Government in ‘advanced talks’ to secure Moderna vaccine with 94.5pc efficacy

Eufemia Didonato

Coronavirus Article Bar with counter .. The Government is “in advanced discussions” to procure doses of the ‘exciting’ Moderna vaccine, but they are unlikely to be available until spring 2021 “at the earliest”. Early data from the US biotech company has revealed that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 94.5 per […]

Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

The Government is “in advanced discussions” to procure doses of the ‘exciting’ Moderna vaccine, but they are unlikely to be available until spring 2021 “at the earliest”.

Early data from the US biotech company has revealed that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 94.5 per cent effective, raising hopes that a range of immunisations will be available to help end the pandemic. 

Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, welcomed the results as “tremendously exciting”. 

The UK does not currently have access to the vaccine, which has been predominantly funded by the US Government as part of “Operation Warp Speed”.

A government spokesman said: “The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine. As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the Government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio. 

“Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest. 

“To date, the UK Government has secured early access to 350 million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers. This includes 40m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which is based on the same platform as Moderna’s vaccine and if approved by the medicines regulator, is expected to begin delivery as early as December 2020.”

Follow the latest updates below.

04:26 PM

19 million NHS dentist appointments ‘missed’ due to coronavirus guidelines

Around 19 million NHS dental appointments have been missed due to coronavirus guidelines restricting services, dentists have warned.

In a letter to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, the British Dental Association (BDA) has called on the Government to invest in practices to help them increase their capacity and provide vital care.

Nearly three quarters of practices are operating at half their pre-pandemic capacity, according to a survey carried out by the BDA, with nearly two thirds (63 per cent) reporting that they are focusing on emergency cases over routine dentistry.

The “major obstacle” to increasing capacity is “fallow time” – the mandated time needed between patients to minimise risks of coronavirus transmission – dentists say.

Lizzie Roberts has more here. 

04:21 PM

Oxfam calls on Moderna to commit to a ‘People’s Vaccine’

Responding to the news about the Moderna vaccine, Oxfam has warned that it will mostly be rich countries that benefit from the jab without commitment to a People’s Vaccine.

“Moderna’s discovery could be a real game-changer in the fight against Covid-19. However, on its own, Moderna can only produce enough vaccine for less than seven percent of the global population by the end of 2021, almost all of whom will be in rich countries,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager.

“The vaccine will remain the private property of the corporation, despite being largely publicly funded. While Moderna has pledged not to enforce intellectual property rights on its vaccine, it needs to go that critical step further by pooling and sharing its technology with the WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, for the benefit of the rest of the world.

“In addition to the devastating loss of life, Covid-19 has put a massive strain on health systems, created a global economic crisis and pushed millions more people into poverty. We call on Moderna and all the companies working on potential vaccines to commit to a People’s Vaccine which is available free for all people in all countries.

“We cannot put the profits of pharmaceutical companies ahead of ending the pandemic and recovering the global economy. Millions of lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

04:11 PM

WHO records Covid outbreak among staffed based at its HQ in Switzerland 

The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters in Switzerland, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by the Associated Press shows

The revelation comes despite the agency’s public assertions that there has been no transmission at the Geneva site.

Farah Dakhlallah, a WHO spokeswoman, confirmed the accuracy of the information about the case count in an email to the AP, but said the UN health agency had not yet determined whether the spread happened at its offices.

Raul Thomas, who heads business operations at WHO, emailed staff on Friday noting that five people — four on the same team and one who had contact with them— had tested positive for Covid-19.

04:05 PM

All care homes could reopen to visitors by Christmas, Matt Hancock says

All care homes could be allowed to let families visit residents before Christmas, Matt Hancock has said, as he signalled that a visitor testing regime could be in place by the end of the year. 

The Health Secretary committed to a major expansion of visitor testing over the next two months as pilots in 20 care homes across Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall began today.

In selected care homes, which are situated in low-infection areas, visitors are allowed to see relatives without screen partitions between them if they test negative for Covid-19.

The pilot schemes will use either standard PCR tests or the new rapid lateral flow tests, with officials still weighing up whether social distancing will need to continue even when relatives test negatives. 

Harry Yorke has more here. 

03:55 PM

Comment: We doctors usually thrive on stress, but the pandemic is leaving us on the verge of burnout

When the pandemic began, those in the NHS were keen to step up to the plate – but the physical and mental toll has been immense, writes Dame Clare Gerada, former Chairperson of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

As the pandemic hit, back in the spring, the feeling throughout the health service was: “Let’s just get stuck in.” If we are not careful, I fear  it’s now more likely to be: “I can’t bear this, I need out.”

Last week, we learned that a number of intensive care nurses have been sectioned under the mental health act as a result of the “psychological trauma” they experienced during the first wave. Others have received counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder. In May, when intensive care units were under most pressure, NHS staff took more than 500,000 sick days due to mental health issues.

NHS Practitioner Health, the service I set up 12 years ago to support doctors suffering mental or emotional distress, has never been so busy. A year ago, around 60 doctors per week referred themselves to us, seeking a safe space to express their anxiety or needing treatment for more serious mental illness or addiction. Now it’s 125 – and we’re just talking doctors in England here – with numbers creeping upward every week.

Read the full piece here. 

03:52 PM

Husband of care home resident criticises ‘monstrous’ Covid restrictions

A retired TV producer has blamed “monstrous” Covid-19 restrictions for isolating his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s and causing her condition to deteriorate.

Michael Blakstad, from Bishopstoke, Hampshire, said that rules for care homes meant his wife, Tricia, 79, being isolated from her family for seven weeks.

The 80-year-old explained that the unnamed home was not allowing any visitors after two members of staff tested positive for coronavirus, with residents confined to their rooms and restrictions lasting 28 days after the worker’s isolation period.

Mr Blakstad, who has Parkinson’s, told the PA news agency: “Her form of Alzheimer’s means she really likes to keep moving, walking around and as she is stuck in a room, not being able to get out, it’s terrifying.

“It’s been three weeks now and you can see there has been a deterioration. She will be another four weeks without visitors, they won’t tell me if she is allowed out of her room, it’s crazy, it’s monstrous.”

03:49 PM

Northern MPs to demand ‘clear route out of lockdown’ during virtual PM meeting

Northern MPs will ask for a “clear route out of lockdown” during a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday, an ex-minister has confirmed.

