The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Vouchers for vaccines, cases rise in China and a Christmas baby for Boris and Carrie

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After the number of people ‘pinged’ (alerted by an NHS Covid-19 app) neared 700,000, the app was adjusted so that it hunted for contacts of a person testing positive for Covid only from the two previous days, not five. When no more than 68 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds in England had yet accepted vaccination, they were offered vouchers for Deliveroo to comply. Vaccination was to be offered to 1.4 million 16- and 17-year-olds. A letter from Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urging the Prime Minister to allow fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and Europe to avoid quarantine was leaked to the Sunday Times. A wheeze to publish an ‘amber watch-list’ of countries that might suddenly turn red was dropped by the government before it was introduced.

The seven-day average of coronavirus cases detected by tests remained below 30,000, from a peak of 54,674 on 17 July. In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 524 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 129,654. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 447.) In a week, numbers remaining in hospital rose from 5,238 to 5,943. The daily number of first-dose vaccinations fell below the daily number of new cases. Thierry Breton, France’s EU Commissioner, crowed that the Republic of Ireland had overtaken the United Kingdom in the percentage of fully vaccinated people: 73 against 72 per cent.

Sportswear brand Sweaty Betty was bought by US-based Wolverine Worldwide for £294.4 million. The 4,561 deaths related to drugs in England and Wales in 2020 was the highest since records began in 1993. July saw 3,500 migrants arriving in England across the Channel in small craft, bringing the year’s total to 9,300.

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