Coronavirus UK news – Every covid vaccine UK paid for will STAY in this country despite furious EU demands, Gove insists

EVERY coronavirus vaccine the UK has paid for will be given to people in this country, Michael Gove insisted today.

His comments are in response to outrageous EU demands that Britain hand over millions of AstraZeneca doses after production shortages meant the bloc would only get 30 million of the 80 million jabs they ordered.

The EU's AstraZeneca crisis has led to infighting in Europe where bungling bureaucrats are being blamed for the bloc finding itself at the back of the queue after taking much longer than the UK to approve the jab.

The news comes as ASDA became the first UK supermarket to offer coronavirus vaccines in store – with a 78-year-old woman the first to receive the jab from in-store pharmacy staff.

Vaccinations with the Pfizer/BioNTech injection are being rolled out from the superstore in Cape Hill, Smethwick with up to 240 jabs given every day.

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

  • Patrick Knox

    EU ORDERS CHECK ON ASTRAZENECA VACCINE FACTORY TO PROBE DELAYS

    Brussels has ordered a spot check on AstraZeneca's vaccine factory in Belgium to check it isn't lying about delays to production.

    It comes as eurocrats' feud with the British-Swedish drugs giant grows ever more bitter.

    The EU Commission sent inspectors from the Belgian medicines agency into the plant on Tuesday afternoon amid an increasingly fractious row over Europe's stuttering jabs rollout.

    Belgian experts were joined by colleagues from the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain on the raid and will now draw up a report which is set to be released within "a few days".

  • Patrick Knox

    COVID-19 CASE RATES ARE CONTINUING TO FALL IN ENGLAND

    This is according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.

    London's rate of new cases stood at 435.0 per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 24, down from 658.7 in the previous week.

    London continues to have the highest rate of any region.

    The West Midlands recorded the second-highest rate: 415.8, down from 565.6.

    Yorkshire & the Humber continues to have the lowest rate: 230.2, down from 256.4.

  • Patrick Knox

    MAN ARRESTED AFTER SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE SENT TO COVID-19 VACCINE PLANT

    Police have detained a man after a suspicious package was sent to a coronavirus vaccine production site.

    All staff had to be evacuated from the Wockhardt site in Wrexham, North Wales, yesterday while the package was investigated.

    The global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company provides fill-and-finish services for the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – the final stage of putting the vaccine into vials.

    Production ground to a halt for hours while police and the Army investigated the suspicious package, though it is understood the production schedule was not affected.

  • Patrick Knox

    SCOTLAND RECORDED 82 NEW DEATHS IN PAST 24 HOURS

    There were also 1,021 new cases in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

    The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 5,970.

    Speaking at the Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said the daily test positivity rate is 5.6 per cent, down from 6.2 per cent yesterday, when 1,330 new cases were recorded.

    There are 1,938 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, down 33 in 24 hours.

    Of these patients, 142 are in intensive care, a fall of three in the same period.

  • Jon Rogers

    AROUND 1,000 JOBS SAVED IN PAPERCHASE RESCUE DEAL

    Paperchase has secured a rescue deal which will preserve around 1,000 jobs and the majority of stores after tumbling into administration.

    However, the high street card retailer said 37 of its 127 stores will shut their doors permanently despite the move.

    Administrators revealed that newly formed company Aspen Phoenix Newco, which is backed by Permira Debt Managers, is to take control of the retailer.

    Paperchase hired administrators from PwC after it saw sales slide on the back of significantly lower footfall amid coronavirus restrictions.

    The group said the rescue deal will retain its position in the UK retail landscape, "albeit in a smaller and more streamlined manner".

  • Jon Rogers

    R NUMBER IN SCOTLAND NOW BELOW ONE

    The R number in Scotland has fallen below one, Nicola Sturgeon said as she declared that shows the country is making "progress in suppressing the virus".

    The number indicates how many people on average someone with coronavirus goes on to infect.

    Speaking at the start of First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said the reduction in the R number indicates lockdown restrictions are working.

