Covid vaccine: How many people in the UK have been vaccinated so far?

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55274833

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The UK has four vaccines approved for use: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen; three of which require two doses for maximum protection.

The campaign to reach as many people as quickly as possible was boosted by a shift in policy in early January – to prioritise the first dose of a vaccine, with a second dose up to 12 weeks later, a bigger gap than originally planned.

Progress made in the UK so far means the country continues to be among those with the highest vaccination rates globally.

Author(s): The Visual and Data Journalism Team

Publication Date: 15 June 2021

Publication Site: BBC

Young women ‘must work 40 years longer than men’ to plug £100k pension gap

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2021/mar/08/young-women-must-work-40-years-longer-than-men-to-plug-100k-pension-gap

Excerpt:

Young women would have to work nearly 40 years longer than men to build up the same retirement pot, according to a report highlighting the pensions gender gap.

The average woman in her 20s can expect to have £100,000 less in her pension pot than a man of the same age as a result of earning less, working part-time, and taking time out of paid employment to care for family members.

The calculations, made by pensions company Scottish Widows to coincide with International Women’s Day, showed that a female saver would typically save £2,200 annually for the first 15 years of her career, compared with £3,300 for a young man. The average woman in her 20s today would have to work 37 years longer than a man of the same age to reach retirement parity.

Author(s): Shane Hickey

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: The Guardian UK

It’s the old that get the benefits, and the Tories the election wins

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/apr/24/old-get-the-benefits-tories-the-election-wins

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A study due this week from the Intergenerational Foundation thinktank shows that while spending on pensioners and children respectively increased at similar rates before 2010-11, the austerity years to 2019 proved much more generous to the old.

The report finds that in 2018-19, the government spent “on average £14,660 on each child, £10,180 on each working-age adult, and £20,790 on each pensioner” and that the gap in per capita spending on children and pensioners more than doubled over the previous 20 years.

This means pensioners captured 30% of the growth in public expenditure throughout the period, with most of the gains coming after 2010 and the introduction of the triple lock, though many and varied ancillary benefits also played a part.

Author(s): Phillip Inman

Publication Date: 24 April 2021

Publication Site: The Guardian

How the UK’s Covid reopening has proved Imperial’s pessimistic modelling wrong

Link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/04/uks-covid-reopening-has-proved-imperials-pessimistic-modelling/

Excerpt:

It is a wonder that nobody choked on their morning toast and tea, for if Imperial modelling has stood for anything in this crisis, it is relentless pessimism. Plummeting figures were certainly not predicted by its researchers. The difference this time is that the Government has pressed ahead with reopening despite the doom-mongering, and so has proven the models wrong.

Here is what they said would happen and what we know now: Hospital admissions When the Government published its roadmap out of the pandemic on Feb 22, it was largely based on modelling assumptions from Imperial, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Warwick University.

Imperial modelled four unlocking scenarios, ranging from “very fast” to “gradual”. Under the fastest, full lifting would occur at the end of April, while under the slowest, Britain would not see restrictions eased until Aug 2.

In the end, the Government chose a path somewhere between “fast” and “medium”, yet the Imperial model predicted that would still lead to Covid hospital bed occupancy of about 15,000 to 25,000 in the summer and early autumn – which was higher than the first peak in April 2020.

Author(s): Sarah Knapton

Publication Date: 5 May 2021

Publication Site: The Telegraph (UK)

The Gender Pensions Gap

Link: https://www.actuarialpost.co.uk/article/the-gender-pensions-gap-19479.htm

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 The difference between the mean retirement income of men and women aged 65 and over currently stands at an average of 26% across OECD countries, however in the United Kingdom it is even higher than that at somewhere between 34% and 43%.

 There are many reasons for this gap, both economic and societal, and the report gamely provides an analysis of them all. Ultimately however, the greatest impact is down to the differences in work patterns between male and female employees. Women in the OECD have on average a career which is a third shorter than that of men and are much more likely to be working part time. On top of this they are paid less for the work they do, with the gender pay gap standing at 13%, a difference that, unsurprisingly, starts to appear between the ages of 24 and 35 when women are most likely to take a career break in order to raise a family.

 Third tier pension contributions are strongly correlated with earnings and so women tend to save lower amounts and for less time.

Author(s): Fiona Tait

Publication Date: 19 April 2021

Publication Site: Actuarial Post (UK)

Continuing COVID hangover would see pension liabilities drop

Link: https://www.actuarialpost.co.uk/article/continuing-covid-hangover-would-see-pension-liabilities-drop-19483.htm

Excerpt:

Only in the event of a tragic Covid-19 scenario, seeing continued substantial additional deaths for many years would there be a significant reduction in UK DB scheme liabilities, according to a new report from LCP.


