Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 January 2022

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Covid-19 isolation soars

Cases of Covid-19 have risen by 50% in a week, with 157,758 new infections in England and Scotland in the past 24 hours. One million Britons are in self-isolation, according to the Daily Mail, prompting warnings of “back-to-work chaos” following the festive period. Children returning to school risk being “turned away” if their teachers test positive for the virus, the paper added, while “rubbish bins and recycling containers across the country overflow due to suspended collections”.

2

‘Critical incidents’ at NHS trusts

NHS trusts across England have declared “critical incidents” as soaring staff absences caused by Covid-19 put parts of the health service “in a state of crisis”. More than half a dozen trusts have issued alerts in recent days amid growing concerns that some may be unable to deliver vital care to patients. Boris Johnson said yesterday that he recognised that the pressure on the NHS was “going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more”.

3

Doubt over fourth jabs

Fourth Covid-19 jabs should not be offered until there is more evidence about their ability to stop infections, the head of UK’s vaccine body has warned. Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Andrew Pollard, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said that giving boosters to people every six months was “not sustainable”, adding that “we need to target the vulnerable” in future, rather than giving boosters to all over-12s. “At some point, society has to open up,” he said.

4

London to legalise cannabis

Sadiq Khan is set to decriminalise drugs in London as part of a plan to end the prosecution of young people caught with cannabis, it has emerged. The mayor of London will reportedly allow under-25s caught with Class B drugs to be offered “speeding course-style classes or counselling instead of arrest”, The Telegraph said. The scheme would mean police officers would be told not to arrest young people caught in possession of drugs including cannabis, ketamine or speed.

5

Theranos founder guilty of fraud

The founder of blood-testing startup Theranos has been convicted of fraud. Elizabeth Holmes, 37, was found guilty of turning her company into a “sophisticated sham” that duped investors and patients into backing revolutionary finger-prick blood-testing technology that never actually worked, Sky News reported. Jurors found Holmes guilty of four charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud against investors and three counts of wire fraud, which carry a maximum prison term of 20 years each.

6

Epstein deal could derail Andrew case

Virginia Giuffre agreed not to sue anyone connected to Jeffrey Epstein who could be described as a “potential defendant”, an unsealed damages settlement against the late-sex offender has revealed. The 2009 document, disclosed by a New York court, shows the billionaire paedophile paid $500,000 (£371,000) to end Giuffre’s claim. Prince Andrew’s lawyers said the 2009 deal means she cannot sue the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her 20 years ago. Giuffre’s legal team said the terms of the settlement are irrelevant to her case against the prince.

7

Patel broadens pardons scheme

The Home Office has announced that more people will be eligible for a pardon over historical criminal convictions relating to homosexual activity. Anyone convicted or cautioned for consensual same-sex activity under now-abolished laws will be able to apply to have them “disregarded”. Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she hoped expanding the government’s Disregards and Pardons scheme “would go some way to righting the wrongs of the past”.

8

Trumps attempt to block subpoenas

The Trump family is attempting to quash subpoenas from the New York Attorney General’s Office that would force Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump to testify as part of its civil investigation into the Trump Organization. The family’s lawyers have argued that New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to “circumvent the entire grand jury process”, adding that allowing the testimony would set a “dangerous precedent”. James warned that “delay tactics” will not stop the investigation “from following the facts or the law”.

9

Nations agree nuclear pact

Five of the world’s most powerful nations have agreed to a pact that states “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. The joint pledge was signed by the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, the five states recognised by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Guardian said that a common statement on a major issue of global security has become a “rarity” at a time of increasing friction between Russia, China and the West.

10

Apple reaches $3tr milestone

Apple has become the world’s first company to be valued at $3tr (£2.2tr) after shares climbed by up to 3% on the first trading day of 2022. The valuation suggests traders on Wall Street believe the software giant’s record run during the pandemic will continue. Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told The Telegraph the milestone was a “watershed moment” for the company and other players in Big Tech.

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