Wednesday evening news briefing: Lives that ‘could have been saved’

If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here. For two-minute audio updates, try The Briefing – on podcasts, smart speakers and WhatsApp.

Three-quarters of deaths ‘could have been avoided’

Back in March, every day counted. New modelling suggests three-quarters of coronavirus deaths in Britain might have been avoided if the lockdown had begun a week earlier. Researchers said that if the UK had imposed the measures seven days sooner, its death toll now of 35,704 would be on a par with the 8,000 in Germany. Health Editor Laura Donnelly reports on claims it also would have led to a shorter and less economically damaging lockdown. It came as Boris Johnson announced the Government is increasing its recruitment target for the new contact tracing programme to 25,000, insisting the scheme would be ready by June 1 and able to handle 10,000 new Covid-19 cases a day. And Superdrug has become the first high street retailer to announce it will be selling a coronavirus antibody test to the public – at a cost of £69.

Mr Johnson’s statement today came before Prime Minister’s Questions. After being trounced by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week, Michael Deacon watched the PM come out fighting with a new approachTom Harris explains why Mr Johnson was not prepared to be the political punchbag again. One politician left red-faced was Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was scolded like a schoolboy for heckling.

Charts show how economy may be stirring into life

As Britain edges out of lockdown, the economy is inching out from hibernation. Signs of life captured by live economic signals are being pored over by City forecasters. Tom Rees explains three charts that give some real-time indications the economy’s recovery is starting to take shape. Meanwhile, UK inflation plunged to its lowest level for nearly four years last month as the coronavirus crisis saw fuel costs tumble and clothing retailers slash prices. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey refused to rule out negative rates. It came as Rolls-Royce announced it is to axe at least 9,000 jobs – sparking fears of a shockwave that will trigger mass redundancies across Britain’s embattled aerospace industry.

Welsh police turn away English daytrippers

The UK has recorded its hottest day of the year, with highs of 27.8C. Sunbathers in England enjoyed new freedoms after the easing of restrictions. View a gallery of pictures – including at Bournemouth beach, where there did not appear much room for social distancing. With tougher restrictions in Wales, police have been turning away and fining English daytrippers. Some travelled more than 200 miles to visit the Brecon Beacons. How might warmer weather be helping to suppress coronavirus? Science Editor Sarah Knapton examines what we know about the effect of climate, weather, sunshine and vitamin D on Covid-19.

PS: The English may not be welcome in Wales, but these places are open to visitors. For access to all of our travel content – and the rest of our journalism – try a subscription. Sign up for a free one-month trial – then save 50pc on your first three months to read all our articles at home.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Comment and analysis

You Are Not Alone – Surviving coronavirus lockdown

  1. Hot weather homeworking How to get through the day without the office air con
  2. Psychology of nostalgia | Why we’re looking back to look forward through lockdown
  3. Get on yer (chic) bike | With more of us cycling, it is time to master your bike style

Business and money briefing

Not just any online shop… | Shoppers will be able to buy Marks & Spencer underwear and children’s school clothes on Ocado along with their groceries. The retailer is gearing up to replace Waitrose on the online grocer on August 31. Laura Onita explains how it will make 1,600 essential clothing lines and new food products available.  

Video: Veteran Captain Tom’s joy at knighthood

Captain Tom Moore is “overawed” to learn he will be knighted after raising £33m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden. He is “looking forward” to receiving the honour – but hoped The Queen was not “heavy handed with the sword as I’m a weak soul”. Watch his full interview below.

Also in the news today

Race row | German car giant Volkswagen has apologised for an advert that showed a giant white hand pushing around a black person, after an online backlash slamming the clip as racist. The 10-second video appeared on the firm’s Instagram story to promote the new Golf car.  

World news: The one story you must read today…

Powder row | Johnson & Johnson has announced it will stop selling its talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, saying demand had dropped in the wake of what it called “misinformation” about the product’s safety. J&J faces more than 19,000 lawsuits from consumers.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

Bound for stardom | A new book portrays the sexual peccadilloes of early Hollywood. How much of it was just play? Peter Doggett asks: why was the Golden Age of film obsessed with bondage?