Coronavirus UK news – Lockdown EXTENDED to 'allow NHS to recover' in Wales despite cases at lowest levels since November

THE UK will make 120m more doses of Coronavirus vaccines, after securing 60m from American firm Novavax.

The Novavax jab will be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees for the summer – it has shown a whopping 86% efficacy against the new UK strain.

It is also 60% effective against the South African variant, which caused panic in the scientific community over fears vaccines would not work against it.

The Prime Minister said he was "particularly thrilled to see such positive results."

60m more doses will be supplied by French firm Valneva, which will be made up in Scotland.

The good news comes as EU's AstraZeneca crisis continues to fester because member states lag behind Israel, the UK and America in the vaccination race.

Follow the live blog below for the very latest news, updates and analysis of the coronavirus crisis…

  • Patrick Knox

    FRANCE, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL FORCED TO STOP GIVING COVID JABS

    This is because they are running out of supplies.

    It comes as the EU ramped up a bitter feud over vaccine distribution and threatened to halt exports of millions of life-saving jabs from the bloc, including to the UK.

    The furious row over supply has fuelled fears of a vaccine "trade war" between Britain and Brussels.

  • Patrick Knox

    COVID CAN DAMAGE TESTICLES, EXPERTS WARN

    A study at a German University claims the virus can cause increased sperm cell death and inflammation.

    Published in Reproduction, the research found 84 fertile men with coronavirus saw stress in sperm cells rise by more than 100 per cent.

    It also discovered sperm cell shape was altered by 400 per cent which, according to the study, can lead to trouble conceiving.

  • Patrick Knox

    POLICE BUNDLE MAN WALKING TO WORK INTO COP CAR 

    Video taken by the shocked man shows two officers in a car enforcing Covid restrictions in Solihull pull him over and ask what he's doing and for his name.

    The situation quickly escalated when he refused to give his ID and one of officers called him an idiot and threatened him with arrest.

    After the video circulated on social media, the force began an investigation and later apologised for the officer’s conduct which “fell far below what we would expect”.

    Man shocked after cops call him an ‘idiot’ while he heads to work as force apologises over Covid confrontation

  • Patrick Knox

    KATE’S FOUND PARENTING ‘EXHAUSTING’ DURING LOCKDOWN

    She Kate admitted so in a video chat with mums, dads and teachers about mental health.

    A rare moment of public affection saw her praising Prince William for being her “biggest support”.

    But when asked to write down a word that describes experiences of looking after their children, Kate held up a piece of paper that read: “Exhausting.”

    Wills, 38, and Kate, 39, have been homeschooling George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, at their home at Anmer Hall, Norfolk.

     

  • Patrick Knox

    ‘TEACHERS WOULD ONLY GET PRIORITY JAB IF EXPERTS GIVE THE GREEN LIGHT’

    Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford told BBC Radio 4's Today: "We follow the advice of the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation). 

    “If the committee tell us to prioritise teachers, that is what we will do.

    "While its advice remains that the top nine priority groups should be the focus of our attention, that is what we will do.

    "If the advice were to change, then we would follow the changed advice."

  • Patrick Knox

    WHO TEAM IN WUHAN VISITS COVID GROUND ZERO HOSPITAL

    A World Health Organization-led team of experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 today visited a hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan that was one of the first to treat patients in the early days of the outbreak.

    After meeting with Chinese scientists earlier in the day, the team went to the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine.

    Zhang Jixian, director of the hospital's department of respiratory and critical care, has been cited by state media as the first to report the novel coronavirus, after treating an elderly couple in late 2019 whose CT scans showed differences from typical pneumonia.

    The WHO-led team was released from two weeks of quarantine on Thursday. It plans to visit labs, markets and hospitals during its remaining two weeks in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019.

    A car that's part of a convoy carrying the World Health Organization team of researchers arrives at the Hubei Province Xinhua Hospital in WuhanCredit: AP:Associated Press
  • Patrick Knox

    FOURTH CORONAVIRUS VACCINE COULD BE APPROVED IN UK

    A fourth Covid-19 vaccine could be approved for use in the UK within weeks as late-stage trials suggested it was 89 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus.

    The UK has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax jab – to be produced on Teesside – which is believed to offer protection against the new UK and South African variants.

    It was shown to be 89.3 per cent effective at preventing coronavirus in participants in its Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK, which involved more than 15,000 people aged between 18-84, of which 27 per cent were older than 65, Novavax said.

