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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  September 5, 2021 11:30am-12:01pm BST

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one survivors group claimed fewer than ten of them were consulted. and two more medals for great britain on the final day of the paralympics, with bronze wins in the men's badminton and men's wheelchair basketball. now on bbc news, it's time for dateline london. hello and welcome to the programme which brings together some of the uk's leading commentators, bbc specialists, and the journalists who write, blog and broadcast from the dateline: london. this week, back to school — back to covid? afghanistan after america, and the dateline panel
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mark your cards with the news that's worrying them. the "they" this week are steve richards, author of the prime ministers we never had — and after 30 years in the highways and byways of westminster, he should know. eunice goes is a portuguese journalist and academic, and with me in the studio is bbc health editor, hugh pym. welcome, hugh, and welcome to both of you, as well. good to have you with us. now, here in the uk, covid has quietly slipped down news programme running orders. during the summer, newspapers and website front pages have had other headlines — olympic and paralympic glory, and, of course, afghanistan. it was scotland's first minister who brought us up sharp tuesday, when she told the scottish parliament that cases had increased there by 80% in a week. scotland has just recorded its highest daily rate of infections since the pandemic began. pupils returned to school in mid—august. will other parts of the uk now experience a similar rise in cases as the term begins there? well, perhaps mindful of the anger
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on display in city streets in a country like australia, uk political leaders say they don?t uk political leaders say they don't want to lock down again. so, what sort of winter awaits us here in the northern hemisphere, and, indeed, can the global south expect some relief? hugh, first of all, just looking at the uk, what are, kind of, the statistics telling us at the moment? what sort of picture is emerging about covid, now we've endured the delta variant for quite a few months? well, shaun, case numbers are essentially fairly flat. they're not going up dramatically orfalling sharply in the uk, and that is, in a way, an outcome which is rather different from what was being predicted by government experts and scientists injuly of a very sharp increase. that being said, daily cases are much higher than in august last year. now, in scotland, schools have gone back, as we've just noted, and that has partly been the reason for the increase in cases there. in england and other parts
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of the uk, schools have been going back in recent days and into next week and beyond. so, the key thing is how that may or may not change case numbers. and there has been a decision on friday, or at least a decision to look further at the evidence for vaccinating children — at least teenage children — but what's the thinking behind that? well, it's a really important decision for the uk. the expert committee, thejoint committee on vaccination and immunisation, independent, was asked to say what are the benefits and risks of vaccinations for 12—15—year—olds. and they have come up with a rather qualified conclusion, which is that the health benefits marginally outweigh the risks, but they are not going to go any further than that. in the past, they have given the thumbs up to 16 and i7—year—olds and other groups before that. so the result of that is that the uk's chief medical officer will now have to draw
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up their guidelines for parents and families in different parts of the uk. so, a rather strange turn there, given that in the us, for example, france and canada, they've gone ahead with injecting i2—year—olds a little while ago. so it shows that there's still quite a lively debate on whether it is a good idea. and about effectiveness. i want to come back to the question of further doses for people who have been vaccinated in a moment, because that's quite a lively debate in this country and others. eunice, let me ask you first of all about the picture in continental europe. have they overcome the early difficulties in terms of vaccinating their populations? well, they have. it was a very slow start of the vaccination roll—out programme in europe, and that was largely due to the lack of doses of vaccine. but that has been overcome, and the eu has already vaccinated over 70% of its population.
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and in some countries, like portugal, has vaccinated 73% of the population has received two vaccines, 83% has received one vaccine. but this contrasts heavily with a country like bulgaria, who has vaccinated less than 20%, so it's a rather mixed picture that tells us something about different health care programmes that have well—established — or less well—established — vaccination programmes, and of course, the whole issue about the scepticism about vaccines, the scepticism about science and the world health organization actually warned us this week about the dangers of not progressing with the vaccination programme and the danger as well of the anti—vax movements that are growing in europe and are stalling the whole
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vaccination programme. steve richards, what do you make of the opportunity britain has had during the summer? and i wonder what the british government has done with that opportunity, in yourjudgment, of, if you like, a pause in hostilities with covid. you know, the benefits of the weather, the benefits of people being displaced from big population centres, the benefits, as hugh was saying, of kids not being in school. have they made use of that opportunity at all? well, it depends what you mean by making use of. l it seems to me... i've had a conversation- with a very senior politician from scotland in mid—august,| a very sharp reader of politics, and he said, "you watch, | when the schools go back i "in scotland, earlier, of course, i than england, and the whole thing "will start surging again." and that is what has happened in scotland and that _ will probably happen in england. and he said the solution is clear — you do have to vaccinate - schoolchildren, certainly teenagers.