    She told MSPs: "We will later today publish the up-to-date estimate of the R number which suggests that it is now below one.

    "That is not unexpected given the declining cases that we have seen recently, but it is very welcome and it provides further evidence that the lockdown restrictions are working."

  • Jon Rogers

    SWEDEN REGISTERS 4,000 NEW COVID CASES

    Sweden, which has spurned a lockdown throughout the pandemic, registered 4,085 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Health Agency statistics showed.

    The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 95 new deaths, taking the total to 11,520. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and weeks.

    Sweden's death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

  • Jon Rogers

    GOVE DEMANDS TORY MP APOLOGISE OVER COVID REMARKS

    Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has told a Conservative MP to apologise after he was accused of spreading “dangerous misinformation” about the Covid figures.

    In a video clip seen by Sky News, Sir Desmond Swayne is reported to have said during an interview in November: “It seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated”.

    Gove said: "I would hope that he issues a full and complete retraction and apology for what he said – it’s unacceptable".

  • Patrick Knox

    NICOLA STURGEON BRANDED 'MOANALOT'

    Jacob Rees-Mogg has called Nicola Sturgeon "Moanalot" following her complaint that Boris Johnson's trip to Scotland was not an essential journey.

    The Prime Minister flew into Scotland today and visited the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow, and other sites helping tackle the pandemic.

    The trip has been criticised by the SNP, with the party's Commons spokesman Tommy Sheppard telling MPs that the Prime Minister is "more than capable of patronising us from his office in Whitehall".

    The nationalist First Minister has complained that Boris Johnson's trip to Scotland was not an essential journeyCredit: PA:Press Association
  • Patrick Knox

    DEATHS IN WALES 

    There have been a further 705 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 190,394.

    Public Health Wales reported another 56 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 4,666.

  • Patrick Knox

    NHS VACCINATION CAMPAIGN BIGGEST IN HISTORY

    Speaking after the first jab to be given at an Asda pharmacy was administered today, Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: "The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, has got off to a strong start.

    "NHS staff have worked hard with businesses, community and faith groups to set up an extensive network of vaccination sites that offer a range of options for people in all areas to receive their injection.

    "We want to protect as many people as swiftly as possible and this latest milestone, with more than 1,400 sites up and running, means that we can continue to expand delivery as more vaccine supplies come on stream."

     A qualified Asda pharmacy colleague holding a dose of the coronavirus vaccine at an Asda in West BromwichCredit: PA:Press Association
  • Patrick Knox

    GREEK STUDENTS FLOUT COVID BAN FOR UNIVERSITY PROTEST

    Hundreds of Greek students today protested for a third straight week against a controversial plan to create a special police force to combat endemic violence at universities.

    Some 3,000 students gathered in Athens and about 1,500 in the second city of Thessaloniki despite a recent ban on protests over 100 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

    "Students are not criminals," read a banner carried by demonstrators in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

  • Patrick Knox

    COVID TELL-TALE SIGNS

  • Patrick Knox

    TEST AND TRACE CONTACTS DOWN

    Stats show in the week to January 20, 85.9 per cent were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

    This is down slightly from 87.3 per cent in the previous week.

    Some 12.4 per cent of people transferred to Test and Trace in the week to January 20 were not reached while a further 1.7 per cent did not provide any communication details.

  • Patrick Knox

    ‘COVID-HIT DVLA OFFICES TOLD TO TURN OFF TEST AND TRACE APPS’

    Grant Shapps has denied claims that staff at Covid-hit DVLA offices in Swansea have been told to turn off their NHS Test and Trace apps.

    The Transport Secretary told MPs he takes the severe outbreak of coronavirus at the UK Government's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency "extremely seriously", but that "no request" for workers to turn off their tracing apps has been made.

    It comes as ministers were urged to intervene after 500 cases at the Welsh offices left staff scared to work.

    On Wednesday, the DVLA confirmed the death of a member of its staff with the PCS union stating it was "deeply concerned" by the outbreak.