    The vaccine will now be assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed, as he thanked volunteers who made the results possible.

  • Patrick Knox

    SPAIN ECONOMY SHRINKS 11% IN 2020: STATISTICS INSTITUTE

    This was due to the upheaval triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Statistics Institute said in a first estimate published Friday.

    The figure is largely in line with the fall of 11.2 per cent predicted by Spain's government although the International Monetary Fund had seen a sharper contraction of 12.8 per cent.

  • Abe Hawken

    JAB JOY

    A fourth Covid-19 vaccine could be approved for use in the UK within weeks as late-stage trials suggested it was 89% effective in preventing coronavirus.

    The UK has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax jab – to be produced on Teesside – which is believed to offer protection against the new UK and South African variants.

    It was shown to be 89.3% effective at preventing coronavirus in participants in its Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK, which involved more than 15,000 people aged between 18-84, of which 27% were older than 65, Novavax said.

  • Abe Hawken

    BACK TO CLASS

    Primary schools in Wales will reopen after half-term if coronavirus rates continue to fall – as the country's lockdown is extended for three weeks.

    First Minister Mark Drakeford will today extend their lockdown for another three weeks to "allow the NHS to recover".

    But his announcement could bring a boost for parents as primary schools could to reopen after the February half-term if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

  • Abe Hawken

    WALES LOCKDOWN

    The lockdown will remain in force in Wales for another three weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm.

    He is also expected to say on Friday that primary school pupils may be able to begin returning to their desks after the February half-term if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

    The Welsh Government said the Covid-19 situation is “improving” but another three weeks of Level 4 restrictions are needed to “allow the NHS to recover”.

  • Shayma Bakht

    "SPECTACULAR" NEW AMERICAN VACCINE TO COME TO UK

    The chairman of the Government's Vaccine Taskforce, Clive Dix, said the results of the Novavax jab, which will be produced on Teesside, were "spectacular."

    He adds: "The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.

    "This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus."

    The vaccine shows 60% effectiveness against the South African variant and offers 86% protection against the new UK strain.

  • Shayma Bakht

    VACCINATIONS SLOW DOWN IN THE UK

  • Shayma Bakht

    LABOUR DEMANDS A "CREDIBLE" PLAN FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS

    Labour urges the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to make a "credible" plan on the reopening of schools for all pupils.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he intends to end the third national lockdown in England and reopen classrooms by March 8 – but this is at the earliest.

    However, the Government has not provided information on if it will be a staggered approach or where all year groups will return at the same time.

    It has not said if every region will return simultaneously.

    Shadow education secretary Kate Green wrote to Mr Williamson urging him on Friday to set out a plan on the return to classrooms.

    "We need a national effort to get all children back into school with a credible delivery plan from the Government which includes vaccinating school staff over half term and sets out measures to help make schools Covid-secure," she added in a statement.

  • Shayma Bakht

    BUSINESS SECRETARY WANTS DATA ON NEW VACCINE

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “The results from the UK trial of Novavax’s vaccine look promising, and I welcome the news that the company is planning to submit its data to the regulators.

    “Once our medicines regulator receives the data, it will begin to carry out its crucial, independent work to assess whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.

    “The UK moved quickly to procure 60 million doses from Novavax and I’m pleased to confirm the bulk of the vaccine will be manufactured on Teesside and delivered during this year, if approved for use.”

  • Shayma Bakht

    AMERICAN NOVAVAX VACCINE IS 89.3% EFFECTIVE

    US firm Novavax has tonight unveiled their jab, which is effective in 89.3 per cent of cases, as shown in a UK trial. Its approval is likely to follow next month.

    The UK has already secured 60 million doses of the vaccine, which will be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees for use this summer.

    Stanley Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer at Novavax said : "This is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against Covid-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants.

    “It has the potential to play an important role in solving this global public health crisis."

    Clive Dix, Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said: “These are spectacular results, and we are very pleased to have helped Novavax with the development of this vaccine. The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.

    "This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus.”

  • Shayma Bakht

    WELSH LOCKDOWN WILL REMAIN FOR AT LEAST THREE WEEKS

    The lockdown will stay put in Wales for another three weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm.

    He is expected to say tomorrow that primary school pupils might be able to return to class after the February half-term – if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

    The government say the situation is "improving", but they need at least three weeks of Level 4 restrictions to "allow the NHS to recover".

    The Welsh Government says there could be a "phased and flexible return to school after February 22 if the public health situation continues to improve".

    A statement said: "Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early November.