Jake Berry, who leads the Northern Research Group (NRG) of more than 50 Tory backbenchers representing north of England constituencies, said he would be seeking answers from Boris Johnson about lifting the current measures, with some areas seeing little reprieve from restrictions designed to control the spread of coronavirus.

The meeting between Mr Johnson and MPs representing so-called “blue wall” seats across the North, many of them taken from Labour at last year’s election, will take place via online video conference.

Today’s talks were arranged after the Prime Minister was warned by the NRG in the run-up to the month-long second English lockdown, due to end on December 2, that they did not want their constituencies “locked into lockdown” indefinitely.

03:43 PM

Matt Hancock refuses to rule out making Covid vaccine mandatory

Matt Hancock has refused to rule out making a coronavirus vaccine mandatory, suggesting ministers could make it a requirement if initial take-up is lower than expected. 

The Health Secretary said the Government was not “proposing” a legal requirement for people to be vaccinated because some who would be unable to have a jab because of medical reasons. 

However, asked whether those without underlying conditions could be forced to take the vaccine in the future, he said: “I’ve learnt not to rule things out during this pandemic because we have to watch what happens and you have to make judgments accordingly.”

His comments come amid growing concern in Government over the dissemination of anti-vaccination material online. 

Harry Yorke has more here. 

There are fears that anti-vaxxers – who are making unfounded claims about the safety of vaccine candidates – could deter large numbers of people from being inoculated, in turn reducing its effectiveness against Covid-19 - Ben Cawthra/London News Pictures Ltd 
There are fears that anti-vaxxers – who are making unfounded claims about the safety of vaccine candidates – could deter large numbers of people from being inoculated, in turn reducing its effectiveness against Covid-19 – Ben Cawthra/London News Pictures Ltd

03:39 PM

Operation Moonshot ‘could fail miserably’, say experts

Plans to mass test the whole population for Covid-19 could “fail miserably”, an expert on screening has warned.

Although Government proposals to push forward with Operation Moonshot could cost a reported £100 billion, academics have raised serious concerns about the project, including the efficacy of the tests.

They also warned that students who are tested for Covid before being allowed to return home for Christmas must have clear information that a negative test result “reduces the risk” they are taking Covid-19 back home to their families, but it will not rule it out.

And mass testing of the whole population before Christmas could see 400,000 unnecessarily self-isolating during the holiday period, they added.

Academics urged the Prime Minister to use the so-called Downing Street reset to review the programme in a “sensible and rational way”.

03:32 PM

Covid could come back stronger if rich nations monopolise doses

Further to our last post, the biggest threat is that the virus mutates, which becomes more likely if only half the world is vaccinated.

The danger is that national self-interest will override the common interest, creating not just an inequitable distribution of vaccines globally with terrible human cost but a strategic disaster in which the pandemic is prolonged for everyone. 

Why might this happen? Because if half of the world’s population is left unvaccinated the virus will keep bouncing back, possibly with more virulent and resistant new strains. 

To prevent this, say experts, leaders need to follow not an ethical vaccine policy exactly, but one of “enlightened self-interest”.

In case you missed it from last week, Paul Nuki and Sarah Newey have more here. 

03:27 PM

78pc of Moderna vaccine doses ‘already sold to rich countries’

The vast majority of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has already been bought by the richest governments in the world, Global Justice Now has warned.

780 million doses have already been sold to wealthier governments, they say, which amounts to 78 per cent of the one billion doses Moderna says it has the capacity to produce by the end of next year.

Big purchases include the USA, with 100 million doses but options to buy another 500 million, while the EU has secured 80 million doses with an option for a further 80.

Yet the countries that have secured advanced supplies of the Moderna vaccine represent just 12 per cent of the global population, campaigners warn.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said: “We welcome any good news when it comes to a coronavirus breakthrough, but sadly most of the world cannot celebrate today. Moderna’s is predicted to be the most expensive potential vaccine on the market, at around $35 a dose, even though it has been made with vast public support.”

He added: This is truly a taxpayer funded vaccine and should be placed in the public sphere through the World Health Organisation so the whole world can benefit.”

03:20 PM

Hospital deaths in England up by 190

A further 190 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 36,512, NHS England said today.

Patients were aged between 29 and 100. All except three, aged between 65 and 90, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between October 19 and November 15.

One other death was reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

03:18 PM

Talks between four UK nations on joined-up Christmas restrictions ‘ongoing’

Wales has “quite a long way to go” before finding out what coronavirus rules will be in place for Christmas, Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has said.

Talks between the four UK nations on a potential joined-up approach to the festive period were ongoing, he said, with an announcement on whether families will be able to meet across borders unlikely to be made in the coming days or weeks.

Mr Gething said today that a recent reduction of Covid-19 cases in Wales following the 17-day firebreak could “easily reverse”, which made making a decision about what Christmas will look like difficult.

He told the Welsh Government’s press briefing in Cardiff: “Whatever happens with Christmas and the festive season this year, it won’t be like normal.

“We’re still discussing issues about where we can get to with other governments across the UK on travel, and we’re still looking at the evidence about what we might be able to do around contact.”

03:16 PM

Malaysia tightens travel restrictions in Top Glove Corp area

The Malaysian Government has tightened curbs on movement in an area where Top Glove Corp Bhd worker dormitories are located, to enable targeted coronavirus screenings on workers and residents as infections rise, the security ministry said today.

The curbs, in effect from Tuesday until the end of the month, will affect 13,190 workers and close to 1,200 residents in Klang, about 40km west of Kuala Lumpur, the senior minister of security, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said at a media conference.

“(This enforcement) will allow the health ministry to continue targeted screenings on workers and residents in the area,” he said. There had been 215 cases of the virus recorded in the area by Sunday.

Top Glove, the world’s largest medical glove manufacturer, is also required to screen all workers at its local factory and all dormitories for workers at that factory, the minister said.

03:14 PM

Plans for mandatory face masks in German schools shelved

A plan to mandate mandatory face masks in schools in Germany has been shelved after opposition from leaders of the country’s 16 states.

A draft of new measures, seen by Reuters, dropped earlier references both to school lessons being held with fewer pupils and plans to scrap an exemption from wearing masks for some elementary children.

It said instead that leaders of Germany’s 16 states would propose new measures to curb infections at schools next week.

03:12 PM

Covid rates falling across most areas in Wales

Following the country’s firebreak lockdown, analysis by PA news agency shows that infection rates have dropped in 19 out of 22 local authorities, rising only in Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Torfaen.

