Covid-19 news: NHS England prepares to vaccinate children aged 12-15

Get the most recent coronavirus news every day, including coronavirus cases and features, interviews with New Scientist, and important information about the covid-19 pandemic.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is drawn up by a doctor. Ian Forsyth/ Getty Images

The latest news on coronavirus as of 26 August at 11:01 am

English health professionals plan for possible vaccine rollout when students return to school

According to media reports, the National Health Service in England has begun to prepare for the rollout of vaccines for children aged 12-15 starting 6 September. According to The Daily Telegraph, NHS trusts must have plans in place by Friday at 4pm.

Although the Department of Health said that no decision has been made yet to expand the vaccine program to younger people, they said they are still planning for various scenarios. Up to now, vaccines have been provided to children 12-15 years old with high-risk conditions or vulnerable family members. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is still considering expanding the rollout. Children 12 years and older are being vaccinated in the United States, Canada, France, and the Netherlands.


You can either be exposed to covid with no protection or you could be exposed to it and get a vaccine. Devi Sridhar, a University of Edinburgh researcher, said that we should offer the vaccine to teens so that they are protected before returning to school.

Myocarditis can occur in younger people more often after covid-19 vaccinations. A study published earlier this month in the US found that myocarditis was more common after coronavirus infections than after vaccination.

Coronavirus news and other information

Japan has stopped using 1.63 million doses Modernas covid-19 vaccinations after it was discovered that some vials were contaminated with particulate matter. Moderna and Japan claim that the suspension is an precautionary measure and that there have not been any safety or efficacy problems. A Japanese official at the health ministry said that Takeda, the drug company that distributes Moderna shots in Japan on behalf of Japan, was first informed about the issue on 16 Aug. However, it did not notify the government until 25 Aug. because it needed to know which vials were affected as well as where they had been distributed.

The company announced that a booster shot with Johnson & Johnson's covid-19 vaccine can increase antibody levels. Since February, when the J&J vaccine was approved in the US for emergency use, it has only been administered in one dose. The company stated that the antibody levels of trial volunteers who received the second dose six to eight weeks after the initial shot rose nine times more than the 28-day average.

New Scientist: Latest news on coronavirus

Origin of the virus: Scientists assigned by the World Health Organization are urgently calling for a second phase in origin studies.

Covid passes: What are their uses, ethicality and effectiveness?

Information essential about coronavirus

From where did coronavirus originate? Other covid-19 questions answered

What is covid-19?

The Covid-19 vaccines: All you need to know about these top shots

Long covid: Is it real? How long is it likely to last? And how can it be treated?

Which is the fairest way for covid-19 vaccines to be shared around the globe?

Covid-19: The tale of a pandemic

Learn, watch and listen about the coronavirus

New Scientist Weekly provides updates and analysis about the latest developments in covid-19. The podcast features expert journalists discussing the most important science stories that hit the news each week, from space and technology to health and the environment.

The BBC Radio 4 series "The Jump" explores how viruses can spread from animals to humans and cause pandemics. This episode explores the origins and spread of the covid-19 pandemic.

Why is covid killing people of colour? This BBC documentary examines the health inequalities in the UK, including the high covid-19 deaths in patients from ethnic minorities.

Panorama: The Race for a Vaccine - A BBC documentary that reveals the inside story behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccination against covid-19

Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine, a Channel 4 documentary, tells the story through the eyes and experiences of scientists at the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times evaluates the progress made in developing potential drugs to treat covid-19 and ranks them according to safety and effectiveness.

Humans of COVID-19 focuses on the experiences of those who work at the frontlines of the fight against coronavirus. It uses social media to highlight their stories.

Belly Mujinga: Looking for the Truth is a BBC Panorama investigation into the death of Belly Mujinga, a transport worker from covid-19. It was launched following reports that she had been coughed on by a customer at London's Victoria Station.

Coronavirus, Explained, Netflix is a documentary series that examines the coronavirus pandemic and the efforts to combat it. It also explains how to manage the mental health toll.

COVID-19, The Pandemic That Never Should Have Been and How to Stop the Next One By Debora Mackenzie describes how the pandemic occurred and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.

The Rules of Contagion focuses on the emerging science of contagion, and the unexpected ways it affects our lives and behavior. Adam Kucharski is an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In the book, he explores how and why diseases spread.

Previous updates

A doctor injects the Pfizer Covid 19 vaccination. Jed Leicester/Shutterstock

25 August

More UK data suggests that the efficacy of two vaccines decreases over time

New research shows that protection from two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccines begins to fade after six months. According to the analysis of the Zoe Covid study, which involved more than 1.2million participants in the UK, the Pfizer jab was 88% effective in preventing covid-19 infections a month after the second dose. However, protection dropped to 74% to 74% after five to six years. Protection for the AstraZeneca vaccine dropped from 77% one month after the second dose down to 67% after four to five years. Tim Spector, the lead scientist in the Zoe Covid Study, stated that protection for elderly people and healthcare workers could drop below 50% in a worst-case scenario.