    "And every day, thousands more people receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – the latest figures show almost 11% of the population have been vaccinated."

  • Shayma Bakht

    120m MORE DOSES OF VACCINES TO BE MADE IN THE UK

    Novavax is set to make 60m doses for the uk in Teesside.

    It has capacity to deliver 180m a year

    Valneva – another vaccine development maker – said today it has started making 60m doses in Scotland for the uk – but says it can also scale up.

    So, 120m more UK-made doses are on their way from Novavax and Valneva.

  • Dan Keane

    DAILY CASES REMAIN HIGH IN FRANCE

    French health authorities have reported 23,770 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, amid fears of a third national lockdown

    Health Minister Olivier Veran said earlier new variants of the coronavirus were circulating more widely every week and that the tighter curfew put in place almost two weeks ago had not managed to curb the spread of the virus.

    France's cumulative total of cases now stands at 3,130,629 – the sixth-highest in the world.

  • Dan Keane

    BOLSONARO VOWS TO ROLL OUT JAB QUICKLY IN BRAZIL

    Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to roll out coronavirus vaccinations quickly amid a brutal second wave of Covid infections.

    Mr Bolsonaro, who has been widely criticised for his handling of the pandemic, said jabs would arrive soon and the government "will vaccinate the whole population in a short space of time."

    He told a press conference: "Europe and some countries in South America don't have vaccines. And we know that the demand is high.

    "We have signed deals, contracts, from last September, with various companies, and the vaccines are starting to arrive."

  • Shayma Bakht

    FIVE OUT OF NINE OF ENGLAND'S REGIONS ARE SEEING A FALL IN INFECTION

    More than 167,000 people were swabbed across England between 6 and 22 January as part of the React study.

    It shows that nationally R – the number of people each Covid cases goes on to infect – is 0.98.

    And of the nine regions in England, five were seeing a fall in infections.

    But cases still remain the highest recorded by the survey, with one in 64 people now carrying the virus across England.

  • Shayma Bakht

    BORIS JOHNSON NOT CONCERNED OVER GERMANY'S VACCINE POLICY

    Boris Johnson says he is not concerned by Germany ruling that the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be recommended for under 65s.

    The country has done this because of alleged insufficient data – but there are no health concerns.

    He argued the evidence shows it "provides a good immune response across all age groups".

    The Prime Minister joined Public Health England (PHE) in defending the use of the jab after a draft recommendation from Germany's vaccination advisory committee said they wouldn't be using the Oxford vaccine on pensioners.

    This comes immediately after the EU and the UK clashed over a shortage in vaccine supplies – with the bloc arguing that Britain should not get priority over the jabs made in their local plants.

  • Shayma Bakht

    TORY MP SAYS WITH "HINDSIGHT" THE GOV SHOULD HAVE LOCKED DOWN EARLIER

    When pressed on Sky News, George Freeman – the Tory MP for Mid Norfolk – said he believes that "with hindsight" the government could have locked down earlier.

    This was in response to the astounding death toll – over 50,000 in 3 months, and the fact that the Prime Minister knew of the UK's newer and more deadly variant prior to Christmas.

    He said he thought moving the number of celebratory days from five to one was a good move, but acknowledges it could have been a mistake.

  • Shayma Bakht

    PRITI PATEL TELLS SIR DESMOND TO REFLECT ON COMMENTS

    The Home Secretary has asked Sir Desmond Swayne to apologise after he told an anti-lockdown group that statistics on the virus “appear to have been manipulated.”

    Priti Patel said she hopes sir Desmond “reflects” and “takes back his comments.”

    She also shut down his comment that the current risks to the NHS were “manageable”.

    Mr Gove earlier said that he hoped Sir Desmond “would issue a full and complete retraction and apology for what he said”.

  • Shayma Bakht

    AIR CREW REVOLT OVER BEING ASKED TO WORK WITH POSITIVE COLLEAGUE

    AN air crew threatened mutiny after being told to work on a packed jet despite a colleague being hospitalised with Covid on an earlier flight.

    A British Airways stewardess began vomiting at 30,000ft on Flight BA113 from London Heathrow to New York on Sunday.

    Emergency services met the Boeing 777 on touchdown and she was taken to hospital, where she tested positive for coronavirus.

    But despite knowing of the crew member's positive test her concerned work pals were told to operate on the return service to the UK, which left the US on Monday evening and arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday morning.

    Furious union leaders have contacted the Civil Aviation Authority to ask why the BA crew and passengers were put “in jeopardy”.

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