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so that is one thing, i has indicated, sort of, in the air at the moment, - whereas it seems to me that is one route that can perhaps address some of the immediate fears _ of the autumn. beyond that, i think we're in a curious position, - one i read of a scientist, - hugh will know much more, but one of the more optimistic- scientists saying he has never had more doubt about what might happen i next in the uk than at the moment. i so, it's certainly a period i where you cannot say, well, we're through all of this, by any means, but given| that it's a vaccine—led - recovery in the uk, not a, kind of, constraint—led recovery, i i think the argument for vaccinating teenagers will intensify in the coming weeks. l just picking up exactly that point about this being a vaccine—led recovery, the question has arisen about should
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the fortunate people in the uk who've had one or two doses get a third dose, a booster vaccine. because there's some evidence that, although limited, emerging from israel, for example, that vaccinated so much earlier than many other countries that maybe the effectiveness of vaccines can wane. yes, the effectiveness can wane according to that research in israel and in other countries as well, but there's fairly positive data following the boosterjabs that had been rolled out in israel, so, the key thing for the uk is whether to do the same. and a decision has been made about those with immuno—suppressed situations, that they will get a third jab, but will it be rolled out to the wider population starting with older age groups? that is a decision which has not been announced. it could be fairly imminent, and it touches on the whole issue of inequality, should wealthy nations should be getting these doses when in africa, for example, less than 2%
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of populations have had any form of full vaccination, and i think the world health organization is a bit split on this. some see the benefits coming into the winter with the most vulnerable people getting a third vaccine, but what about the issue of the supplies? and others are saying, actually, this should be put on hold until there are further vaccination efforts worldwide. it's also interesting to see a number of countries, their strategies that seemed effective seem not so effective now measured against the impact of the delta variant. i am thinking of test and trace in vietnam which was kind of a world leader which just hasn't been able to keep up with the pace of infection. you had a minister in the new zealand government saying, look, our policy of isolation and then lock down as soon as a case arises probably isn't going to work for much longer if you can debate how effective it has been already. and i was mentioning in the introduction,
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those protests in australia that seem to be getting bigger and more widespread. do you worry that we're almost — vaccine notwithstanding — a sense that we're almost back to square one with our battle with this infection? i don't think we're back to square one because of the vaccine, however, as you suggest, the variants, each one throws up fresh challenges, and so the assumptions that one particular variant was being addressed by either the, sort of, rigid lockdowns in new zealand and to some extent australia, can be immediately turned on its head by another variants which, you know, one person has it in new zealand, suddenly 50 do. so, there needs to be a combination of constant improvisation and forensic analysis of what's happening and what's the best way through, but what is clear to me from this discussion and, sort of, follows my instincts anyway
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is that the idea that we're through this, that this is a sort of end, isjust so premature because there will be other variants at certain points, and they might challenge the vaccines that are currently being implemented. so, yeah, i think governments around the world are in a state of flux about quite how to deal with this, and a return to — in inverted commas — the "norm", as in pre—pandemic is still some way off. eunice, just picking up on that, a number of world leaders have said to us, borisjohnson in this country, plenty of others around the globe, we are going to have to learn to live with this. how far away do you think we are from that point of learning to live with covid? well, i think there are still quite a few lessons to be learned, - because it depends very much what we mean by learning - to live with covid. is it, you know, letting the virus - spread, do nothing and let so—called herd immunity take place?
