Coronavirus latest news: France hints at tougher restrictions on UK travellers amid variant fears

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France has hinted it may follow Germany's lead and tighten restrictions on British travellers, amid fears about the spread of Indian variant.

Speaking to the French radio station RTL this morning, the country's foreign affairs minister said the government has not ruled out "slightly tougher" health measures for British arrivals.

"We worry about the Indian variant and we remain on high alert regarding that matter, in cooperation with British authorities", Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

The minister suggested that Britain could be put in a health category of its own, somewhere in between the strictest measures that France is imposing on visitors from India and 15 other countries, and more relaxed requirements being readied for visitors from the European Union and some other countries.

It comes after Germany's public health institute on Friday declared Britain and Northern Ireland a virus variant region. From midnight on Sunday, people travelling to Germany from Great Britain and Northern Ireland may only enter the country if they are a German citizen or resident.

Germany and France are both on the Government's amber list, meaning travellers must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

04:12 PM

US health officials say that most fully vaccinated Americans can skip testing for Covid-19

American health officials' new, more relaxed recommendations on masks (read about that here) have all but eclipsed another major change in guidance from the government this week: Fully vaccinated Americans can largely skip getting tested for the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that most people who have received the full course of shots and have no Covid-19 symptoms don't need to be screened for the virus, even if exposed to someone infected.

The change represents a new phase in the epidemic after nearly a year in which testing was the primary weapon against the virus. Vaccines are now central to the response and have driven down hospitalisations and deaths dramatically.

Experts say the CDC guidance reflects a new reality in which nearly half of Americans have received at least one shot and close to 40 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"At this point we really should be asking ourselves whether the benefits of testing outweigh the costs - which are lots of disruptions, lots of confusion and very little clinical or public health benefit," said Dr A. David Paltiel of Yale's School of Public Health, who championed widespread testing at colleges last year.

04:04 PM

Check how your region is faring in the vaccine rollout

03:51 PM

Brazil concerned after Indian variant is detected in northeastern state

Brazil's health minister said the government is concerned about the coronavirus variant first identified in India after the first cases of it were confirmed in the South American country.

Marcelo Queiroga denied, however, that there was community transmission of the variant, which was first identified in Brazil in the northeastern state of Maranhao, where 100 people are being monitored. A case was also confirmed Saturday in Ceara state.

According to Queiroga, 600,000 rapid tests will be sent to Maranhao to monitor the variant's possible spread and he said health barriers would be implemented at airports, highways and roads in Maranhao to contain its movement. All passengers passing through airports or borders in the northeastern state will have to take the rapid test.

Brazil suspended flights from India last week following the recommendation of the National Health Surveillance Agency.

03:50 PM

Watch: Hancock urges public to get second dose

03:32 PM

SNP health secretary admits there is scope to speed up rollout of vaccines

The SNP’s new Health Secretary has admitted there is scope to speed up the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Scotland and said the NHS should be “more proactive” in getting jabs into arms.

Humza Yousaf said that Scotland had “a good supply” of AstraZeneca vaccine and vowed to increase the pace of administering second doses to priority groups, following reports that many are waiting beyond a 12 week deadline for full immunisation.

His concession that ministers and the health service could do more to vaccinate people more quickly comes in contrast to Nicola Sturgeon who has refused to admit to any deficiencies in Scotland’s vaccination rollout.

Opponents said Mr Yousaf's admission raised doubts over why the programme could not have been ramped up sooner.

Official figures show that Scotland is lagging behind Wales in terms of administering first doses, and is slightly behind England and Northern Ireland in getting second doses to the adult population.

Daniel Sanderson has more details here.

03:17 PM

UK reports 2,235 cases and five fatalities

The latest coronavirus data shows that the UK reported a further 2,235 additional cases as of 9am this morning, taking the cumulative toll to 4,462,538.

The figures also show that in the past seven days, a total of 17,719 people have tested positive. This is a increase of 1,801 - or 11.3 per cent - compared to the previous week.

Meanwhile, a further five people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19. According to the Government data, 127,721 people have now died after contracting the virus.

But separate data tracking coronavirus fatalities on death certificates suggests close to 152,000 people have died during the pandemic.

03:12 PM

'HUGE day for vaccinations', says Matt Hancock

The Health Secretary has thanked all involved in the vaccination rollout after a "HUGE" day, with 762,361 jabs administered across UK on Saturday. It means more than 60 million shots have been now delivered across the the four nations:

03:01 PM

Climbers party on Everest despite 'daily evacuations' as Covid cases surge

On Wednesday, Nepal reported a daily record of 246 deaths from the virus. People are dying in their homes or outside of hospitals whilst awaiting delayed admission for treatment due to a critical, nationwide shortage of oxygen.

The spread of the virus has now reached the remote Everest Base Camp as mountaineers, mainly from the West, are accused of bypassing quarantine and testing rules on arrival in Nepal, putting the health of unvaccinated Nepali Sherpas - who are under pressure to support their families - at risk.

Two weeks ago, the Himalayan Rescue Association, which runs a government-authorised medical clinic at Everest Base Camp, admitted it had cared for 35 Covid-19 patients requiring evacuation from the mountain.

Fearing a scandal, the Nepali Government denied there had been an outbreak at Everest Base Camp, where around 1,500 people are currently located, blaming symptoms on other ailments like altitude sickness.

However at least 77 sherpas have now tested positive for Covid-19, said Arthimaya Tamang, the coordinator of the health section in the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, which incorporates the small villages surrounding Mount Everest.

Climbers at Everest Base Camp echoed Mr Tamang’s claims to The Telegraph -Joe Wallen and Ramu Sapkota have the full story here.

02:51 PM

Analysis: Is Public Health England loosing credibility?

There is a lot of anger mounting among some scientists today, after Public Health England published their latest data release - which suggested almost half of all sequenced cases are linked to the India variant - late on Saturday evening.

While some say this shows the agency is working around the clock, others say it is part of a longer term trend where the Government is intervening around when critical new data is published.

