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Covid UK news LIVE – Watch Boris vaccine announcement as WHO confirms Oxford coronavirus jab DOES work on over 65s

BORIS Johnson addressed the nation to provide a live covid vaccine update this evening.

The Prime Minister used his platform to urge those who’ve been contacted about a jab but have not yet taken up the offer to ensure they get vaccinated as soon as possible.

He admitted the country faces “a long and hard road back to normality” but reminded the public that getting as many people vaccinated as possible is the way we will eventually return to a somewhat normal life.

The press conference came as the World Health Organisation announced Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is effective in all adults – including over-65s.

It comes after shameless EU leaders repeatedly made baseless claims about the jabs efficacy in the elderly population.

French President Emmanuel Macron infamously said the jab “doesn’t work” on people over 65 – despite the jab being approved for use across all age groups by European regulators. 

The WHO today backed the jab for use across all age groups along with Sage, and endorsed the UK’s strategy of delaying doses for up to twelve weeks – which had also been criticised.

The encouraging decision also follows the publication of a study which cast doubt on the jab’s ability to fight against the South Africa Covid strain.

But the chair of Sage Dr Alejandro Cravioto said the WHO recommends the use of the vaccine in places where “variants are present”.

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

  • TOO EARLY TO SAY ABOUT SUMMER HOLIDAYS

    The PM was asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg if people should be booking summer holidays – after warnings from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps earlier.

    He replied that it’s “currently illegal to go on holiday, that is the state of play”.

    But said that on 22 February he will give more details on the roadmap out of lockdown and that “there is not an awful long delay now”.

  • ‘LONG, HARD ROAD TO NORMALITY’

    Boris Johnson promised a road out of lockdown in the next two weeks – but warned tough days remained.

    His appeal for people to come forward for the jab is “not so we hit some numerical target, but so we save lives so the country can take another step on the long, hard road back to normality.”

    But he says if we can “keep the pace up” and the supply, “we hope to reach everyone in the top nine groups by the end of April”.

  • VACCINATION PROGRAMME GOING WELL, SAYS PM

    The Prime Minister said the government set a target for vaccinating 15 million people by mid-February.

    “With less than a week ago with the target date, we have made great strides with just over 13 million vaccinated,” he said

    This includes all over 70s, NHS and care staff, and those with serious conditions but “now is the moment” to bridge the gaps.

    Credit: sky news

     

  • BORIS APPEALS TO PEOPLE NOT YET VACCINATED TO GET JAB

    Boris Johnson has appealed to those who haven’t been vaccinated to come forward.

    The PM said there are two million people in vulnerable groups who’ve not had the jab.

    The vaccine was “safe and effective” and nobody should be more than 10 miles away from vaccination centre, he said.

  • VACCINE PRAISE

    Scientists involved in the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have welcomed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of the jab for use in adults of all ages.

    Professor Sarah Gilbert, who designed the vaccine, said: “It is excellent news that the WHO has recommended use of the SARS CoV-2 vaccine first produced in Oxford.

    “This decision paves the way to more widespread use of the vaccine to protect people against Covid-19 and gain control of the pandemic.”

  • BREAKING

    The Government said a further 1,001 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 114,851.

    Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 133,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 13,013 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

    It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 3,985,161.

  • COVID IN NUMBERS – ENGLAND

    A further 664 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 77,253, NHS England said on Wednesday.

    Patients were aged between 21 and 100. All except 26, aged between 36 and 96, had known underlying health conditions.

    The deaths were between December 3 and February 9, with the majority being on or after February 6.

    There were 73 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

  • SIDE EFFECT

    Doctor believe a man’s two-week bout of hiccups was caused by Covid.

    It’s not the first time the strange symptom has been linked to the coronavirus as scientists learn more about its effects on the body.

    Experts say the virus could be attacking the diaphragm — a muscle that sits between the chest and stomach that helps control breathing.

    Hiccups happen when the diaphragm involuntarily spasms or contracts as a result of eating certain foods, swallowing air, excitement, stress and more.

    But they have also been linked to other infectious diseases including flu and tuberculosis.

  • ‘SHARE YOUR VACCINES’, WEALTHY COUNTRIES TOLD

    Wealthy countries should stop their “self-defeating” Covid-19 vaccine strategies and share their vaccines once they have jabbed their health workers and those most at risk, global health leaders have said.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef said that when countries have vaccinated their health and care workforce and their highest at-risk groups they should share their vaccines.

    This would mean that other countries can do the same, they said.

    Almost 130 countries – with a combined population of 2.5 billion people – are yet to deliver a single vaccine.

  • NHS WALES REMAINS IN ‘PRECARIOUS POSITION’ DESPITE FALLING COVID CASES

    The situation in the health service “remains precarious” despite coronavirus rates falling significantly since December, the chief executive of NHS Wales has said.

    Dr Andrew Goodall said the overall rate of Covid-19 across Wales is now around 110 cases per 100,000 people, with lower levels of community transmission beginning to translate into reduced admissions to hospitals.

