The UK economy grew just 0.8% in May as manufacturing troubles caused the rebound to lose steam

Nissan car factory UK
UK car production plunged in May, official data showed.

The UK economy undershot expectations to grow 0.8% in May, as bottlenecks in the manufacturing sector offset rapid growth in the hospitality industry, official data showed on Friday.

That month-on-month growth in gross domestic product was well below the 1.7% uptick economists had been expecting. It compares with a 2% rise in April, revised down Friday from 2.3%. Overall, UK GDP was 3.1% smaller than before the pandemic in February 2020.

The manufacturing sector badly underperformed in May, contracting 0.1%, the UK’s Office for National Statistics said. Analysts were expecting strong growth in the sector.

Transport equipment manufacturing suffered the most, falling 16.5% in May compared with April as global microchip shortages disrupted car production. The decline is a clear indication of the impact that supply-chain bottlenecks are having on economies.

However, growth of 0.9% in the services sector helped the UK economy expand overall. Accommodation and food service activities were up 37.1%, as restaurants and pubs welcomed customers back indoors after the government eased COVID restrictions further.

Read more: The chip shortage has left US car buyers scouring empty dealerships. That won’t change anytime soon.

The pound was down 0.05% after the data was released, at $1.377. The UK’s FTSE 100 was up 0.54% after a sharp fall on Thursday.

The UK government has had to delay the final stage of unlocking pandemic restriction, as a result of a sharp rise in coronavirus cases driven by the delta variant. But it is set to end almost all restrictions on July 19, in the hope that vaccinations will keep hospitalizations low.

“It’s great to see people back out and about thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, and to see that reflected in today’s figures for economic growth,” said UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak. He added that the government was keeping up its support through the furlough wage-subsidy scheme.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “May’s weaker-than-expected increase in GDP underlines that the recovery to its pre-COVID levels will be drawn out.”

He added: “Growth in GDP likely will slow further over the summer… This probably partly reflects the fading of some initial enthusiasm when businesses reopened. Rising COVID-19 infections also appear to be prompting some people to work from home again and to visit shops and services venues less frequently.”

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Coronavirus vaccines don’t contain microchips. Here’s what’s actually in the shots.

Moderna vaccine
A nurse prepares a coronavirus vaccine shot developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., July 2020.

  • The coronavirus vaccine does not contain a microchip, contrary to a widely-shared conspiracy theory.
  • The false claim that says Bill Gates is plotting to use the vaccine to track people via microchip may have come from a Facebook video containing altered and out-of-context interviews.
  • The vaccine actually contains a tiny piece of genetic material encased in salt, sugar, and fats.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For months, conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have spread misinformation about coronavirus vaccines. One of the most widespread false claims says Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is plotting to use the vaccine to implant people with location-tracking microchips.

This is not true. Gates addressed the conspiracy theory himself in June, telling reporters the claim was so bizarre it was almost humorous. Twitter users have also made light of the myth with a multitude of memes.

“It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange that even to repeat it gives it credibility,” Gates said in a media call announcing $1.6 billion in funding for immunization in poor countries, per USA Today.

But misinformation about the vaccine is no laughing matter. For life to return to a pre-COVID-19 level of normalcy, 75 to 85% of Americans need to get vaccinated, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said

Conspiracy theories about the vaccine pose a threat to public trust in the shots, which is vital to reaching that threshold. Claims that the vaccine contains a microchip that can track people’s locations or identify who has been vaccinated are false and based on misconstrued information.

The microchip myth may have come from an idea for smart syringe packaging

Videos containing altered or out-of-context footage from news reports and interviews have been widely shared on social media, fueling the fire of the microchip conspiracy theory.

One particular video, which has been shared more than 40,000 times since a November 15 repost, could shed some light on the myth’s origins. The video includes fragments of a CBN interview with Jay Walker, executive chairman of syringe maker Apiject, in which he talks about an optional barcode-like label for the vaccine.

In the original interview, it’s clear that this label would be optional and the RFID chip in question would be affixed to the outside of the syringe, not injected along with its contents. The chip was designed to distinguish the real vaccine from counterfeit or expired doses, and to track when injections are used.

Steve Hofman, an Apiject spokesman, told Reuters that the special label has not been requested by vaccine manufacturers so far. 

The video shared on Facebook also contains an obviously edited clip of Bill Gates made to look like he’s saying “innovations like vaccines, we need a measuring system that tracks the vaccine.” Reuters tracked down Gates’ original speech from a 2013 financial inclusion forum, where he referred to vaccines as a breakthrough innovation and later called for a system to track financial inclusion, not vaccine distribution.

What’s in Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer has gone public with a list of ingredients that are actually in its vaccine, and a microchip is not among them.

The active ingredient in the shot is a snippet of the virus’s genetic material called messenger RNA. As Insider’s Hilary Brueck explained, mRNA acts as “a genetic punching bag for the body to learn how to fight against the proteins that help COVID-19 invade our cells.”

A mix of sugar, salt, and fats cushion the metaphorical punching bag and make it possible to deliver the vaccine via intramuscular injection.

Here’s the full list of ingredients in Pfizer’s shot:

  • A nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 (this is what makes the shot work)
  • Lipids, or fatty substances, including:
    • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate),
    • 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N, N-ditetradecylacetamide,
    • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine,
    • and cholesterol
  • Potassium chloride
  • Monobasic potassium phosphate
  • Sodium chloride (salt)
  • Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate 
  • Sucrose (sugar)

What’s in Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine

Moderna, the other vaccine maker that was recently granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA, also released a fact sheet detailing the ingredients in its COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Moderna vaccine contains:

  • Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)
  • Lipids, or fatty substances, including:
    • SM(sphyngomyelin)-102
    • Polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG],
    • 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC],
    • and cholesterol
  • Tromethamine
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Acetic acid
  • Sodium acetate
  • Sucrose (sugar)
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