As anticipated, in the UK on Sky News the interview with former minister Robert Jenrick was mostly about Budget speculation. However he was asked briefly about the damning report from the public accounts committee of the Commons which concluded that NHS test and trace “has not achieved its main objective to help break chains of Covid-19 transmission and enable people to return towards a more normal way of life” despite receiving about 20% of the NHS’s entire annual budget – £37 bn – over two years. Jenrick defended it, saying:
It has played an important part in tackling the pandemic. Are there lessons that can or must be learned from it? I think absolutely. And we’re all going to have to pay heed – particularly the government – to what’s said by the public accounts committee.
I should imagine the details of this report are going to very quickly get swamped by news of the Budget today – you can read our health editor Andrew Gregory’s report on it here: NHS test and trace ‘failed its main objective’, says spending watchdog
Arwa Mahdawi has written her latest column for us, and today she says that telling anti-vaxxers to get the jab should not be controversial – even Fox News is doing it:
Telling people to get vaccinated during a pandemic shouldn’t be controversial. Neil Cavuto’s employer Fox News has worked overtime to ensure that it is. A recent analysis by a media watchdog found 60% of Fox News’ summer programming included claims undermining vaccinations. While Fox has been amplifying anti-vaxxer propaganda, however, it has also been quietly enforcing its own strict vaccination and testing policies. Nearly 90% of full-time employees at the Fox Corporation have been vaccinated, it was reported last month. The company has also said it will soon implement daily Covid testing for employees who haven’t had the jab.
It has become depressingly clear that we’re not going to end this pandemic by relying on everyone to do what is best for the greater good. If we want to have any hope of getting back to normal then we need strict vaccine and testing requirements – as Fox, for all its posturing about freedom, clearly realises. There are heated debates across the world about how to implement this. Indonesia has made vaccines mandatory, with big fines for refuseniks. While it seems unlikely that most countries will go that far, vaccine mandates for people such as government employees and care workers have been implemented in countries including the US, Australia, France and – from 11 November – in England. As well they should be. There is nothing controversial about requiring people to get inoculated; vaccination requirements for school and travel have been in place for decades. If you’re marching in the street to protest against the “tyranny” of being forced to consider other people, please get a grip. Even Fox News hosts think you are being an ass.
Good morning, it is Martin Belam here in London taking over from Samantha Lock. It is Budget day in the UK, and Robert Jenrick is the former minister out doing the media round for the government. I don’t expect Covid will get a second thought in the questioning, but I will bring you any lines that develop out of that shortly.
Brazil senators support criminal charges for Jair Bolsonaro over Covid crisis
A Brazilian Senate committee recommended that president Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world’s second highest Covid-19 death toll.
The seven-to-four vote on Tuesday was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic. It formally approved a report calling for prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and in doing so hold him responsible for many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 Covid-19 deaths.
The president has denied wrongdoing, and the decision on whether to file most of the charges will be up to prosecutor general Augusto Aras, a Bolsonaro appointee who is widely viewed as protecting him. The allegation of crimes against humanity would need to be pursued by the international criminal court.
Senator Omar Aziz, the chairman of the inquiry, said he would deliver the recommendation to the prosecutor general on Wednesday morning. Aras’ office said the report would be carefully reviewed as soon as it was received.
Ministers call for new G20 forum to prepare for next pandemic
The world’s biggest economies should create a forum to facilitate global coordination for the next pandemic, as well as a new financing facility to keep up with emerging threats, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have said in a letter to their G20 colleagues
The two finance ministers said the forum would allow health and finance ministers to better cooperate and coordinate prevention, detection, information-sharing, and any needed response.
Yellen and Indrawati said the Covid-19 pandemic revealed a lack of readiness at the country level and a lack of coordination among G20 countries.
“While we are making progress in fighting Covid-19, we also face a stark reality: this will not be the last pandemic,” they wrote ahead of Friday’s joint meeting of G20 health and finance ministers. “We must not lose this opportunity to demonstrate leadership with a decisive commitment to act.”
Welcome back to our Covid blog where we’ll bring you all the latest news surrounding the evolving coronavirus crisis.
I’m Samantha Lock reporting to you from Sydney, Australia. Here’s just a quick guide on what you might have missed earlier.
A damning report to come out of the UK has lambasted the NHS test and trace system, saying it failed to achieve “its main objective” to cut infection levels and aid in returning to life as normal.
The initiative was handed an “eye-watering” £37bn in taxpayers’ cash but ultimately “has not achieved its main objective to help break chains of Covid-19 transmission and enable people to return towards a more normal way of life,” the Commons spending watchdog has said.
At the time of its launch, Boris Johnson claimed the programme would be “world-beating” but the watchdog says its aims had been “overstated or not achieved”. The funding – equal to about 20% of the health service’s entire annual budget – was used to hire more than 2,000 consultants who were employed on rates of more than £1,000 a day, the report by the public accounts committee (PAC) found.
- The Covid-19 crisis is far “far from finished”, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee has said. The 19-member committee, which meets every three months to discuss the pandemic and make recommendations, also called for research into next-generation vaccines and long-term action to control the virus.
- Vaccine booster rates are now exceeding first-shot rates across the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- In Thailand, businesses are pleading with the government to drop the nation’s current alcohol ban when the country reopens, saying it will deter tourists.
- China has locked down a city of 4m over 6 Covid cases. Residents in Lanzhou, Gansu, have been told to stay at home as buses, taxis and key rail routes are suspended.
- FDA advisers recommend approval of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children aged 5-11. it will be the first vaccine available for younger children in the US. The nearly unanimous vote clears the way for possible approval for emergency use next month, making nearly 30m children eligible.
- Pregnant women are being turned away from Covid vaccine clinics despite clinical advice, experts have warned as they urged ministers to ramp up efforts to reach unvaccinated groups.
- The UK recorded 40,954 new Covid cases today and 263 more people have died, official figures show.
- A Brazilian Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that president Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world’s second highest Covid-19 death toll. The 7-to-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
- No exemptions are to be given for unvaccinated tennis players travelling from overseas for the Australian Open, the state’s premier has said. Players like Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal his vaccination status.
- Fully vaccinated Australians will no longer have to apply for travel exemptions to leave the country, as Australia prepares to ease its international borders from 1 November.
- Australia could hit the 80 per cent full Covid-19 vaccination mark within a week.
- Russia, Bulgaria and the Ukraine all reported a record number of daily deaths on Tuesday. Russia reported 1,106 deaths in 24 hours, the most since the start of the pandemic bringing the total death toll to 232,775, Europe’s highest by far. Sluggish vaccination rates have allowed the virus to spread quickly across Eastern Europe.
- Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene has been fined for the third time for refusing to wear mask on House floor.