Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 Feb 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Jabs at work for under-50s
Millions of under-50s will be vaccinated at work under government plans to accelerate the national rollout. The Sunday Telegraph says ministers are considering a “jabs at work” plan to help vaccinate nearly 30 million younger adults. The government hopes to have vaccinated the nine priority groups that account for 99 per cent of all coronavirus deaths, including the over-50s, by the end of April.
Fury at Gove over exports
The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU sank by 68% last month compared with the same month last year, reports The Observer. Hauliers say Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove ignored their warnings about post-Brexit disruption. “I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” said Richard Burnett, of the Road Haulage Association.
Shadow minister in Covid gaffe
Sir Keir Starmer is facing a backlash after one of his most senior Labour frontbenchers described the Covid crisis as a “gift that keeps on giving” for lawyers. Lord Falconer, the Shadow Attorney General, made the remark during a briefing for a top City firm staffed by millionaire lawyers. He insists that he was referring to changes in the law caused by the pandemic.
Pandemic stats highlight inequality
Cases of Covid-19 are falling more slowly in the UK’s poorest regions than in wealthier areas, according to detailed analysis of government data. For instance, in Preston, the data shows that infection rates fell by 9% between the first week of January and the last full week of the month, while in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, cases declined by 72%.
‘Beast From East Two’ arrives
Heavy snow and icy conditions are forecast for the UK as strong easterly winds from Ukraine and the Black Sea area arrive. Yellow warnings for snow and ice, covering the entire length of the UK, are in place until midday on Wednesday. Asked whether he thought it was fair to describe the conditions as the Beast from the East Two, a Met Office expert said: “I think so.”
Data ‘vindicates’ dose delay
A senior government adviser claims that data from the vaccine rollout shows “promising evidence” justifying the delayed second dose approach. Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, said people who have been vaccinated are enjoying “high levels of protection from the first dose”. Public Health England is expected to publish the data within days.
Online giants face tax raid
Amazon and other online giants are facing a double tax grab under government plans. Leaked emails seen by The Sunday Times show that Treasury officials have summoned tech firms and retailers to a meeting ahead of the budget to discuss an online sales tax. There are also proposals for an “excessive profits tax” on companies that have seen profits surge as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cuba opens up to private firms
Cuba will allow private businesses to operate in most industries, in a significant reform. Labour Minister Marta Elena Feito said the list of authorised industries had expanded from 127 to more than 2,000. Covid-19 has hit the country hard: last year its economy shrank by 11% - its worst decline in almost three decades - and the population has faced shortages of basic goods.
Crisis in NHS dental care
Patients are struggling to get NHS dental care across England, according to Healthwatch, the independent patient watchdog. Senior industry leaders say that the profession has been affected by EU dentists leaving the UK. Along with patient advocates, they say the problem will lead to a rise in oral cancer in coming months and years.
Grandfather crosses Atlantic alone
A 70-year-old grandfather has become the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Frank Rothwell, from Oldham, set off from the Canary Islands on 12 December and crossed the finish line in Antigua in the Caribbean on Saturday. He described the climax of the journey as a “completely euphoric moment”. His trip has raised more than £648,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.