Lloyds Banking Group is redeploying 700 staff into full-time homeworking roles from 2021, in the latest sign that big banks are embracing remote working even as vaccine candidates begin to put the end of Covid restrictions in sight.
The UK’s largest domestic lender – which has 50,000 of its 65,000 employees working from home because of the pandemic – temporarily shifted about 1,000 workers from Halifax, Lloyds and Bank of Scotland branches to customer service teams in order to cope with a surge in demand in areas such as telephone banking and video chats during the outbreak.
The Guardian understands about 700 staff will be permanently moved, making it the largest tranche of Lloyds workers to ever be shifted into homeworking roles full-time.
Government ministers should stop politicising the Covid-19 vaccine by boasting about being the first to license it, the head of a leading research group has said.
Heidi Larson, the director of the London-based Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP), said the government should instead focus on building support for the jab or it will lose the confidence and trust of the British people.
“I don’t think it is in the interest of the government to be racing along without building the ground,” Larson said. “Unfortunately it feels like announcements are made more politically.
“The message – ‘We are the first ones in the world to get there’ – may be a message to other countries but that does not matter if you don’t have your public behind you.”
Larson, an anthropologist, said she did not think the British public were overtly against taking a Covid vaccine but, having announced the licensing of one, ministers needed to explain “what it will look like between now and April”.
“[We need] the longer term plan rather than bit-by-bit headline news. Telling the full story will be important.”
R number in UK falls to between 0.8 and 1
Scotland’s clinical director, Jason Leitch, has said there are “too many unknowns” to give a date for when the Scottish government expects to have vaccinated all adults.
Yesterday, the health secretary, Jeane Freeman, said the first phase of vaccinations would be completed by next spring, with the rest of the adult population following “as quickly as possible thereafter”.
But at today’s briefing, Leitch said that across the UK the aim was to reach all over-50s and those with pre-existing conditions by the summer, which “allows us to remove 99% of the mortality” of the virus.
The deputy first minister, John Swinney, used the briefing to emphasise that new quarantine exemptions for business travellers did not apply to Scotland and that the Scottish government continued to advise “very strongly” against international travel.
Covid cases no longer falling in Wales
A possible link between the menopause and Covid-19 needs to be investigated, researchers have said, with some evidence suggesting that falling oestrogen levels could leave older women at increased risk from the disease.
Men are at greater risk of severe Covid, and dying of the disease, than women but recent research has suggested that in women, infections and long-lasting symptoms might be more common among those who have gone through the menopause.
Such findings have raised the question of whether hormones such as oestrogen might play a protective role – hormones that are at higher levels in women than men, but wane as women go through the menopause.
“It’s a good question about whether hormones could play a part, or other differences with age and gender – such as the immune response,” said Dr Claire Steves, a member of the Covid symptom study app team at King’s College London.
In one study based on reported symptoms, yet to be peer reviewed, Steves and colleagues found post-menopausal women were at greater risk of having Covid than non-menopausal women of similar age and body mass index. There are also some hints that the former may be at greater risk of more severe symptoms.