cross Channel work and similar arrangements for those working on trains and ferries in the area.
SHOPS TO OPEN TILL 10PM SIX DAYS A WEEK!
Giving shops the flexibility to stay open until 10pm six days a week will help people return to high streets safely, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said.
The changes will give people greater flexibility to avoid peak times and ease transport pressures when non-essential shops open on April 12 at the earliest.
When retail is reopened as part of the PM’s lockdown road map, shops will have the flexibility to open until 10pm Monday to Saturday.
The Government is also extending flexible working hours on construction sites, allowing food deliveries to supermarkets over more time periods, and keeping the flexibility for pubs and restaurants to put up marquees to help increase seating capacity in a Covid-secure way.
Mr Jenrick said: “To support businesses to reopen and recover, I’ve extended measures to allow shops to stay open for longer.”
OFFICIAL COVID ‘R’ RATE CREEPS UP AGAIN
The UK’s coronavirus R rate has crept up this week but is still crucially below 1.
The R rate – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to – is between 0.7 to 0.9 across the UK, and between 0.8 and 1.0 in England.
Professor Tim Spector said a divide was emerging in England.
He explained: “We’re seeing the regions diverge with Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the North of England recording higher figures than in the South.
“As expected, cases in children are rising slightly off the back of schools reopening, and this effect is felt more strongly in Wales and Scotland where schools went back earlier.
“This is a necessary impact of unlocking society and numbers are currently well under control and aren’t a cause for concern.”
COPS WON’T ARREST PEOPLE LEAVING THE COUNTRY – POLICE CHIEF
Cops will not stop or arrest people leaving the country in breach of the Government’s holiday ban, a senior officer has confirmed.
Under the new coronavirus regulations coming into force on Monday, people leaving England without a valid reason could be slugged with a £5,000 fine.
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt said officers would hand out the penalties to anyone found flouting the rules to go on holiday.
However, he said barring anyone from travelling is a matter for UK Border Force, adding: “We are not simply going to arrest people because they are trying to leave the country.”
Mr Hewitt was speaking to reporters after the release of NPCC data showing 508 fines had been issued by forces in England and three in Wales to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list up to March 14.
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