While LCP believes that the financial impact on DB schemes of direct deaths from the first two Covid-19 waves is likely to be marginal, it outlines several other scenarios around the pandemic’s longer-term impact on mortality rates and scheme labilities. The range of outcomes illustrates the challenges of choosing an appropriate mortality assumption at the current time, with much uncertainty over how Covid-19 will play out.

Author(s): Chris Tavener

Date Accessed: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: Actuarial Post (UK)

Prolonged brain dysfunction in COVID-19 survivors: A pandemic in its own right?

Link: https://theconversation.com/prolonged-brain-dysfunction-in-covid-19-survivors-a-pandemic-in-its-own-right-158743

Excerpt:

One in three survivors of COVID-19, those more commonly referred to as COVID-19 long-haulers, suffered from neurologic or psychiatric disability six months after infection, a recent landmark study of more than 200,000 post-COVID-19 patients showed.

Researchers looked at 236,379 British patients diagnosed with COVID-19 over six months, analyzing neurologic and psychiatric complications during that time period. They compared those individuals to others who had experienced similar respiratory illnesses that were not COVID-19.

They found a significant increase in several medical conditions among the COVID-19 group, including memory loss, nerve disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and insomnia. Additionally, the symptoms were present among all age groups and in patients who were asymptomatic, isolating in home quarantine, and those admitted to hospitals.

Author(s): Chris Robinson

Publication Date: 15 April 2021

Publication Site: The Conversation

Uber to give UK drivers minimum wage, pension, holiday pay

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 Uber is giving its U.K. drivers the minimum wage, pensions and holiday pay, following a recent court ruling that said they should be classified as workers and entitled to such benefits.

The ride hailing giant’s announcement Tuesday comes after it lost an appeal last month at the U.K. Supreme Court following a yearslong court battle. The court’s decision holds wider implications for the country’s gig economy.

Uber said it’s extending the benefits immediately to its more than 70,000 drivers in the U.K. Drivers will earn at least the minimum wage, which currently stands at 8.72 pounds ($12.12), after accepting a trip request and expenses, and will still be able to earn more.

Author(s): Kelvin Chan, Associated Press

Publication Date: 16 March 2021

Publication Site: WTMJ

Europe Confronts a Covid-19 Rebound as Vaccine Hopes Recede

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-confronts-a-covid-19-rebound-as-vaccine-hopes-recede-11615558520

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The European Union’s fight against Covid-19 is stuck in midwinter, even as spring and vaccinations spur hope of improvement in the U.S. and U.K.

Despite months of restrictions on daily life, new Covid-19 cases have been rising again in the EU since mid-February, as more-virulent virus strains outpace vaccinations.

By contrast, virus infections and deaths have been falling rapidly in the U.S. and U.K. since January as inoculations take off among the elderly and other vulnerable groups. U.S. infections and deaths, which were higher on a per capita basis for most of 2020, have fallen below the EU’s.

Author(s): Marcus Walker in Rome, Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Stacy Meichtry in Paris

Publication Date: 12 March 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Government sets out plans to raise normal minimum pensions age to 57 by 2028

Link: https://www.professionalpensions.com/news/4027084/government-sets-plans-raise-normal-minimum-pensions-age-57-2028

Excerpt:

At present, people aged 55 can access their retirement funds but the age limit is likely to increase by two years under plans laid out by the Treasury.

The Treasury consultation said the government intended to legislate to increase the normal minimum pension age to age 57 on 6 April 2028.

Author(s): Jenna Brown

Publication Date: 11 February 2021

Publication Site: Professional Pensions

UK finds vaccines 80% effective at preventing hospitalisations in over-80s

Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-britain-vaccines/uk-finds-vaccines-80-effective-at-preventing-hospitalisations-in-over-80s-idUSKCN2AT38I

Excerpt:

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisations from COVID-19 in those over 80 after one dose of either shot, Public Health England (PHE) said on Monday, citing a pre-print study.

Author(s): Alistair Smout

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Reuters

7 Virus Variants Found in U.S. Carrying the Same Mutation

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/14/health/coronavirus-variants-evolution.html

Excerpt:

As Americans anxiously watch variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa spread in the United States, scientists are finding a number of new variants that originated here. More concerning, many of these variants seem to be evolving in the same direction — potentially becoming contagious threats of their own.

In a study posted on Sunday, a team of researchers reported seven growing lineages of the novel coronavirus, spotted in states across the country. All of them have evolved a mutation in the same genetic letter.

“There’s clearly something going on with this mutation,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveportand a co-author of the new study.

Author(s): Carl Zimmer

Publication Date: 14 February 2021, updated 25 February 2021

Publication Site: NY Times