These findings are consistent with another analysis that found that Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine effectiveness decreases by about a fifth each month after the second dose. Also, both vaccines are less effective for older people.

A second study published by The Lancet as a preprint, this week, showed that nearly half of people with impaired immune systems have a low to undetectable antibody response following a double vaccination. Researchers from Birmingham and Glasgow said that their findings support the administration of a third dose of coronavirus vaccination to those who have had low or no antibody responses.

More news about the coronavirus

According to The Washington Post, a US intelligence report that President Joe Biden ordered was unable to identify whether the SARS/CoV2 virus originated naturally or escaped from an infected laboratory. Officials familiar with the matter said that intelligence agencies will make portions of the report public in the next few days.

Pham Minh Chinh is the prime minister of Vietnam and has written to the head the World Health Organization asking for its vaccine sharing programme COVAX priority to Vietnam. This will help to address the crisis caused by the delta variant. Only 2 percent of the country's population are fully vaccinated. The US and China have both announced that they will give Vietnam 2 million and 1,000,000 vaccine doses, respectively, in the last two days.

Crowds at 2021 Boardmasters Festival. Jonathan Ward / Alamy

24 August

After attending music or surfing festivals, thousands of people have tested positive

Nearly 5000 coronavirus cases have been linked to Boardmasters, an international music and surfing festival held in Cornwall, UK, earlier this month. According to health officials, 4700 people tested positive for the virus had either attended the festival or had connections. A Cornwall Council official stated that although the cases are widespread, around 800 people are currently in Cornwall.

The Boardmasters event was held in Newquay between 11 and 15. August. According to the covid-19 policy, all ticket-holders over 11 years old would have to show their covid-19 status via the NHS Covid Pass app. Attendees had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test within 24 hours of arriving at festival gates. They also had to prove that they were vaccinated with both doses, the first at least 14 days prior to the festival.

The festival required that all campers take a second lateral flow test on the 13th of August. They were then asked to log their results in the NHS Covid Pass App. Although face masks weren't required, they were encouraged.

Coronavirus news and other information

Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine for covid-19 has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first to be. Since December 2020, the FDA has granted the vaccine an emergency use authorization for 16-year-olds and older. The vaccine has been administered to over 204 million Americans. President Joe Biden stated that he hopes the decision will encourage people who haven't been vaccinated to apply for shots. Many major employers, including Pentagon, announced new requirements that their employees be vaccinated.

For the first time in five months, the number of covid-19-positive patients in hospitals in England has surpassed 6000. This is a snapshot showing the number of patients in hospital as of 23 August at 8 am. It is an increase of 11 percent over the week before. According to NHS England data, patient levels have been lower than they were on 14 March. Over the past week, 100 deaths from covid-19 were reported in the UK. This figure was also last seen in March.

A man uses a lancet for the tip of his fingers. AFP via Getty Images

23 August

Programme for antibody testing to collect data about immune responses and vaccine effectiveness

UK launches an antibody testing program for coronavirus-infected people. This programme will offer testing to thousands of adults each day and aims to increase our understanding of the extent of protection that antibodies provide after covid-19 vaccination.

Antibodies are proteins that the body produces to protect against infections and other microbes. Although antibody testing can provide an indication of a person's immune system strength, it does not show whether they are protected from infection.

Anyone over the age of 18 in any one of the four UK countries can sign up for the program starting Tuesday. Two finger prick antibodies tests will be sent to those who test positive for coronavirus. The first test must be completed as soon as possible following a positive result. The second must be completed 28 days later.

The UK Health Security Agency will use the results to monitor the levels of antibodies in positive cases throughout the UK. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, this will be the first time that antibody tests have been made public. The scheme may also give insight into the possibility of people not developing an immune response. These data will be used by the government to help them in their ongoing response to the pandemic, and to provide further insights into the effectiveness of new vaccines.

Coronavirus news and other information

Sajid Javid, UK's health minister, has pledged to take action against cowboy behavior by companies that exploit holidaymakers with false prices for coronavirus kits. Javid identified 82 private travel testing companies, which make up 18% of the total number of people listed on the government website. They will receive a warning with two strikes and could be removed from the official listing. The Department of Health and Social Care recently found that they displayed lower prices than what people would pay in real life once they reach the checkout.

Taiwan is now rolling out a domestic vaccine. However, there are still clinical trials to complete and no data on its efficacy. Tsai Ingwen, Taiwan's president, was one of the first to be given the vaccine by Medigen. Initial 5 million doses have been ordered by the government. Around 40% of Taiwan's population has had at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

New Zealand has extended its lockdown. It will remain in place across the country through Friday, and in Auckland until 31 August. Today, 35 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of infections to 107.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb, moAb) are antibodies that have been created by cloning an individual white blood cell. Naeblys/Alamy

20 August

Ronapreve gets approval, the first drug specifically designed to combat covid-19

The UK approved the first artificial antibody treatment to fight and prevent the coronavirus. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, (MHRA) stated that the drug could be used to prevent or treat covid-19 infection and to reduce the risk of hospitalization due to the virus. Sajid Javid (UK Health Secretary) said that he hoped the drug would soon be available to patients.

