A Vietnamese health ministry research centre is in talks with Russia to manufacture the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine domestically.
Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology would initially send semi-finished products along with instructions to the Ministry of Health’s Polyvac Center to produce around 50 million doses a year, according to a report in online newspaper VnExpress.
Subsequently, Polyvac would produce the vaccine from scratch, the same newspaper reports.
Vietnam, which is currently only using AstraZeneca’s jab in its mass vaccination programme, approved the Sputnik V jab in March. The country is also in negotiations to buy Sputnik doses from Russia for domestic use before producing them itself.
Scotland and Wales have sent vital medical equipment to India as the country battles a coronavirus outbreak that has overwhelmed healthcare services.
A shipment of 100 oxygen concentrators and 40 ventilators supplied by the Scottish government arrived on Friday night and will be distributed by the Indian Red Cross.
The Welsh government and NHS Wales’ package of 638 oxygen concentrators and 351 ventilators reached Delhi over Wednesday and Thursday. They will also be distributed by the Indian Red Cross.
The shipments follow Northern Ireland’s Department for Health sending three surplus 18-tonne oxygen generators, plus a further 1,000 ventilators offered by the Department of Health and Social Care. The assistance packages come from surplus stocks across the UK.
Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, said: “The coronavirus situation in India is a human tragedy. We are working with the other UK nations to help tackle the crisis by providing equipment that can be used immediately to save lives.
“Solidarity with other countries remains of key importance throughout this global pandemic and we will continue to make contributions within the international community, while tackling Covid-19 here in Scotland.”
He said that people can donate to the response effort through the British Asian Trust’s “Oxygen for India” emergency appeal, as well as the Disasters Emergency Committee, which has extended its coronavirus appeal to include India.
Eluned Morgan, the Welsh health minister, said: “Covid-19 is a global emergency and as such it is right that we are part of the global response, supporting other nations.”
Malaysia has reported a further 6,320 coronavirus cases amid a recent surge in infections, as well as 50 new deaths.
This takes the total number of cases since the onset of the pandemic to 505,115, Reuters reports.
Saturday’s figures compare with 4,140 cases and 44 deaths a week today.
The south-east Asian nation reported a record high of 6,806 new cases on Thursday, when it also saw its highest daily toll of 59 deaths.
Heathrow airport’s decision to process people arriving from red list countries in a separate terminal is “a step in the right direction” but won’t solve delays, a former Border Force chief has said.
Passengers flying from countries including Brazil, Pakistan, India, South Africa and Turkey will go through a specific arrivals facility at the west London airport from next month.
The new policy will come into effect on 1 June.
Former Border Force chief Tony Smith told BBC Breakfast: “It’s a step in the right direction. We do want to segregate people arriving from red list countries from green list countries because the processes are different.”
He said mixing arrivals from green and red list countries “makes matters worse”.
“So I do think it’s a step in the right direction by Heathrow but I’m afraid it’s not a panacea and people are still going to face delays regardless of where they come from.”
Nepal’s parliament has been dissolved for the second time in five months as political instability continues amid the country’s severe coronavirus outbreak.
Elections have been called for November, AFP reports, after neither the prime minister nor the opposition had a majority to form a new government.
Political tensions have risen as the country new faces acute shortages of oxygen and vaccines during a surge in cases.
Authorities have been reporting about 200 deaths a day, but experts say the real figure is far higher. The United Nations has launched an emergency Covid-19 appeal, saying that Nepal is at “breaking point”.
The president, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, announced in a statement: “The president… has dissolved the current House of Representatives and fixed the first phase of general elections on 12 November and the second phase on 19 November.”
Following a warning from the nursing regulator that pressure on staff could lead to a significant exodus of frontline NHS staff, five healthcare workers told Alex Mistlin about their experiences.
The pandemic itself was dreadful. We were all working flat out, extra hours, with fewer staff per patient and spending all of our time in PPE.
The pay offer is derisory. It’s like leaving a 50p tip for a £50 meal. My colleagues deserve the world. We’ve already suffered through a decade of below-inflation pay rises while expectations have only increased. What makes it worse is that a greater amount had already been agreed in the original pay deal. Are we worth less now than we were before the pandemic?
I don’t think the public realise how badly we were already struggling before the pandemic. Money for training had been taken away and we were already short-staffed. Corners were being cut just to maintain a bare-bones service and morale was rock bottom. When the Covid surge came along, it broke a lot of staff.
The spread of variants such as the one discovered in India is concerning because of the possibility of a new strain that could evade vaccines, an expert has said.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, virologist Dr Chris Smith said that experts were concerned about “the possibility of a new variant emerging that could sidestep the protection conferred by vaccination”.
