Covid: South Africa makes its own Moderna jab and free holiday for staff as pandemic rewardon February 4, 2022 at 4:47 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

1. South Africa makes its own version of Moderna jab

South African scientists say they have successfully reverse-engineered the Moderna vaccine and made their own version, after the US company said it would not enforce its patents. The Cape Town scientists, backed by the World Health Organization, said the project was part of a global push to help low and middle-income countries become self-sufficient in producing enough vaccines. Many African countries have fully vaccinated less than 10% of their population, compared with more than 60% on other continents, as wealthy countries have been accused of hoarding supplies.

A vaccine clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa

Image source, Getty Images

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2. Anger at Bank boss pay rise warning amid Covid inflation

Unions representing key workers who kept the country running during the pandemic have branded a warning from the Bank of England not to ask for big pay rises as “outrageous”. Bank governor Andrew Bailey, who earns about £500,000 a year, warned pay hikes risked entrenching high inflation. Inflation is due to average at about 6% in 2022, far above the Bank’s target of 2%, amid high energy prices and ongoing supply problems in the pandemic. But critics said workers who had seen pay stagnate for a decade should not bear the brunt of the cost of living crisis. “Telling the hard-working people who carried this country through the pandemic they don’t deserve a pay rise is outrageous. It’s a sick joke,” said Gary Smith, the GMB’s general secretary.

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3. China’s zero-Covid Winter Olympics begin

The Winter Olympics are officially under way in Beijing, with a laser show in the opening ceremony and the Olympic torch placed in a giant snowflake. But almost all of the city’s residents are excluded, as China aims to maintain its strict but successful “zero Covid” policies. Only members of the ruling Communist Party or staff from government-controlled companies are being invited to watch the games in person, and even they have to abide by strict testing and restrictions. Athletes and officials are all inside strictly managed “bubbles” to try to stop any spread. They’ve even been told if their official car or coach crashes into a member of the public’s vehicle, they must stay inside to avoid contact.

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4. Johnson’s position ‘untenable’ after lockdown parties – MP

Another Tory MP has said he has submitted a letter of no-confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his role in lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street. Aaron Bell said the PM’s position was “untenable” following the “breach of trust”. The BBC is aware of 17 backbench MPs who have sent letters of no-confidence, with 54 required to trigger a leadership election. Many of them have cited Mr Johnson’s participation in parties with staff during lockdowns. Following the departure of several aides, Mr Johnson’s spokesman denied he had lost control of Downing Street, and the PM attempted to rally his remaining staff by quoting the Lion King: “Change is good.”

Boris Johnson

Image source, Downing Street

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5. Firm gives staff free holiday as pandemic reward

A recruitment firm says it is spending more than £100,000 to take all its staff on a four-day all-inclusive holiday to Tenerife, to thank them for their work during the pandemic. Yolk Recruitment’s bosses said the company had been through its hardest-ever year in 2020, but bounced back with its most profitable year in 2021 as the jobs market “went into overdrive”. Chief commercial officer Pavan Arora said: “We just wanted to put our arms around everyone and say thank you for the last two years.” One staff member admitted to being “a little surprised” – as he’d only joined a week ago.

Beach near Costa Adeje in Tenerife

Image source, Getty Images

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And there’s more…

Covid rules are being relaxed across the UK, but some important ones remain. Find out the latest on the regulations here.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Graphic showing UK Covid figures including 84,053 new confirmed cases and a further 254 deaths within 28 days of a positive test
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