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or learning to live with covid means accepting that we need to put - in place mitigating measures, - you know, from wearing face masks in enclosed public places. installing good—quality ventilation in schools, | in offices and so on. enabling people to work from home, so hybrid forms of working. - all of this, and keeping, as well, testing systems in place, - so allowing people to isolate until they have the results i of a negative covid test, if they've been in touchl with somebody with covid. these are the thingsl that are disappearing from the united kingdom, - and i think these are the things that may lead to a very massive l surge in the number of cases that may lead to, well, yet another.
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christmas spent under lockdown. so, learning to live with covid means learning to accept that in order to have some form i of normality — and that's not going to be the normality of pre—pandemic times —| we need to accept that our lives| are going to be lived differently, that there is a price to pay to be able to meet our friends- and our families to go to the cinema | and restaurants and to work as well| and to keep our economy- going that there are certain things that we need to change in the way that we live — hugh, last thought? to build on steve's point, it will be very uncertain, at least through the winter, because you've got influenza, there was almost no influenza during the first few waves of covid, that means there's less immunity. you've got winter with more respiratory viruses around, and you've got more people indoors, mixing indoors, so, again, picking up on a previous point, it's so hard to predict how people will behave in the winter in crowded indoor set—ups, and we know that the vaccine is very, very effective, but against the delta variant you can be double—jabbed and you can still get the virus,
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even if on balance it doesn't make you as sick as it would have done without vaccination. thank you very much. captured in the eerie green glow of military night vision, like a ghost not a soldier, major general chris donahue climbed aboard a us airforce c17. for all the jeering from joe biden�*s critics, midnight monday in kabul didn't look like the fall of saigon. after all, this wasn't the repudiation of a decades—long us strategy, as the end of the vietnam war has been, but the coda to an engagement which began thousands of miles away above the streets of manhattan, the pentagon and a field in pennsylvania. that anniversary, 9/11, will be marked for the 20th time next saturday. as americans and others look to their grief, what awaits the people of afghanistan? eunice, a government different from the one that the taliban led before it was deposed 20 years ago, or is it really the same old ideology and the same old approach to ordinary life? well, i think it's very early—
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to make any assessment of the nature of the new taliban regime. are they really different? are they new? _ |they've been very busy on a very| massive, and to a certain extent, successful pr campaign trying to convince the west - that they are more modern, you know, they like drinking cappuccinos, - they would like to have cafes| serving cappuccinos in kabul, |they are very good at using social| media, they are not going to crack down on people watching televisions and so on, so they are trying - to show that they are more humane, more westernised and so on, - but there are also signs - that the old taliban are there. it's still a regime that does not like women. women have been told not to come back to work, - especially those working as judges, mayors, injournalism and so on, i
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so i think it remains . very much to be seen, but perhaps more important than with the new regime i is the new taliban different than the old taliban? - perhaps what this new taliban will have to adjust _ to is to a new afghanistan, because we have a whole i generation of afghans - who were born since 2001, they are adults. they have different values. they have different l expectations as well. and it will be their reaction i to the new regime that i think is going to shape what that taliban will try to impose in society. - because it will be, _ there are already some signs that this younger generation is not ready to give up so _ easily on the freedoms, - on the opportunities they had in the last 20 years, and they are ready to fight for them. - now, how hard will the taliban crack down on these _
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protests? we do not know. early days. - but i think it's going to be the relationship between, j on the one hand the taliban regime and the afghan population - that is going to shape - the future afghan government. yeah, steve, i think that quote eunice mentioned there is along the lines of "women stay away from work until we have "educated our fighters to respect women." i wonder if that is all part of the pr that eunice was referring to. the leadership spoke to some of the, kind of, the old guard of the regime that had departed, including the president karzai. we had envoys sent to panjshir valley where the strongest anti—taliban movement, although the fighting has begun again there. was it all just show? well i personally am not qualified to make thatjudgment. i don't know the current makeup of the taliban. but the other day in a public event i interviewed jonathan powell,
