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Early evening summary

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London is significantly behind in the race to immunise older people, with several areas in the capital reporting that one in three people aged 70 and over have not yet received a first dose of the vaccine, according to a Guardian analysis.

Niamh McIntyre, Caelainn Barr and Niko Kommenda report:

Some of these areas have large black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) populations and high levels of deprivation, prompting concerns that the NHS is failing to reach marginalised groups.

The Central London clinical commissioning group (CCG), which covers the Westminster area, had given a first dose of the vaccine to just over 60% of residents aged 70 and over by 14 February, significantly less than the national rate of 94.5%.

West London, Tower Hamlets, Newham and City and Hackney CCGs also reported levels below 75%. By contrast the percentage of people aged 70 and above in North East Hampshire & Farnham CCG who’d had a first jab was 99.8%.

at 4.49pm GMT

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Care home deaths in England were at or above levels seen in the first wave at the start of this month, documents have revealed.

My colleague Nicola Davis reports:

The Consensus Statement on Covid-19 from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) dated 3 February, and released on Friday, stated:

Confirmed Covid-19 deaths in care homes in England currently continue to increase and are at or above levels seen in the first wave in spring 2020.

The document adds that it is in such residential settings that the impact of the vaccination programme is hoped to become apparent in testing data within the following two to three weeks. The team wrote:

It is estimated that the care home population has approximately 25% naturally acquired immunity, apparently clustered in care homes that have reported Covid-19 mortality, indicating the importance of immunisation.

Jayne Connery, the director of Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said the death toll is not a surprise. She said:

We have been supporting families through this Covid crisis from day one and the government have failed to prioritise the elderly right from the beginning, and our carers.

Connery said the campaign is still hearing from family members of those in care homes that their loved ones are contracting Covid, despite family visits often not being allowed and vaccinations being done.

Connery said many providers had “shut shop, and they are not allowing families in” but care workers and other staff were still coming and going.

Connery said Covid vaccinations are crucial, including a second jab.

We need to get people back to seeing their loved ones, and I think that is a priority.

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4.18pm GMT

UK records 533 deaths within 28 days of a positive test

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Police forces have reported an increase in large illegal lockdown parties in recent weeks, as streams of reports from members of the public expose popup events organised in secret via social media, report my colleagues Jessica Murray and Alex Mistlin.

Stuart Bill, bronze commander for Operation Reliant, a dedicated West Midlands police taskforce for tackling significant Covid breaches, said:

We’re coming across bigger events at the moment. We’re seeing house parties and events in warehouses and derelict buildings, but finding them can be tricky.

Organisers are sophisticated, they’re alive to the fact we will monitor social media, so [they promote] on closed platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Most of our intelligence comes from the public.

Last Saturday, following a tip off from someone who saw taxis dropping people off outside a building in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the operation disrupted 150 people at an illegal nightclub spread over two floors, featuring a VIP area and DJ, the same night they uncovered a makeshift pub – “The Covid Arms” – in a converted garage workshop with 12 people drinking inside.

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2.59pm GMT

Unions call for ‘phased return’ of English schools to avoid Covid spike

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