Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
PM edges away from Cameron
Boris Johnson “has refused to back David Cameron in the Greensill row”, The Times reports, as questions multiply for the former PM. Johnson said an inquiry into Cameron’s lobbying activities and links with the collapsed finance company will have “carte blanche” to get to the bottom of what occurred. “People have just got questions they need to satisfy themselves, including me, about how this supply chain finance stuff is meant to work,” he said.
US and UK to leave Afghanistan
Britain will withdraw nearly all its troops from Afghanistan after Joe Biden announced that US forces would leave by 11 September. Sources say that the 750 British soldiers stationed in the country would struggle without American support. The last US soldiers are due to leave 20 years to the day after the 9/11 attacks that led to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
Mixed vaccine study extended
A University of Oxford study assessing the benefits of mixing and matching coronavirus vaccines has been extended to include the Moderna and Novavax jabs. People over 50 who have had a first dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca can apply to take part in the Com-Cov study. Combining vaccines might give broader, longer-lasting immunity against the virus and new variants of it, says the BBC, as well as offering more flexibility to vaccine rollout.
Queen returns to official duties
The Queen has returned to royal duties four days after Prince Philip’s death. She hosted an audience with the Earl Peel as he stood down as Lord Chamberlain. During a private event held at Windsor Castle, the Queen accepted her former royal aide’s office insignia. Although the royals are observing two weeks of mourning, members of the family will continue “to undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances”, says a royal official.
Covid data paints new picture
Almost one-quarter of registered Covid deaths are people who are not dying as a result of the disease, according to new official data. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 23% of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died “with” the virus rather than “from” an infection. Meanwhile, Oxford University says that the number of people in hospital with an active Covid infection is likely to be around half the current published daily figure.
‘Heartbreaking’ study finds student despair
About 40% of students have seriously considered dropping out of university during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. Researchers found that more than 80% of those polled said the pandemic had affected their education in a negative way because they had less time on campus, less face-to-face contact with lecturers and more online learning. The National Union of Students said the data was “heartbreaking”.
New racism allegations hit Neighbours
A longstanding Neighbours cast member says she endured “direct, indirect and casual racism” on set, including racial slurs and mockery. Sharon Johal, who has Indian heritage, told The Guardian she tried to “deny, bury and ultimately survive” racist taunts. She is the third actor to raise the issue after former cast members Meyne Wyatt and Shareena Clanton spoke out. Clanton had said it was “traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space”.
Peer ‘victimised’ female employee
A tribunal has ruled that a Tory peer who has campaigned for equality and empowerment for women “victimised” a female employee of his multi-million pound firm. Lord Rami Ranger told the House of Lords last year that “empowerment and equality for women everywhere is a necessity” - but during an “intemperate” phone call, he told a woman who had complained of sexual harassment that she was “arguing with men like a proper quarrelsome woman”.
Facebook spends $23m on Zuckerberg security
Official paperwork has revealed that Facebook paid its chief executive $23.4m (£17m) for security at home and when travelling. Due to “identified specific threats”, the social network’s co-founder received a pre-tax allowance of $13.4m for security last year, up from $10.4m in 2019, while $10m was assigned to cover “additional costs related to Mr Zuckerberg and his family’s security”.
Olympic concern over vaccines
With just 100 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Japan has abandoned plans to vaccinate all competitors and volunteers “after media reports that Olympians would be prioritised sparked a social media backlash”, CNN reports. Although the country’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has repeated his pledge to secure 100 million vaccine doses by the end of June, so far Japan has vaccinated less than 1% of its 126 million people. The Games have already been postponed by a year due to the pandemic.