Covid UK news live – Matt Hancock faces grilling from MPs amid ‘substantial’ risk of third wave
Coronavirus in numbers
Matt Hancock is due to give evidence to MPs on the health and social care committee on Thursday morning, where he is expected to respond to explosive claims by Dominic Cummings that he lied to colleagues and the public during the coronavirus crisis.
The health secretary is likely to face questions about how care homes were treated in the early stages of the pandemic.
Among Mr Cummings’ allegations from last month was that Boris Johnson was furious to find that untested hospital patients had been discharged to care homes. The ex-aide claimed Mr Hancock had promised that would not happen.
Mr Hancock later denied this.
It comes as experts warn the UK is at “substantial” risk of a third wave of Covid-19 infections. On Wednesday cases hit their highest level since February and experts said the “intensity” with which the government allowed the Delta variant to enter Britain was driving the surge.
Matt Hancock is expected to face further questions about accusations made by Dominic Cummings as he appears in front of a select committee on Thursday.
The health secretary was accused by the PM’s former chief aide of lying to Boris Johnson over coronavirus plans and being “disastrously incompetent”.
Among Mr Cummings’ explosive claims last month was that Mr Johnson had been enraged to find that untested hospital patients had been discharged to care homes, despite a promise by Mr Hancock this would not happen.
Mr Hancock has since denied promising hospital to care home testing and told the Commons last month that it was not possible to test everyone leaving hospital for social care at the start of the pandemic because the capacity was not available.
He added “his recollection” was committing to delivering testing for people going from hospital into care homes “when we could do it”.
Care homes are likely to be the main topic of questioning during Thursday’s session of the Commons Health and Social Care committee.
India proposes 24-hour vaccination for economic recovery
India’s finance ministry has proposed that vaccination in the country be offered 24/7 for the next few months to inoculate 700 million people with at least the first dose by September.
It said the “key to regain the momentum of economic recovery is attainment of herd immunity at the earliest possible.” The target population would be 700 million if 80 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the ministry said.
That means 9.3 million vaccinations are needed per day, and the ministry proposed increasing shifts at centres and 24 hour-vaccination sites.
India concerned about re-vaccination demands for students heading to US universities
India’s foreign secretary Harshvardhan Shringla has reportedly raised concerns with the acting US ambassador Daniel Smith over reports that Indian students who have taken Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have been asked to get vaccinated again by US universities.
Covaxin is not yet approved by the World Health Organisation.
While ambassador Smith has not given a clear response to the raised concerns because the decision is taken by individual universities, he agreed to put forward India’s perspective, sources told CNN-News18.
Gender gap in India’s vaccine drive as more men take a jab than women
More men in India have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine than women, showing a growing gender disparity in the country’s inoculation drive.
Nearly 17 per cent more men have been inoculated than women in India, according to a Reuters analysis.
Some health officials have said rumours that vaccines disrupt women’s menstruation cycle and reduce fertility may have contributed to less women coming out to get vaccinated. The government has dismissed these concerns.