NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Booster jabs to be offered to the vulnerable AND mask-wearing could return to schools
Now it's time to give you a little update on the headlines for England and Wales including booster jabs for the immunosuppressed to be offered, mask-wearing in schools could return according to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, and Sarah Storey becomes Team GB’s most decorated Paralympian of all time.
BOOSTER JABS: Booster vaccinations for older immunosuppressed adults will be offered following advice from scientists. Half a million people in the UK will be eligible for the jab which should provide a stronger immune response than two jabs alone. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said this was a separate campaign to the one designed to extend waning protection after six months of both doses though.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government was continuing to plan for a booster programme to begin this month and said people most at-risk from Covid-19 would be prioritised for that.
The JCVI said it was still deliberating on the potential benefits of booster jabs for the rest of the population and was awaiting further evidence to inform its decision.
No decision has been given either on any extension of the vaccine programme to include all healthy 12 to 15-year-olds.
Giving its recommendation on Wednesday, the JCVI said people who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose of vaccine may not have been able to mount a full response to vaccination, meaning they could be less protected than the wider population.
SCHOOLS MASKS: The Education Secretary has said mask wearing in schools could make a return if covid cases rise. Schools in England and Wales returned to in-person teaching this week. Gavin Williamson says he will move 'heaven and earth' to keep classroom doors open in order to minimise the disruption for both school and home life.
It comes as Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, said if daily cases start going above 100,000 to 150,000 there will be “significant demands on the health system”.
The scientist, from Imperial College London, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said it will be for the Government to decide on potential measures and would not be drawn on what form they might take.
Speaking to reporters during a webinar on Thursday, he said there are concerns about the effect schools reopening could have on virus spread, especially with the more transmissible and now-dominant Delta variant.
SARAH STOREY: And finally - Sarah Storey has won Paralympic gold for Team GB for the seventeenth time. The medal means Sarah is now Britain's most successful Paralympian of all time, putting her ahead of previous record holder Mike Kenny.
Dame Sarah told BBC Breakfast the enormity of her success has not sunk in yet, saying: “It still feels a bit like an out-of-body experience.
“I’ve worked for this for such a long time but I’ve worked for each race independently. It’s very strange. I’m hoping over the course of the next few hours and the next day, it starts to sink in. It’s incredibly overwhelming.”
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Dame Sarah added that she wants her son Charlie, three, and daughter Louisa, eight, to be able to experience the Paralympics again.
She said: “One of the things I really would love is for Charlie to experience the Games like Louisa did in Rio.
“I really hope we can go there as a family and it would be amazing to do a cycle ride to get to Paris. Paris sounds like a really good idea but we’ll see. I’m not hanging up my racing boots yet.”
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