Scroll down to see the latest news on the pandemic on Friday, June 4.
Covid Scotland: The latest updates on Friday, June 4
Last updated: Friday, 04 June, 2021, 13:07
- Number of Covid cases continuing to rise, warns FM
- Scotland’s shopping footfall ‘still languishing
- Anger over decision to remove Portugal from 'green list’
Coming up: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will hold a virtual coronavirus briefing with chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith at 12.15pm.
Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in 12 to 15-year-olds
The UK has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the use of the jab in the younger age group on Friday following a review of its safety, quality and effectiveness.
The Pfizer Covid-19 jab was the first to be authorised for use in the UK at the end of last year.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.
“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.
“It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The government has asked the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise whether routine vaccination should be offered to younger people aged 12 to 17.
“We will be guided by the expert advisors and will update in due course.”
More than 2,000 children were involved in the clinical trial to determine the safety of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines said.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed said: “We have been very careful to take into consideration the younger age group and the benefits of this population being vaccinated against any potential risk of side effects. There has been a thorough assessment and review of this data which was also looked at specifically by the CHM’s Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Group who are scientific experts within this age group, as well as the CHM’s Covid-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group.
“We have concluded that based on the data we have seen on the quality, effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, its benefits do outweigh any risk. The MHRA will continue to scrutinise all of the suspected side effects data received through the rigorous surveillance programme in place through the Yellow Card scheme and other safety surveillance measures for all of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK.
“Over 2,000 children aged 12-15 years were studied as part of the randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials. There were no cases of Covid-19 from seven days after the second dose in the vaccinated group, compared with 16 cases in the placebo group. In addition, data on neutralising antibodies showed the vaccine working at the same level as seen in adults aged 16-25 years. These are extremely positive results.”
Cristovao Norte, Portuguese MP for the Algarve, said he is “perplexed” by the British Government’s decision to remove Portugal from the green list.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “We were not expecting the decision because there haven’t been major changes in Portugal, just a spike in the Lisbon area.
“But we have 66 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Our rate of transmission is more or less the UK rate, so we weren’t expecting this decision from the English government.
“We wear masks, we obey the rules, we maintain social distancing, vaccination is growing steadily.
“So I’m a little bit perplexed.”
Mr Norte added: “I have to respect the decision. We would like to know sooner. This causes great uncertainty.”
He said it is “a huge blow” on the economy, adding that the country heavily depends on British tourism.
There has been a “marked increase” in the number of people with self-reported long Covid that has lasted for at least a year, the ONS said.
Previous figures, covering the four weeks to March 6 2021, suggested 70,000 people in private households in the UK had experienced symptoms of long Covid for at least 12 months.
These people would have been infected before March 6 2020, early in the pandemic and before the peak of the first wave of the virus.
The latest figures, for the four weeks to May 2, put the number at 376,000 and will include people infected during the peak of the first wave.
Covid Scotland: Health Secretary Humza Yousaf issues apology for causing ‘undue alarm’ over child Covid claims
Humza Yousaf has spoken of his “regret” at causing “undue alarm” by suggesting that a growing number of children in Scotland are being taken to hospital with Covid-19.
Prevalence of self-reported long Covid was greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, those living in the most deprived areas, those working in health or social care and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability, the ONS found.
There is no universally agreed definition of long Covid but it covers a broad range of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating.
Fatigue (weakness or tiredness) was the most common symptom reported as part of individuals’ experience of long Covid up until May 2 (547,000 out of 1.0 million people), followed by shortness of breath (405,000), muscle ache (313,000) and difficulty concentrating (285,000).
First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales’ coronavirus restrictions would continue to ease if the growing number of cases of the Indian variant was not leading to increased pressure on hospitals.
The UK Government has announced that Portugal will be moved to the amber list from next Tuesday – but does the change apply in Scotland?