May 14, 2021
Lockdown restrictions are supposed to ease across much of the UK from May 17 and we’re hurtling towards that precious June 21 date, when many are hoping life will return to normal. But the India variant threatens to set it back. 
Surge Vaccinations: What Are They And Can I Get One?
Evidence suggests the B1617.2 variant is at least as transmissible as B117 (the Kent variant), with concerns it could be even more transmissible – and cases are spreading rapidly in the UK.  In England, which has the most cases, incidences have been reported in the North West – predominantly Bolton and Blackburn – as well as London, Bedford and South Northamptonshire.
Meanwhile, the latest data suggests there are 17 cases in Wales, at least 12 cases in Northern Ireland and 20-30 cases in Scotland, where rising numbers in Moray and Glasgow are of particular concern.
Discussion has started on whether “surge vaccination” should begin in these areas. Here’s what we know about the plans so far: What is a ‘surge’ vaccine?The concept of “surge” vaccinations is simple: vaccinate more people in the worst affected areas, sooner.  
Vaccines minster Nadhim Zahawi told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that the government is looking at ways to “flex” the rollout of vaccines in areas most impacted by the variant, including vaccinating everyone in multi-generational households, from 18-year-olds to grandparents. 
More vaccine doses have already been sent to Bolton, which has a particularly high rate of the India variant, while 800,000 PCR tests have been sent to 15 separate areas of England, including parts of London and Merseyside, he said. 
Another option also being considered by clinical advisers to the government is to bring forward the date for second doses of vaccine for the elderly and vulnerable in regions where the India variant is spreading.
Research is underway to monitor how effective the vaccinations are against the India variant. Early evidence suggests the India variant won’t escape vaccination as effectively as the South African variant, according to Professor Chris Whitty.Why am I hearing about this now?The latest data from Public Health England released on May 13 shows cases of the India variant have more than doubled in a week in the UK, rising from 520 to 1,313. Meetings are happening on May 14 to discuss the best course of action. 
In Bolton, mobile testing units have already been deployed and door-to-door PCR testing has been offered to 22,000 residents. A vaccine bus has been established in the community to increase vaccine uptake as part of a wider drive.
In London, PHE is working in close partnership across the health system and with borough councils in parts of the city where cases have been identified. PCR testing, whole genome sequencing, and enhanced contact tracing are being used throughout the city to target the many small dispersed clusters. Are ‘surge’ vaccines available?An official policy is yet to be announced, but it emerged that a handful of areas in England are encouraging all over-18s to come forward for the jab.People aged 18 and over in three wards in #Blackburn can now book an appointment for a Pfizer jab online.It's after the Indian variant was found in Shear Brow and Corporation Park, Billinge and Beardwood aswell as Bastwell & Daisyfield. pic.twitter.com/NVLEQMrTPk— BBC Lancashire (@BBCLancashire) May 13, 2021Elsewhere in England, the vaccine rollout was extended to those aged 38 to 39 on May 13 and everyone eligible is being urged to book – especially if you live in an area with rising cases.  
In Scotland, all over-18s living in Moray are now able to book a vaccine, in an effort to tackle rising Covid cases in the area.
HuffPost UK is not aware of surge testing in Wales or Northern Ireland at this time.    Will the India variant stop lockdown from ending?At the moment, we don’t know for certain if the variant will prolong lockdown, but it’s a possibility. Boris Johnson has said the government is “ruling nothing out” in tackling the variant. 
Asked if local lockdowns in England were possible, the prime minister said: “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.
“At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21 everywhere, but there may be things we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.”Wales has already held back on relaxing some restrictions due to concerns about the India variant. From May 17, indoor hospitality will reopen in Wales, but First Minister Mark Drakeford says meeting people in homes and small events are “both now on hold”.
Asked if he would be prepared to delay further steps in his roadmap if advice from Sage suggests it is necessary, Drakeford said: “Yes, we would. We tried our best to follow the scientific advice at every step and if the advice were to be that we should hold back on some further easements because the risks in doing so would be too great then certainly that is what we would do.”
In Scotland, Professor Jason Leitch said work is underway to see if the variant “would set us back”. “We’re a little bit unsure about the nature of this individual variant, it’s at least as transmissible as the Kent variant, we hope it’s not worse, but we’re having to do lots of science to find out,” he told BBC Radio Scotland. “That’s one of the big concerns, we’ve talked about that for months, a variant worse than Kent would set us back.”
In Northern Ireland, May 24 was earmarked as an “indicative date” for when indoor hospitality may reopen, but some hoped this may be brought forward. However, some reports are now suggesting this date will be “stuck rigidly” to, in part due to the India variant. READ MORE:What Is The India Variant And Where Are Cases Rising In The UK?Vaccinations Could Be Targeted On Areas With Spike In Covid CasesIs It Safe To Travel? What To Consider Before Booking Your HolidayRevealed: Mixing Covid Vaccines More Likely To Leave You With Side Effects7 Ways To Undo The Brain Fog You're Feeling Because Of The Pandemic
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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