Prof Christina Pagel, a professor at University College London and member of Independent Sage, points to this sequence of events in a Twitter thread:

  • May 6: Concerns in PHE growing around the India variant, and they are about to make it a variant of concern. But the report was delayed because of local elections and published on the Friday instead.

  • May 13: A report on the spread of variants was ready on Thursday and published that evening - but without a page outlining the spread in schools. There have been media reports that this information was removed at the request of Downing Street.

  • May 22: The latest report about the spread of the India variant, which was initially set to be published on Thursday, was finally published at 11:30pm last night. Schools data was missing.

Many are concerned that, even if PHE is working around the clock, the public perception of tampering will damage confidence in the long run.

02:35 PM

Heavy metal rocks French President's palace after YouTube bet

A fun story from France, where millions of people tuned in today to watch Emmanuel Macron at a private heavy metal gig in the gardens of his Elysee presidential palace, part of a YouTube video by two comedians.

Macron pledged in February to welcome McFly and Carlito, two French YouTubers followed by 6.5 million people, in the Elysee if they succeeded in garnering more than 10 million views for a video promoting social distancing measures during the pandemic.

McFly and Carlito won the bet and were allowed to shoot a 36 minute video (you can watch it here), which within hours of release on Sunday morning had been viewed almost 2.7 million times.

The French President and the YouTubers exchange stories during the show, which ends with a stroll in the Elysee gardens, where French band Ultra Vomit perform a hard rock version of the French lullaby "A Green Mouse" ("Une souris verte").

Macron's ratings in the 18-24 age group category have risen by eight points over a month, to 51%, versus a general approval rating of 40%, which is up three points, the latest poll published by "Journal du Dimanche" showed.

02:24 PM

Scotland: Restrictions in Glasgow will ease if ICU cases don't rise

Coronavirus restrictions in Glasgow could be eased it the number of people in intensive care does not increase, according to Scotland's health secretary.

The city is currently the only part of Scotland still living under level three restrictions, which are the more stringent measures in any region of the country at the moment.

Some businesses have been vocal in their criticism of the decision. Under level three restrictions, businesses can only serve alcohol outdoors while different households can't gather inside their homes. With level two, limited numbers can socialise indoors and pubs, bars and restaurants can serve drinks inside until 22:30.

Speaking to the BBC's Scotland Sunday Show, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said ministers wanted to ease restrictions as soon as possible. He added that there is a difficult balance to strike and he could understand why those in Glasgow were "feeling somewhat despondent".

Yousaf said he hoped after this week it would become clear whether case numbers had led to a rise in ICU patients.

02:11 PM

UK unveils new 'global pandemic radar' as world takes steps to address vaccine inequality

Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for a “global pandemic radar” to track emerging coronavirus variants and spot new diseases before they trigger fresh pandemics.

It is hoped the surveillance network – set up alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Wellcome Trust – will improve early detection of novel pathogens, enabling the rapid development of vaccines, drugs and tests to tackle new health threats.

The Prime Minister launched the initiative at the Global Health Summit, a major event on Friday hosted by G20 President Italy and the European Commission, which also saw substantial pledges to address what has been dubbed a “vaccine apartheid”.

To date, roughly 80 per cent of shots have been administered in wealthy countries, while the vaccine sharing Covax scheme has been hit by acute shortages and bumpy supply.

Keen to demonstrate that waiving intellectual property rights is unnecessary after the US threw support behind the idea, vaccine manufacturers caved to mounting pressure and promised to go further to combat unequal distribution.

Find out more here.

02:02 PM

More details on possible French plans to restrict UK travellers

Earlier today we reported that France has hinted it may follow Germany's lead and tighten restrictions on British travellers, amid fears about the spread of Indian variant. The Associated Press news agency has a little more detail on what that might look like in this report:

The possibility of tighter restrictions for British tourists was raised Sunday by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The minister suggested that Britain could be put in a health category of its own, somewhere in between the strictest measures that France is imposing on visitors from India and 15 other countries, and more relaxed requirements being readied for visitors from the European Union and some other countries.

Without giving specifics, Le Drian said "health measures that are a bit stronger" could be applied for British tourists. The minister indicated that the government in Paris is watching how the situation develops before making up its mind.

"We hope that the variant can be controlled in a country which experienced real failures during the pandemic," he said. "However, the arrival of the Indian variant and the increase of cases of Indian variant in the UK pose a problem and so we are vigilant about this (and) in contact with the British authorities."

"It won't be the red treatment if we have to do it. It will be an intermediate treatment," the minister said. "But it is not excluded - this springs to mind because of British tourists - that we have health measures that are a bit stronger."

01:52 PM

Gordon Brown urges Boris Johnson: Share vaccines now

Gordon Brown has urged Boris Johnson to take the lead in getting the world's wealthiest countries to pay to ensure the poorest nations have access to the coronavirus vaccine.

The former prime minister said that unless protection against the disease was extended to developing nations the death toll would continue to rise while the cost to the global economy would increase.

He said it would "statesmanship of the highest order" if Mr Johnson were to use the UK's presidency of next month's G7 summit to call for a burden-sharing plan to ensure vaccines were distributed fairly around the world.

"If the G7 countries and their attendees at their meeting on June 11 were paying on the basis of capacity and ability to pay, then they would pay two-thirds of the cost," he told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend.

"Then we would have a means by which we could guarantee to the rest of the world that they would be vaccinated very quickly."

Related: Another blow for global vaccine rollout as India looks set to extend export ban until October

01:43 PM

Latest vaccination data: 686,264 jabs administered yesterday

A total of 50,932,666 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and May 22, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses - which is a rise of 686,264 on the previous day.

NHS England said 31,725,097 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 178,251 on the previous day, while 19,207,569 were a second dose, an increase of 508,013.

Here's a breakdown of that number by region:

  • London: 6,394,774 jabs given between December 8 and May 22, including 4,106,131 first doses and 2,288,643 second doses.

  • Midlands: 5,982,722 first doses and 3,686,053 second doses given, a total of 9,668,775.