The figures, for the seven days to November 12, are based on tests carried out in NHS Wales laboratories and those conducted on Welsh residents processed in commercial laboratories.

The biggest drops were in Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent.

Due to the lag between a person becoming infected, showing symptoms and then getting tested it is still too soon for the figures to reflect the full impact of the 17-day firebreak in Wales, which officially ended on November 9.

But the downward trend in most parts of the country suggests the recent surge in cases may have peaked.

03:08 PM

Video: How does the Moderna vaccine work?

03:05 PM

‘Redemption’: How one scientist’s unwavering belief in mRNA gave the world a Covid-19 vaccine

For Katalin Karikó, this week’s vaccine news is a validation of 40 years of hard work, and opens the door to a new generation of medicines, reports Sarah Newey and Paul Nuki.

“Redemption! … I was grabbing the air, I got so excited I was afraid that I might die or something.”

Katalin Karikó laughs as she recounts her reaction to the news earlier this week that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which is based on research she pioneered and risked her career for, was 90 per cent effective in protecting against Covid-19.

For the Hungarian-born scientist the breakthrough goes beyond the hope that the new vaccine will help turn the tide of the pandemic. It is a validation of her career-long belief in the therapeutic potential of synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA), a technology that could open the door to a new generation of medical treatments and cures.

For more than four decades, Prof Karikó has relentlessly explored how the single-stranded molecules of genetic code could be used to treat conditions from strokes and cancer to influenza. Despite demotions, countless grant rejections and, at points, deep scepticism from fellow scientists, she ploughed on. 

In case you missed it over the weekend, read the full interview here. 

Prof Katalin Karikó has been working to develop RNA therapeutics and vaccines for more than four decades - Katalin Karikó 
Prof Katalin Karikó has been working to develop RNA therapeutics and vaccines for more than four decades – Katalin Karikó

02:53 PM

Results of vaccine candidates ‘phenomenal’, says Wellcome

Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines at Wellcome, said: “Hopes of ending this pandemic rest on having effective vaccines, treatments and tests. It is incredibly promising that the vaccines we urgently need are now on the horizon.

“To have multiple vaccine candidates with interim results that surpass our expectations is phenomenal, and testament to the incredible global research effort this year.

“The results from Phase III of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine trial are highly encouraging, however as with other results, we must remember they are interim and we are yet to see the full data.

“Urgent questions remain to be answered, including how long these vaccines will be effective for and whether these vaccines work across different populations, in all age groups, ethnicities, and those with prior health conditions.  Only upon trial completion will we be able to assess the full efficacy and safety of any vaccine candidate.

“There are important considerations to ensure doses can be delivered safely around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. However, it is promising to hear Moderna report that doses can be stored at clinics at more regular refrigeration temperatures for up to a month once delivered to healthcare facilities. It is critical that we urgently and decisively work on the wider issues of Covid-19 vaccine allocation and delivery.”

02:47 PM

Pakistan bans political rallies

Political rallies have been banned in Pakistan, after the country recorded its highest daily coronavirus infection numbers since July for four days running.

Several huge religious and anti-government public rallies have been held in major cities in recent weeks.

Announcing the ban, the prime minister, Imran Khan, said on national television: “We have decided to ban public gatherings in the country, including ours planned over the weekend, as large crowds help in the spread of the virus.”

There were 2,128 new cases registered on Sunday, the fourth day that the daily increase has been above 2,000. The country has registered a total 359,032 coronavirus cases and 7,160 deaths.

02:38 PM

Mandatory vaccination ‘most unlikely outcome possible’, says Wales’ health minister

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has described mandatory vaccination as “the most extreme and most unlikely outcome possible”.

Mr Gething told a press conference that it was “certainly not any part of our working assumption” in Wales.

“I’ve never tried to mandate vaccine provision in the several years that I’ve been a minister in the health department, as deputy or as a Cabinet minister,” Mr Gething said.

“I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere close to that this time around.

“This is really about wanting to have safe and effective vaccines that are available for the public. I do not expect and I do not plan to try to mandate those, we want to make them available for the public.”

02:30 PM

Italy’s mafia mobsters pounce on businesses brought to their knees by coronavirus pandemic

As Italy edges towards a second national lockdown, the country’s mafia mobsters have never had it so good, one of the country’s leading prosecutors says.

With tens of thousands of businesses in trouble as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy’s powerful mafia organisations are moving in, snapping up ailing enterprises or offering credit to businesses that struggle to secure loans from banks.

They are then able to launder the tens of millions of euros they earn from drug-dealing, protection rackets and other criminal activities.

“It is in difficult moments like this that the mafia prospers,” said Nicola Gratteri, a prosecutor who is on the front-line of the battle against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, which is based in Calabria in the far south of Italy.

“They are less bureaucratic than the State. They know the local area and they are ever present, in contrast to some politicians who only turn up when there is an election looming,” he told La Stampa newspaper.

Reporting from Rome, Nick Squires has more here. 

02:21 PM

Sweden brings in tougher restrictions

Public gatherings in Sweden will be limited to eight people, down from a previous upper limit of 300, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said, as cases continue to surge.

“This is the new norm for the entire society,” Mr Lofven told a news conference. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel.”

Sweden has drawn international attention for its controversial decision to shun lockdowns and instead rely on voluntary measures.

The country’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but somewhat lower than some larger European countries such as Spain and Britain.

Read more: Sweden ‘got it wrong on herd immunity’ ​

The country is now seeing the number of new cases rise by as much as 50 per cent a week, with a record 5,990 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths reported on Friday - dramatically higher rates than reported in Norway, Denmark and Finland - Shutterstock
The country is now seeing the number of new cases rise by as much as 50 per cent a week, with a record 5,990 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths reported on Friday – dramatically higher rates than reported in Norway, Denmark and Finland – Shutterstock

02:15 PM

Return to school sees improvement in children’s mental health, Oxford study finds

Mental health difficulties in children increased during the first national lockdown but have decreased since, the latest report from the Co-SPACE study has found.

Over the course of the first national lockdown, behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased, while most children were not attending school.

But behavioural, emotional, and restless/attentional difficulties have generally decreased from July (i.e. when home schooling demands typically reduce), throughout the summer holidays, and as children returned to school in September.

