Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Pregnant women told to get jabbed
England’s leading midwife is urging expectant mums to get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible, after data showed 98% of 171 pregnant women hospitalised with coronavirus symptoms since mid-May had not received a jab, compared to just three women who had received a first dose, and no fully vaccinated pregnant women. The chief midwifery officer for England, said: “This is another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones safe and out of hospital.”
Chinese minister meets Taliban
China’s foreign minister has met senior leaders of the Taliban in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. During the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Islamist group as an important military and political force in Afghanistan, and said he expected the Taliban to play a role in the country’s “peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process”. The Islamist group says it considers Beijing as a “welcome friend”.
Vaccine rollout ‘saves 60,000 lives’
Around 60,000 deaths and 22 million infections have been prevented by the UK’s vaccination programme, according to Public Health England. Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam called the programme a “truly massive” success after PHE estimated that some 95.5% of the adult population now have antibodies to Covid. However, the deputy chief medical officer warned that the crisis is “far from over”.
PC who knelt on neck escapes punishment
The police watchdog has ruled that a policeman who knelt on a black man’s neck during an arrest will not face disciplinary proceedings. Footage showed Marcus Coutain asking an officer to “get off my neck” during his arrest in July 2020 – two months after the death of George Floyd. The Independent Office for Police Conduct said the officer should “reflect and learn from the incident to prevent any issues identified from reoccurring”.
RNLI enjoys donations surge
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has raised more than £200,000 in a single day after defending its work rescuing migrants. The RNLI said it had been inundated with donations and enquiries about volunteering since it responded to Nigel Farage’s claim that it was running a “migrant taxi service”. The charity’s fundraising director said: “Our supporters’ kindness means so much to us.”
Tories question ‘misleading’ data
One in four patients classed as a Covid hospitalisation is being treated for other reasons, according to official NHS data. Tory MPs have accused the government of making “flawed decisions based on misleading data” and top scientists have asked why the true picture was only now beginning to emerge. Meanwhile, experts have cautioned against drawing premature conclusions from the fluctuations after the daily number of Covid cases reported in the UK rose for the second day in a row.
Rebels plot to block animal rights bill
Conservatives are planning a rebellion over an animal sentience bill that they fear could be used to block infrastructure projects and be “hijacked” by activists. Leading donors have written to Boris Johnson to express concern about the implications of the legislation, which would recognise that animals feel pain. The Times says critics fear the move could be “hijacked” by activists seeking to ban kosher and halal slaughter, game shooting, or the testing of medical products on animals.
Biden calls for $100 for jabs
Joe Biden has called on all American states to pay people $100 each to have the Covid vaccine. The US president said that the payments could come out of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year. He added: “I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who have got vaccinated already but here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them.”
German coach sent home over racist remark
Germany cycling coach Patrick Moster has been sent back home from the Tokyo Olympics after he was overheard making a racist remark during the men’s road time trial. The German Olympic Sports Confederation confirmed that Moster would “no longer perform his duties as part of the cycling team” after he shouted a derogatory reference to Middle Eastern people to German cyclist Nikias Arndt during Wednesday’s event. Moster has apologised and blamed “the heat of the moment”.
Johansson sues Disney over streaming
Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the recent release of Black Widow, claiming that the studio’s decision to launch the Marvel standalone film on Disney+ as well as cinemas is a breach of contract. The suit claims that Disney “intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms Johansson from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel”. However, Disney has previously defended the decision, saying: “One of the things we learned is that flexibility is good.”