Coronavirus live: UK Covid response a ‘public health failure’, inquiry finds, Thailand set to welcome back tourists

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will die needlessly from Covid this autumn as wealthy nations prioritise booster shots for their own “highly protected” people instead of sharing doses, the head of the Oxford vaccine group has warned.

Prof Sir Andrew Pollard said that while it was “possible” a third dose might help protect some people, the “potential benefit” for the vast majority was “small” because most double jabbed people were already “highly protected” against Covid-19.

Writing for the Guardian, Pollard said the “failure” of wealthier nations to share more vaccines this summer – coupled with their decisions to embark on large-scale booster programmes – meant large numbers of avoidable deaths were now inevitable.

Supply of vaccines to poorer countries is improving and likely to “get better”, he said. “But for many hundreds of thousands of people, it won’t be soon enough.”

Read more of our health editor Andrew Gregory’s report here: Rich nations warned hogging Covid jabs will lead to huge global death toll

New Zealand’s pivot from Covid elimination ‘surprised’ top health experts

A number of epidemiologists and public health experts who have been central to helping chart and communicate New Zealand’s Covid response thus far say they were taken by surprise by its new direction, and not consulted by the government as it pivoted away from elimination and outlined a controversial set of “steps” out of level 3 restrictions last week.

“We were obviously surprised on Monday last week when the government seemed to say that we were moving away from elimination,” said prof Michael Baker, one of the country’s most prominent pandemic communicators and a member of the ministry’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory group. “A decision of that size – changing your major strategy – you’d think you would consult with [the] quite small batch of scientists and other advisers who work very hard to support the government … explaining things to the public.”

“That was very unusual. I think the government’s done a great job generally with consultation and getting us all to at least understand the rationale for change.”

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