Current Affairs Digest: Coronavirus (January 2022)

Coronavirus has continued to spread rapidly over recent months as a result of the Omicron variant. The Government answered the latest surge with a major booster campaign in the UK. This article looks at questions about whether booster programmes will become a regular occurrence or whether we could be reaching the end of the pandemic.

Current Affairs Digest: Coronavirus (January 2022)
  • In Focus

    Covid-19: motions to approve statutory instruments relating to public health

    On 8 December 2021, the Government announced that England would move to ‘plan B’ of its Covid-19 response. This followed concerns about the increased spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in the UK. Plan B consists of several measures that the Government is now seeking to implement. The House of Lords is due to consider some of these measures on 15 December 2021.

  • In Focus

    Mandatory vaccines for health and care workers: latest regulations

    The draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 would place a requirement on health and social care workers who have face-to-face contact with service users, including volunteers, to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They would need to do so in order to be deployed, though there would be exemptions for certain staff. The policy has been met with criticism by several medical bodies.

  • In Focus

    Coronavirus: business loans and the public finances

    The Government has provided over £200 billion of loans, guarantees and insurance cover to private sector firms during the coronavirus pandemic. These affect government borrowing and debt in different ways, depending on the design of the schemes. This article explores how each scheme is treated in the public finances and how much they are expected to cost.

  • In Focus

    Global Covid-19 vaccine donations: UK contribution

    Access to Covid-19 vaccinations has been unequal across the world. The World Health Organisation, amongst others, has warned that no country is protected from Covid-19 until the world is protected. The UK Government has pledged to donate 100 million vaccine doses to the rest of the world by June 2022. However, the Government has received criticism for how many of the doses pledged have been delivered to date.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19 pandemic: impact on people with disabilities

    3 December 2021 is the International Day of People with Disabilities. Edward Scott explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people with disabilities in the UK, including issues concerning access to services and the economic impact of the pandemic. This article also summarises the Government’s recent proposals for reform to benefits and employment support for people with disabilities.

  • In Focus

    Coronavirus: support for widows

    Over 165,000 people in the UK have died due to coronavirus or in cases where it was a contributing factor. Many of these people will have left behind partners. This In Focus looks at the support available to coronavirus widows and widowers in advance of a proposed future debate in the House of Lords.

  • In Focus

    Coronavirus Act 2020: debate on temporary provisions

    As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force. This provided UK public bodies with a suite of powers to respond to the situation. Most provisions within the act are temporary and set to expire automatically in March 2022. The act requires these provisions to be scrutinised by Parliament periodically. This article considers what the act does, how it is scrutinised, and the UK and devolved governments’ Covid-19 plans for autumn/winter 2021–22.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19: impact in Latin America

    Latin America accounts for over a fifth of all cases and almost a third of all deaths from Covid-19 worldwide. Vaccine rollouts are progressing across the region, but rates remain uneven. The economic toll of the pandemic has been severe, with recovery expected to take some time in many countries. This article provides a short summary of developments in the region arising from the pandemic ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19 vaccinations: is the Global South falling behind?

    A number of vaccines have been produced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, currently high-income countries are dominating the purchasing and administration of these vaccines. This has led to low vaccination rates in the ‘Global South’: only 1.4% of people in low-income countries had received a dose as of 23 August 2021. This article explores the scale of the vaccine divide, its causes, and what is being done to address it.

  • In Focus

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

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