Professor Cathy Creswell, Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford, and co-lead of the study, said: “Our findings highlight the challenges that children and families faced during the first lockdown when most children were not able to attend school. We are pleased to see that things have generally improved for study families since the pressures of home learning have reduced, but our findings raise concerns about the impact of the ongoing disruption to schooling that many children are dealing with.

We don’t yet know the impact of this second lockdown, although children being able to attend school could make all the difference. High rates of mental health difficulties among children in low income families also highlight the huge challenge faced as more and more families tackle the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

02:11 PM

Joe Biden praises women and men behind Moderna ‘breakthrough’

02:10 PM

Council leader urges PM to support Hull in Covid ‘health emergency’

A council leader has told the Prime Minister that Hull has been “forgotten” by central Government and urged him to take action after its Covid-19 infection rate became one of the highest in England.

Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, has written a personal letter to Boris Johnson with a series of requests for support for the city – stating it has received no contact from central Government about the current “health emergency”.

Mr Brady said the infection rate in the city has risen at an “astonishing and terrifying rate” and the council said on Monday that the city’s rate stood at 770 per 100,000.

A council spokeswoman said public health officials were warning that the peak in Hull – which has seen 252 coronavirus deaths – is yet to come.

Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically
Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically

02:01 PM

Moderna vaccine can be delivered into GP offices and pharmacies 

Moderna president Dr Stephen Hoge said the temperature at which the US firm’s vaccine could be stored meant that vaccinations could potentially be carried out in the community.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, he said: “What we’re able to do with the vaccine now which is six months at freezer temperatures of -20C and up to 30 days at a refrigerated temperature of 2-8C, it really means you can deliver this vaccine into local and in fact rural GP offices or even pharmacies.

“And that means it requires no special infrastructure, no equipment and hopefully you’re going to be able to do broad-based vaccination where people are as opposed to bringing them into centralised vaccination clinics.”

​Read more: Third coronavirus vaccine is more effective than Pfizer or Russian jab

01:52 PM

Downing St insists social distancing was observed at meeting between MPs and PM

Social distancing was “observed” at the meeting between MPs and Boris Johnson, Downing Street has insisted, despite all attendees now having to self-isolate.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Social distancing was observed at the meeting. It is also the case that Number 10 is a Covid-secure workplace.

“We take every possible step to ensure that hand sanitiser is made available to people as soon as they arrive at the building and it is available throughout the building as you travel through it.

“But as I say, factors such as the length of the meeting meant that it was the advice of Test and Trace that the Prime Minister should self-isolate and he of course will follow that instruction.”

Asked about a photograph showing Mr Johnson and infected MP Lee Anderson standing less than two metres apart, the spokesman said: “They are stood side-by-side, rather than face-to-face.

“I wasn’t present in the room myself but just to repeat the two points: Number 10 is a Covid-secure workplace and also social distancing was observed in the meeting.”

01:50 PM

PM self-isolating in Downing Street flat

Boris Johnson will self-isolate in his Downing Street flat but will still be able to work from his Number 10 office, his spokesman said.

“The PM has been living in the flat above Downing Street full-time since we moved to the tougher national measures, so there is no change to that.

“In terms of where he is today, to enable the PM to carry out his full duties and with the agreement of medical advisers, he is working from his Downing Street office which he is able to access without any interaction with Number 10 staff.”

The spokesman declined to comment on whether the Prime Minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds was also staying in the flat.

The spokesman also said Mr Johnson was “well looked after and served by staff in Number 10 at all times” and that anything staff do for him would be done in a “Covid-secure way”.

01:50 PM

Boris Johnson hoping to take part in PMQs virtually amid self-isolation

Boris Johnson is hoping to take part in Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons virtually, Number 10 said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our firm intention is that that will happen but we are just speaking with the parliamentary authorities on the details.”

01:46 PM

Video: Why Covid-19 and lockdown has been so difficult for Boris Johnson and the Tory party

In our latest series of political analysis, Camilla Tominey looks at why Boris Johnson is struggling and the threats he faces from backbenchers, Keir Starmer and Nigel Farage.

01:36 PM

Moderna share price soars on Covid vaccine breakthrough

Shares in Moderna soared after the pharmaceutical company said its experimental vaccine was 94.5pc effective in preventing Covid based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial.

The finding makes it the second US company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.

Together with Pfizer’s vaccine, also shown to be more than 90pc effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the US could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60m doses of vaccine available by the end of the year.

Next year, the US Government could have access to more than 1bn doses just from the two vaccine makers, more than needed for its 330m citizens.

Moderna’s share price surged more than 10pc in pre-market trading in New York.

Read more here. 

01:32 PM

Boris Johnson among eight Tory MPs self-isolating after Westminster outbreak

Boris Johnson is among at least eight Conservative MPs having to self-isolate after meeting with a colleague who has since tested positive. 

South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher, Warrington South MP Andy Carter, Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici and Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith are all quarantining for two weeks after coming into close contact with Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield.

A further two MPs – Jacob Young and Maria Miller – are also isolating having come into contact with Mr Anderson during a debate. 

Tony Diver has more here. 

01:25 PM

Moderna hopes to provide ‘substantial quantities’ of vaccine to UK

Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said he hoped to provide “substantial quantities” of the US firm’s coronavirus vaccine to the UK, pending negotiations with the Government.

Asked about whether the UK had managed to purchase any of the successful vaccine, Dr Hodge told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “Haven’t bought yet, but as your Government disclosed and as we’ve said, we’re in advanced discussions and looking forward to being able to supply substantial quantities of the vaccine to the UK Government for use in the United Kingdom.”

Pressed on whether the roll-out could be done quickly, he replied: “It depends a little on concluding those negotiations. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.

“But we do have the ability to supply in the early part of next year and certainly we hope substantial quantities by the spring.”

01:22 PM

FTSE surges again on Moderna vaccine breakthrough

The FTSE 100 jumped 1.6 per cent upon the announcement that the Moderna vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective.

Ayush Ansal, chief investment officer at the hedge fund, Crimson Black Capital said: “News of a second highly successful vaccine will be another metaphorical shot in the arm for markets globally.

“The FTSE 100 was up immediately when news of the early results from the Moderna tests came in and the feel-good factor created by Pfizer’s vaccine should further rally markets in the days ahead.

“More than anything markets need certainty, and the knowledge that the pandemic could be brought under control a lot sooner than most imagined could see stocks surge as sentiment rebounds.

“The light at the end of the tunnel for the global economy following the Covid-19 crisis may not be a train after all.”

