Covid live: two vaccine doses ‘offer similar protection as infection’; UK set for ‘challenging’ winter as cases rise

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Two doses of Covid vaccine offer similar protection as natural infection – ONS analysis

New data from the UK suggests two doses of a Covid vaccine offers a similar protection against testing positive for the coronavirus as a previous natural infection.

The analysis, carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is based on NHS test and trace data as well as ONS survey results for the period between 17 May to 14 August, when the Delta variant was dominant.

The results reveal that those who had received two doses of the Covid jabs at least 14 days before the period of interest had a lower risk of testing positive during that time than those who had only had one dose at least 21 days before.

However, two doses of either jab offered a similar level of protection as that provided by a natural infection.

A medic prepares a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine

A medic prepares a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

According to the data, those who have previously had Covid had a 71% lower risk of testing positive than those without a prior Covid infection and who were not yet vaccinated. Meanwhile, those who had received two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab 14 or more days before the period of interest had a 62% lower risk of testing positive for Covid and those who had received two doses of the Pfizer jab had a 73% lower risk.

While the two types of vaccine appear to offer different levels of protection, the team urge caution, noting the jabs were given to different age groups and had different follow-up times.

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A close friend of Boris and Carrie Johnson did stay with the couple during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown last Christmas, Downing Street has in effect confirmed, while insisting no Covid rules were broken.

It is understood that Nimco Ali, a campaigner and Home Office adviser who is godmother to the Johnsons’ infant son, Wilfred, was at Downing Street over the Christmas period as part of their childcare support bubble.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson declined to formally confirm that Ali was there. “As you might expect, I’m not going to get into speaking about individuals that the prime minister has seen over Christmas,” he said. “What I can say is that the prime minister and Mrs Johnson have followed the coronavirus rules at all times.”

However, the spokesperson did say that neither Boris Johnson’s mother – who died last month aged 79 – or Carrie Johnson’s mother were with the family over Christmas. Asked to confirm whether or not Ali was there, he did not respond.

Nimco Ali.

Nimco Ali. Photograph: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for AllBright

“It is entirely accurate to say that they followed coronavirus rules at all times,” the spokesperson said, rejecting the argument that it was legitimate to seek clear answers on the arrangements given lockdown breaches by senior government figures such as Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings and the ex-health secretary Matt Hancock.

“I don’t accept that,” he said. “We have been very clear that throughout this pandemic the prime minister has expected all ministers to adhere to the guidelines. That is what the prime minister and Mrs Johnson have done, both at this time and throughout, and I’m happy to make that clear.”

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UK government warns of ‘challenging’ months ahead in battle against Covid

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In Australia, more than 40 Victoria police staff have been stood down and face losing their jobs after refusing to have the Covid vaccine.

Victoria police on Monday confirmed 34 police officers and nine protective services officers had not complied with the vaccination order by the state’s chief health officer and by a specific chief commissioner instruction.

Exemptions from having the mandatory vaccine only apply if an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to a medical issue, the force said.

Those refusing the jab have been referred to Professional Standards Command for failing to abide by an instruction of the chief commissioner and face subsequent disciplinary action, which may result in their sacking.

They have been stood down and directed to take accrued leave.

The Police Association backs mandatory vaccinations and has been contacted for comment.

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Downing Street denies UK PM and wife broke Covid rules over Christmas

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Today so far

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Vaccine take-up among 12- to 15-year-olds below 10% in third of English local authorities

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EU has exported over 1bn vaccine doses worldwide – von der Leyen

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Thousands of students in New South Wales, Australia, put on uniforms and packed their lunches for the first time in months on Monday, as kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students returned to face-to-face learning.

Although the return to classrooms is a welcome change for parents and teachers, there are concerns that younger children will face social challenges heading back.

“I’ve noticed [five-year-old Jack] has become attached to me so I’m concerned to see how it goes the next few days,” parent Nicole Kastner said. “He has been by my side for the last three-and-a-half months.”

With only two months left of the school year, she said her focus would be on getting him into the rhythm of school again and out meeting friends. “We’re excited … we’re excited to go back to the new normal. It’s a fresh leaf, a new chapter,” she said.

Schools will look a bit different. Masks are now mandatory for high school students, and are recommended for primary school children. Teachers have been asked to keep the windows open for ventilation, but some classrooms have locked windows, and some worry about what will happen in summer when the temperatures soar.

Kastner runs Australian school mums, a Facebook group with 5,000+ members, and says a lot of parents are confused about masks and concerned private schools in the state will get air purifiers while other schools may miss out.

Read more of Cait Kelly’s report here: Nerves as NSW children head back to school, after months of Covid lockdown

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Russia sets another new daily Covid case record

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