HERE'S everything you need to know about the pandemic from the last 24-hours. 

  • A further 43 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 86,308, NHS England said on Thursday. Patients were aged between 30 and 96 and all except one, aged 79, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths were between January 22 and March 31, with the majority on or after March 29. There were 17 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
  • The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer 100% protection against the South African variant and most likely protects against the Brazilian variant, according to two new studies. Research published by Pfizer/BioNTech on Thursday offers the first in-human evidence of how the vaccine protects against the South African variant that has been worrying scientists. The pharmaceutical giant said its findings show the vaccine is 100 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 cases in South Africa – where the South African variant is now common.
  • The UK was not fully prepared for a pandemic of this type, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said. Dr Jenny Harries said more testing would have been carried out if tests were available earlier on, and knowledge about asymptomatic transmission could have resulted in a prompt recommendation to wear masks. Asked if the initial response to the pandemic was poor, she said: “I think it had merits and it had things that we would wish to improve.” She said that while asymptomatic transmission had been “considered carefully”, the proportion of cases – now thought to be 30 per cent – was not recognised.
  • The proportion of black or black British adults reporting hesitancy over coronavirus vaccines has halved in roughly a month, official figures show. Overall positive vaccine sentiment among the British population has risen to 94 per cent in March from 78 per cent in December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Six per cent of 17,200 respondents reported vaccine hesitancy between February 17 to March 14 – down from 9 per cent of respondents during the previous data collection period.
  • Almost one in seven people who test positive for Covid-19 are still suffering symptoms three months later, according to new UK figures. The largest study of its kind on long Covid from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), found people with coronavirus are significantly more likely than the general population to report ongoing issues, which can include muscle pain and fatigue. Among a sample of more than 20,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 between April last year and March this year, 13.7 per cent continued to experience symptoms for at least 12 weeks. This was eight times higher than in a control group of people who are unlikely to have had Covid-19, the ONS said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is “very worried” about the situation.
  • There have been 276 new positive coronavirus tests in the North-East and North Yorkshire. Nationally, the Government said a further 51 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 126,764.