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Thursday newspaper round-up: Covid booster, NZ trade deal, Evergrande, energy crisis, Tesla

Further coronavirus restrictions will be needed if people do not have a booster jab and get serious about facemasks, the health secretary said yesterday as he predicted cases could reach 100,000 a day. Sajid Javid insisted that “life is not back to normal” and urged people to take precautions such as meeting outdoors and regular lateral flow testing. – The Times
People who are vaccinated against Covid are highly unlikely to die of the virus unless they are very old and already ill, a study in Italy has shown. The data adds more pressure on the UK Government to speed up the booster programme for protecting double jabbed older and vulnerable people who will be beginning to lose immunity. – Telegraph

Pupils in England whose learning has been severely disrupted by the pandemic could lose up to £46,000 in lifetime earnings, costing the economy hundreds of billions of pounds, without additional government investment, according to research. The report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) identified stark regional differences in learning loss – with pupils in parts of the north and Midlands worst affected – which it warned would undermine the government’s levelling-up agenda. – Guardian

Ministers sealed what is only the second bespoke Brexit trade deal after agreeing terms with New Zealand that will allow cheaper wine imports but open British farmers up to competition. Under the terms of the agreement tariffs will be waived on a range of New Zealand imports, potentially reducing the price of Sauvignon Blanc by 20p and reducing taxes on products such as Manuka honey and kiwi fruit. – The Times

The crisis in energy markets risks sparking a cascade of bankruptcies which will leave as few as five domestic suppliers standing unless ministers introduce urgent reforms, the boss of Scottish Power has warned. Keith Anderson, head of one of Britain’s largest gas and electricity companies, said the industry is “sleepwalking into a massacre” amid a global gas supply crunch which shows little sign of easing off. – Telegraph

Nearly 4 million low-income households are behind on rent, bills or debt payments, up threefold since the pandemic hit, according to a study revealing the growing cost of the living crisis facing the UK’s poorest families. A third of the 11.6 million working-age households in the UK earning £25,000 or less were found to be in arrears on their rent or mortgage, utility bills, council tax bills or personal debt repayments, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). – Guardian

Tesla defied the disruption wrought by chip shortages and port congestion across the motor industry to announce record profits in the latest quarter. The maker of electric cars pledged to keep raising production levels in Shanghai, Texas and at its new site on the outskirts of Berlin, after a 73 per cent increase in manufacturing enabled it to beat Wall Street expectations. – The Times

Joe Biden may resort to calling in the National Guard to tackle mounting logjams at ports and distribution centres, according to reports. White House officials are reportedly discussing the measure as part of efforts to tackle supply chain problems that have caused widespread delays in the delivery of goods across the US. – Telegraph

Five of the UK’s leading manufacturing industries have issued a plea for more government financial support to boost capital investment in research and development as well as new factories and equipment with lower carbon emissions. Carmakers, aerospace, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food and drinks manufacturers banded together on Wednesday to call for a long-term strategy for industry as the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, prepares for the budget next week. – Guardian

A deal to sell a $2.6 billion stake in the world’s most indebted property firm to a rival company has fallen through. Evergrande, the Chinese property group, suspended its shares on October 4 before “an announcement containing inside information about a major transaction”. – The Times

British shoppers should be hit with higher prices on meat to help the environment, according to suggestions for a tax on “high-carbon foods” drawn up for the Government. In a move that replicates the rollout of a “sugar tax” three years ago, the paper explored a levy on red meat and dairy to “help everyone eat more sustainably”. – Telegraph

A government taskforce is to meet on Thursday to discuss ways to tackle the sharp rise in scams that has hit the UK since the start of the pandemic. Groups representing banks, telecoms companies and consumers will meet with the minister for security, Damien Hinds, to discuss measures to tackle online fraud, and increase public awareness. – Guardian

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