  • East of England: 3,800,061 first doses and 2,291,363 second doses, making 6,091,424 in total.

  • North East and Yorkshire: 4,976,129 first and 3,044,137 second doses, 8,020,266 in total.

  • North West: 4,047,126 first and 2,517,767 second doses, 6,564,893 in total.

  • South East: 5,183,985 first and 3,115,291 second doses, coming to 8,299,276.

  • South West: 3,390,685 first and 2,204,917 second doses, making 5,595,602 in total.

01:32 PM

The numbers are looking good for June 21 reopening, say health chiefs

Health chiefs have boosted hopes of a June 21 reopening, saying the numbers are “looking very good” with just six deaths recorded from the Indian variant.

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said experts were “increasingly confident” about the effectiveness of vaccines against the strain in preventing severe disease.

She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the possibility of lifting all coronavirus restrictions next month was "looking good" as long as people acted with caution, particularly in areas battling new variants.

Dr Harries said that data up to May 19 showed just six patients had died from the Indian variant, of whom “the vast majority” had not been vaccinated, and were elderly.

While the deaths were obviously sad for those involved, the data was “looking very good” in showing the impact of Britain’s vaccine rollout, she said.

Laura Donnelly has more details here.

01:22 PM

Airline chief: Fully vaccinated travellers should not face restrictions

People who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine should not face restrictions when travelling to countries on the Government's amber list, an airline industry chief has said.

Willie Walsh, director-general of airline body Iata, said people should be allowed to make up their own minds about the risks of travelling to amber list destinations if they have received their jabs.

Those returning from countries on the Government's amber list must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure and two post-arrival tests.

But Mr Walsh, who is the former chief executive of IAG - the parent company of British Airways - said amber restrictions should be the same as those for green list countries for fully vaccinated passengers.

He told the Mail on Sunday: "People were promised the benefit of being vaccinated - a vaccine dividend - and they should be given it.

"I think if you've had both shots then there's no argument you can make to say those restrictions can remain in place, and people should be free to decide for themselves if they see any risk in travelling to a green or amber country."

01:11 PM

Glastonbury organisers 'mortified' after technical issues disrupted 'Live at Worth Farm'

Glastonbury organisers have said it was "unacceptable" that technical issues led to two-hour delays accessing the festival's livestreamed 'Live at Worthy Farm' event.

Event producer and promoter Driift Live said it had the "heaviest of hearts" and was "mortified" that people were "locked out" of the feed and unable to use their access codes. A statement said:

"For last night's failings, we would like to apologise to Glastonbury Festival, to all the amazing artists who gave their time to perform, and to all the backstage crew and partners who worked so hard with us over many months to make this historic show a reality.

"Most importantly, we apologise unreservedly to all of you who had your plans upset. We would also like to make clear that Driift is making no financial gain from this livestream event, and we hoped it would generate much needed revenue for the Festival and its charity partners."

Coldplay, Haim and Kano were among the acts on the bill for the pre-recorded show, which had been due to start at 7pm UK time on Saturday.

Technical issues meant many people were not able to access the stream until close to 9pm after ticketholders reported on social media they were unable to access the event due to an "invalid codes" error message.

Coldplay performs in front of the main Pyramid Stage as part of the Glastonbury Festival Global Livestream, "Live at Worthy Farm" - Anna Barclay/Glastonbury Festival/Getty Images
Coldplay performs in front of the main Pyramid Stage as part of the Glastonbury Festival Global Livestream, "Live at Worthy Farm" - Anna Barclay/Glastonbury Festival/Getty Images

12:59 PM

Watch: Could clues to the pandemic’s origins have been lurking in the Natural History Museum all along?

The Natural History Museum has unearthed a “treasure trove” of thousands of bat skulls, skins and pickled specimens dating back roughly three hundred years, which researchers hope may shed light on the origins of pandemics – including Covid-19.

Read the full story here or find our more in the video below:

12:50 PM

India trying to save vaccines by delaying shots for recovered Covid patients

India is trying to save scarce Covid-19 vaccines by delaying shots for those who have recovered from the disease, the head of a government panel said, adding the campaign should not have been opened to all adults before covering the most vulnerable.

Under fire for his handling of the world's worst rise in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made all adults eligible for vaccination from May 1. Vaccine shortages have now forced many regions, including the capital New Delhi, to again prioritise those aged above 45.

The federal government on Wednesday said patients should go for their vaccination three months after recovery, compared with the earlier recommendation of about one month. It did not give a reason.

"It's been done to save vaccine doses," Narendra Kumar Arora, head of the government's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, told Reuters. "We discussed delaying it by three months, six months or nine months, but finally we said 'we can manage it with three months, let's do three months for now'".

Arora said that given the vaccine shortage in India, the focus should have been on immunising the most at risk.

12:41 PM

Pandemic in pictures

Sao Paulo, Brazil:

An aerial view of open graves (L) near gravesites of recent burials (R) at Vila Formosa cemetery amid the pandemic. More than 1 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean have died with Covid, with nearly half of those killed in Brazil. - Mario Tama/Getty Images
An aerial view of open graves (L) near gravesites of recent burials (R) at Vila Formosa cemetery amid the pandemic. More than 1 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean have died with Covid, with nearly half of those killed in Brazil. - Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mumbai, India:

Children play as Ashok Jagannath Kurmi, a 36-year-old social worker, sprays disinfectant liquid while dressed in a clown costume at a slum. Kurmi, 36, who works for a pharmaceutical company to earn money, says that he dresses in different costumes during his outreach to help spread official messages about the Covid-19 coronavirus to both children and adults. - Fariha Farooqui/Getty Images
Children play as Ashok Jagannath Kurmi, a 36-year-old social worker, sprays disinfectant liquid while dressed in a clown costume at a slum. Kurmi, 36, who works for a pharmaceutical company to earn money, says that he dresses in different costumes during his outreach to help spread official messages about the Covid-19 coronavirus to both children and adults. - Fariha Farooqui/Getty Images