The drug Ronapreve was tested before widespread vaccination and the emergence virus variants. Former US President Donald Trump was administered the drug, previously called REGN-Cov2, after he was admitted to hospital last year with covid-19.

The Ronapreve, a drug developed by Roche and Regeneron, can be administered either as an injection or infusion. It acts on the lining of your respiratory system and binds to the virus, stopping it from getting into the cells. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that mimic the immune system's antibodies.

Coronavirus news and other information

AstraZeneca has announced that a new antibody drug, developed by the company, reduced the risk of developing symptoms covid-19 by 77% in clinical trials.

Javid stated that he was confident that a coronavirus booster program could be launched in the UK next month. However, the government awaits final advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation before providing further details. On Thursday, the JCVI met and was expected to discuss boosters for the most vulnerable. Officials told PA News Agency that boosters were not discussed at the meeting. However, they could not confirm what was discussed.

The lockdown in Sydney, Australia has been extended until September. A nightly curfew in 12 of the worst-affected areas will be in place starting 23 August. This affects 2 million people.

New Scientist: Latest news on coronavirus

View of the virus: Scientists have captured 3D images from human airway cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 by using an unusual microscopic technique.

A man receives a covid-19 vaccination in Los Angeles, California. Christina House/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

19 August

To combat the US delta variant surge, third doses of covid-19 vaccinations will be administered.

Health officials announced that the US will begin making booster vaccines available in September. People who have had their second dose of vaccines eight months ago will receive the shots. The initial focus was on older people, healthcare workers and residents in nursing homes.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it is the best way to safeguard ourselves against new variants. It will keep you safer for longer. This will make it easier to end the pandemic sooner.

The World Health Organization has asked rich countries and vaccine producers to prioritize distributing vaccines in low- and medium-income countries, before rushing to home with third doses.

Biden also stated that his administration would require employees to be vaccinated before nursing homes can receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Coronavirus news and other information

A government scientist adviser stated that today's meeting of the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will discuss a booster campaign and who might need a third dose.

Adam Finn, a member the JCVI, said on BBC Radio 4's Today program: I believe theres enough evidence and I think we will soon be deciding that some people will require a third dose. This is especially true for people who are unlikely to be protected by the first two doses. However, I believe we need to have more evidence before we can decide on a larger booster program.

Finn also stated that BBC Breakfast is less certain about whether a third dose, in a more generalized way, for all people over a certain age, will make a difference.

New Scientist: Latest news on coronavirus

Evidence from vaccine testing: A UK study found that protection against the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations diminishes over time. Although both vaccines offer good protection against symptoms caused by the delta coronavirus variant of the virus, they are only 15% more effective against it than the alpha variant. These findings suggest that people who are vaccinated and get infected may be as infectious as those who are not.

The ventilation problem: It is essential to maximize airflow in public spaces to reduce covid-19 transmission. However, there are still questions about which technology to use and how efficient it should be.

Taranaki Street, Wellington, New Zealand, on the first day in a national lockdown Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

18 August

Ten cases of the delta variant have been confirmed in Auckland

In an effort to control the coronavirus delta variant, New Zealand has initiated a lockdown across the country. Despite 10 confirmed cases so far, models suggest that the number could rise to 50-100. Prime minister Jacinda Adern stated that we have seen more cases from overseas and are confident of seeing more. Level 4 alert is the most severe level. This means that people can't leave their homes for food, exercise, or covid-19 testing. The lockdown will be in effect for three days across the country and in Auckland for one week. Since February, New Zealand has been free from local covid-19 infections and only 21% of its total population is fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus news and other information

His office announced that Greg Abbott, Texas governor, was positive for covid-19. According to a statement, Abbott has been fully vaccinated, with no symptoms. He is currently receiving monoclonal antibody treatment. Abbott has limited the authority of Texas to require covid-19 vaccinations and the use of face masks. He attended a Republican party event Monday with hundreds of people. Texas is the center of a covid-19 explosion in the south, driven by the delta variation. According to Reuters, yesterday saw more than 1000 deaths from covid-19 in the US for the first time since March.

The Red Cross warns that vaccine supplies are needed urgently in southeast Asia. In the last two weeks, 38,522 people have died in the region, almost twice as many as those who died in North America. With an average of 1466 deaths per day over the past week, Indonesia is the most affected country. Alexander Matheou (Asia Pacific Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), said that the virus will spread from urban areas to rural and regional areas, resulting in more deaths among the unvaccinated.

Check out previous updates from June-July 2021 and May 2021. Also, see February 2021 and January 2021. November/December 2020.