Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Vouchers for vaccines, cases rise in China and a Christmas baby for Boris and Carrie

7 August 2021

9:00 AM

7 August 2021

9:00 AM


After the number of people ‘pinged’ (alerted by an NHS Covid-19 app) neared 700,000, the app was adjusted so that it hunted for contacts of a person testing positive for Covid only from the two previous days, not five. When no more than 68 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds in England had yet accepted vaccination, they were offered vouchers for Deliveroo to comply. Vaccination was to be offered to 1.4 million 16- and 17-year-olds. A letter from Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urging the Prime Minister to allow fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and Europe to avoid quarantine was leaked to the Sunday Times. A wheeze to publish an ‘amber watch-list’ of countries that might suddenly turn red was dropped by the government before it was introduced.

The seven-day average of coronavirus cases detected by tests remained below 30,000, from a peak of 54,674 on 17 July. In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 524 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 129,654. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 447.) In a week, numbers remaining in hospital rose from 5,238 to 5,943. The daily number of first-dose vaccinations fell below the daily number of new cases. Thierry Breton, France’s EU Commissioner, crowed that the Republic of Ireland had overtaken the United Kingdom in the percentage of fully vaccinated people: 73 against 72 per cent.

Sportswear brand Sweaty Betty was bought by US-based Wolverine Worldwide for £294.4 million. The 4,561 deaths related to drugs in England and Wales in 2020 was the highest since records began in 1993. July saw 3,500 migrants arriving in England across the Channel in small craft, bringing the year’s total to 9,300. The Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal in March, docked at Felixstowe four months late. Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, announced she was expecting a baby at Christmas.


The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 4,232,448 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 64,324 from the week before. Coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China ‘some time before 12 September, 2019’ according to a report released by Republicans on the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. All 11 million people in Wuhan were to be tested again as new cases appeared, while hundreds of Delta variant cases broke out in 15 Chinese provinces. In Australia, where only 16.1 per cent are fully vaccinated, hundreds of troops were deployed in Sydney to stop people leaving their home except for essential purposes such as exercise and shopping. New York City is, from 13 September, to require customers and staff of restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment venues to have had Covid-19 vaccinations. In France, 200,000 marched in the third weekend of protests against a law requiring a health pass for anyone wanting to enter public places such as restaurants and high-speed trains. Italy banned cruise ships of more than 25,000 tons from the Venice lagoon.

Britain joined America and Israel in blaming Iran for a drone attack off the coast of Oman on the oil tanker Mercer Street (managed by the London-based company Zodiac Maritime), in which a Briton and a Romanian were killed. The Asphalt Princess, a bitumen carrier, was hijacked in the Gulf of Oman but the armed boarding party later left. Residents of Lashkar Gah, besieged by the Taleban, were urged by the Afghan army to evacuate the city to allow a counter-attack. Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat governor of New York, ‘engaged in unwelcome and non-consensual touching’ and in doing so violated state and federal law, according to a report by Letitia James, the state’s attorney general. President Joe Biden asked for him to resign.

China and the US were winning the most medals in the Olympic Games, with Japan and Australia some way behind, and Great Britain tagging Russia, which was banned from the Games but competed under the name Russian Olympic Committee. Charlotte Worthington won a gold for Britain in BMX freestyle, with an impressive 360-degree backflip. Laurel Hubbard, a transgender athlete aged 43, went in for the weightlifting for New Zealand but failed to make a successful lift. In the men’s team pursuit, the handlebars of Australia’s Alex Porter’s bicycle fell off. CSH

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