Tokyo, Japan:

Protesters appeal to pedestrians during a demonstration against the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. After a three-day meeting the International Olympic Committee said the Olympic Games can be held this summer even if Tokyo is under a state of emergency due to the pandemic, but there is growing resistance in Japan - KIMIMASA MAYAMA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
Protesters appeal to pedestrians during a demonstration against the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. After a three-day meeting the International Olympic Committee said the Olympic Games can be held this summer even if Tokyo is under a state of emergency due to the pandemic, but there is growing resistance in Japan - KIMIMASA MAYAMA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Klang, Malaysia:

Health workers wearing PPE carry a coffin during a funeral for a Covid-19 victim. Malaysia unexpectedly imposed a one-month lockdown through June 7, spooked by a sharp rise in cases, more-infectious variants and weak public compliance with health measures. - AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Health workers wearing PPE carry a coffin during a funeral for a Covid-19 victim. Malaysia unexpectedly imposed a one-month lockdown through June 7, spooked by a sharp rise in cases, more-infectious variants and weak public compliance with health measures. - AP Photo/Vincent Thian

12:30 PM

Slow vaccine rollout could undermine Asia’s success curbing Covid

Somchai Maneetawat’s restaurant is on the brink of collapse. The 38-year-old’s business in the Thai tourist hotspot of Phuket would normally be thriving but profits have plunged by 95 per cent as the Southeast Asian nation battles a sweeping third wave of coronavirus infections.

The golden sands of Phuket are supposed to reopen in July, leading the way as the first province of Thailand to scrap quarantine rules for vaccinated visitors in an important step towards reviving the country’s £46 billion tourism industry.

But after a successful first year of containing the pandemic, record-breaking numbers of Covid-19 cases and the slow pace of the vaccination programme may force a government rethink, and finally sink struggling businesses like Somchai’s.

Thailand’s worsening situation reflects an alarming surge of Covid-19 across much of Asia. As clusters are fuelled by British and other variants and inoculation plans falter, there is a growing gulf between more-vaccinated western countries and those lagging behind in jabs.

While the UK and US, who are leading the global vaccination drive, look forward to lifting pandemic restrictions this summer, Asian countries who managed to control transmission and keep death rates low in 2020 are now tightening curbs again.

In this piece our Global Health Security team ask: As infections climb, could slow vaccine rollout undermine Asia’s success curbing Covid?

12:16 PM

What should we look out for in latest vaccine v variant data?

A big story dominating coronavirus discussions today is the publication of positive real world data from Public Health England last night, which found:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is 88 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant from two weeks after the second dose, compared to 93 per cent effective against the Kent strain.

  • The AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be 60 per cent effective against the Indian strain, compared to 66 per cent against the Kent variant, over the same period.

  • But both are only 33 per cent effective after one dose.

Adam Kucharski, an infectious disease modeller at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, shared this Twitter thread which helps unpick exactly what these results mean.

First, he says, it shows that second doses really do matter. Second, be aware that "when vaccine effectiveness high, small absolute differences can have big effect".

But he adds that the confidence interval in PHE data is wide. Experts will be taking in data from a wide variety of sources when working out next steps:

12:09 PM

‘There’s a big difference between the first variant and this one’: Mozambique’s Covid crisis

At the start of the pandemic, it seemed like Mozambique had been spared the worst, writes Neha Wadekar. But then in December, neighbouring South Africa discovered a highly infectious new variant – B.1.351.

Cases began to surge, overwhelming Africa’s most advanced healthcare system. Doctors in neighbouring countries like Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique could only look on in horror as the deadly variant spread across porous borders.

But aside from South Africa, the international media ignored the growing public health crisis in the region. In Mozambique, doctors and healthcare workers in the capital Maputo told the Telegraph they were overwhelmed by the number and the severity of the cases they were seeing.

“There's a big difference between the first variant and this one,” says Olinda Mahumane, a young, softly-spoken doctor. “[This variant caused] severe cases that resulted in death quickly. It was highly transmissible and infected the healthcare workers and the rest of the community in general. It was a lot more aggressive,” she says.

Read the full dispatch here.

Olinda Mahumane, a doctor at Hospital Polana Caniço in Maputo, on a Covid-19 ward - Ed Ram 
Olinda Mahumane, a doctor at Hospital Polana Caniço in Maputo, on a Covid-19 ward - Ed Ram

11:57 AM

Roadmap must remain flexible despite ‘highly effective’ vaccines, expert cautions

Positive new data suggesting jabs in use across the UK are highly effective against the Indian coronavirus variant does not guarantee that unlocking on June 21 will go ahead, a vaccines expert has warned.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told the BBC that the Government's roadmap needs to be flexible and "adjusted according to events as they occur".

"I think there are uncertainties around the situation at the moment. I think, in a way, there's been uncertainties all the way along," he told BBC Breakfast. "When we get to June, whatever happens on that date, this global pandemic will not be over. It will still be going on.

"There'll still be cases going on in this country, through Europe and around the world, so life is not suddenly going to go back to normal in June, because life won't be really normal until this is brought under control. Life's going towards normal but it's not normal yet," he added.

On Saturday evening, Public Health England (PHE) scientists said the first real-world data showed double doses of Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca were nearly as effective against the emerging Indian strain as they were against the Kent variant.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, added this morning that while the "the data is positive". this doesn't mean "that it's the green light all the way... there are stages which we will follow".

11:49 AM

Greta Thunberg: Our relationship with nature is broken, and it links to the Covid crisis

11:37 AM

NHS app gains 1.3 million registered users, Hancock says

More than 1.3 million people have registered with the NHS app since it was announced users will be able to show if they have received the Covid-19 vaccine, the Government has announced.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised the "unparalleled pace" in which the vaccine status function was added to the app, since its announcement on May 7. The app enables users to show proof they have received the vaccine, should it be required for international travel.

It has more than 4.8 million registered users and also enables people to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view GP and hospital records, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Since May 17 - when the vaccine status function was added - people have logged into the app more than four million times. A further 11,483 people registered their preference for organ donation via the NHS App in just four days - 10 times more than average for that time, DHSC said.