Simon Foy has more on our business live blog here. 

01:03 PM

Military to help coronavirus vaccine rollout, says Defence Secretary 

The military will have a role in distributing a coronavirus vaccine, the Defence Secretary has said.

Speaking on a visit to a Covid-19 testing site in Liverpool, where a mass pilot is under way, Ben Wallace said the country would get “on top” of the virus by “testing, tracing and then, hopefully sometime maybe before Christmas, vaccine”.

He told the PA news agency: “Certainly the military will have a role in the rollout of the vaccine.

“What exactly they’re going to be doing in that is what we’ve been working on for the last few weeks and months.”

He said he expected NHS workers would administer the vaccines but the Army would likely have a role in the distribution.

12:56 PM

How do the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work?

12:52 PM

Moderna vaccine results ‘remarkable’, says expert

Professor Trudie Lang, who runs the Global Health Network at the University of Oxford, described the news of the efficacy of the Moderna vaccine as “remarkable”.

Speaking to BBC News she said she had worked on malaria, TB and Ebola vaccines but “we’ve not seen anything like this before”.

Commenting with reference to the previous announcement over the effective Pfizer vaccine, Prof Lang said: “Having data from two different vaccines, the same technology on two completely different trials, but showing the same outcomes is really exciting.”

Asked how the vaccine progress had come about, she said: “The reason why we are in such a good situation with Covid is we’ve just had this enormous collaboration and global focus.”

She explained scientific collaboration and learning from work on an Ebola vaccine had been brought into the work around coronavirus.

12:43 PM

Glasgow could face strictest Covid measures as soon as this week

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that there have been a further 717 Covid-19 cases and six deaths in Scotland.

There are 1,227 people in hospital and 98 in intensive care.

The First Minister also confirmed that Glasgow and surrounding local authorities could be raised from level three to level four – the strictest restrictions in Scotland that mirror a full lockdown – with a decision to be made this week. 

12:36 PM

We finally have tools to ‘beat this virus back’, says Moderna president 

Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said he “grinned ear to ear” when learning about the efficacy of the US firm’s coronavirus vaccine.

He told BBC News: “When we got the news from the data and safety monitoring board, I’ll admit I broke character and grinned ear to ear for a minute.

“Because I didn’t expect, I don’t think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, that was really a stunning realisation.

“But the second thing that was perhaps even more exciting was that it was 100 per cent effective, apparently, at preventing severe Covid-19 disease.

He added: “When you combine it with the news of last week of Pfizer’s vaccine, you’ve got now two vaccines that are over 90 per cent effective.

“It really means I think we have the tools necessary to finally beat this virus back and I think that’s probably the best news of the day for all of us, is that there really are now solutions in our hands and we need to deliver them to the people who can use them.”

12:24 PM

South Korea at ‘critical crossroads’ after spike in coronavirus cases

South Korea has warned the country is at a critical point and may need to tighten lockdown restrictions after reporting more than 200 new coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day.

Monday’s rise was the biggest in 11 weeks for the country which has been widely praised for its comprehensive testing and tracing efforts.

“We are at a critical crossroads where we might have to readjust distancing,” said the health minister, Park Neung-hoo.

“The current situation is taking a very dangerous turn considering the rising infections from daily lives and the unrelenting pace of the  spread.”

Officials warn new restrictions may be needed in South Korea - AFP
Officials warn new restrictions may be needed in South Korea – AFP

12:15 PM

Moderna vaccine shows ‘encouraging’ signs of helping older people

Professor Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Edinburgh, said early indications are the vaccine was particularly effective for older people.

She said: “The results of this trial from Moderna are broadly similar to the Pfizer/BioNtech data, which is very encouraging.

“Each of these trials is still in the early phases of reporting and as more cases accrue the efficacy estimates may change slightly, but the fact that two independent trials are giving very similar results is very reassuring.

“Although the numbers are small, this trial also gives an indication that vaccination is effective in older and BAME individuals and prevents severe disease, all of which are key to allowing the world to start opening up again.”

12:11 PM

France is ‘taking back control’ of epidemic, says health minister

France is “taking back control” of the Covid-19 epidemic and falling positive test rates and admissions to intensive care suggest the country “has passed” the peak of the second wave, according to the health ministery.

Olivier Véran told regional French media that the current lockdown, which is less draconian than last time as schools remain open and many people are still going to the office, is starting to pay off.

“Thanks to the lockdown, like in March, the virus is starting to spread less. For the past ten consecutive days, the number of new Covid-19 cases has gone down, test positivity and incidence rates are falling.

Everything suggests that we have gone past an epidemic peak,” said Mr Véran. “We are taking back control of the epidemic. That is good news,” reports Henry Samuel.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran - Reuters
French Health Minister Olivier Veran – Reuters

12:03 PM

US coronavirus vaccine is 94.5pc effective, scientists say

Early data from US biotech Moderna has revealed that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 94.5 per cent effective, raising hopes that a range of immunisations will be available to help end the pandemic. 

The interim analysis of the vaccine, currently known as mRNA-1273, comes after 95 trial participants contracted Covid-19, including just five who were given the coronavirus jab.

While the data was published via a press release, it includes significant details that remain unclear around the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – which uses the same mRNA technology to target the coronavirus spike protein and an immune response.  

During the trial 11 people became severely ill with Covid-19, all of whom were in the placebo group. Of the 95 cases reported, 15 were detected in individuals older than 65 and 20 were from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. 

Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, welcomed the results as “tremendously exciting”.

11:50 AM

Military ‘has a role’ in vaccine roll-out

Mr Wallace said he expected injections to be delivered by NHS workers but thought the Army may be involved in transporting vaccines.

He said: “I should think the Army will be involved in the logistics, I should think the Army will be involved in some of the planning and the command and control which goes on behind the scenes for all these events because I think that is the key.

“If necessary the armed forces and RAF will be involved in bringing vaccines to the country.”

The military should be used to help roll-out a vaccine - AFP
The military should be used to help roll-out a vaccine – AFP

11:32 AM

Soldiers ‘welcomed’ in Liverpool as Army helps with mass Covid testing regime

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the Army will continue assisting with a mass coronavirus testing pilot in Liverpool “as long as it is needed”.

Speaking as he visited a test site at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool on Monday, he said: “The roll-out’s been good, the soldiers have been welcomed, the public have come from all over the city.

