Coronavirus UK news – Second wave SURGE continues as UK covid deaths could pass 50,000 today despite 2nd lockdown

CORONAVIRUS deaths in the UK could pass 50,000 today – a grim milestone as the covid second wave continues to surge.

Yesterday another 532 deaths were reported across the UK, bringing the number to above 1,000 deaths a week for the first time in June.

Today's numbers are expected to be reported later today and with the UK's total coronavirus death toll currently at 49,770, passing the grim 50k mark seems extremely likely.

The news comes as is emerged BRITS could have three Covid jabs by Christmas, with officials estimating the drugs will slash coronavirus deaths by up to 90 per cent.

Government adviser Prof Sir John Bell told MPs he was confident we can “hit the New Year with two or three vaccines”. He added he expects the world-leading Pfizer vaccine to be ready for use by mid-December.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News he hoped to begin deploying the vaccine at the start of December, although elderly patients and those most at risk of catching coronavirus would get it first.

Follow our coronavirus updates below...

  • Dan Keane

    UNI STUDENTS IN WALES OFFERED RAPID COVID TESTING

    Students at Welsh universities will be asked to undergo rapid coronavirus testing before returning home for Christmas, the Welsh Government has said.

    Universities will also end the majority of “in person” lessons in the week ending December 8.

    This will allow time for students who test positive to isolate for 14 days before reuniting with their families.

    Students will also be asked to minimise their social contact with others in the run up to the end of term and told to sign up for the new Lateral Flow Test pilot from their university if they plan on travelling home.

  • Dan Keane

    WILLIAM AND KATE SHOULD FRONT MASS TESTING CAMPAIGN, GOVT TOLD

    Prince William and Kate should front a mass Covid testing campaign with wristbands for negative tests, the Government has been told.

    A new report has told ministers getting the Royal family and prominent community leaders behind a mass testing regime could be a huge help to encourage more people to get swabbed.

    The report by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), a Government-backed company, which uses psychology to get people to comply with lockdown rules and Covid campaigns has said the Royals have a massive part to play.

    It said ministers need to “use empowering messages” to resurrect the spirit of national unity against the virus seen in the first lockdown.

    Read our full report here.



  • Dan Keane

    BRITS TURN TO BOOZE AND FOOD DURING LOCKDOWN

    New research suggests that Brits turn to food and alcohol for comfort during lockdown.

    A survey conducted by heartburn and indigestion brand Rennie found that nearly half (45%) of Brits notice that lockdown causes them to emotionally eat, with one in three (28%) finding they eat more than usual.

    And one in ten Brits use alcohol delivery services more during the national shutdown, to try and stave off lockdown boredom.

    Some people even went as far as to say that their lockdown days revolved around food entirely, with two in five (37%) planning their entire week around their favourite foods.

  • Dan Keane

    WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FOR ROLLING OUT A VACCINE?

    The announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was 90% effective in Phase III clinical trials comes as a huge boost to Britain's fight against the pandemic – but there are significant challenges ahead.

    Should the vaccine receive regulatory approval, the NHS will face the logistical hurdle of rolling out the two-dose jab safely to millions of at-risk Brits in the New Year.

    One of the potential problems relates to the storage of the vaccine as it must be kept at -70C, and extreme cold storage facilities are not commonplace in the NHS.

    Another potential issue is which groups will get the vaccine first – though the government has already set out a draft list of prioritised groups with care home staff and residents first in line.

    The government has pledged £150 million to help the NHS roll out the jab, with plans set to be announced imminently following the approval of the vaccine.

  • Dan Keane

    VAN-TAM CONFIDENT ON VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that he is “very reassured” that the NHS would be able to deliver the “mammoth challenge” to roll out a coronavirus vaccine.

    The deputy chief medical officer for England said: “It's a mammoth challenge.

    “We need speed and high uptake to get the big win here.”

    There will be an NHS briefing next week on plans for rollout, he said, and would not “steal their thunder” by giving out details.

    We explore some of the issues the NHS could face in the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine in the next post.

  • Dan Keane

    TOUGH NEW TIER SYSTEM LOOMS POST-LOCKDOWN

    The Covid tier system could be ripped up – with the possibility that even higher levels could be brought in after lockdown ends.

    Boris Johnson has stressed England will return to a local lockdown approach from after December 2, but fears have grown over a “Tier 4” which could mimic the current shutdown.

    The three-tiered system introduced by the Government meant more than a fifth of the country were under the toughest Tier 3 rules and millions more under a Tier 2 lockdown which bans households mixing.

    And one source hinted that these could look different after the national shutdown, saying ministers had not explicitly said the tiers would be exactly the same.

    Mr Johnson has said he will lay out the regional approach before the end of the lockdown on December 2.

    Read our full report here.



  • Dan Keane

    'WORK HAS BEGUN' ON ASSESSING VACCINE IN UK

    June Raine, head of the MHRA health regulator, said work had begun on assessing the Pfizer vaccine in the UK – but they had not yet received the full data.

    She told a Downing Street briefing: “I can confirm that we have started our rolling review on quality data, but we have not had yet the full clinical trial data.