"The strides in technology and innovation we've made throughout the pandemic are having real consequences beyond fighting this virus - they're making treatment, diagnosis and care better for patients," Mr Hancock said.

"I want to thank all my colleagues at NHSX and NHS Digital who helped us to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine status service so quickly. The pace we've brought this to fruition is unparalleled and it is bringing immediate benefits to our wider health service."

11:25 AM

France could impose tougher coronavirus measures on Britain

France has not ruled out "slightly tougher" health measures for travellers from Britain, the French foreign affairs minister said this morning, citing the spread in the UK of the coronavirus variant first found in India.

"We worry about the Indian variant and we remain on high alert regarding that matter, in cooperation with British authorities", Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

It comes after Fermany's public health institute on Friday declared Britain and Northern Ireland a virus variant region, requiring visitors from the United Kingdom to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

Here's a look at where the variant is spreading across Britain:

11:16 AM

Dominic Cummings hits out on Twitter - again

Dominic Cummings has been making waves ahead of his appearance at a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday morning, claiming herd immunity was part of the Government’s strategy at the outbreak of the pandemic, before it was abandoned on March 9 (read more here).

He's back at it this morning, tweeting that "Lots of hacks have lost their minds".

"Herd immunity wasn’t ‘a secret strategy’, it was THE OFFICIAL PUBLIC EXPLAINED ON TV/RADIO STRATEGY! Halpern, on SAGE, literally explained it on radio explicitly, 11/3/20, as did others!!" he wrote this morning.

This morning Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and Dr Jenny Harries - now chief executive of the new UK Health Security Agency but former deputy Chief Medical Officer - both denied Dominic Cumming's claims.

Here's another snippet from Cumming's latest posts:

11:10 AM

Bolton ramping up vaccination efforts amid India variant fears

More residents are coming forward to receive vaccinations in Bolton amid concerns over the Indian variant of Covid-19, according to Dr Helen Wall, who is leading the rollout in Bolton.

The region has been hit hard by the new Indian variant, and Dr Wall warned there is still a "long way to go" with the vaccination programme.

But she told the BBC that effective efforts are being made to get into the heart of the town's diverse communities:

"Efforts are continuing at large in Bolton. We have had a great week in terms of the numbers of extra people that we have managed to vaccinate, but we have got a long way to go.

"We are really just focusing now on expanding our vaccination programme to other areas and also encouraging the second dose people to come forward. We are also trying to provide that extra capacity for that to happen."

She said that walk-in vaccination services in the heart of communities have proved useful, with almost 12,000 vaccines done at one site.

Almost 2,000 vaccinations have been carried out at a newly-opened site in Runworth since Tuesday, which Dr Wall described as "a slower rate but it is starting to pick up there".

Dr Wall described the region as having diverse communities and that the areas which have been really hit by the virus in the past weeks are those which have populations in their 30s and 40s.

Related: Bolton 'could have been better protected' from Covid surge, local leaders claim

10:58 AM

Very sick Covid patients in Africa more likely to die, report shows

Stretched resources have had a dire impact on Africa’s coronavirus death toll, with the mortality rate among hospitalised patients roughly 20 percentage points higher than any other region of the world.

According to research published in The Lancet, almost half of critically ill patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 died within 30 days – compared to a global average of around 32 per cent.

The study, which included data from 64 hospitals in 10 countries, is the first to offer a detailed picture of the death toll inside Africa’s critical care units. It comes amid growing fears that a shortage of vaccines has left the continent vulnerable to a surge of Covid-19, particularly from the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, warned on Thursday that new waves of Covid-19 pose a threat for places still unprotected by vaccines.

“We could see Africa, some of the African cities, hit with a resurgence,” she told an Imperial College London virtual event. “There’s a lot of traffic back and forth between India and Africa.”

Jennifer Rigby has more details on this story here.

A health worker takes oxygen cylinders to COVID-19 wards at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi - AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi
A health worker takes oxygen cylinders to COVID-19 wards at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi - AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi

10:49 AM

Pharmacies at risk of closure as Treasury demands Covid loans are repaid

Thousands of pharmacies are facing closure because the Treasury is insisting they repay emergency cash that it gave them to help stay open during the pandemic, according to reports in the Sunday Times.

The newspaper said industry leaders have warned that the NHS vaccine rollout and autumn flu jab drive will be at risk if high street pharmacies giving them out are forced to shut.

Pharmacies were handed £370 million last year to ensure their premises were Covid-secure. The loans were spent on PPE, extra staff, social distancing and security measures to allow them to continue seeing patients throughout the pandemic.

New industry figures show the total cost of keeping pharmacies open eventually rose to £450 million but the Treasury is refusing to back down from its decision to claw back the £370 million. Industry leaders said the terms of the original loans were vague and they had hoped the government would “see sense”.

"Pharmacy teams have never worked harder than in the past year, and they have never been relied on more by patients and the rest of the NHS," Simon Dukes, chief executive of the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee, told the Times.

"Why the government would reward them for their loyalty by putting their livelihoods at risk is a question I don’t have an answer to."

10:38 AM

Watch: Easing of remaining lockdown restrictions could be impacted by variants

10:24 AM

Women recovering from Covid bearing the brunt of long-term lung damage compared to men

Previously healthy women admitted to hospital with severe Covid-19 infection are three times more likely than men to have signs of potential lung damage a year later, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Southampton and Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University in China studied 83 patients with an average age of 60 after discharge from hospital at three, six, nine and 12 months.

They found a reduction in the ability to transfer oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream was the most significant risk after a year, with a third of patients affected.

This was followed by evidence of scarring in the lungs on CT scans - which can be an indicator of damaged and thickened tissue that can lead to pulmonary fibrosis - and some patients still reported breathlessness.

Matthew Watts has more details on this story here.

10:12 AM

Prison governers' chief says lockdown freedoms need to be extended to inmates

Jails are at risk of a backlash from offenders if their release from lockdown lags behind the rest of society, the prison governors’ leader has warned.

