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COVID-19: Over-30s in England invited to book booster jabs from Monday – as Omicron cases rise

Jacob Scott

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People aged 30 and over in England are invited to book their COVID boosters from Monday, amid concerns Omicron cases will rise significantly over the next few months.

There are around 7.5 million people aged 30 to 39, and 3.5 million of those are eligible for boosters from Monday, NHS England said.

All eligible adults can book their booster jab two months (61 days) after their second dose using the NHS national booking system, in order to get their top-up three months (91 days) on from their second dose.

Labour calls for high street jab centres so Christmas shoppers can get boosters – COVID latest

It comes as modelling suggested England could see high numbers of hospitalisations if tougher COVID curbs are not brought in.

How many Omicron cases have been reported?

Figures released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Saturday showed there have been an additional 633 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant reported across the UK, bringing the total to 1,898.

This includes a further 618 confirmed cases in England, 11 in Scotland, two in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

Saturday’s overall UK figure of 1,898 confirmed cases was up 50% on Friday’s figure when the total was 1,265.

One scenario from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) said almost twice the number of coronavirus patients could be admitted to hospital compared with last year due to the impact of the variant.

Under the best-case scenario, the variant could lead to a peak of more than 2,000 daily hospital admissions, with 175,000 hospitalisations and 24,700 deaths in England between 1 December 2021 and 30 April 2022, the projection suggests.

Under a more pessimistic scenario hospitalisations could hit 492,000 and deaths 75,000.

Omicron variant ‘as bad news as you can possibly get’ for Christmas, leading scientist says

Booster call to help country beat Omicron

Booster vaccines have been put forward as a way to beat the variant and prevent it from overwhelming health services.

On Friday, analysis by UKHSA found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines provided “much lower” levels of protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron compared with Delta.

But the data showed a booster dose gives around 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has urged those in their thirties to come forward for a third jab to get protected over Christmas.

He said: “The COVID-19 booster programme is accelerating rapidly and more than 22 million people in the UK have already received their top-up, securing vital protection ahead of Christmas.

Omicron may be more infectious – but do we need to worry if it causes less severe disease?

“This is our national mission – the most recent data shows boosters are the essential defence against Omicron and we are doing everything in our power to get jabs into arms as quickly as possible.

“We are now expanding the offer to over-30s, so please come forward as quickly as possible to get boosted and help our country get ahead in this race with the variant.”

Possibility of further measures

The prime minister announced on Wednesday he would be triggering his winter Plan B protocols in a bid to buy the UK time in the fight against the Omicron variant.

Work from home advice comes into force on Monday, while mandatory COVID passports for large venues from will be introduced on Wednesday.

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COVID curbs ‘not enough’

The Plan B measures will be reviewed on 5 January, before their expiry date of 26 January.

However, experts said further measures – a rumoured “Plan C” – could be needed to keep hospital admissions down.

Measures such as restrictions on indoor hospitality, closure of some entertainment venues, and limits on gathering sizes from early next year would be sufficient to substantially control this wave, reducing hospitalisations by 53,000 and deaths by 7,600, the projection by LSHTM found.

Tory rebellion

Boris Johnson is facing what could prove to be the largest rebellion of his premiership, with more than 60 Conservative MPs said to be against the imposition of extra coronavirus measures under Plan B.

Some Tories reacted with dismay, with tens of backbenchers pledging to vote down plans for vaccine passports to be made mandatory for large venues.

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The Sunday Telegraph also reported that a number of Cabinet ministers could attempt to block any potential “Plan C” measures.

Number 10 has maintained there are “no plans” to go further with measures in England, amid reports that proposals are being drawn up for a Plan C, featuring even tougher rules.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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