    He told a press conference in Cardiff that the NHS has been under “intense and sustained pressure” for months, and there are now around 2,200 Covid-related patients in Welsh hospitals.

    This is around 25% lower than the peak seen in January but still 50% higher than at the peak of the first wave in April, Dr Goodall said.

    The number of people with Covid-19 in critical care has also fallen and is now 85, a reduction of 25% compared to last week.

  • NEW BUG

    A new coronavirus closely linked to Sars-Cov-2 has been discovered in bats living in Thailand, a study has revealed.

    The virus is not thought to be able to infect humans, as it is unable to bind to cells in the body, which is how Sars-Cov-2 infects people.

    Published in the Nature Communications journal, the experts have warned “cross-border surveillance is urgently needed” in order to find where the virus originated from.

    Sars-Cov-2 shares 91.5 per cent of its genetic code with the virus discovered in the bats in Thailand.

    The virus is called RacCS203 and antibodies present in the blood of both infected bats and pangolins were found to be effective at neutralising the infection.

  • NO HOLIDAYS UNTIL ‘EVERYBODY’ GETS COVID JAB – TRANSPORT SECRETARY

    Foreign holidays will remain banned until “everybody” has had a coronavirus vaccine, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

    The Cabinet minister also warned it is “too soon” to book a trip.

    Leisure travel is prohibited under the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown, but the travel industry is desperate for rules to be relaxed in time for the vital summer season.

    Asked in an interview on BBC Breakfast what needs to change for restrictions on overseas travel to be lifted, Mr Shapps replied: “First of all, everybody having their vaccinations.”

    Pressed on whether the rules will remain in place until that happens, he said “yes”, before explaining that Boris Johnson will set out a “road map” for relaxing lockdown measures on February 22.

  • DENMARK SAYS CASES OF MORE CONTAGIOUS BRITISH CORONAVIRUS VARIANT ON THE RISE

    The share of people infected with the more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain is on the rise in Denmark, authorities reported on Wednesday, citing preliminary data.

    In the first week of February, 27% of positive cases analyzed for their genetic material were carrying the B117 variant, up from 20% the week before, the State Serum Institute said in a report.

    Denmark is a front-runner in genome sequencing being used to analyze the genetic material of the coronavirus to determine variants.

    The reproductive number for the new variant, which indicates how many one person transmits the virus to, is 0.99%, SSI said on Tuesday, meaning the virus is currently on a slight decline.

  • COVID-19 LINKED WITH WIDER SET OF SYMPTOMS THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT SAYS STUDY

    Chills, a loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches could be additional symptoms of coronavirus, a study suggests.

    This is in addition to the classic symptoms – losing your sense of smell and taste, a fever and a new persistent cough.

    A study of more than one million people in England revealed the extra symptoms that are linked with having Covid-19.

    The research is based on swab tests and questionnaires collected between June 2020 and January 2021 as part of the Imperial College London-led React study.

  • BORIS JOHNSON CORONA PRESSER LATER TODAY

    Boris Johnson will hold a 5pm press conference today – after one of his Cabinet ministers played down hopes of summer holidays this year.

    The PM will address the nation alongside top scientific experts, and will hail the latest vaccine statistics with nearly 13million people getting their first Covid jab so far.

    Boris will likely outline the latest vaccination hubs to open across the nation and promise more news the week after next when he outlines his plan for Britain to get back to normal and open up again.

     

  • EASYJET WANTS CLEAR PATH FROM COVID RESTRICTIONS

    Britain must set out how it will ease coronavirus travel restrictions, easyJet’s boss urged today.

    Its CEO, Johan Lundgren, said there was strong demand for leisure travel but the success of what could be a make-or-break summer for Europe’s airlines depends on the effectiveness of vaccines against new variants of the coronavirus.

    “Most important now is that the government comes out with a plan on how they’re going to unwind these restrictions,” Lungren told an online aviation conference.

    “I’m positive for a strong summer if the vaccination programmes are successful, if it works on the variants… then we know that there’s a big urgent need for the government to unwind these restrictions,” he said.

    EasyJet plans to fly no more than 10% of 2019’s capacity in January-March, down from 18% in September-December.

     

  • SCOTLAND COVID DEATHS RATES

    A total of 8,726 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

    The figures show 374 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between February 1 and 7, down 70 on the previous week.

    Of these, the majority happened in hospital at 281, with 68 in care homes, 22 at home or in a non-institutional setting and three in other institutions.

    The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

  • CONTINUED

    When asked if they were sure no members of their family had coronavirus, they replied: “Yes”.

    But when asked if visitors had been tested for the deadly bug, they replied: “They didn’t have symptoms or anything.”

    Nottinghamshire Police were called to the property at around 3pm on February 4.

    Neighbours had phoned the force after spotting party banners and a family barbecue. Officers found the adults with 10 kids inside the apartment, and discovered the event was a first birthday party.