Prisoners have spent up to 23 hours a day locked in their cells during the pandemic in a successful bid to avoid up to 2,700 deaths forecast by Public Health England (PHE).

It has led to falls of up to 45 per cent in violence with claims that jails have as a result become safer environments after years of record levels of assaults both on prisoners and staff.

But Andrea Albutt, president of the Prison Governors’ Association (PGA) warned there could be a “significant kickback” from offenders if there was not a return to normality in jails at a pace similar to society’s.

“We are moving into a period where they are beginning not to understand why they should not be unlocked, why they cannot hug their loved ones, why they cannot be unlocked in the same way as officers can hug people, socialise, go on holiday, shop and then come back into the prison,” she said.

Charles Hymas has more details on this story here.

10:00 AM

Pandemic in pictures

Colombo, Sri Lanka:

 Sri Lankan Army soldiers stop vehicles at a checkpoint after the government announced an island-wide travel restrictions as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 - CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
Sri Lankan Army soldiers stop vehicles at a checkpoint after the government announced an island-wide travel restrictions as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 - CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Monaco:

Spectators watch from a rooftop as Alpine's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit ahead of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP
Spectators watch from a rooftop as Alpine's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit ahead of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

New Delhi, India:

Ambulance staff wearing personal protective equipment suits carry the dead body of a person, who died due to the coronavirus, inside a crematorium - Prakash SINGH / AFP
Ambulance staff wearing personal protective equipment suits carry the dead body of a person, who died due to the coronavirus, inside a crematorium - Prakash SINGH / AFP

Taipei, Taiwan:

Medical staffers collect samples from local residents during a coronavirus testing drive at the Xindian District in New Taipei City - Sam Yeh / AFP
Medical staffers collect samples from local residents during a coronavirus testing drive at the Xindian District in New Taipei City - Sam Yeh / AFP

09:45 AM

'Absolutely not': Priti Patel denies claims government pursued herd immunity strategy

Home Secretary Priti Patel has denied a claim by Dominic Cummings that the Government's original response to the coronavirus outbreak was to pursue a strategy of "herd immunity".

In a series of tweets ahead of his appearance before MPs this week, the Prime Minister's former top adviser said the policy was only dropped in March last year after a warning it would lead to a "catastrophe" (read more about that here).

Asked on BBC's Andrew Marr Show about the claim that herd immunity had been the policy, Ms Patel said:

"Absolutely not. Our strategy was always about protecting public health, saving lives and protecting the NHS.

"Absolutely all colleagues involved in those meetings and discussions, working with the chief scientist and the chief medical officers, absolutely recognised that from the very difficult discussions that we had.

"At the time of a crisis when government is making very, very tough decisions, difficult decisions, we put public life and protecting the public at the forefront of all those decisions."

Earlier this morning Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the new UK Health Security Agency, also said she had never been in a meeting where herd immunity was discussed (see 10:01am) and insisted there is a difference between vaccine induced and naturally occurring herd immunity.

Related: Five key Covid questions Cummings must answer when he meets MPs this week

09:33 AM

Not clear whether children need to be vaccinated, says JCVI member

The US has now approved the Pfizer jab for 12 to 18 year olds, and many other countries are following suit, but experts say it is still unclear as to whether children will need to be vaccinated.

According to Professor Adam Finn - of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - the jury is still out but the point at which a decision on needs to be made may be moving closer, as the vaccine programme goes down the age groups of those who are called up for the jab.

Prof Finn told BBC Breakfast: "I think we need to wait and see on that. It is not clear at this point whether we will actually need to vaccinate children in order to get that population immunity that we have to get.

"If we do, it will most likely be teenagers and, of course, we need to identify clearly children who are at the high risk of serious infection because they need to be prioritised as well.

"I think it is relatively unlikely that we will need to immunise young children - pre-school or primary school children - but that remains a possibility as well, I guess."

09:24 AM

India's capital Delhi to ease Covid-19 restrictions as cases drop

Moving away from the morning news shows for a moment to India, where the capital New Delhi will start relaxing its strict lockdown next week if new cases continue to drop in the city, according to its chief minister.

For weeks, India has battled a devastating second wave of Covid-19 that has crippled its health system and led to shortages of oxygen supplies.

New Delhi, one of the worst hit cities, went into lockdown on April 20, but new cases have declined in recent weeks and test positivity rate has fallen under 2.5 er cent, compared to 36 per cent last month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

"If cases continue to drop for a week, then from May 31 we will start the process of unlocking," Kejriwal told a news conference.

Delhi reported around 1,600 new Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, he said, while the country on Sunday reported 240,842 new infections over 24 hours - the lowest daily new cases in more than a month.

09:12 AM

Watch: Matt Hancock urges everyone over 32-years-old to get their vaccine

09:01 AM

Government did not pursue herd immunity strategy, says Dr Harries

A final post on Dr Jenny Harries' comments this morning.

How concerned should we be about the new variant found in Yorkshire?

Turning to the AV.1 variant - which has caused 49 cases of infection, mostly in Yorkshire and the Humber region - Dr Harries says Public Health England are tracking the strain.

"AV.1 is a variant under investigation, that means it has been spotted to have particular mutations that can be associated with adverse outcomes - so it might be more susceptible to be more transmissible or counter some of the immune response that we normally produce.

"But actually there hasn't been any signal from AV.1 that there is any issue," she says, adding that as it is a variant under investigation it will remain under the spotlight.

Turning to the past, was it a mistake not to cancel Christmas sooner?

Dr Harries says she doesn't think "we can say it was a mistake" with the benefit of hindsight, but it was a difficult decision. She says it was a balance between epidemiology and balancing behaviours .

"I think when we look back through the pandemic, there will be a number of things with hindsight that we could have done better. But this isn't just about epidemiology, it is also about behaviours."

Did the Government initially pursue a herd immunity strategy?

No, says Dr Harries - this is a claim put forward by Dominic Cummings this weekend, which you can read about here.