    “Clearly we are in a state of readiness to start our rigorous reviews of safety and effectiveness the minute that reaches us.”

  • Dan Keane

    VACCINE PLAN AIMS TO PROTECT 99% OF THOSE AT RISK

    The initial plan to roll out a coronavirus vaccine to older members of society, care home workers and those most vulnerable to the disease will protect 99% of those at risk of death from Covid-19, an expert has said.

    Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation chairman Professor Wei Shen Lim said priority groups “may change” but it is likely is they would start with care home residents and workers.

    This would be followed by older individuals, going down age groups to the over-60s.

    “If phase one is completed then we will have protected hopefully over 99% of those individuals who are at risk of dying from Covid-19,” he said.

  • Dan Keane

    GERMANY RECORDS HIGHEST DAILY DEATHS SINCE APRIL

    Germany has recorded its highest daily death toll since April as it battles a significant second wave of infections.

    The country, widely praised for its handling of the pandemic in the Spring, recorded 18,487 new infections and 261 deaths in a day, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.

    It comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel plunged Europe's largest economy back into lockdown at the beginning of this month, with restaurants, gyms and theatres shut down in a bid to stem transmission of the bug.

    “The numbers are rising but not as strongly,” health minister Jens Spahn told German broadcaster RTL.

    “This is encouraging but it is not enough.”

  • Dan Keane

    RUSSIA CLAIMS ITS VACCINE IS 92% EFFECTIVE

    Russia claims that its 'Sputnik V' vaccine is 92% effective at preventing people from coronavirus, according to interim trial results.

    The country became the first to register its vaccine for public use in August – despite warnings from experts that the move was premature.

    The interim results are based on data from the first 16,000 trial participants to receive both shots of the two-dose vaccine.

    An interim analysis was conducted after 20 participants in the trial developed COVID-19 and examined how many had received the vaccine versus a placebo.

    But that number is significantly lower than the 94 infections in the trial of a vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech.

  • Dan Keane

    AIRLINE BOSS SAYS FAILURE TO ISSUE HOLIDAY REFUNDS IS 'THEFT'

    Travel companies' failure to issue refunds for cancelled holidays is “a bit like theft”, according to the boss of Jet2.

    Steve Heapy, chief executive of the airline and tour operator, claimed delays in making payouts during the pandemic has given “a very bad impression” of the travel industry.

    It comes after research by consumer group Which? claimed that over £1 billion is being withheld in partial or full refunds from package holiday customers.

    Mr Heapy told PA: “Some companies in the travel sector have not been refunding customers, which I think gives a very bad impression for the travel industry as a whole.”



  • Dan Keane

    FREEDOM PASS

    A positive coronavirus test could soon mean a three-month “freedom pass” for patients after quarantining for two weeks.

    Government advisor Prof Sir John Bell said they would be protected for at least 90 days so should be able to do what they want.

    He told the Commons Science Committee the policy would lead to people queuing for tests, rather than avoiding them.

    The University of Oxford expert said it would “reopen society” and get people back on trains, in cinemas and to football matches.

    You can read our full report here.

  • Dan Keane

    VACCINE IS 'EFFECTIVE AND SAFE'

    Dr David Nabarro, one of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) special envoys on Covid-19, said it is “necessary” for people to understand that the coronavirus vaccine is “effective and safe”.

    Addressing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine announcement, he told Sky News: “I'm smiling, and I'm happy, because I think we've all been waiting for the news that there will be at least one vaccine candidate.

    “Let's be clear though, this is not going to be available in large amounts for quite some time, the new vaccine.”

    He added: “It's going to be necessary to really make sure that everybody believes this to be an effective and safe vaccine.

    “So there is still work to be done to go through all of the safety protocols.”

  • Dan Keane

    THEY'RE COMING HOME

    University students will be allowed to travel home in early December after England's four-week lockdown ends, the government has announced.

    Universities will switch to online tuition by December 9 while students will be encouraged to return home during a “travel window” through the preceding week, which will also involve staggered departure times.

    The government has said it will help universities test as many students as possible before the travel window, and those testing positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

    “You can never eliminate the risk — we're amidst a pandemic,” Universities Minister Michelle Donelan told Sky News this morning.

    “What we're doing, is trying to manage that risk, reduce it and give students the confidence to go home.”

  • Dan Keane

    SCIENTISTS 'REALLY HOPEFUL' OF JAB BEFORE XMAS

    Professor Shattock added that scientists were “really hopeful” of news on another vaccine before Christmas.

    “Obviously, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, we anticipate that there may be a result anytime soon, before Christmas,” he told the BBC.

    “And there are a number of other vaccines that may come through shortly after that.”

    He added: “All these vaccines will have different levels of immunity and may be useful for different populations, so we need as many vaccines as possible to be able to combat this pandemic, and make them globally available.”



  • Dan Keane

    VACCINE ANNOUNCEMENT IS 'GREAT NEWS', SAYS EXPERT

    Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading Imperial College London's Covid-19 vaccine effort, said the Pfizer/BioNTech announcement is “great news” for all those working on vaccines.

