I’ll be closing the blog for today but you can catch up with the latest coronavirus coverage here.
Thanks for following along with all our Covid developments today.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the highlights you might have missed.
- Senior figures in the UK say the failure to a prevent second wave was inexcusable given what was known about the virus. The failure to prevent tens of thousands of deaths during Britain’s brutal second wave of Covid infections was a more serious error than the timing of the first lockdown, senior scientists have told the Guardian, after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic.
- Bereaved families call for acceleration of UK Covid public inquiry to be accelerated and for ministers to apologise after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic.
- A first official report on the UK’s early handling of the pandemic, published on Tuesday by cross-party MPs, described it as one of the worst public health failures in British history. “Groupthink” by ministers and scientists, including a deliberately slow approach to imposing the first lockdown, led the UK to fare “significantly worse” than other countries, it concluded.
- Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is set to become the most Covid vaccinated city in the world. “The current evidence suggests that the ACT will be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” said the territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr. “We expect to be at around 99% of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November. It’s a testament to ACT residents and their willingness to protect themselves, their family and their community.”
- IMF says Covid support has left world open to new financial crisis. The emergency support provided by central banks and finance ministries during the Covid-19 pandemic has fuelled speculation and left the world vulnerable to another financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
- The US has administered 403,576,826 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Tuesday morning and distributed 488,178,975 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
- The UK reported 38,520 further cases of Covid-19, down from 40,224 yesterday.
- Russia will test a nasal spray form of its Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 among adult volunteers, according to a state document published on Tuesday.
The parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s response to the Covid crisis raises the serious issue of transparency around scientific advice, Nicola Davis writes.
The 151-page Coronavirus: lessons learned to date report, led by two former Conservative ministers, has made it clear that advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) should be rapidly placed in the public domain, she argues.
Read more of her analysis here:
The US has administered 403,576,826 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Tuesday morning and distributed 488,178,975 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Those figures are up from the 401,819,240 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by 9 October, out of 487,277,035 doses delivered.
A total of 217,403,897 people had received at least one dose while 187,714,829 people are fully vaccinated as of 6am ET on Tuesday.
The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.
About 8.55 million people received a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine since 13 August, when the U.S. authorised a third dose of the vaccines for people with compromised immune systems who are likely to have weaker protection from the two-dose regimens.
The failure to prevent tens of thousands of deaths during Britain’s brutal second wave of Covid infections was a more serious error than the timing of the first lockdown, senior scientists have told the Guardian, after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic.
The scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) warned ministers in September 2020 that the country faced a “very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences” unless they took immediate action and imposed a “circuit breaker” to bring soaring cases under control.
But the advice went unheeded and was only made public three weeks later, after Boris Johnson announced the three-tier system as an alternative. It was abandoned for a national lockdown in November.
Several scientists advising the government said that the failure to prevent the second wave was inexcusable given how much was then known about the virus and the imminent availability of Covid vaccines.
Russia to test Covid-19 vaccine in form of nasal spray
Russia will test a nasal spray form of its Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 among adult volunteers, according to a state document published on Tuesday,
It comes after the country recorded its highest single-day death toll since the start of the pandemic, with 973 deaths.
Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik vaccine when the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, but take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products.
The nasal spray is to be applied in two doses in a clinic in St Petersburg, according to the document published on the state register of medicines, which did not provide the planned timing of the clinical tests.
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia needed to speed up its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 as the country recorded its highest single-day death toll since the start of the pandemic.
Former UK health secretary Matt Hancock has been appointed a special representative to the United Nations, tasked with helping African countries recover from Covid-19, PA reports.
He said he was “honoured” to have been given the role, adding on Twitter: “I’ll be working with the UN, the UN Economic Commissions for Africa to help African economic recovery from the pandemic and promote sustainable development.”
It comes four months after he resigned from his Cabinet role for breaking social distancing rules by kissing and embracing an aide in his office.
According to the UN, African countries face paying more than 300 billion to recover from the pandemic.
The under secretary-general of the UN, Vera Songwe, said Mr Hancock’s “success” in handling the UK’s pandemic response is a testament to the strengths he will bring to the role.
New York state cannot impose a Covid-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare workers without allowing for religious exemption requests, a US judge has ruled.
The decision by US District Judge David Hurd in Albany, New York, prevents the state from interfering with religious exemptions requests.
Seventeen workers sued over the mandate, alleging their employer revoked an exemption or refused to consider it because of the state’s emergency vaccine requirement, which was announced on 26 August.
The ruling provides a test case as vaccine opponents gear up to fight plans to be unveiled soon by the Biden administration to extend Covid-19 vaccine requirements to tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.
New York’s department of health on 26 August ordered healthcare professionals to be vaccinated by 27 September and the order did not allow for the customary religious exemptions.
The plan was challenged by a group of healthcare workers who said they opposed Covid-19 vaccines because some vaccines were developed from cell lines of aborted foetuses.
Bereaved families call for acceleration of UK Covid inquiry after MPs’ report
Bereaved families have called for the UK Covid public inquiry to be accelerated and for ministers to apologise after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic, Robert Booth, Peter Walker and Steven Morris report.
Dr Cathy Gardner, whose father died from coronavirus after his care home was infected by the discharge of untested patients in March 2020, said the government must appoint a chair for the planned inquiry now rather than by Christmas as Boris Johnson has promised.
The Royal College of Nursing also called for a faster start to the inquiry, while Keir Starmer and the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said ministers must say sorry for their handling of the crisis.
Lobby Akinnola, a spokesperson for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said:
Had the government taken different decisions, thousands of those lost would still be here today.
The very least that should happen is the government should apologise for this – but what families need even more is a rigorous inquiry with bereaved families involved at every single step of the process.”
Stephen Reicher, a member of the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioural science, has responded to a cross-party report into the UK government’s response to the Covid pandemic in a Twitter thread.
The report suggested early failings resulted from apparent groupthink among scientists and ministers which led to “fatalism”.
Reicher references a piece previously written in the Guardian, warning that the term groupthink “misunderstands the issues and lets the government off the hook”.
He argues that the failings were not inevitable, but a result of the government’s underlying ideology.
France has reported 5,880 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.
This compares with 38,520 further cases in the UK over the same period.
The latest figures show 73% of local authorities in the UK saw a week-on-week rise in cases rates of Covid-19, PA reports.
Of the 377 local areas in the UK, 276 have seen a week-on-week rise in rates and 101 have seen a fall.
The figures, for the seven days to 8 October, are based on the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in either a lab-reported or rapid lateral flow test, by specimen date.
The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.
Trafford in Greater Manchester has the highest rate, with 2,009 new cases in the seven days to 8 October – the equivalent of 845.6 per 100,000 people.
This is up sharply from 531.2 in the seven days to 1 October.
Torfaen has the highest rate in Wales (712.8), Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon has the highest rate in Northern Ireland (529.8), and Stirling has the highest rate in Scotland (460.2).