Smith said: “It’s important that we’re vigilant to the appearance of new cases of these things – one of the reasons people are worried is that we still have a significant proportion of the population who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
“It could increase the number of cases, including in those who are vulnerable, and then also get into those who have been vaccinated but are not necessarily immune – not everyone who gets vaccinated is protected.
“The more variation there is, the more chances we’re going to see the vaccines stop working.”
Women who are breastfeeding are not at any risk from the vaccine, an expert has said, adding that there may even be benefits for the baby.
Prof Linda Bauld told BBC Breakfast that there was a study that found that antibodies are passed from the vaccinated mother onto the infant.
The UK continues to assess a “basket of indicators” on the coronavirus situation, rather than just hospitalisation or mortality figures, an expert has said.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, was asked why the UK’s focus has not moved away from case numbers to hospitalisation figures.
She said that experts are concerned with a “basket of indicators”.
“The reason we’re still talking about cases is because there was a trajectory of people testing positive to going into hospital, ICU, potentially mortality,” Bauld said.
She said though the government was focusing on hospitalisation and mortality figures, there are still concerns “because of unanswered scientific questions about cases leading to those outcomes”.
Germany to bar visitors from UK over Covid variants of concerns
Germany will ban Britons from entering the country from Sunday after the UK was classified as a virus variant area of concern, PA reports:
As of midnight on 23 May, people travelling to Germany from Great Britain and Northern Ireland may only enter the country if they are a German citizen or resident.
Spouses and children under 18 of a German citizen or resident can also enter, as long as the household are travelling together.
Those with an urgent humanitarian reason such as an immediate family bereavement are also able to enter. However, anyone entering the country from the UK must quarantine for two weeks on arrival, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.
Russia has reported 8,709 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, including 2,653 in Moscow, as well as a further 386 deaths.
This compares with 8,667 cases and 359 deaths last Saturday.
Russia’s official national tally shows there have been 4,992,554 cases since the pandemic began, as well as 118,125 deaths.
Surge testing deployed in four west London boroughs
Surge testing is being rolled out in the London boroughs of Harrow, Ealing, Hillingdon and Brent after cases were identified of the variant first discovered in India.
NHS test and trace is providing additional testing and genomic sequencing in education settings and targeted areas across the four boroughs, following the identification of the B1.617.2 strain.
Public Health England has classified B1.617.2 as a variant of concern.
The cases have been told to self-isolate and their contacts are being traced.
Local authorities will shortly confirm the areas where additional testing will be offered within the boroughs.
Everyone who lives, works or studies in the targeted areas, including children, are being urged to take a PCR test, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Pubs and restaurants in England are feeling a sense of “cautious optimism” after their first Friday night serving customers indoors, a business leader has said.
The UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said it would be “a long road to recovery” as many businesses continued to make losses under the current restrictions.
She told BBC Breakfast: “The first week has not been as exceptional as we had when we first opened outdoors and there was that rush to come back.
“We are looking at what the numbers will look like this weekend – that will be critical.”
Sewage samples are being tested to determine which Covid-19 variants are most prevalent across regions accounting for two-thirds of England’s population.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the programme had helped identify the need for surge testing in areas such as Bristol and Luton. On Wednesday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said testing and vaccinations were being surged in six areas as a result of wastewater analysis.
“As infections fall and we head out of national restrictions, analysing wastewater to detect variants early on is important to help local authorities and NHS test and trace act quickly to stop variants from spreading in communities,” said Andrew Engeli, who is leading on the wastewater testing scheme at the Joint Biosecurity Centre, part of the newly formed UK Health Security Agency.
Taiwan has reported 321 new Covid-19 cases, a slight rise from the 312 infections reported on Friday, but the health minister said the trend remained stable with cases clustered in the north, in and around Taipei.
The health minister, Chen Shih-chung, also announced 400 infections over the past six days which had not been included in previous reports due to a delay following a spike in cases, according to Reuters.
He reported two new deaths, bringing the total to 17 since the pandemic began.
People aged 32 and 33 in England eligible for vaccine
Hello and welcome to today’s coronavirus liveblog. I’m Clea Skopeliti and I’ll be bringing you the latest updates from the UK and the rest of the world.
People aged 32 and 33 in England are now eligible to book their vaccine appointment, the NHS has said.
People aged 33 will receive texts inviting them to book a vaccination from Saturday, and 32-year-olds will receive a message from Monday.
NHS England will hit the milestone of delivering 50 million vaccines on Saturday, with more than 40% of adults having had both jabs.
Since eligibility was widened for under-40s just over a week ago, more than half of people between 35 and 39 have had their first shot, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said.
He added: “Today, the biggest NHS vaccination programme in history hits another milestone as we pass 50 million life-saving jabs delivered across England.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and national medical director for primary care, reminded people that the vaccine offer “doesn’t go away” and they can take it up at any time.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.