Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Taxpayers to shoulder Covid costs for decades
A committee of MPs says taxpayers will bear the costs of Covid “for decades”. The Public Accounts Committee said Downing Street’s response to the crisis has exposed UK taxpayers to “significant financial risks”. The MPs also attacked government spending on unusable protective kit. It added that the taxpayer would be exposed to “significant financial risks for decades to come” with the estimated cost of the government’s measures having already hit £372bn in May.
Britain could face 40c within 10 years
Britain could swelter under its first 40C day within 10 years as massive heatwaves become more frequent, scientists have warned. Modelling suggests that if carbon emissions continue to rise and global warming is not curbed, the UK will cross the 40C threshold more and more often. “We would see increased pressure on water resources, productivity would be reduced, and it could affect our livestock and our crops,” said an expert
Private schools apply early to unis
Private schools have been accused of “playing the system” by lobbying leading universities to take pupils whose performance is too poor to qualify for a place — even before exam results are published in two weeks’ time. Covid disruption means teachers are awarding A-level grades, so schools know who has won a place and who has not. Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said schools “should contact universities about candidates they know have just missed out on their offers straight away”.
Covid cases fall after schools close
The number recorded cases of people infected with Covid has dropped for a fourth day. The UK recorded 31,795 new infections yesterday - down 42% from last Saturday. However, analysts have pointed out schools closing for the summer could account for some of the fall, as fewer people are being tested. The Independent points out that the UK seemingly ran out of Covid-19 lateral flow tests just hours after most mandatory coronavirus restrictions were eased in England.
R. Kelly faces new abuse claims
The R&B star R. Kelly has been accused of fresh abuse allegations, including the claim he abused a 17-year-old boy after meeting him at a Chicago McDonald’s in 2006. The singer, real name Robert Kelly, is already set to face trial in New York next month on charges including child sexual exploitation, making indecent images of minors, racketeering and obstruction of justice. Those charges involve six unnamed women and girls.
Javid under fire for ‘cower’ remark
Sajid Javid has faced criticism for saying people should no longer “cower” from Covid. The health secretary wrote on Twitter: “Please - if you haven’t yet - get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.” Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said: “Don't denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe.” The co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said Javid’s comments were “deeply insensitive on a number of levels”.
Funfair ride collapses in Northern Ireland
Four children were rushed to hospital after a funfair ride collapsed in Northern Ireland. Their injuries are not life-threatening, according to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. Emergency services were called to the scene shortly before 6pm on Saturday after they received reports that a ride collapsed. Writing on social media, Health Minister Robin Swann said his thoughts were “with all who have been injured and affected by this incident”.
Jabs required for Premier League ties
Two jabs are set to be required for fans attending Premier League football matches from October under plans expected to be approved by ministers, reports the Sunday Telegraph. The mandatory requirement is expected to extend to the autumn rugby internationals, major concerts, and spectator events of 20,000 or more as part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to turn Covid-19 into a “manageable menace”. Broadcaster Piers Morgan has revealed he caught Covid at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.
Priti Patel may phase out animal testing
Animal testing could be phased out, reports the Sunday Telegraph. The home secretary is asking officials to find ways to end the use of animals in the development of medicines. Among the plans are technologies such as testing on lab-grown organs and cells, and limiting the reasons for which animals can be used in experiments. The RSPCA said the plans do not go far enough and has demanded that ministers set a date to end testing on animals.
Vaccine mocker dies of Covid
A US man who mocked Covid-19 vaccines on social media has died after a month-long battle with the virus. Stephen Harmon, a member of the Hillsong megachurch, had been a vocal opponent of vaccines, making a series of quips and boasts about not having the vaccine. “Got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one,” the 34-year-old Californian tweeted to his 7,000 followers last month. He died after being treated for pneumonia and Covid-19 in a hospital outside Los Angeles.