The University of Oxford coronavirus vaccine has been shown to trigger a strong immune response in people over 60, raising hopes that it could be used to protect the most vulnerable from the virus.

Researchers said the phase two trial findings were “encouraging”, with results from the late stage trial expected within weeks.

It comes as the government considers ways to allow households to mix over Christmas, with scientists warning every day of freedom may require five days of tougher measures to make up for it.

Reports suggest households might be allowed to mix indoors for a five-day period from Christmas Eve, with ministers considering plans to allow three or four households to form bubbles.

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1605818051Northern Ireland to face two weeks of stricter lockdown rules, reports suggest

Northern Ireland’s lockdown is set to intensify for a further two weeks from next Friday, the BBC reports.

In addition to pubs, bars and restaurants which are already closed, and will remain so, non-essential retail will also reportedly have to shut. Schools are expected to stay open.

The measures were reportedly agreed by Stormont earlier today. 

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 20:34

1605816993MSPs approve new Scottish restrictions

MSPs have voted by 99 to 23 to support new restrictions in Scotland, including tougher measures in 11 council areas and a travel ban for the worst-hit areas.

The parliamentary debate was not to approve or reject the changes, but to express the support of the parliament for the regulations.

A Tory amendment called for the Scottish Government to publish evidence for the move into the highest level of restrictions, but it was voted down by 71 to 51 votes.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 20:16

1605815297Supermarkets most common Covid exposure location in England, data show

Supermarkets appear to be the most frequent common exposure setting for those who catch Covid-19 in England, Rory Sullivan reports

Public Health England released the finding as part of its analysis of the NHS’ Test and Trace app between 9 November and 15 November.

The data showed that 128,808 people had tested positive for the virus over that period. Together, they provided 9,789 common settings that they had visited.

The most frequent location they went to were supermarkets, followed by secondary schools, primary schools and hospitals.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 19:48

1605814079Over 40 mass vaccination centres to be set up across England, report suggests

NHS England has told local leaders that each of the 42 health and care systems in England should have at least one mass vaccination site, the Health Service Journal reports, citing senior sources. 

These are likely to be in conference centres or similar large venues, HSJ reported.

Derby City Council has said talks are underway with government to use Derby Arena as a temporary facility to help administer the Pfizer vaccine.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 19:18

1605812856Gym owner who clashed with 30 police and amassed £77,000 in fines hit with court order to close

A gym owner who faced down more than 30 police officers and amassed £77,000 in fines while refusing to close his business despite coronavirus lockdown rules has been issued with a court order to shut down.

Haringey Council obtained a closure order at a hearing at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Andreas Michli had bowed to law enforcement pressure to close his Zone Gym in north London last Wednesday, but authorities sought the court order to ensure the premises would remain closed until 2 December, when England’s lockdown is due to end.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 19:07

1605811859Covid pandemic making income inequality even worse in Britain, research suggests

Researchers from University College London (UCL) found almost half of those who were already struggling financially before the lockdown said their situation was now “much worse”, and a further quarter said they were “worse” off as well, Tim Wyatt reports.  

In contrast, only 20 per cent of individuals who reported they were financially comfortable pre-Covid feel they have become worse off, and 27 per cent even say they are now doing better.  

The lead author of the Covid-19 Social Study, Daisy Fancourt from UCL, said the research underlined how the lockdown was exacerbating existing inequality in Britain. 

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 17:53

1605810659African nations among host of new travel corridor destinations for first time

The transport secretary has added several African countries to the UK’s travel corridor for the first time. No countries will be removed this week, Grant Shapps said.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 17:49

1605809339Lawsuit claims meat plant bosses placed bets on how many workers would contract Covid-19

A case against meat production giant Tyson Foods claims that workers at an Iowa pork factory were ordered back to work in unsafe conditions – even as plant supervisors privately took bets on how many would be infected with Covid-19, Andrew Naughtie reports.

The suit, brought by the family of deceased worker Isidro Fernandez, alleges that the company is guilty of “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety” after at least five workers at the plant died.

According to the local health authority, more than 1,000 workers at the facility have contracted the virus. That amounts to more than a third of the plant’s workforce.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 17:44

1605808079Government urged not to squander progress made on rough sleeping

The Salvation Army is urging the government not to squander progress made in tackling homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic, warning rough sleepers face their “worst Christmas in years”.

Almost 30 groups and charities are calling on the government to make a significant investment and not cut homelessness funding in next week’s spending review.

In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, also signed by 28 other organisations, the charity warns that the long-term outlook for homelessness and rough sleeping “currently looks bleak”.

It says many of those brought to safety at the start of the outbreak are still without permanent accommodation and support to address the drivers of homelessness, such as mental ill health, is not yet in place.

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 17:40

1605806877Canada could donate Covid vaccine to poorer countries

Canada is discussing plans to donate Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income nations, inside sources have said.

The country has ordered the highest number of doses per capita in the world, according to the Duke Global Health Innovation Centre in the US.

Ottawa has so far struck deals with seven different suppliers, meaning it could have as many as 414 million Covid-19 doses for its population of around 38 million.

My colleague Rory Sullivan has the details here:

Andy Gregory19 November 2020 17:27

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