“We’d like more people to come but some of that is a challenge for ourselves about, do we move or shift and go to other parts of other communities where we’re not seeing a high uptake or do we do more to publicise it, and I think that’s a role for both public health and local authority to do alongside, but it’s going in the right direction.

“People are turning up and within an hour they’re getting a result for their test.

“That’s a really important plank of getting on top of this which will be testing, tracing and then hopefully sometime maybe before Christmas, vaccine.”

A British Army soldier receives completed tests at a coronavirus testing centre in Liverpool - AFP
A British Army soldier receives completed tests at a coronavirus testing centre in Liverpool – AFP

11:09 AM

Working from home during pandemic could make people less tolerant of diversity, new report finds

Increased home working and fewer opportunities to socialise during the coronavirus pandemic is threatening to make society less tolerant of diversity, a report warns.

Reduced access to workplaces, leisure centres and other communal facilities is likely to make it much harder to form friendships that break down prejudices, the Woolf Institute said.

Without alternative opportunities for social mixing, its researchers believe this will lead directly to an increase in prejudice.

The research centre, based in Cambridge, is launching the results of a two-year study, which saw 11,701 adults surveyed about their attitudes towards diversity in England and Wales.

The report, How We Get Along, suggests that there is an emerging consensus that diversity is a positive thing, but that change has occurred too quickly.

More than half (53pc) agree that ethnic diversity is good for society, 46pc believe the same of migrants and 41% believe the same of religious diversity.

However, 60pc of respondents said they feel the number of migrants in Britain has risen too quickly over the past decade, half believe ethnic diversity has increased too quickly and 43pc believe the same of religious diversity.

The findings also suggests that negative beliefs about religions such as Islam continue to be widely held.

10:54 AM

‘Why haven’t you offered your resignation?’ Hancock grilled on return to Good Morning Britain

Matt Hancock was asked why he hadn’t ‘offered his resignation’ as the Government ended its months-long “boycott” of ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The Health Secretary was challenged by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid over the “constant series of failures and U-turns” in the Government’s coronavirus pandemic response.

His appearance on the programme brought to an end a 201-day stretch without a Government minister joining the breakfast TV show for an interview.

It follows the departure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain from Downing Street this week.

Matt Hancock appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning - Shutterstock
Matt Hancock appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning – Shutterstock

Before Mr Hancock’s interview began, the GMB presenters mused on what might had changed for them to secure a first ministerial interview since April.

Reviewing the last six months, Mr Morgan reeled off a “charge sheet” that he said revealed a “constant series of failures and U-turns throughout this year”.

These ranged from the lack of personal protective equipment for health workers to the delay in introducing the first lockdown and the “complete shambles” of the Government’s testing system.

“Given that we now have over 50,000 deaths in this country, which is the worst death toll in the whole of Europe, why are you still health secretary? Why haven’t you offered your resignation?”

Mr Hancock said the Government had been “building the response to all of these enormous challenges of this unprecedented pandemic”, picking out testing from Mr Morgan’s “long list” where the health secretary insisted his targets had been met.

But Mr Hancock also admitted “we’ve made mistakes”, citing guidance which was interpreted as preventing spouses attending the funerals of someone who died with coronavirus.

“That was wrong and we changed it,” Mr Hancock said.

Matt Hancock was challenged on Good Morning Britain - Reuters
Matt Hancock was challenged on Good Morning Britain – Reuters

10:36 AM

Another Tory MP in self-isolation

Conservative MP Lia Nici said she was also self-isolating after attending a meeting with the Prime Minister and Lee Anderson.

The Great Grimsby MP tweeted: “I have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace following a work meeting last week with Lee Anderson MP and the Prime Minister.

“As a result I will be self-isolating in line with the rules. I currently have no symptoms and will be working from home.”

Boris Johnson and Lia Nici  - Reuters
Boris Johnson and Lia Nici – Reuters

10:24 AM

South Australia imposes new restrictions after fresh Covid-19 outbreak

Authorities in South Australia have imposed new restrictions in the state after 18 coronavirus cases were reported in the first outbreak since April.

Officials say up to 13 infections are linked to a hotel quarantine worker in Adelaide suspected of spreading the virus to a family.

The restrictions come into force on Tuesday. They state only 10 people can gather within a home at once; gyms and recreation centres must temporarily close, most likely for two weeks and all inbound international flights have been cancelled this week.

State Premier Steven Marshall added: “We are facing our biggest test to date. We are working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster – no effort will be spared.”

Australia had seen cases drop to near zero with the majority of infections in Melbourne, which spent almost four months in lockdown before the city reopened last month.

09:59 AM

Tory MP becomes latest to self-isolate after Downing Street meeting

Conservative MP Andy Carter has become the latest politician to declare he is self-isolating following a meeting at Downing Street.

The Warrington South representative was asked by Guardian journalist Helen Pidd whether he is in isolation after Mr Carter tweeted a picture of himself with Boris Johnson at a meeting on Thursday.

Mr Carter tweeted: “Yes, I had a call from test and trace yesterday following a work meeting at 10 Downing Street last Thursday.  In line with the rules I am self isolating.”

The Prime Minister revealed last night he was self-isolating after Conservative MP Lee Anderson tested positive for coronavirus.

09:52 AM

PHE looking to train people with “a range of backgrounds” to deliver Covid vaccine

Public Health England is developing training so healthcare assistants will be able to help deliver a Covid-19 vaccine, the body’s head of immunisation said.

Dr Mary Ramsey told BBC Breakfast: “In general, most vaccination in this country is given by nurses – they’re excellent at it and they do a brilliant job.

“But we will have to use other staff. During the flu season we do tend to bring in healthcare assistants and other people.

“PHE is developing training materials so that we can bring other staff on board. They will be under the supervision of a nurse and/or a doctor, so there will be supervision and training.

“But we will be using people who have a range of backgrounds. But that’s the normal way for delivering programmes like this.”

09:32 AM

“Too early” to tell if lockdown measures will end after December 2

Matt Hancock has said it is “too early” to determine whether England’s second national lockdown would end after December 2.  

Asked whether the lockdown would simply be “rebadged” after the deadline, The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You tempt me, but it is too early to say I’m afraid.

“We’ve seen in the last week that there is still a very high number of cases but we do absolutely want to come out of this national lockdown.

“That is our goal, everybody has a part to play in making that happen of course, following the social distancing rules and isolating when you need to, which is the critical thing.”

He said one of the main goals now was to use the mass rapid testing roll-out to find those who are asymptomatic with the virus.