  • Patrick Knox

    WHAT COVID STRAINS ARE IN THE UK?

    The Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed in mid-December that a new coronavirus variant was spreading in the UK, having emerged in Kent in September before rapidly spreading in the south.

    This variant, called VUI 202012/01, has swiftly become dominant in the UK and has been largely blamed for the so-called "third wave".

    Mr Hancock then revealed the new South African strain had entered the UK in late December.

    It is thought that 90 Brits have contracted the strain so far – however these cases were picked up from random samples, so it could be the case that infections of the variant are much higher.

    The Prime Minister Boris Johnson then revealed on January 13 the Government was "concerned" about a new Brazilian variant.

  • Patrick Knox

    SOUTH AFRICAN COVID MUTANT BUG ‘UP TO 50% MORE INFECTIOUS’

    Professor Tulio de Oliveira and his team discovered this after tracking the spread of the mutation, named 501YV2, around their country.

    Public Health England revealed yesterday that 90 cases of the mutant South African Covid strain have now been detected in the UK.

  • Patrick Knox

    SENEGAL CONFIRMS PRESENCE OF UK VARIANT

    A more transmissable variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain has now been detected in Senegal, the country's health institute said today.

    It comes as measures to contain the spread of the virus appeared to have stalled a recent surge.

  • Patrick Knox

    CORONA TOLL IN THE UK

     

  • Patrick Knox

    PICTURED: CHINA USING DISINFECTION ROBOTS AT STATIONS

    As the Spring Festival travel rush (Chunyun) officially begins, the robot could help to disinfect the surrounding area periodically and check on passengers' temperature.

    A smart robot can be seen at the waiting hall of Shenyang Railway Station in Shenyang City, northeast China's Liaoning ProvinceCredit: Splash News
  • Patrick Knox

    FALL IN UK POSTIVE CASES

    A total of 274,898 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to January 20, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

    This is down 17 per cent on the previous week and is the lowest number since the week to December 23 2020.

  • Patrick Knox

    PROTESTS AMID LEBANON LOCKDOWN LEAVE 1 DEAD, 220 INJURED

    Violent confrontations between protesters and security forces in northern Lebanon left a 30-year-old man dead and more than 220 people injured, the state news agency said Thursday.

    Frustrations boiled over amid deteriorating living conditions and strict coronavirus lockdown measures that have exacerbated a severe economic and financial crisis, the worst in the Mediterranean country's history.

    The violence in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city and the most impoverished, marked a serious escalation in protests that began Monday and continued for three straight days into Wednesday night.

  • Patrick Knox

    NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS ‘REOPEN IN APRIL AND PUBS AND RESTAURANTS IN MAY

    Boris Johnson yesterday announced there will be a "phased" route out of lockdown, beginning with a review in mid-February and schools likely to reopen after March 8 at the earliest.

    But officials are also working on proposals which could see most shops reopen in April, and pubs and restaurants welcome customers again in May, the Telegraph reports.

    Credit: Getty Images – Getty
  • Patrick Knox

    CHINA HEALTH AUTHORITY AND WHO DISCUSS CORONA ORIGIN PROBE

    China's National Health Commission head Ma Xiaowei discussed cooperation on coronavirus origin tracing with the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom in a phone call on Wednesday.

    A WHO team is currently in China to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    According to a statement released on the NHC website today, both men also exchanged views on the prevention and response assessment of infectious diseases.

  • Patrick Knox

    GERMANY PLANS TRAVEL HALT FROM VIRUS VARIANT COUNTRIES

    Interior minister Horst Seehofer said: "At the moment within the government, we are coordinating towards the aim of refusing inbound travel from mutation areas.

    "We are concentrating these travel restrictions on mutation areas, that are at the moment Britain, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil."

    The emergence of new virus variants in Britain, Brazil and South Africa, deemed more infectious than the original strain, has fuelled concern at a time when many nations are struggling to rein in the pandemic.

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