A leading epidemiologist says experts believe the coronavirus is becoming an ‘endemic’ disease.
When asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if people were going to have to ‘learn to live with’ coronavirus, Professor David Heymann, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, replied: “It certainly seems like that in the shorter term, and probably in the long term as well.
“Most experts believe that this disease is now becoming endemic, but the good thing is that we have many tools including vaccines with which we can deal with this virus.”
He then went on to draw a comparison to the spread of HIV/AIDS, adding: “We’ve learned to live with it, as we’ll learn to live with this infection as well.”
Heymann added that borders ‘cannot stop infectious diseases’.
He said: “We know that borders cannot stop infectious diseases no matter how rigid your controls are, there will always be some that comes through.”
He went onto explain that most nations believe the best strategy to deal with infections is within the country and to ensure a flow of travel and trade.
When asked if he believed there would be an immediate impact after closing borders, he said: “We’ve seen that countries that have closed their borders, such as New Zealand, have kept the virus out, but now their problem is what do they when they begin to open their borders?
“So I think the best way forward is to live understanding that viruses and bacteria, any infection, can cross borders and we have to have the defences in our own countries to deal with them.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the new policy for arrivals in the UK which will require two coronavirus tests, one on day two and one on day eight, will mean it is easier to ‘keep track of where people are and for them to report for testing’.
He added that it also makes it ‘easier for us to track the presence of any new variants coming in’.
An academic from the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Sciences, Professor Adam Finn, said it could take months for new vaccines to be created in response to new variants.
The member of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations told BBC Breakfast: “It will take some time, simply because although the new variants can be adjusted in the vaccines they then have to come through the regulators, and then have to be manufactured at scale in order to be available.
“So it’s not a matter of a month or two, it’s probably more than that.
“But we currently have vaccines that are effective against the strains that are predominating in the UK and that should be clear in everybody’s minds that we’re not in a position where vaccines have suddenly stopped working entirely.”
Sir Keir Starmer reveals how he will win over voters in the North West
The Labour leader also spoke of his plans to put Metro Mayors at ‘the frontline of the party’
Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants Labour to represent the ‘prospect of building something new and better’ for the North West and the rest of the country as he sets out his vision for his party.
In his newly published 12,000 word essay, Sir Keir explains what he stands for based on various conversations he has had with potential voters, including a group of students in Blackpool who said they felt they needed to leave the town in order to get decent jobs.
Speaking with ITV Granada Reports, the Labour leader said: “The essay wasn’t written in the abstract. What I’ve written is a reflection of those conversations, so the voters I’m trying to persuade will see their fingerprints on what I’ve written.”
Sir Keir went on to explain that, now the worst of the pandemic is ‘hopefully’ over, he and the Labour party are now able to make their argument about what happens next, with the upcoming party conference in Brighton being next on his list.
He said: “In our Conference there’s going to be a very strong focus on education, particularly on what we need to do to close the attainment gap and repair some of the damage done during the pandemic.
“We’re going to focus on quality jobs for the future – secure, high-skilled, well-paid jobs; a ten year health and social care plan; and security in relation to homes and to crime and disorder”.
He also reiterated his view that Labour’s Metro Mayors need to be seen as ‘the frontline of the Labour party’, saying: “We happily have a lot of mayors and I want to showcase the different mayors we have across the country.
“Andy’s [Burnham] doing a fantastic job and I want him speaking at conferences, I want Tracy [Brabin] to speak at conferences, and I want Sadiq Khan to speak at conferences because we are in the very happy position of having many very good mayors and Metro Mayors. We want to showcase them, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”
As it stands, Labour is currently 5% points behind the Conservatives in the polls, despite the UK having ‘already suffered the worst death toll and the worst economic hit of any major European country’ under a Conservative government.
New details of ‘historic’ four-day bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee have been revealed
Here’s everything we know so far…
New details have been released ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations set to take place next year.
Back in June, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II, ninety-five, will host four-days worth of celebrations to mark her seventieth year on the throne in June 2022.
Details surrounding the celebrations were kept under wraps, though the Palace did confirm that Brits will be treated to a four-day bank holiday across the usual May Bank Holiday, saying the extra days off will ‘provide an opportunity for communities and people to come together and celebrate the historic milestone’.
But now, nearly four months on from the initial announcement, the finer details surrounding the historic occasion have been unveiled.
According to the events organisers, A Gallop Through History, a ‘spectacular’ equestrian display showcasing horses from across the globe will be staged as a ‘personal tribute to our monarchy’. The show is said to feature more than 500 horses and over a thousand dancers and musicians taking the audience on a journey from Elizabeth I to the Queen.
The Queen’s own personal ponies and horses are also expected to feature in the event, with royal fans hoping to even see popular members of the royal family taking part.
Dame Helen Mirren and comic actor Stephen Fry have been involved in publicising the event, which will be staged over four nights in the grounds of Windsor Castle next May, and are in discussions with organisers about taking part in the final show.
Nations from across the Commonwealth and other parts of the globe are also expected to be involved in the show, such as Oman, India, the Caribbean, Canada, France and Norway.
Sir Mike Rake, chairman of the Platinum Jubilee’s advisory board, said: “After seventy years on the throne and particularly poignantly after the dark and troubling times in the last eighteen months, Her Majesty’s leadership, steadiness and unwavering devotion during her reign deserve recognition and celebration.
“In 2022 Her Majesty the Queen will have guided the nation through several decades of change, growth and advancement, like none before them – in times of triumph and also in times of trouble.
“In an age of advancement and adversary, the Queen has remained a constant, committed and courageous presence, therefore we have worthwhile and timely celebration.”
The May Bank Holiday – which usually falls at the end of the month – will be moved to Thursday June 2nd, while an extra Bank Holiday will be added on Friday June 3rd 2022, making it a four-day weekend.
Gary Neville says access to high quality education ‘shouldn’t be dependent on your post code’
‘My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion’
Former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville has spoken about the motivation behind his newly launched university scheme.
Sitting down with ITV Granada Reports, Neville explained that his scheme will be aimed at young people between the ages of seventeen and twenty who have been eligible for free school dinners and may never have thought they’d get the opportunity to go to university.
The scheme will offer a free £5,000 support package of education essentials and will help with travel for the three years that they attend university, as well as provide a laptop and unlimited data.
It also offers lunch vouchers for fifty-two weeks of the year and vouchers to buy home essentials.
Speaking about the ongoing poverty that spurred the launch of his scheme, however, Neville said he is ‘ashamed’ to be in a country where families are still forced to choose between heating and eating, and described the government’s recent decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 as ‘ridiculous’.
He said: “As far as I can see those economic problems haven’t ended so I don’t know why the universal credit is being taken away.
“It is a ridiculous decision as this moment in time, just as we’re starting to come out of a pandemic.”
And, speaking on why he felt the need to act in the first place, Neville said all the faith he once had in the government has been lost.
He said: “My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion. However what we can do in the private sector, and in other institutions, is do our very best.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is to put packages in place that support young people and give them the option to go to university. I can’t believe I’m saying that because it should be the choice for everybody.
“It shouldn’t be dependent on your post code as to whether you get high quality to education or access to education.”