Friday morning UK news briefing: Fears of flu 'perfect storm'
The NHS is embarking on its biggest ever flu vaccination drive, with fears that deaths could be the worst for 50 years this winter because of lockdowns and social distancing.
More than 35 million people will be offered flu jabs (read if you are eligible), as concern mounts that prolonged restrictions on social contact have left Britain with little immunity.
Health officials fear there could be up to 60,000 flu deaths this winter - the worst figure in Britain since the 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic - without a strong uptake of vaccines.
There is also concern about the effectiveness of this year's jabs. Health Editor Laura Donnelly reports fears that the combination of Covid and flu crippling health services would increase the risk of another lockdown or "Plan B".
Bills fear as Ofgem signals energy price cap review
After a rise in wholesale costs, Ofgem has opened the door to a significant relaxation of price cap rules - potentially exposing millions to the risk of sudden price increases. The regulator signalled it was considering a review of how the energy price cap works after turmoil in the industry. The cap prevents energy companies from immediately passing on higher costs to their customers, forcing many suppliers to the brink of bankruptcy. Any watering down of the cap would pile more pressure on millions of consumers facing a rise in living costs. Read our tips for turning your home into a fortress against rising energy prices.
It is hard to know which is more scary: that UK futures contracts for natural gas can rocket 40pc in a day or that Vladimir Putin can send them tumbling back down again by merely hinting he may open the taps a little. Ben Wright says Britain's "hopeless ministers" should have seen the entirely predictable gas crisis coming. And Rachel Millard examines Putin's seemingly unbreakable grip on energy markets.
Lake of life? Mars rover reaches Jezero crater
The first analysis of images of the Jezero crater on Mars from Nasa's Perseverance rover show it was once a 21-mile wide lake fed by a river and which suffered flash flooding. Researchers are most excited by layers of fine-grained clay and mudstones at the site, because they could preserve traces of ancient life. Prof Sanjeev Gupta, of Imperial College London, said: "Finding life is entirely likely." View the incredible images.
Today's political cartoon
Today's cartoon | View Davey's latest cartoon as he finds a joke in rising energy prices. Matt is away.
Also in the news: Today's other headlines
'I am not perfect' | An Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain activist embarked on a 10,000-mile, four-month long holiday and toured across Europe in a diesel van last year, photos reveal. Cameron Ford, who gained infamy for spending his 31st birthday in a police cell after blocking the M25, claimed that highlighting his hypocrisy was an attempt to "demonise" him. See pictures of his globe-trotting holidays.
- Military | US nuclear submarine collides with 'unknown object'
- 'Path to Polexit' | Polish judges rule national laws supersede EU
- Acid attack | Medical student used 'fat suit' to disguise himself
- Police forces ranked | Met worst in England at solving sex crimes
- Weekly news quiz | Who did the PM compare Michael Gove to?
Around the world: Come hell or high water
The Australian endurance swimmer Chloe McCardel approaches France at sunrise yesterday during her 43rd swim across the Channel. She will attempt to break the world record by crossing for a 44th time on Sunday. For more striking pictures of the day, view our world gallery.
Comment and analysis
- Fraser Nelson | PM may have created a powerful force
- Judith Woods | Has the country become tone deaf?
- Jemima Lewis | What if children like living with their parents
- Christopher Howse | To allow poor spelling betrays the young
- Reader letters | The PM cannot rest on his laurels now
- Build back with Ikea | Is the future of British housing flat-pack?
- Simple guidelines | What every man over 40 gets wrong about the hoodie
- Classic Hollywood glam | How Adele nailed the art of the signature beauty look
Sport briefing: Exclusive Amanda Staveley interview
Amanda Staveley has hailed the £305m takeover of Newcastle United as "a gamechanger" and pledged that the new owners will eventually take the club to the top of the Premier League and win trophies. In an interview with Jason Burt, the financier reveals the "great ambitions" of the Saudi Arabian-led consortium who bought out Mike Ashley.
Business briefing: Ireland caves in to Biden
Ireland has been forced to abandon its low tax business model in the face of pressure from Joe Biden. The sacrosanct 12.5pc tax rate has been the cornerstone of the Irish economy for almost two decades, and helped attract some of the world's biggest corporations, such as Facebook and Google, to set up their European headquarters. Simon Foy says it puts the country's status as a haven for global companies at risk.
Your daily travel inspiration
World opens up | After it was announced that dozens of countries will be removed from the red list, travel will resume to the majority of long-haul destinations. If you are dreaming of a far-flung holiday, look no further than our guide to the places that will be no longer off-limits.
And finally... for this morning's downtime
'What were we to them - expendable?' | The lives of thousands of people were irrevocably changed by the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and '80s. Cara McGoogan investigates the story behind the biggest treatment scandal in NHS history.