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Morning Briefing July 29: Pfizer data points to third dose in fight against Delta

New Pfizer data suggests a third dose of the Covid vaccine 'strongly boosts' protection against Delta, the UK changes its border rules, and emotions run high at the men's Olympic Sevens final.

New data from Pfizer suggests a third dose of their Covid vaccine will “strongly” boost protection for people against the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

People aged 18-55 are five times more likely to be protected with a third dose of the vaccine than those with two, while the protection is 11 times stronger for people aged 65-85.

The new data comes as New Zealand continues to work through getting the first two doses of the vaccine into the eligible population.

The Government says nearly 700,000 people have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine so far. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among those Kiwis receiving their second jab yesterday, rolling up her sleeve at Hamilton’s Te Awa vaccination centre.

She urged people to get the vaccine when offered it, saying it’s “an act of kindness on behalf of the rest of the country”.

But criticism of the vaccine rollout continues, with one GP telling RNZ they’re worried the vulnerable will be left behind

Meanwhile, global distribution of Covid vaccines is still under fire, with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg the latest to highlight global discrepancies.

Thunberg has received her first Covid vaccine, saying she feels “extremely grateful and privileged” to live in a part of the world that can actually access vaccines.

The New York Times reports 84 per cent of jabs so far have been administered in wealthy countries, with just 0.3 per cent of doses administered in low-income nations.

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Border change for some travellers

Fully vaccinated people from the EU or US will soon no longer have to isolate when coming into England and Scotland.

Currently only people who have had their Covid jabs in the UK can skip quarantine when arriving from places on a list of “amber” countries.

The UK Government says the rule change will come into force next Monday and will reunite family and friends separated by the pandemic.

New Zealand is currently on the “green” list, meaning arrivals don’t need to quarantine if they return a negative Covid test.

The move comes as the UK’s daily Covid cases begin to rise again, with more than 27,000 recorded in the latest update – up more than 4000 on the previous day. 

Silver linings for Kiwis

It’s been an emotional night at the men’s Olympic Sevens tournament, with Fiji’s rugby stars breaking down in tears after winning back-to-back gold medals.

The team slumped to the turf after beating New Zealand 27-12 in the final, as a campaign that saw them spending months away from their families finally came to an end. 

The All Blacks Sevens’ silver medal came hours after Kiwi rowers Brooke Donoghue and Hannah Osborne also claimed silver in the women’s double sculls. The duo had started slow out of the blocks but surged to second by the halfway mark and held on to that position for the rest of the race.

Meanwhile, fellow rowers Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler cruised into the final of the women's pair after winning their semi-final in world record time and the men’s eight booked a spot in their final after winning the repechage.

Elsewhere, the OlyWhites made history by qualifying for the Olympic quarterfinals for the first time, following a goalless draw with Romania last night, while Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell pulled off a stunning upset to reach the tennis semi-finals.

You can find the full rundown of which Kiwis are competing today here

But gymnastics fans still won’t get to see Simone Biles in action after the US superstar decided to also withdraw from the all-around competition.

Biles, who told reporters she was having a little bit of the dreaded “twisties", will be evaluated before deciding if she’ll compete in individual events next week.

Community groups bear brunt

Around 18,000 more children have fallen into poverty during the Covid pandemic, according to new research this week.

The Child Poverty Action Group’s report also found Māori and Pacific children are up to three times more likely to end up in poverty, with increasing housing and food costs to blame.

Community groups say they’re increasingly being relied on to help out, with Whānau Ora seeing an “exponential increase” in people asking for help in the South Island. 

Report co-author Janet McAllister says CPAG’s research shows the negative impacts on children aren’t just due to the pandemic. She says they’re also the result of Government policy.

Jacinda Ardern says her Government has delivered “substantial changes” to the welfare system to respond to the growing poverty issue, however some advocates say this year’s increase in benefits isn’t enough.

ABs partnership under fire

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson says the organisation is comfortable with signing a six-year sponsorship deal with British petro-chemical company INEOS, despite strong criticism of the move.

Environmental groups are strongly against the deal, with Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel saying the All Blacks “must not sell that out to an oil corporate who is cynically wanting to greenwash its image”. 

However, Robinson says New Zealand Rugby put a lot of work into the deal and their decision wasn’t taken lightly. 

Other news of note this morning:

- NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed millions of people in Greater Sydney and beyond will remain in lockdown for four more weeks as the state records another 177 Covid cases

- A crew member from a Covid-stricken ship berthed at South Port in Bluff has reportedly been moved to Southland Hospital.

- The University of Auckland and Royal Society are distancing themselves from a contentious letter dismissing mātauranga Māori by some top academics.

- International demand for skilled workers is adding to the pressures faced by two of the country's biggest infrastructure projects.

- Pharmac has released a list of medicines it’s considering funding, in an effort be more transparent. 

- National leader Judith Collins continues to defend her party’s focus on gangs, which she describes as a "very insidious evil in our society". 

- The Dunedin City Council has lifted the "do not drink" notice for water supplies in Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village after lead was detected earlier this year.

- Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk has been taken to hospital after collapsing on set.

- And Instagram is rolling out a suite of new settings to help protect its younger users across New Zealand and Australia, including attempts to "soft-block" older users with "potentially suspicious behaviour".

And finally...

Source: istock.com

Best you go and buy a steering wheel lock if you’re currently driving a Mazda Demio or Nissan Tiida.

Because according to police, those two makes of car were the most commonly stolen across Auckland in the past year.

You can find the other makes of vehicle that have been popular targets for thieves here – as well as some tips for making sure your own car doesn’t become a statistic in next year’s theft report.