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tony blair's chief of staff in number ten who was, of course, there when britain was part of the 2001 autumnal invasion of afghanistan and since leaving office has worked very closely with all kinds of people in afghanistan and continues to do so. and he told me that it is absolutely the case that there is an expedient wing in the taliban leadership and that that is not for show, that like all political forces, there are great internal divisions, and he was saying, and i repeat this with a kind of approval, if you like, because he's...and i'm not that there is a responsibility to engage. he thinks it was a big mistake not to engage with the taliban in 2001. actually to engage with the taliban and try and engage with what he sees as the pragmatic wing. clearly there are others who are wholly unreconstructed in recent decades, but there is this
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possibility of an engagement with some, and i repeat this because he is an authority and i am not. which is very candid of you. as health editor, i am hardly going to expect you to be an authority on the ideology and philosophy of taliban leadership, but let's start with the practical question. this community who has arrived in the uk and many other this emigre community who has arrived in the uk and many other countries around the world, many of those people are highly qualified professionals, and in the case of the british nhs, they are doctors and nurses and others. are there many practical hurdles that would stop people with those kinds of qualifications actually practising here, and indeed in other western countries? i am glad you asked me that, sean, and not further developments on politics in afghanistan because i would defer to our two colleagues on that. i think it would be hugely valuable to the nhs,
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which for decades really, almost since it was founded, has needed doctors, nurses and other staff from other parts of the world, and they have greatly enriched the nhs and provided great service and skills. the general medical council, the main regulator, has to look at the qualifications and verify that they are suitable and that the qualifications match up what's required in the uk. then there are issues of language and of further trials, which could be a little bit complicated, but i think, broadly speaking, if you've got really highly—skilled health professionals who can show the right paperwork, then i'm sure it would be greatly welcome. not least, of course, because we have a shortage of the people we need, don't we? just a last thought on this, there is a potential here, eunice, isn't there, to seize the opportunity of leverage, if we are going to talk to this new taliban leadership. the economy is tanking, three quarters of the budget has gone because it was foreign aid money. we hear reports that, for example, cooking oil has just suddenly gone up 63%.
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this is a government that, however much it taxes imports and exports at land borders, and however much it boosts heroin — er, opium production, which ends up on the streets of other countries including the uk as heroin — the bottom line is they need money. the bottom line is they need money and we have got money. well, the west has, of course, some leverage, but aid - money only goes so far, _ and it is true that the humanitarian situation in afghanistan - at the moment is very, very dire. i think the threat of. hunger for a big chunk of the population is really upon us. lots of un agencies have been- warning about the shortage of food, basic food staples in afghanistan, so there is the possibility - of leverage, but, for instance, - what the uk government has promised ito give afghanistan is, will onlyi cover a fraction of afghan needs. so the question of- leverage can be used. then we also have un agencies who will not be leveraging, -
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they will essentially be - meeting their responsibilities as aid agencies. what the afghan government, i the taliban have been doing very cleverly these past ten days, i has been to say that they are, they don't need the west. or they don't need the west so much because they have china. _ and that china is to essentially- with open arms, opening their cheque books and offer contracts to do all sorts of things from mineral exploitation to keep their tax systems working and so on, i and there is a little i bit of game—playing. but i think in the end, _ the future of afghanistan will very much depend on how important afghanistan will be in world - politics, and i think western i countries, and in the way that international politics work, l afghanistan is not extremely important, and this is essentially
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the drama of afghanistan. - eunice, thank you very much there. we've just got a couple of minutes at the end, a chance for each of you to, as i say, mark people's cards about the story you think they should be aware of, either one we may have reported or perhaps could do with reporting more on. steve, you first. big moment of british politics, of interest, i think, elsewhere as well. after years and years of attempted projects in this area, it appears that the government is soon, perhaps even next week, to announce how it plans to finance social care in the uk, or certainly parts of the uk. now, this is a huge story. it has been for a long time. and there are complete internal tensions about how much should be raised, how it should be raised, and it's an example of the, in a way, dysfunctionality of british politics where everyone
