UK medicines regulator approves Covid vaccines for use as booster shots
Hoarding of vaccines by wealthy western nations will result in thousands of needless deaths from Covid-19 in the world’s poorest countries every month unless urgent steps are taken to distribute jabs more fairly, Gordon Brown has said.
In an article for the Guardian, the former Labour prime minister called on the G7 rich industrial nations to hold an emergency summit in order to prevent a billion unused doses being amassed by the end of the year.
Brown, who has repeatedly urged the G7 to share the benefits of vaccine breakthroughs more widely, said the collective failure to turn scientific success into protection for all was a “moral catastrophe”. He added: “If the world were a state, we might well call it a failed one.”
The G7 summit hosted by Boris Johnson in Cornwall in June pledged to make 870m doses available to poor countries through the WHO’s Covax procurement programme, but had so far provided only 100m of them, Brown said.
Thousands will die this month and for the foreseeable future, not because there are too few vaccines being produced but because they are being hoarded in places that now need them least.
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Health and care sector workers in England who decline to be fully vaccinated could be moved to back-office roles, a UK government minister has suggested, as a consultation on plans to mandate Covid-19 and flu vaccinations was launched.
The six-week consultation process will take views on whether vaccine requirements should apply for health and wider social care workers – those in contact with patients and people receiving care.
It would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services.
The government previously said all staff in registered care homes in England must be vaccinated against Covid-19 from 11 November, unless medically exempt.
Speaking on Times Radio, Helen Whately, the minister for care, said the government was working with care homes and other settings to see if workers who refused the vaccine could be redeployed.
You can look at whether there are alternative ways somebody could be deployed, for instance, in a role that doesn’t involve frontline work, or doesn’t involve being physically in the same setting as the patient – whether it’s, for instance, working on 111, something like that.
So we could look at alternative roles for individuals, these are exactly the sorts of things that we can investigate.
But she suggested that people who refused to get vaccinated against coronavirus should not work in social care.
Speaking on Sky News, Whately said care homes had been hit particularly hard by Covid, and added:
The reality is that one of the best ways we can protect people living in care homes is through making sure that staff are vaccinated.
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France has granted citizenship to more than 12,000 frontline workers whose jobs put them at risk during the Covid pandemic under a special fast-track scheme.
As well as speeding up the application process, which normally takes up to two years, the government also cut the residency requirement from five years to two.
Marlène Schiappa, the citizenship minister, said:
Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them. The country pulled through thanks to them.
I welcome our new compatriots to French nationality and thank them in the name of the republic. The country also thanks them.
In September 2020, the interior ministry invited those who had “actively contributed” to fighting the Covid health crisis to apply for fast-track naturalisation. On Thursday, Schiappa said 16,381 had applied and 12,012 applications were approved.
Among them were health professionals, security and cleaning staff, those who looked after essential workers’ children, home helps and refuse collectors, the minister announced.
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Italy given go-ahead for Covid-19 booster shots
Italy’s medicines agency, AIFA, has given the go-ahead to the administration of Covid-19 booster shots.
The roll-out will begin at the end of September, with 500,000 immunosuppressed people receiving a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The programme will then be expanded to include 4.2m older people and care home residents as well as healthcare workers.
Over 70% of Italy’s population aged over 12 have so far received two vaccine doses. The country registered 5,923 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday and 69 deaths, bringing the death toll to 129,707.