Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 August 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. France removed from amber-plus list

Fully vaccinated passengers returning to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from France will no longer need to quarantine after Sunday. In another boost for the beleaguered travel industry, France is being moved from amber-plus to amber. Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been moved down from the red list to the amber list, but Mexico has moved onto the red list. The Daily Mirror says the changes will lead to a “French reconnection”.

2. NHS toppled from top of study chart

The NHS has lost its status as the best health system in a study of 11 rich countries. In the Commonwealth Fund’s latest analysis of healthcare performance, the UK has fallen from first to fourth place. The think tank found that Norway, the Netherlands and Australia now provide better care than the UK. The NHS had been the top-rated system in its two previous reports in 2017 and 2014.

How much pressure can the NHS take?

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3. Twelve-year-olds may get jabs

Children as young as 12 are likely to be offered Covid jabs, scientific advisers signalled yesterday. Currently, youngsters over 12 are eligible for the jab only if they have severe underlying health conditions or live with a vulnerable relative, but deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said it was “more likely, rather than less likely” that the list of eligible 12- to 15-year-olds would grow. He said health authorities would “continually review the emerging data”.

The moral questions behind vaccinating children against Covid-19

4. PM ‘said wife drove him crackers’

Dominic Cummings claims that Boris Johnson told him his wife Carrie was driving him “crackers” and that he wanted to get her a job “with lots of foreign travel”. In an interview with The Spectator, the former Downing Street adviser said of the prime minister: “Part of his brain knows that his girlfriend is crackers, but he’s also trapped.” Johnson’s former adviser also said the prime minister had suggested Cummings could be in line for a peerage when he left Downing Street.

Was Cummings’ BBC interview a mistake?

5. Exam result inequality ‘to grow’

Private schools are expected to take a bigger than ever percentage of the top grades when A-level results are released next week. Sources close to the government told The Times that the attainment gap between state and independent schools is expected to widen this year. Analysts say that lockdown and school closures were likely to have disproportionately affected the state sector. “It would be extraordinary if private school kids weren’t showing higher achievements,” said one.

6. Recovery raises petrol prices

Petrol prices have reached their highest level in eight years as the economic recovery increases global demand for fuel. The RAC says the average price for a litre of petrol stood at 135.1p after a 3.4p rise in July – the costliest since September 2013. Diesel prices are the highest since 2014. Meanwhile, Brent crude stands at just under $72 a barrel after touching $78 in recent weeks. At the start of the year, it was priced at just over $50.

7. Brits watched more TV during pandemic

British people spent a third of their waking hours watching television or online videos during 2020, according to a study from Ofcom. In an increase of almost an hour on pre-pandemic levels, the media regulator found that the average UK resident watched video content for five hours and 40 minutes a day last year. Ofcom said TV and online video have “proved an important antidote to lockdown life”, with people “glued to screens for news and entertainment”.

8. Menopause breakthrough hailed

Some of the genetic secrets behind the age at which women start the menopause have been explained for the first time. In a development that could pave the way for fertility treatment to extend the natural reproductive lifespan of women, researchers found nearly 300 genetic signals that they said could help identify why some women are predisposed to early menopause and whether these pointers can be manipulated to improve fertility. The ongoing study is led by scientists from the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Copenhagen.

9. Sky Brown loves ‘sick’ Olympic medal

Skateboarder Sky Brown has became Britain’s youngest Olympic medal winner at just 13 years and 28 days old. The Times says the teenager “produced a remarkably composed performance” in her final run to secure third in the women’s park skateboarding final in Tokyo. Celebrating her achievement, Brown said: “It was a super-sick final. All the girls were ripping it, it was insane.”

Sky Brown: ‘I’m so stoked - I really hope I inspire some girls’

10. Rihanna is a billionaire

Rihanna is officially a billionaire, according to Forbes. The business magazine says the 33-year-old pop star – whose real name is Robyn Fenty – has a net worth of $1.7bn, making her the wealthiest female musician and the second-richest woman in entertainment, behind Oprah Winfrey. Rihanna hasn’t released an album for five years and has instead concentrated on her business empire.

Top billionaires: who are the world’s richest people?

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