Coronavirus latest news: Homeopaths ‘crossed the line’ peddling vaccine myths

The head of NHS England warned homeopaths had “crossed the line” after a Sunday Telegraph investigation revealed some were peddling myths that taking duck extract was as effective as the coronavirus vaccines.

Sir Simon Stephens warned people taking their advice from homeopaths were putting themselves at greater risk, and warned they would slow down the nation’s vaccine efforts.

His calls were echoed by Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS medical director, who said the findings were the “latest in a long line of disturbing and potentially dangerous online myths”.

On Saturday Facebook began removing the posts by 4Homeopathy, a banner organisation representing 11 leading homeopathic organisations and charities. Their Facebook page has 164,000 followers.

A post dated January 5 stated that a diluted duck heart and liver extract, had been distributed to “953,416 families”.

Sir Simon told the Sunday Telegraph: “It’s one thing for homeopaths to peddle useless but harmless potions, but they cross a dangerous line when making ridiculous assertions about protecting people from Covid infection.”

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Matt Hancock completes self-isolation

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has completed his period of self-isolation after he was “pinged” by the NHS Test and Trace app and informed he had been in contact with someone who had tested positive.

He wrote: “One in three people have no symptoms but still transmit Covid. 

“We must break the chains of transmission. So if you’re told to isolate, you must.”

Matt Hancock speaks on Sophy Ridge 

Matt Hancock speaking to Sky News

Mr Hancock contracted the virus last March, and said at the time that he had “mild symptoms”.


Vaccine passports: Government funding at least eight trial schemes

The Government is funding at least eight different vaccine passport schemes, despite claims from ministers that there are “no plans” for a roll-out across the country, Hannah Boland reports.

Transparency documents from innovation agency InnovateUK have shown that more than £450,000 worth of government grants have been allocated to companies developing vaccine passports – where users can prove digitally that they have received a Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccine passports are being considered by many countries including Cyprus, who hope their use would open up society for people who have already received a coronavirus vaccine.

A nurse prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for elderly residents

The Government is looking at no fewer than eight different ‘vaccine passport’ trial schemes, some of which involve biometric facial technology

Nick Potts/PA Wire

It comes as over-50s travel firm travel company Saga said that anybody going on one of its holidays or cruises in 2021 must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The revelation will raise the prospect that Britain could end up using vaccine passports, despite the Government saying they were not under consideration.


Milan put under Italy’s tightest lockdown rules ‘by mistake’

Italy’s most economically important region, Lombardy, has spent a week under the country’s tightest lockdown restrictions in error.

The government in Rome has admitted that it forced the region, whose capital is Milan, to become a “red zone” because of a mistake in the interpretation of the data, which indicated that the R rate was 1.4 when in fact it was less than 1. 

The region on Sunday goes down to the middle “orange” tier of restrictions, which means that non-essential shops can reopen.

A protest banner reading 'We are not a switch' in Milan

A protest banner reading ‘We are not a switch’ in Milan

Paolo Salmoirago/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock


Spain’s virus surge hits mental health of frontline workers

The unrelenting increase in Covid-19 infections in Spain following the holiday season is again straining hospitals, threatening the mental health of doctors and nurses who have been at the forefront of the pandemic for nearly a year.

In Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar, the critical care capacity has more than doubled and is nearly full, with 80 per cent of ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients.

A study released this month by Hospital del Mar looking at the impact of the spring’s surge on more than 9,000 health workers across Spain found that at least 28 per cent suffered major depression. That is six times higher than the rate in the general population before the pandemic, said Dr. Jordi Alonso, one of the chief researchers.

In addition, the study found that nearly half of participants had a high risk of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks or substance- and alcohol-abuse problems.

In the UK, a survey released last week by the Royal College of Physicians found that 64 per cent of doctors reported feeling tired or exhausted. One in four sought out mental health support.


Brazil’s vaccination campaign off to a rocky start

Brazil’s newly launched vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has gotten off to a late and rocky start – as the country is hammered by a second wave of the disease, it is already close to running out of vaccine, syringes and other vital equipment, according to scientists who blame the government of Jair Bolsonaro.

The campaign only began on Monday in the country of 212 million, weeks after the United States and European countries launched their vaccination programs.

The late rollout, hampered by short supplies, has sparked growing public ire, with widespread complaints about people being vaccinated out of turn.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccine in Rio de Janeiro

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccine in Rio de Janeiro



Australia pressing ahead with vaccination campaign

Australia recorded no new local coronavirus cases on Sunday, maintaining a recent run of success in keeping the virus at bay, but nevertheless is keen to press on with its vaccination campaign from next month, government officials said.

Australia’s first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is due to arrive in February and its campaign will then begin with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the front of the queue.

“We have the virus under control here in Australia but we want to roll out the vaccine,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a news conference.

The campaign was on track despite the low transmission numbers and shortage of supply of the Pfizer vaccine seen in some other countries, he said. People can apply to get the vaccine from Monday.

Read more: Latest updates on Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer breakthroughs


India’s vaccination drive behind schedule

India’s huge coronavirus vaccination drive is behind schedule, with a third of recipients not showing up for appointments because of safety fears, technical glitches and a belief that the pandemic is ending.

After one week, India has vaccinated 1.4 million people, or 200,000 people per day. It had initially hoped to process 300,000 per day before ramping up the rollout and inoculating 300 million by July.

India is using two shots for its drive. One is Covishield, a locally produced version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been approved and safely used in a number of other countries after completing Phase 3 human trials.

The other – Covaxin – was developed locally by Bharat Biotech and has not yet completed Phase 3 trials, though the government has insisted it is “110 percent safe”.

Read more: How an Indian horse racing dynasty became pivotal in the race to vaccinate the world

An employee works on an assembly line for manufacturing vials of Covishield at India's Serum Institute

An employee works on an assembly line for manufacturing vials of Covishield at India’s Serum Institute



NZ probe probable community case

New Zealand health officials said on Sunday they were investigating a probable community coronavirus case, the country’s first in months.

New Zealand, one of the most successful developed nations in controlling the spread of the pandemic, last recorded a community transmission on Nov. 18, according to information on the Health Ministry website.

“Health officials are currently investigating the case,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The ministry is to provide more detail later on Sunday.

A tough lockdown and the advantage of being geographically isolated helped New Zealand virtually eliminate the novel coronavirus within its borders.

Read more: Could Australia’s strict Covid border controls work for the UK?


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