"I have never been in any govt meeting where herd immunity was ever put forward.. as a mechanism for control." She adds that there is an important distinction between herd immunity through vaccination, and herd immunity through natural infection.

"If you look at the data now and the technical report which PHE has just produced, our current immunity across the population overall is 71 per cent, and about 15 per cent of that is coming from natural infection and the rest of that, which is building quickly, is coming from the vaccination."

08:59 AM

Not yet seeing an uptick in hospitalisations due to India variant, says Dr Harries

Continuing on from our previous post, outlining Dr Harries comments this morning:

Are we seeing an uptick in hospital cases due to the India variant?

Not yet, says Dr Harries, although she warns that data will trickly through slowly. A technical briefing published this weekend shows that up to May 19th the UK had seen six deaths among those with the India variant.

"The vast majority of these are people who have not been vaccinated and also elderly," says Dr Harries. "From that perspective it's looking very good, but it's still early days."

What about transmission?

Dr Harries says the jury is still out, but most people think the variant is roughly 20 to 30 per cent more infectious than the Kent variant, B117.

Will the roadmap be affected by the India variant?

"Fortunately the roadmap is not my purview", says Dr Harries, but she adds that the data is "looking good".

But she urges people to continue to observe all of the safety" guidance."We should not stop doing what we're doing, particularly in areas where we have that variant, in the North West and around London.

"It's really important that we continue to do hands, face, space, to work from home, and as we've heard toda second dose is very important."

So you'd rather be cautious?

"Absolutely, I think we all need to be very cautious and I think we all don't want to go back to the sort of lockdowns we've had," said Dr Harris. "It doesn't matter if you're on SAGE or in the public carrying out normal life, we all want to avoid a lockdown."

08:50 AM

India variant becoming dominant across North West England, says Dr Harries

An interesting interview with Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the new UK Health Security Agency, on the Andrew Marr show. Lets go through some of the key snippets.

On spread of B.1.617.2, the Indian variant:

Dr Harries said it's a "mixed picture across the country". Across the North West, including in Bolton and Bedford, the variant is "starting to become the predominant strain and taking over from the Kent variant".

But this is not the case everywhere - the variant is not becoming dominant in the South West, for instance.

Will we need a third booster dose?

Potentially, says Dr Harries, following analysis suggesting the AstraZeneca vaccine is 60 per cent effective against the Indian strain, compared to 66 per cent against the Kent variant (details here).

But Dr Harries warned that the real-world data set is not conclusive and more data is needed before making these decisions:

"Different vaccines were given to slightly different groups. Pfizer rolled out initially .. to healthcare workers who tend to be younger. Whereas AZ went out to older groups of individuals less able to come into centres.

"We shouldn't be concluding that today [around the need for booster shots]. Both of these vaccines are really good, we'll get more refined data in due course."

08:42 AM

CureVac works to boost production capacity ahead of expected vaccine approval

Germany's CureVac expects European approval of its Covid-19 vaccine in June at the latest and is working to expand production capacity, the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper quoted a company spokeswoman as saying.

Since starting out in 2000, the biotech company has focused on so-called mRNA, a drug and vaccine technology that has also become the recent focus of the European Union's procurement negotiations.

The mRNA approach has been validated by the wide use of coronavirus vaccines developed by pioneers BioNTech and its partner Pfizer, as well as by Moderna, in Europe and North America.

But more volumes will be needed to boost lagging immunisation coverage in Europe and potentially for repeated booster shots.

"We hope for approval in the course of the second quarter," the newspaper quoted the spokeswoman as saying in comments released on Sunday. "We are working to further expand production capacity with a growing network of partners."

The Nasdaq-listed firm, which is backed by investor Dietmar Hopp, GlaxoSmithKline as well as the German government, has said it aims to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021 and up to 1 billion in 2022.

08:27 AM

Downing Street pushed PHE not to publish some data on Covid in schools, reports suggest

A report on the Observer's front page today is gaining a lot of attention. The newspaper says that it has seen documents suggesting Downing Street leaned on Public Health England not to publish crucial data on the spread of the new Covid variant in schools.

Scientists, union officials and teachers said that the lack of transparency was “deeply worrying”.

The focus of their anger concerns the pre-print of a PHE report that included a page of data on the spread of the India Covid-19 variant in schools. But when the report was published on Thursday 13 May, the page had been removed. It was the only one that had been removed from the pre-print, the Observer reports.

Days later, the government went ahead with its decision to remove the mandate on face coverings in English schools.

Evidence seen by the newspaper suggests No 10 was directly involved in the decision not to publish it. The prime minister’s office acknowledged it was in correspondence with PHE officials about presentation of the data but vigorously denied this constituted “interference” or “pressure”.

Data on the spread of the new variant in schools has still not been published, despite calls from union officials and scientists who say teachers and families are being put at risk. In hotspots such as Bolton, cases involving the variant are rising fastest among school-age children.

08:18 AM

Recap: US CDC calls for investigation into rare heart inflammation

A US advisory group has called for more investigation into reports that some teenagers and young adults who received Covid vaccines experienced heart inflammation.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended further study of the very rare condition.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices looked into reports that a few young recipients - predominantly male, adolescents and young adults - developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

The condition often goes without complications and can be caused by a variety of viruses.

Dr Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, said vaccines are known to cause myocarditis and it would be important to monitor to see if it is causally related to the vaccine.

The CDC said the cases typically occurred within four days after receiving the mRNA vaccines. It did not specify which vaccines. The United States has given emergency authorisation to two mRNA vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

08:07 AM

Morning papers

A selection of stories have made the front pages today, with coronavirus and the fallout from the Bashir revelations dominating. Here's a roundup:

The Telegraph: 'Vaccines effective against Indian variant'

The Observer: 'We must act to tackle appalling failures at BBC, warn ministers'

The Sunday Times: 'Herd immunity was UK policy, says Cummings'

Mail on Sunday: 'Minister: Jabs beat variant'

Sunday Mirror: 'Jacko family: Shame on BBC and Bashir'

07:53 AM

Taiwan promises quick fix to Covid testing issue after criticism

Taiwan's health minister has promised to resolve a logjam with reporting positive Covid-19 tests after abruptly raising case numbers, a move that prompted criticisms from opposition politicians and jokes online about questionable statistics.