    “It's great news, it's still early, but it's the first evidence that this is a vaccine-preventable disease,” he told BBC Breakfast.

    Asked which stage the Imperial vaccine is at, Prof Shattock said: “We're using a similar technology, it's RNA-based.

    “Ours is slightly different because it has an amplification process that means we can use a lower dose.

    He adde: “We're selecting the final dose next month and then we're ready to go into large efficacy testing in the UK, with the potential of going for approval in the summer.”

  • Dan Keane

    WETHERSPOON BOSS HITS OUT AT 'BAFFLING' COVID-19 RULES

    JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has lashed out at “baffling and confusing” coronavirus restrictions.

    It comes as the pub chain revealed that England's second national lockdown will cost it around £14 million, following a 27.6% plunge in sales in the first-quarter for the 15 weeks to November 8.

    Mr Martin, who is chairman of Wetherspoon, said: “For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing.

    “The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle.”

  • Dan Keane

    HEATHROW SEES PASSENGER LEVELS PLUNGE

    Heathrow Airport has criticised a “lack of Government action” after it recorded a “catastrophic” 82% fall in passenger numbers last month, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt international travel.

    Some 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019.

    The airport described October as “the eighth consecutive month of catastrophic decline” and warned that England's ban on outbound international travel means “November is likely to be even worse”.

    They added that a testing regime, as has been introduced in other airports abroad, was essential to easing the 14-day quarantine which has “has left British airports unable to compete with EU rivals”.


  • Mark Hodge

    BACK TO 'NORMALITY' BY SPRING

    There is a “70-80 per cent” chance Britain will return to “normality” by Easter – thanks to the latest Covid vaccine developments, a top scientific adviser says.

    Sir John Bell, of University of Oxford, said the announcement by drug giant Pfizer and BioNTech suggests there could be two or three remedies by early next year.

    However, he told MPs that authorities must not “screw up” the roll out of the vaccine.

    He said he was “quite optimistic” that people with underlying health conditions and the elderly would have the jab by the spring.

  • Mark Hodge

    JAB POLL

    Almost two-thirds of Brits say they would get vaccinated for Covid-19 but young people are far more likely to refuse a jab, according to a new poll.

    The poll, by research firm Kantar, showed 22 per cent of people said they would definitely not or probably not get a coronavirus vaccine, rising to 38 per cent of 18-24 year-olds.

    Only five per cent of those aged 65 and over and 16 per cent of those aged 55-64 said they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated.

    Kantar said the poll found that 75 per cent of people with a degree-level of education planned to get the vaccine compared with 57 per cent of people without one.

    Health minister Matt Hancock said yesterday that vaccinations for the coronavirus will be optional.

  • Mark Hodge

    VAX NUMBERS DOWN

    Less children are being vaccinated this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Public Health England (PHE).

    PHE officials want to reassure parents that national Covid restrictions do not prevent kids from getting life-saving jabs.

    During the first lockdown on March 23, there was a decline in the number of children receiving MMR and hexavalent remedies.

    The hexavalent protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B.

    Health bosses believe that government messaging to stay at home may have contributed to parents not taking their kids to the doctor.

    And while data published today shows the number of vaccinations are increasing across the country, they are still well behind previous years.

    According to figures from 38 per cent of GP practices, 3.8 per cent fewer hexavalent vaccines and 2.8 per cent fewer MMR vaccines have been given compared to the same time last year.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    PIERS MORGAN VOWS TO HAVE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE ON LIVE TV

    Piers Morgan has vowed to have the coronavirus vaccine on live TV.

    He has also told anti-vaxxers that they should be banned from flights.

    The GMB host, 55, is known for his opinions and the news we could be close to getting a vaccine to fight Covid-19 is a hot topic for him.

    He tweeted: “To all the anti-vaxxer Covidiots predictably now screaming that they won’t have the jab, let me say this: a) If it’s approved then I will have it done live on TV. b) If you refuse to have it then no more flying for you, and no using the NHS if you get covid. Deal?”

    More on the story here

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    PATIENTS HAVE LONG COVID SYMPTOMS SEVEN WEEKS AFTER DISCHARGE

    More than two-thirds of patients hospitalised due to coronavirus continue to suffer from debilitating symptoms more than seven weeks after being discharged, a new study suggests.

    Researchers found that 54 days after discharge, 69% of patients were still experiencing fatigue, and 53% were suffering from persistent breathlessness.

    They also found that 34% still had a cough and 15% reported depression.

    In addition 38% of chest radiographs (X-rays) remained abnormal and 9% were getting worse, according to the study carried out in collaboration with clinicians at the Royal Free London and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    UNIVERSITY STUDENTS TO BE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL HOME IN DECEMBER

    University students in England will be allowed to travel home in early December so families can be reunited for Christmas under Government guidance for the coronavirus pandemic.

    Institutions will be told by the Department for Education to end in-person teaching and switch to online classes so they can return between December 3-9.

    The boost for students comes as the NHS was preparing to be able to start delivering a potential Covid-19 vaccine from the beginning of next month in the event it is approved.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    AREAS THAT WILL GET 15-MIN COVID TESTS

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