Mr Hancock said it was too early to tell if lockdown measures will be extended - AFP
Mr Hancock said it was too early to tell if lockdown measures will be extended – AFP

09:20 AM

Turnip Prize sees record entries as lockdown boosts art competition

The Turnip Prize has received a record number of submissions this year with entrants believed to have been inspired by lockdown.

The annual spoof award goes to someone who has “created something that they perceive to be c*** art using the least amount of effort possible”.

Some of this year’s entries poked fun at lockdown and Covid-19.

Organiser Trevor Prideaux, of The New Inn in Wedmore, Somerset, said this year’s award attracted 120 entries – crossing the 100 mark for the second time in succession.

“This year we have received a record number of entries. We have ordered a second skip,” he said.

The shortlisted entries are: A Brush with Death – a model robin laid on its back next to a paint brush by Robin Deadrest; Back to the Fuchsia – a baby doll with its back to a fuchsia plant by Pete Lamb; Fur Load – a large bundle of fur by Jolly Roger; Lockdown – a padlock on top of a pile of duck down feathers by Herewe Goagain; Rock on Tommy – a rock on top of a tomato by The Very Reverent Canon Ball and Shut the D**k Up – a duck with gaffer tape over its beak by Doug Tunn

The Turnip Prize pokes fun at modern art’s most important award, the Turner Prize.

It began in 1999 as a response to Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, which was exhibited at the Tate Gallery that year. Winners of the competition, organised by a Somerset pub, receive an actual turnip attached to a wooden base.

The winner of this year’s prize will be unveiled online on December 1.

09:02 AM

Elderly may not be first to receive vaccine, PHE chief admits

Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation for Public Health England, said the vaccination priority list “may need to be modified” if it proves the vaccine works differently across age groups.

Government advisers on vaccination have set out interim guidance which sets out the order in which people would get any Covid-19 jab, starting with care home residents and staff, then those over 80 and health and care workers.

Dr Ramsey told BBC Breakfast that the NHS has plans in place to start delivering the vaccine this year, but that “will depend on having the vaccine supply”.

“We are not entirely sure when that is going to arrive,” she said. “It will depend on the safety checks that are done and the approval process through the independent regulator, the MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has decided who would be the priority and that starts with the elderly and people in care homes.

“But obviously, if something comes up that the vaccine works differently in different age groups, that may need to be modified. But at the moment, based on first principles we would start with the oldest and most vulnerable people in the population.”

08:48 AM

Hancock criticises “entirely inappropriate” healthcare staff who have formed anti-vaccinations group

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has criticised hundreds of health and care staff who have formed a group opposed to vaccinations, wearing masks and testing in hospitals.

He told Times Radio: “Being opposed to vaccinations where they have been through the rigorous safety processes is entirely inappropriate.

“And I wouldn’t advise it for anybody, because we don’t propose, and allow vaccines in this country, unless they pass some of the most stringent safety requirements in the world.

“Getting a vaccine – whether it’s for flu or hopefully for coronavirus – is something that not only protects you but protects the people around you. So it’s a really important step.”

He added: “The whole of medicine is the story of advances that are based on science and vaccines are one of the most important advances based on science in the history of medicine.

“And other than clean water have probably saved more lives than anything else in the history of humanity. That’s what the science tells us, and I think that we should be guided by that science.”

08:37 AM

19 million dental treatments missed during pandemic, say dentists

The British Dental Association has estimated around 19 million dental treatments have been missed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group said 70 per cent of practices were left operating at less than half of capacity pre-coronavirus as it urged Matt Hancock for urgent support from the Government.

It has called for a financial package which it said can to help restore routine treatment and boost access to patients.

British Dental Association Chair Eddie Crouch said: “COVID restrictions have left dentists firefighting with huge backlogs, unable to see more than a fraction of our former patient numbers, especially in the NHS.

“We now face a Catch-22. New rules could bring back a dose of normality, but come with a multi-million-pound bill for new kit that practices simply cannot afford.   

“On paper we have a chance to restore services to millions, but without support from Government it won’t translate into better access. The clock is ticking on an oral health time bomb, as dentists lose the chance to act on the early signs of decay and oral cancer.  

Dentists have warned about a lack of access during the pandemic
Dentists have warned about a lack of access during the pandemic


08:27 AM

Testing to be available in care homes by Christmas

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was the Government’s aim for care home visitors across England to be able to take a test to see their loved ones before Christmas.

Asked if there was a chance people could see their relatives in care homes before Christmas, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Yes… I understand how important this is.

“And yes, our goal is to ensure that we have the testing available in every care home by Christmas – to make sure that people can take a test and therefore see their loved ones safely, that is the goal.

“We’re working closely with the social care sector to try to make that happen.

“We’ve rolled it out in a small number of parts of the country, Devon and Cornwall in the first instance, and then our goal is to have this by Christmas so that people can see and and be close to their loved ones.”

08:10 AM

Rules stating PM must self-isolate “probably are sensible”

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said the rules that mean Boris Johnson has to self-isolate “probably are sensible”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there have been more than 25 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reinfection globally, but added: “I think most of us think the rate of reinfection is quite a lot higher than that, but not enormous.”

Prof Altmann said: “I think my bottom line is not to be alarmist because whatever the risk is, it is low. My sense from some of our data and other people’s data is that it’s the people who’ve made the poorest and most negligible antibody response the first time round who are most at risk of reinfection.

“So that’s maybe 10% of everybody out there who’s been infected in the first wave.”

He added: “If we’ve learnt anything since the beginning of 2020, it’s that this is an incredibly infectious and scary virus and you can’t take it too seriously.

07:49 AM

Boris Johnson sends video message as he starts self-isolation

Boris Johnson has insisted he’s “bursting with antibodies” and is as “fit as a butcher’s dog” as he begins self-isolating after he was contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

The Prime Minister, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus in April, said he was notified by NHS Test and Trace on Sunday that he must self-isolate and will now remain at Number 10 for a period of 14 days.

In a video message on Monday, he tweeted that he was “in good health” and that he has “no symptoms”.

The Prime Minister said: “Hi folks, the good news is that NHS Test and Trace is working ever-more efficiently, but the bad news is that they’ve pinged me and I’ve got to self-isolate because someone I was in contact with a few days ago has developed Covid.

“It doesn’t matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn’t matter that I’m fit as a butcher’s dog, feel great – so many people do in my circumstances.

