Here is a selection of this morning’s UK national papers, with the coronavirus pandemic, as ever, dominating the headlines.
This morning the Guardian print edition leads on the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths across the UK since the Covid-19 pandemic reached these shores last year. Caelainn Barr, Nicola Davis and Pamela Duncan write:
More than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus in Britain since the disease first appeared in the country almost a year ago, in what public health experts said was a sign of “phenomenal failure of policy and practice”.
A total of 1,564 people were reported to have died yesterday – a new record high, bringing the total to 101,160, according to analysis of figures from government and statistical agencies. The toll far exceeds some of the worstcase scenario estimates made during the first wave of the pandemic.
The news comes amid warnings that the toughest weeks of the crisis are yet to come and that Britons are facing an epidemic of grief for lost relatives and loved ones, with many forced to mourn alone under lockdown measures and curbs on funerals.
Almost one in every 660 people in Britain have died from Covid or Covid-related causes so far during the pandemic – or about one in six of all deaths. The UK has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world, at 151 per 100,000 people.
Good news from the Times, which reports on a study into coronavirus reinfections that finds that catching the virus gives an immune defence “at least as good” as a vaccine. According to the papers splash this morning:
Prior illness provided about 85 per cent protection against both asymptomatic and symptomatic reinfection, researchers said after following thousands of people who caught the virus in the spring.
Although they found that a small number among the group did get infected twice, typically they suffered a milder form of the disease.
With an estimated one in five having been infected, the findings, based on a study of 21,000 UK healthcare workers, suggested that herd immunity could already be slowing the course of the pandemic. However, scientists warned that they still did not know how long immunity lasted.
The Telegraph this morning says that the prime minister has promised to “accelerate” the distribution of coronavirus vaccines (actually it uses the term “rollout”, which is fast becoming one of the most over-used vaccine cliches). The paper reports:
A plan published by the Scottish government shows that approximately 50 per cent more people will be vaccinated per week between March and May than during the current phase.
The Government has said repeatedly that the period between now and Feb 15 is vital to ensure the most vulnerable are vaccinated and lockdown can be lifted.
But yesterday ministers were forced to defend the seemingly slow rollout. Despite a target of 2million jabs a week by the end of January having been set, only around 3million jabs have been administered in total since the pro gramme began five weeks ago.
Continuing the vaccine theme, the Daily Mail reports that we have “21 million reasons to be hopeful”, in reference to the number of doses of coronavirus vaccine that are apparently in the country and ready to be administered to patients.
Covid jabs are on British soil, the Daily Mail can reveal today.
It means there are enough doses to hit the target of injecting all over-70s, care home residents and health staff by February 15.
Not all the vaccine consignments have passed regulatory checks – and many are yet to be put into vials. But the fact so many logistical hurdles have been jumped is a major victory in the fight against coronavirus.
The Daily Express is trying to out-do its mid-market rival for headline exuberance, proclaiming that we will soon have “Covid jabs around the clock”. According to the paper’s lead story:
COVID vaccinations will soon be offered 24/7, Boris Johnson declared yesterday.
The Prime Minister said round-theclock jabs will be introduced by the Government “as soon as we can”.
He is understood to have given the goahead to a pilot study that will test the potential for 24/7 immunisation facilities. It will result in healthcare workers being vaccinated at the end of their shifts at all hours of the day and night.