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  • RAVING MAD

    A family fined £11,200 after hosting 24 relatives at a house party have defended their actions – and claimed: ‘We know they didn’t have Covid.’

    All 14 adults at the bash, which took place in a small flat in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, have been slapped with £800 fines.

    Some of those found by cops inside the property had travelled from Birmingham – 62 miles away – for the celebration and barbecue.

    But the unrepentant family, who organised the event last Thursday told NottinghamshireLive: “It was our family – we know they don’t have coronavirus.”

    And they admitted they “didn’t think about” breaking national lockdown rules.

  • VAN-TAM ATTACKS ANTI-VACCINE ‘NONSENSE’ AS HE URGES BAME COMMUNITIES TO TAKE JAB

    England’s deputy chief medical officer has expressed concern about the take-up of Covid vaccines in minority ethnic groups as he condemned “nonsense” stories that circulate on social media about jab safety.

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told BBC viewers during a Q&A session that the virus does not discriminate or “care about the colour of your skin”.

    He said: “I have concerns that uptake in the minority ethnic groups is not going to be as rapid or as high as in the indigenous white population of the UK.

    “And this really concerns me because the big message I have for everyone listening is that this virus just doesn’t care what ethnic background you’re from.”

  • VACCINE CONTRACT EXTENDED FOR MANUFACTURING SITE IN WALES

    A manufacturing site in Wales has had its coronavirus vaccines contract extended.

    The Government agreement with Indian pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm Wockhardt to fill and finish the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at its site in Wrexham, North Wales, has been extended from 18 to 24 months, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced on Wednesday.

    The extension will lead to more than 40 new jobs being created and mean the contract will run until August 2022. Ms Truss, who had been on a five-day visit to India, said: “This is a brilliant bit of news for the UK and people of Wrexham. It brings important investment to the local area, bringing jobs and security to the community as we battle this awful pandemic.

    “Wockhardt’s investment shows the strength of our trading ties with India which is a further boost to our already-strong vaccine supply as we build back stronger from coronavirus.”

  • BREAK OUT

    Holidays may be off at home and abroad for the rest of the YEAR, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned.

    He explained that until the entire country is vaccinated, travel restrictions are likely to remain in place.

    Speaking on Sky News, he explained: “The truth is we just don’t know how the virus will respond to both to the vaccines and of course how people will respond.

    “I’m afraid I can’t give you a definitive, will there or will there not be the opportunity to take holidays this next year either at home or abroad.”

    He also warned that the vaccine rollout will affect the start date of holidays and he didn’t want to “raise people’s hopes”.

  • SCHOOL ISSUES WARNING AFTER STRANGERS HACKED INTO ONLINE LESSONS MADE SEXUAL THREATS

    A school has warned pupils not to share online logins after strangers hacked into lessons and made sexual threats – with one man reportedly exposing himself on camera.

    The headteacher sent a furious letter to parents after pupils leaked the Microsoft Teams logins for online lessons leading to two strangers ‘joining’ the lessons last week.

    Chris Thomas, headteacher at Lynch Hill Enterprise Academy in Slough, blasted the pupils after one of the intruders made “threatening sexual comments as to what they were going to do to the teacher”.

    He warned that other schools had reported incidents of men exposing themselves to classrooms – but this didn’t happen at his school.

    The secondary school head threatened to halt live lessons altogether if pupils continued to flout the rules and share lesson log in access with others.

  • HEINEKEN TO AXE 8,000 JOBS AFTER PUB AND BAR CLOSURES HAMMER SALES

    Beer giant Heineken is to slash 8,000 jobs globally after sales plunged sharply following the closure of pubs and bars.

    The Dutch brewer said it will cut almost 10% of its 85,000 staff as part of its efforts to save two billion euro (£1.75 billion) over the next two years.

    It said the restructuring of its head office, regional offices and local operations will lead to a one-off cost of around 420 million euro (£368 million).

    Chief executive Dolf van den Brink, who joined the brewer in April, announced the major shake-up as the Amstel and Birra Moretti brewer swung to a loss for 2020 due to the pandemic.

    It reported a net loss of 204 million euros (£178.7 million), compared with a 2.2 billion euro (£1.9 billion) profit in the previous year.

  • QUARANTINE POLICY COULD SEE DEMAND FOR FLIGHTS DROP DRAMATICALLY, WARNS MINISTER

    As many as 1,200 passengers arriving in Scotland could have to check into quarantine hotels every week, though the Transport Secretary has admitted the policy could see flights into the country axed.

    Michael Matheson said airlines believe the demand for direct flights from overseas into Scotland will “drop off dramatically” as a result of the tougher stance being imposed north of the border than elsewhere in the UK.

    The UK Government will require travellers from 33 “red list” countries to isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, but Holyrood ministers will insist all passengers arriving in Scotland from abroad must do so.

    Mr Matheson said the policy, which comes into effect from Monday, will see travellers having to pay £1,750 for the compulsory stay in a hotel.

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