Coronavirus latest news: Travel firms attack plans for ‘expensive and unnecessary’ Covid tests

Travel firms have attacked Government plans to force holidaymakers returning from low-risk destinations to take an “expensive and unnecessary” type of coronavirus test.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted on Friday that foreign holidays will be able to resume “safely and sustainably” under his department’s new travel measures. These include requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests. Post-arrival tests must be the PCR type which cost around £120, he revealed.

But EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren claimed the plan was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.

He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”

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6:45AM

Under-40s could be asked to take an alternative Covid vaccine to AstraZeneca 

Thirtysomethings could be asked to take an alternative jab to AstraZeneca, members of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) have said. 

The Government’s independent scientific advisers said a fresh risk/benefit assessment of the vaccine in different age brackets would be made before the rollout reaches those under the age of 40.

Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the JCVI, said safety data will be examined “in scrupulous detail” and that “everybody should remain confident” in the vaccine programme, which he said was going “full steam ahead”.

Read the full story here.

6:32AM

Vaccine passports: Concerns about discrimination and surveillance persist, survey reveals

Around four in 10 adults in the UK believe unvaccinated people will be discriminated against, according to research from the University of Bristol and King’s College London.

A quarter of adults believe vaccine passports would reduce civil liberties, but half disagree.

And 22% believe vaccine passports will be used by the Government for surveillance, while 45% do not think this will happen.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to think unvaccinated people will be discriminated against, and that vaccine passports will infringe civil liberties or be used for surveillance, the survey found.

5:50AM

Australia doubles Pfizer order amid AstraZeneca concerns

Australia has doubled its order of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, as the country races to overhaul its inoculation plan over concerns about the risks of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Until late Thursday, Australia based its vaccination programme largely on an AstraZeneca shot, with an order for 50 million doses – enough for the required two shots for its entire 25 million population – to be made domestically by biopharma CSL Ltd.

But Australia has now joined a host of countries in restricting use of the vaccine due to clotting concerns. Local health authorities have changed their recommendation to say the country’s nearly 12 million people aged under 50 should take the Pfizer product instead.

As a result Australia has doubled an earlier Pfizer order to 40 million shots, enough for four-fifths of the population, which would be delivered by the end of the year, Morrison said.

The policy change to Pfizer effectively ends plans to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of October.

“It is not a prohibition on the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra after a national cabinet meeting to discuss the virus response.

“For those who are over 50, there is a strong encouragement to be taking this AstraZeneca vaccine.”

4:18AM

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