ockdown could effectively be extended in England next month, as a key government adviser warned a tougher tier system would be needed to curb the surge in coronavirus infections.

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1605600679We can all look ahead to a ‘much more promising 2021’ thanks to vaccine

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the first doses of a Pfizer-produced coronavirus vaccine candidate could be received by the end of the year.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “The Pfizer programme, we’ve secured 40 million doses of, and we think we will take the receipt of the first 10 million or so of those before the end of the year.”

Mr Jenrick said the Government had also pre-ordered five million doses of the Moderna jab in development that “has a lot of promise” but added it “won’t actually be available to be used until the spring of next year”.

The Communities Secretary said he did not want to give people “false hope” over a potential vaccine, due to the need for safety tests and the time required to produce them.

But he added: “We’re told that the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine should be in the UK and available to be used by the end of this year.

“We’ll then roll that out in a sensible and fair way, focusing on the most vulnerable people in society and key workers within health and social care first.

“But it does look as if over the course of the first half of next year, a very large proportion of population will have access to the vaccine and that will make a huge difference in our ability to return to a degree of normality.

“So this really is a period of hope, where we can look ahead to a much more promising 2021.”

1605599559Minister admits lockdown tiers are ‘under review’1605599264London leaders have hit out at Test and Trace failings1605598184‘Legal certainty’ lockdown will end in two weeks, but tiers still under review

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted England will exit lockdown on December 2, describing it as a “legal certainty”.

However, he suggested the tiered approach to localised restrictions may still need to be reviewed.

He told Sky News’s Kay Burley: “Any changes to that (lockdown) would have to be done by a vote in parliament. Then people in England will move into a tiered system.”

He continued: “We are starting to see some positive data in most parts of England. There’s positive news in many places.

“But we won’t be able to make a definitive call until the end of the month.”

1605597687World update: Thousands quarantine in Australia amid fears of new surge

Around 4,000 people have been placed into quarantine in Australia in the hope of stifling a new cluster of coronavirus cases.

The state of South Australia reimposed social distancing restrictions on Monday after detecting 21 Covid-19 infections, most of which were acquired locally.

The cases were the first local transmissions of the virus in Australia in nine days.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said testing had identified five new cases in the past 24 hours, while 14 people were suspected to be infected and were awaiting test results.

“We are not out of the woods. We are just at the beginning stages of dealing with this particular very nasty cluster,” Mr Marshall told reporters in Adelaide.

He said all cases could be traced back to an Australian who arrived in South Australia from overseas on November 2 and entered mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

Hotel workers are believed to have contacted the virus after touching a surface contaminated with the virus, Mr Marshall said.

Authorities fear the virus could have spread beyond hotel workers and their close contacts, prompting a mandate that confined about 4,000 people to their homes.

“This is a very, very worrying situation. I’m not going to underestimate the concern that I’ve got about this,” said Nicola Spurrier, South Australia’s chief public health officer.

Australia has recorded about 27,800 coronavirus infections and 906 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

1605597057Just in: easyJet reports first ever loss

Low-cost carrier easyJet has reported pre-tax losses of £1.27 billion for the year to September 30.

This marks the first loss in the airline’s 25-year history.

( Sean Gallup/Getty Images )1605596649World update: Biden warns ‘more people may die’ if Trump does not aid transition

President-elect Joe Biden has warned of dire consequences if Donald Trump refuses to coordinate with his transition team on the coronavirus pandemic and block briefings on national security, policy issues and vaccine plans.

The remarks marked Mr Biden’s toughest comments to date on Mr Trump’s failure to acknowledge his election loss and cooperate with the incoming administration for a peaceful transfer of power.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Mr Biden told reporters during a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

Mr Biden and his aides — and a small but growing group of Republicans — have emphasised the importance of being briefed on White House efforts to control the pandemic and distribute prospective vaccines.

The Trump administration is working on its own distribution plan, while Mr Biden’s chief of staff indicated his transition team will proceed with their own planning separately because of the obstruction.

Republican senator Susan Collins said it is “absolutely crucial that the apparent president-elect and his team have full access to the planning that has gone on” for vaccine distribution.

“It is no easy matter” to distribute a vaccine, Ms Collins said, so “it’s absolutely imperative for public health, that all of the planning that’s gone on for which the current administration deserves credit, be shared with the new administration.”

Last week, a larger group of Republicans in Congress called for Mr Biden to begin receiving national security briefings.

( Getty Images )1605596551Temporary cut to foreign aid budget being considered to plug Covid holes – report

The foreign aid budget could reportedly be cut temporarily after the UK’s public finances took a hit dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Times reported plans had been drawn up to pare back the commitment to spend at least 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid to 0.5 per cent, and the move could be announced in the chancellor’s comprehensive spending review next week.

A Treasury official did not deny the report but declined to comment on speculation about fiscal events.

The UK has already said it would be cutting its global aid budget by £2.9 billion this year due to the economic hit of the coronavirus crisis, but that the 0.7 per cent commitment towards international development would still be met.

The spending on Official Development Assistance was set to be £15.8 billion this year before the Covid-19 crisis emerged.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the cut to last no longer than a year, the Times reported.

However foreign secretary Dominic Raab, when taking the helm of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in September, said the Government was “absolutely” committed to the 0.7 per cent target.

( PA )1605596424And here’s more on that unlikely Covid-combatting ally…1605596352Over in Liverpool, ‘moonshot’ rapid testing is starting to take effect…

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