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07 Feb 2021 | 11:55

Sunday newspaper round-up: AstraZeneca, Amazon, Retailers

(Sharecast News) - Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi today said AstraZeneca is 'confident' its jab prevents serious illness caused by the South African coronavirus variant after early data from a small study suggested the vaccine was less effective against the strain. Mr Zahawi said he had spoken to England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam this morning about the study as he insisted the vaccine 'does protect against severe disease'. He said that through its own trials AstraZeneca is 'confident that it does effectively deal with serious illness, serious disease and hospitalisation'. - Financial Mail on Sunday

Amazon and other companies who have cashed in on the coronavirus crisis are facing a double tax raid under plans being drawn up by the government to plug the black hole in Britain's finances. Treasury officials have summoned tech firms and retailers to a meeting this month ahead of the budget to discuss how an online sales tax would work, according to leaked emails. - Sunday Times

Restaurateurs and retailers are speeding towards a cliff-edge in the spring if landlords are once again allowed to evict tenants over unpaid rent, struggling firms warned this weekend. They also face the end of business rates relief. More than 660,000 hospitality and 170,000 retail jobs have already been lost. There are fears those numbers could rocket in April when the moratorium on evictions is due to end and companies are forced to restart business rates payments after a 12-month holiday. There is still no certainty as to when hospitality and retail operators will be able to reopen. It could be as soon as April but reports this weekend suggested that serving alcohol could initially be banned. - Sunday Times

Rolls-Royce will shut down its jet engine factories for the first time ever this summer because of a lack of work as it scrambles to staunch heavy losses in the pandemic. The FTSE 100 engineer is preparing to close plants for a fortnight, which are focused around its Derby headquarters. The measures will affect all 19,000 staff in Rolls' international civil aerospace division, including 12,500 in the UK, who make jet engines for airliners. Dates for the shutdown have not yet been finalised but are in response to the collapse in demand for air travel caused by coronavirus. - Sunday Telegraph

The record-breaking £250bn cost to the economy of Covid-19 will be laid bare by official figures this week, although the loosening of restrictions in the build-up to Christmas is expected to save the UK from a double dip. Economists expect the reopening of shops and some bars and restaurants under the former tiers system after November's lockdown to lift growth by 0.5pc in the final quarter - before the rapid spread of Covid variants forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel festive plans for millions of households. - Sunday Telegraph

PensionBee, a retirement savings app, has appointed advisers to guide it through a stock market debut due to net a paper fortune of at least £120m for its 35-year-old co-founder Romi Savova. Investment bankers from KBW and lawyers at Clifford Chance have been lined up to guide PensionBee through a flotation that will aim to achieve a minimum valuation of £300m. - Sunday Telegraph

Lockdown weary Britons who are desperate for some Mediterranean sun are ignoring summer holiday deals and instead setting their sights on an October escape, according to UK tour operators. Thomas Cook said 40% of its recent holiday bookings are for October onwards - compared with about 10% at the start of January, suggesting consumers are heeding government ministers' comments about sticking with the UK for holidays, despite the travel sector's messaging that foreign holidays will be possible this summer. - Guardian

The Bank of England is braced for the possibility that a mood of national depression that engulfed Britain as it plunged into a third national lockdown will end with a spending spree when restrictions are lifted. In an interview with the Observer, the Bank's governor, Andrew Bailey, said there was a chance after being cooped up for so long people would "go for it" once the vaccine programme allowed the economy to reopen. - Guardian

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit, the Observer can reveal. The dramatic drop in the volume of traffic carried on ferries and through the Channel tunnel has been reported to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove by the Road Haulage Association after a survey of its international members. In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA's chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties - but had been largely ignored. - Guardian

There are lots of reasons to feel optimistic about the year ahead, especially now that one in five adults have had their first Covid vaccine. As we look to the future, we can also take heart from the early success of the Government's workplace testing programme. Starting with big firms like John Lewis and Royal Mail, rapid testing at work has saved tens of thousands of employee hours - and saved businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds. - Financial Mail on Sunday
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