The shocking numbers of insecure workers who died of coronavirus

Insecure workers died of coronavirus (Covid-19) at twice the rate of people in other jobs. That’s the finding of new research into the pandemic. It’s shone a damning light not only into the government’s response but also the state of employment in the UK more broadly. Insecure jobs The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has researched how the pandemic impacted insecure workers. It says these are people whose: contract does not guarantee regular hours or income (including zero-hours contracts, agency work and casual work) or… are in low-paid self-employment (earning less than the government’s National Living Wage). In total, this is one in nine in of those in work.…

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‘Intersecting forms of disadvantage’ explain varying coronavirus health outcomes

Varying coronavirus (Covid-19) health outcomes are the result of “intersecting forms of disadvantage”, including structural inequalities faced by certain communities, experts have said. Intersections A combination of political, economic, and social factors can have “exponential impacts” on certain groups. That’s according to a paper from the ethnicity subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). A Sage meeting on 25 March considered the paper. It was published on 9 April. It follows the government-commissioned ‘Sewell Report’ on racial disparities which was published last week. Many experts criticised the report for failing to recognise the impact of institutional racism in British society. The ethnicity sub-group of Sage noted…

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£40m of vital coronavirus recovery fund goes towards new crown jewels display

As part of our #FollowTheMoney series, we can reveal that £40m of the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) was loaned to Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), as a loan. The CRF is a coronavirus relief fund to help arts organisations and charities open and resume business as restrictions ease in the UK. During this investigation, we spoke to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) which told us the money would go towards a new display of the crown jewels at the Tower of London. After we heard about a recent National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into the CRF, we wanted to know more about who benefited from this…

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Coroner urges PM to hold coronavirus inquiry after ruling on pregnant nurse’s death

A coroner has called on the prime minister to press ahead with a public inquiry into the pandemic “as soon as practicable” after concluding that it’s unclear how a heavily pregnant nurse contracted coronavirus (Covid-19). Society Coroner Emma Whitting delivered a narrative conclusion at the inquest into the death of sister Mary Agyapong, 28, who died last year at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital where she worked, five days after giving birth to her second child. She spent at least the last week of her life with coronavirus, a diagnosis initially dismissed by medics at the hospital where she worked, despite collapsing at home and suffering acute breathing…

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Boris Johnson urged to share coronavirus vaccine with poorer nations instead of hoarding supplies

Boris Johnson is facing calls to immediately begin donating vaccines to poorer nations. He otherwise risks hoarding supplies while frontline workers are exposed to coronavirus (Covid-19). Health and development charities urged the prime minister on Sunday 28 March to take “accelerated action”. And they asked him to “swiftly clarify” how doses will be shared. Wellcome, led by Sage scientist Sir Jeremy Farrar, and Save the Children UK were among those making the demand in a letter to Johnson. “Hoarding limited supply” They say the UK is “one of the world’s highest per-capita buyers” of vaccines. And it’s on track to have more than 100 million surplus doses. The…

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A year of government coronavirus incompetence

One year ago yesterday, on 23 March 2020, the prime minister announced a full national lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). A year later, the UK remains under many restrictions, as one of the worst-hit countries in the world. Even as the vaccine programme looks as if it’s rolling out successfully, calls have increased for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic. Before lockdown even began, Boris Johnson had already missed several COBRA meetings about the virus, missed chances to join EU PPE schemes, axed widespread testing, and shaken hands with coronavirus patients despite being advised not to. Starting from that foundation, here’s a…

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Grant Shapps just outdid his usual coronavirus clusterf*cking

Tory minister Grant Shapps doesn’t have the best record for live TV appearances. But even by his own standards, Wednesday 10 March was a complete disaster. It was over coronavirus (Covid-19) and the UK government’s response. Grant Shapps back again Shapps was doing the morning TV rounds. On Sky News, he was defending the government’s contentious coronavirus Test and Trace system. Host Niall Paterson put it to Shapps that: £37bn of taxpayers’ money has been allocated to this system over two years. Can you justify that expenditure? Of course Shapps could. If he ignored the evidence. The transport secretary said: Yeah, it certainly hasn’t been cheap fighting coronavirus.…

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‘Colour-blind’ coronavirus vaccine distribution is putting ethnic minorities at risk

Doctors have warned that the UK’s “colour-blind” vaccine distribution strategy is putting ethnic minority communities at higher risk of falling ill and dying with coronavirus (Covid-19). “Unequal impact” Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, they say the current prioritisation “disregards the unequal impact of the pandemic on minority ethnic groups”. And it’s worsening racial inequalities that the pandemic has exposed. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has largely recommended an age-based approach, saying age is the single biggest risk factor for coronavirus. It recently considered but rejected a move to prioritise people in higher-risk occupations, saying this may slow down the rollout.…

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Educational inequality for A-Level students was staggering even before coronavirus

There was an average attainment gap of three A-Level grades between the richest and most disadvantaged students even before the pandemic, new research has found. Analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that the attainment gap varies across the country. In some areas, such as North Somerset, Stockton-on-Tees, and Knowsley, the attainment gap was closer to five grades. Many educators have warned the gap will grow significantly during the pandemic, leading to renewed calls for extended catch-up provision for disadvantaged pupils. The inequality The EPI analysed data from A-level students from 2017 to 2019. It found that for students who had spent over 80% of their time…

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Ghana becomes first nation in world to receive Covax coronavirus vaccines

Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed Covax initiative with a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccines, delivered by Unicef, arrived at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport on Wednesday and are part of the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines that Covax is sending to several low and middle-income countries. Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed up to the Covax programme, according to a statement by Ghana’s acting minister of information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah. Cases in Ghana The West African nation of 30 million has recorded 81,245…

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