T

he UK has recorded another 7,450 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours – the highest daily figure since February 27.

The figures released by the Government compare with 6,048 cases announced yesterday, and 4,330 cases this time last week. Six further deaths were recorded.

Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer has challenged Boris Johnson over the Government’s school catch-up funding plan saying it will “hold Britain back for a generation”.

The Labour leader, speaking at PMQs, said the Government plan only allowed for £50 per child. “Let me help the Prime Minister with the numbers,” he said. Equivalent programmes in the US are worth £1,600 per child, while in the Netherlands it is £2,500 per child, he said.

It comes as an estimated eight in 10 adults in England have Covid-19 antibodies in the week beginning May 17, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures, which show whether someone has had the infection in the past or has been vaccinated, are up from an estimated seven in 10, or 69.9 per cent, a month earlier. In Wales, an estimated 82.7 per cent have antibodies, in Scotland 72.6 per cent, while in Northern Ireland the figure is 79.9 per cent.

Follow latest updates below

Live updates1623265450Mastercard, Ambev back away from Copa America as players vent COVID-19 concernsMastercard and drinks company Ambev, major sponsors of South American soccer, backed away from the Copa America on Wednesday as players criticized organizers for moving the tournament to Brazil despite one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks.

Last week, the South American Football Confederation unexpectedly relocated the tournament, which kicks off on Sunday, after co-hosts Colombia were dropped because of civil unrest and Argentina withdrew after a surge in coronavirus infections.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has played down the severity of the coronavirus and fought against lockdowns, threw his support behind the move. But public health experts, Supreme Court justices and footballers questioned the wisdom of hosting the tournament with a pandemic raging.

More than 475,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, the world’s worst official death toll outside the United States, and experts warn of a third wave approaching along with winter in the southern hemisphere.

1623271058Czech health ministry recommends AstraZeneca, J&J jabs only for over-60sThe Czech health ministry recommended on Wednesday that only people over 60 years old should receive COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson due to a potential risk of blood clots.

Scientists and U.S. and European drug regulators have been searching for an explanation for what is causing rare but potentially deadly clots accompanied by low blood platelet counts, which have led some countries to halt or limit use of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines.

The Czech health ministry said it made the decision after responding to recommendations from the country’s drug regulator SUKL and the Czech Vaccination Society.

1623265369US to buy 500m Pfizer vaccines to share globallyThe U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

President Joe Biden was set to make the announcement Thursday in a speech before the start of the Group of Seven summit. Two hundred million doses — enough to fully protect 100 million people — would be shared this year, with the balance to be donated in the first half of 2022, the person said.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that Biden was committed to sharing vaccines because it was in the public health and strategic interests of the U.S. As Biden embarks on his first foreign trip, he is aiming to show “that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere,” Sullivan said.

1623265314Ministers ‘ready to spend’ to help deliver on education commitmentsThe schools minister has insisted the Government is “ready to spend” to deliver on its education commitments, amid criticism of its catch-up plans.

Nick Gibb told MPs more money is “coming down the track” on top of already announced cash to aid the post-Covid-19 recovery.

His remarks came as opposition MPs supported a Labour motion which labelled the Government’s proposals as “inadequate” and called for a more ambitious approach.

1623264607Further 259 cases of Covid-19 reported in IrelandA further 259 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Ireland.

On Wednesday there were 76 patients in hospital who had tested positive for the virus, of whom 27 were in intensive care.

1623262856Group welcomes court ruling on ‘institutionalised cronyism’ involving CummingsA campaign group says a ruling by a High Court judge vindicates its characterisation of Government pandemic procurement as “institutionalised cronyism”.

Mrs Justice O’Farrell on Wednesday upheld a challenge by the Good Law Project and ruled that a decision to award a contract to a company whose bosses were friends of adviser Dominic Cummings gave rise to “apparent bias” and was unlawful.

The Good Law Project, which had taken legal action against Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, said the Government should learn lessons and “stop wasting” public money.

1623261550Delay for CureVac shot won’t hurt vaccine campaignGermany’s health ministry on Wednesday downplayed the possible impact on the country’s coronavirus vaccine campaign after reports that the shot being developed by local company CureVac could face further delays getting regulatory approval.

Manfred Lucha, the health minister for Baden-Wuerttemberg state, where CureVac is based, said Tuesday that there were “complications” with CureVac’s clinical trials, German news agency dpa reported. Lucha quoted federal Health Minister Jens Spahn saying authorization for the shot might not happen before August.

Spahn’s spokesman, Hanno Kautz, declined to comment on the report, saying the conversation cited by Lucha was confidential.

“But what I could tell you is that CureVac isn’t really relevant for the current vaccination campaign,” said Kautz, adding that German authorities had planned to receive 1.4 million doses of the shot during the second quarter that ends June 30.

1623259417UK records highest number of daily coronavirus cases since late FebruaryThe UK has recorded its highest number of new confirmed coronavirus cases since late February, new figures have shown.

As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 7,540 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, the highest single-day rise since February 26, the Government said.

Six more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,860.

The figures also show one in 10 UK local areas (38 out of 380) are currently recording Covid-19 rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people, which is the highest number of areas above this threshold since March 23.

1623256313One million jab appointments made in record bookings dayA record million Covid-19 jabs were booked when over-25s became eligible for the vaccine, new figures show.

The NHS in England said that a record-breaking number of vaccine appointments were booked on Tuesday as those aged 25 to 29 in England were able to book an appointment for the first time.

There was a “Glastonbury-style” surge of traffic on the NHS website, officials said.

At the height of action on the “blockbuster” day, 100,000 appointments were being booked every hour.

A number of young people initially reported problems booking, either with long queues or being told they were ineligible to book.

The issues were quickly resolved and NHS England said the National Booking Service had 493,000 appointments reserved by midday on Tuesday, just five hours after over-25s were included.

A total of 1,082,596 first and second dose slots were booked throughout the day – four times the number booked on Monday.

The head of the NHS in England said the figures have dispelled the suggestion younger people may shy away from vaccination.

1623253690Some emergency laws put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic could be extended by up to a year if a new Bill to be introduced by the Scottish Government passes.

MSPs passed two emergency coronavirus Acts last year, both in single day sittings, that were aimed at helping the country fight the virus.

The new laws made changes to the justice system, including allowing for the early release of prisoners if the virus caused issues within the prison service, the rental sector and the functions of public bodies.

Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney announced on Wednesday that work is being done on a new Bill that would extend some of the provisions until March 30 next year, with another possible extension – pending parliamentary approval – to September 30.