“And actually, it doesn’t matter that I’ve had the disease and I’m bursting with antibodies. We’ve got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self-isolating for 14 days when contacted by Test and Trace.”

Mr Johnson said he was self-isolating with a “high heart” that the country was getting on top of the virus, with rapid speed testing and hopes of having a vaccine roll-out before Christmas providing reasons for encouragement.


06:43 AM

Fresh outbreaks in Asia

Countries across the Asia-Pacific region reported record new coronavirus numbers and fresh outbreaks on Monday, with Japan facing mounting pressure to reimpose a state of emergency and South Korea warning it was at a “critical crossroads”.

The resurgence of the virus in Asia comes as travel restrictions are gradually being eased in the region.

It will dampen prospects for broader reopening that would boost the recovery underway in economies such as Japan.

New daily cases in Japan reached a record 1,722 on Saturday, with hot spots in the northern island of Hokkaido and the western prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka. In Tokyo, cases have neared 400 in recent days, levels not seen since early August.

Analysts expect rising infections to slow the recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy, which grew at the fastest pace on record in the third quarter.

06:36 AM

Another hotel quarantine failure in Australia

A sudden coronavirus cluster emerged in the Australian city of Adelaide on Monday after seven months without a significant outbreak there, with the virus again escaping from the country’s hotel quarantine system.

South Australia state reported four cases had been detected in the city on Sunday, before the cluster grew sharply overnight to 17 people on Monday – the largest there since April.

All but two of the 17 were members of the same large family, including one who was working in a hotel used to quarantine travellers returning from overseas.

Fearful of case numbers spiralling, authorities snapped back a swathe of coronavirus restrictions and suspended international flights into Adelaide.

“No effort will be spared to slow and stop the spread of the powerful cluster,” South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said.

Officials ordered hundreds of people to isolate, while closing linked schools and businesses.

The Adelaide cases prompted other states to immediately impose new restrictions on anyone travelling from South Australia.

The country’s internal borders had been reopening and were due to be almost fully reopened by Christmas.

Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart – Cases default

05:59 AM

Biden team planning to meet vaccine makers

President-elect Joe Biden’s scientific advisers plan to meet with vaccine makers in coming days even as a stalled presidential transition keeps them out of the loop on government plans to inoculate all Americans against Covid-19.

President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost the election means that the Biden team lacks a clear picture of the groundwork within the government for a mass vaccination campaign that will last the better part of next year, said Mr Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain.

“We now have the possibility … of a vaccine starting perhaps in December or January,” Mr Klain said.

“There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th.”

A lack of coordination between outgoing and incoming administrations would be especially problematic in a worsening public health crisis, said the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci.

“Of course it would be better if we could start working with them,” said Dr Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been through multiple presidential transitions during 36 years of government service.

He likened the process to runners passing on the baton in a relay race. “You don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody,” he said. “You want to just essentially keep going.”

The president-elect’s outreach to vaccine manufacturers comes as the coronavirus pandemic in the United States has entered perhaps its most dangerous phase.

05:55 AM

Covid vaccine – what you need to know

There is much to celebrate about Pfizer and BioNTech’s new Covid-19 vaccine which, it was reported last week, offers more than 90 per cent protection in early data.

The vaccine trial has found “no serious safety concerns” and is in the final stage of testing, known as a phase 3 trial.

It may be available for a limited number of people by the end of the year.

We asked three medical experts to answer some common questions surrounding the vaccine.

READ MORE: Is the Covid vaccine safe and will it work? Three experts answer your questions

05:53 AM

Who will pay their care bills?

Around 25,000 elderly people with conditions such as dementia have been left in limbo waiting to find out if crippling care bills of up to £100,000 a year will be funded by the state, The Telegraph can reveal.

Thousands risk being unfairly denied funding for their care after being caught in a “huge” lockdown backlog of applications, lawyers have warned.

Under national rules, any patient with a significant health problem should have their care and nursing fees paid in full, if the condition is deemed to be the main reason they need such help.

However, investigations by The Telegraph have revealed that even before lockdown, authorities had increasingly refused to fund care, claiming that devastating diseases are not severe, or not the primary reason help is needed.

READ MORE: Thousands of elderly people still waiting to find out who’ll pay their care bills

02:03 AM

US cases surge

The US surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, adding one million new cases in less than a week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The dizzying rise came as cities and states across the United States were implementing new restrictions to try to halt the spread of the virus, with stay-at-home orders set to be imposed on Chicago on Monday.

The US had crossed the 10 million case threshold on November 9. Just six days later, the Johns Hopkins University real-time tracker showed that the confirmed US caseload stood at 11,025,046.

There have been 246,108 deaths in the country. Both are the highest tolls in absolute terms in the world.

The US has seen a worrying surge in coronavirus cases since the start of November, forcing local and state officials from coast to coast to take more drastic steps to reduce the disease’s spread, with many hospitals already warning that they are running out of resources.

A person has a Covid-19 test taken at the drive-through mobile testing location outside of John H. Stroger, Jr Hospital of Cook County in Chicago - AFP
A person has a Covid-19 test taken at the drive-through mobile testing location outside of John H. Stroger, Jr Hospital of Cook County in Chicago – AFP

In addition to the stay-at-home orders in Chicago, the country’s third biggest city, its biggest – New York, the epicentre of the country’s spring outbreak – is also rushing to fend off a second wave with new restrictions on bars and restaurants.

12:03 AM

Today’s top stories

  • Boris Johnson has entered 14 days of self-isolation after coming into contact with an MP who had coronavirus, throwing his plans for a “reset” of his Downing Street operation into disarray.

  • Covid outbreaks in care homes have risen to almost 400 in a month, after the Government failed to take action to stop the spread of the virus by roving agency workers, documents reveal.

  • Thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, Gretna has once again become a destination for English couples to avoid tighter restrictions in their own country to tie the knot.

  • Around 25,000 elderly people with conditions such as dementia have been left in limbo waiting to find out if crippling care bills of up to £100,000 a year will be funded by the state, The Telegraph can reveal.

  • The predecessor of Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has accused him and his team of failing to adequately prepare Sweden for the second wave of coronavirus infections, because “wishful thinking” led them wrongly to believe that immunity would leave the country protected.

  • Baby boomers deprived of holidays, sport and socialising during lockdown are spending the money saved on alcohol, fuelling a surge in mental health problems, says the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

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