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agrees something must be done and yet it's still not clear how it's going to be done, even with the announcement looming in the coming days. a mere 20 years after politicians start talking about it in earnest! eunice, your go. oh, well, the story that has really caught my eye has been, well, . the ongoing hurricane ida - and all the damage that it has created in the united states. yesterday, there were floods . in new york, and it was a really freak weather event, - because after a few hours of very, very heavy rain, so torrential rains, - there was sun at the end - of the afternoon in new york, but what happened was there . were loss of life, and, of course, it is the most vulnerable population of new york and of those american | cities who suffered. we saw across europe, - across the world this summer, freak weather events, - so flooding that was juxtaposed
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with a lot of very hot weather. and this is, i think, - this is the earth telling us that we really need to take - the climate emergency seriously because otherwise it is, again, the most vulnerable, - and all of us, who continue to pay for this. _ for the neglect of the environment. indeed. you've got about 45 seconds or so left, hugh. shaun, i agree with steve, the social care issue certainly in england is hugely important. how is it going to be paid for? nhs is one thing, social care is means tested and has to be paid for. how that pans out, crucial. on a lighter note, the relaunch of abba. the new brand, getting together again, the famous four after all these years, got a huge amount of coverage in the news, but how it actually comes together in practice with all this digital trickery to make them look a lot younger, i will be watching out for that. i think all of us who work
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in broadcasting as well will be watching to see whether or not the abba—tars, the younger versions of themselves, still singing the same and looking like they did a0 years ago works out. we all live in hope for that. dateline london back at the same time next week. from all of us, goodbye. hello there. just when you thought summer was over, temperatures are set to climb over the next few days. and certainly for today, it's going to be a little warmer than it was yesterday in most places, but with the chance of some rain across the north—west of the uk. so as we head through the afternoon, then, most places england and wales will see some spells of sunshine, stained bit misty and magnificent coasts in the southwest, eastern scotland holding onto some brightness at least for a time,
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but for western scotland and northern ireland, we see thicker cloud and some outbreaks of rain, with a strengthening breeze. but temperatures are going to be a little higher than they were yesterday, 20 degrees for glasgow, 2a for cardiff and for london, somewhere in the south getting to 26 degrees potentially with just the chance of the odd late shower, but most places remaining dry. not so further north — we have this band of rain, that will sink a little further southwards overnight, getting down into parts of northern england, turning very misty and murky for western coasts of wales and the south—west of england, and some fog patches developing elsewhere, as well. a very mild and muggy start to monday morning. we will have this band of rain and patchy cloud in place across northern england and northern ireland, the rain will peter out but it will stay quite cloudy for many northern parts of the uk. further south, early mist and fog clearing to give some spells in many places and that sunshine will let temperatures as high as 27 degrees. and even further north, 21 for aberdeen and 22 there in belfast.
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and there is more warmth to come. high pressure to the east of us bringing a southerly breeze, quite a brisk breeze at times as we head into the middle part of the week. but drawing very warm air up in our direction. you will feel that, particularly given lots of sunshine, and on tuesday, we can expect largely sunny skies after morning mist and fog has cleared. away from the far north of scotland, here it will stay quite cloudy. but look at the temperatures. 2a to maybe 28 or 29 degrees down towards the south, and wednesday, very similar weather in most places. some good spells of sunshine around butjust the chance of some showers and thunderstorms starting to creep in from the south—west. but ahead of that, a very warm if not hot day for some of us. however, things do look set to change for the end of the week. it's going to turn more unsettled, with some rain at times. temperatures are a little lower by this stage but still quite respectable for this time of year.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. the head of one of prince charles' charities temporarily steps down after claims he helped secure an honourfor a major donor taliban officials have broken up a demonstration by dozens of women in kabul, who were calling for the right to work and to be included in the government. heathrow airport has criticised uk border force after passengers complained of "unacceptable queuing times" —— images on social media showed packed queues at the london airport. thousands of chain stores have disappeared from british high streets this year though the rate of closures is now slowing down. and two more medals for great britain on the final day of the paralympics, with bronze wins in the men's
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badminton and men's wheelchair basketball.

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