Taiwan is dealing with a spike in cases after months of keeping the pandemic well under control, with restrictions in place across the island to limit gatherings.

On Saturday and Sunday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung announced a total of 570 new cases whose positive tests had not been included in previous reports due to reporting delays following the surge in cases.

Chen said they were working to resolve the "traffic jam" problem by simplifying the reporting system and adding more machines that can perform quicker and more accurate tests.

"I believe that we will quickly be able to resolve this systemic issue."

He added this week would be a crucial one in terms of observing how well the virus was being brought under control, with the peak day for cases being seen last Monday.

Related: Taiwan’s Covid stumble shows perils of even the smallest slip-up

07:43 AM

JCVI expert: No certainty restrictions will lift on June 21

Lifting all restrictions on June 21 is not a certainty and life will not "suddenly go back to normal", according to a vaccines expert.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, has warned that the Government's roadmap needs to be flexible and "adjusted according to events as they occur".

"I think there are uncertainties around the situation at the moment. I think, in a way, there's been uncertainties all the way along," he told BBC Breakfast.

"When we get to June, whatever happens on that date, this global pandemic will not be over. It will still be going on.

"There'll still be cases going on in this country, through Europe and around the world, so life is not suddenly going to go back to normal in June, because life won't be really normal until this is brought under control. Life's going towards normal but it's not normal yet."

Speaking to Sky News Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, added that the vaccine programme is "gradually allowing us all to live our lives" and insisted that the Government will monitor the data as "we advance down the roadmap".

07:33 AM

Indonesia spots new Covid-19 cluster after cargo ship infections

Indonesia reported a new cluster of 42 infections among medical workers who treated 13 Filipino ship crew who were sick with Covid-19, and is tracing dozens of others, a government official has announced.

Roughly 140 other medical workers came into close contact with the crew of the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Hilma Bulker, who tested positive for the new coronavirus after docking in Central Java on April 25, the province's governor, Ganjar Pranowo, told Reuters. The vessel had come from India.

Genome sequencing showed the crew had the highly infectious B.1617.2 variant first identified in India, Ganjar said, adding that one of them had later died in hospital.

With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases and 49,000 deaths, Indonesia is the worst-hit country in Southeast Asia.

Its Covid-19 crisis is not as bad as that seen in India, but some health experts are concerned mass gatherings at this month's Eid al-Fitr celebrations and virus variants could trigger a surge of new cases in the world's fourth-most populous nation.

06:25 AM

Herd immunity was official plan: Cummings

Dominic Cummings has said the Government originally intended to let coronavirus spread through the community in an attempt to build "herd immunity".

Boris Johnson's former top adviser said that when the disease emerged in early 2020, the plan had been to develop resistance in the population in the months leading up to September.

In a series of tweets he said that it was only abandoned in early March after Downing Street was warned that it would lead to a "catastrophe".

Mr Cummings' latest intervention comes as he prepares to give evidence on Wednesday to MPs on the Commons health and science committees who are investigating the Government's response to the pandemic.

READ MORE:

05:55 AM

Guide reveals Covid outbreak on Mount Everest

A coronavirus outbreak on Mount Everest has infected at least 100 climbers and support staff, an expert mountaineering guide has said, giving the first comprehensive estimate amid official Nepalese denials that the disease has spread to the world's highest peak.

Lukas Furtenbach of Austria, who last week became the only prominent outfitter to halt his Everest expedition due to virus fears, said one of his foreign guides and six Nepali Sherpa guides tested positive.

Mountain guide Lukas Furtenbach explains the number of sick people - AP Photo/Bikram Rai
Mountain guide Lukas Furtenbach explains the number of sick people - AP Photo/Bikram Rai

"We have at least 100 people minimum positive for Covid in base camp, and then the numbers might be something like 150 or 200," Mr Furtenbach said.

He said it was obvious there were many cases at the Everest base camp because he could visibly see people were sick, and could hear people coughing in their tents.

04:58 AM

India records more than 240,000 new infections in 24 hours

Ashok Jagannath Kurmi, a 36-year-old social worker, sprays disinfectant while dressed as a clown at a slum in Mumbai, India -  Fariha Farooqui/Getty Images
Ashok Jagannath Kurmi, a 36-year-old social worker, sprays disinfectant while dressed as a clown at a slum in Mumbai, India - Fariha Farooqui/Getty Images

India has reported 240,842 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,741.

Total infections in the country stood at 26.5 million while the country's total death toll was 299,266, according to data from the health ministry.

India leads the world in the daily average number of new deaths reported, accounting for one in every three deaths worldwide each day.

04:21 AM

Exclusive: Millions 'unwittingly tracked' by phone after vaccination

Millions of Britons had their movements "unwittingly tracked" using their mobile phones to see if vaccinated people moved about more after their jabs, the Telegraph has learnt.

A report from the SPI-B committee of Government scientists admitted that data from one in ten peoples' phones were tracked in February, without their owners' express knowledge.

EXCLUSIVE: Millions 'unwittingly tracked' by phone after vaccination to see if movements changed

04:20 AM

Reports of heart inflammation in teen vaccine recipients

A US advisory group has called for more investigation into reports that some teenagers and young adults who received Covid vaccines experienced heart inflammation.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended further study of the rare condition.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices looked into reports that a few young recipients - predominantly male, adolescents and young adults - developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

The condition often goes without complications and can be caused by a variety of viruses.

Dr Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, said vaccines are known to cause myocarditis and it would be important to monitor to see if it is causally related to the vaccine.

The CDC said the cases typically occurred within four days after receiving the mRNA vaccines. It did not specify which vaccines. The United States has given emergency authorisation to two mRNA vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Read the full story here.

03:11 AM

Today's top stories

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