12.46am GMT
00:46

NHS told to be ready to administer vaccine by 1 December

Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine this week, even before the United States authorises it, the Telegraph news site reported on Sunday.

Citing government sources, it said British regulators were about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and that the National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December.

The US Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it would meet on 10 December to discuss whether to authorise the vaccine.

The UK Department of Health had no comment on Sunday on when the first vaccinations would be administered.

A spokesman said the authorisation process by the medical regulator Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is independent of the government and will take as long as they need to review the final data from Pfizer.

“An enormous amount of planning has taken place to ensure our health service stands ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine,” the spokesman added.

Britain formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, last week to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Britain has ordered 40 million doses and expects to have 10 million doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.

12.43am GMT
00:43

Spain to begin vaccinations in January

Spain will begin a comprehensive coronavirus vaccination programme in January and expects to have covered a substantial part of the population within three months, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday.

He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.

“The campaign will start in January and have 13,000 vaccination points,” Sanchez told a news conference after a two-day online summit of G20 leaders.
“A very substantial part of the population will be able to be vaccinated, with all guarantees, in the first quarter of the year.”

Spain will implement a single national strategy, starting with “priority groups”, Sanchez said, adding that he would present the plan to the cabinet on Tuesday. He also said more health professionals would be recruited.

“We have a tough few months ahead of us but the road map has been drawn up,” Sanchez said.

Spain has western Europe’s second highest tally of confirmed coronavirus infections after France, with some 1.5 million cases and 46,619 deaths from Covid-19.

12.23am GMT
00:23

UK government to ease isolation requirements for Covid contacts

The UK government will announce on Monday that self-isolation will no longer be required for those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19, the Telegraph reported.

Contacts of those who test positive will be asked to undergo daily tests for seven days, and will be allowed to go about their business in the meantime, the newspaper said.

Ministers will say that the current system of requiring people to stay at home for 14 days will be dismantled nationwide in January, if pilot schemes succeed, according to the newspaper.

12.21am GMT
00:21

US vaccine program head says first Americans could be vaccinated on 11 December

US Covid-19 vaccine program head Moncef Slaoui said the first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11th or the 12th of December,” he said in an interview to CNN.

12.10am GMT
00:10

Germany may start Covid-19 vaccine programme in December

Germany could start administering shots of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as next month, Health Minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying.

“There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” Spahn said in an interview with publishing group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “And then we can start right away.”

Spahn said that he had asked Germany’s federal states to have their vaccination centres ready by mid-December and that this was going well. “I would rather have a vaccination centre ready a few days early than an approved vaccine that isn’t being used immediately.”

Germany has secured more than 300 million vaccine doses via the European Commission, bilateral contracts and options, Spahn said, adding that this was more than enough and even left room to share with other countries.

11.40pm GMT
23:40

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.

I’ll be bringing you the latest coronavirus news from around the world for the next few hours.

As always, it would be great to hear from you on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine this week, even before the United States authorises it, the Telegraph news site reported on Sunday.

Citing government sources, it said British regulators were about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and that the National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December.

The US, meanwhile, may administer it to the first Americans by 11 December, while Germany, too, could start administering shots of the vaccine as soon as next month, Health Minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying.

More on this shortly – but in the meantime here are the other key developments from the last few hours.

Experts have urged Americans against travelling for family gatherings at Thanksgiving this week even though millions were set to defy the advice, as the US crossed the threshold of more than 12m cases of coronavirus.Ominous warnings came as Donald Trump appeared to admit that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the virus would simply “go away” or “disappear” and, more recently, that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.
Lab-confirmed UK coronavirus cases pass 1.5m. The number of coronavirus cases in the UK confirmed in laboratories has passed 1.5m after a further 18,662 cases were announced by the government.It brings the total number of cases in the UK over the course of the pandemic to 1,512,045, though it is widely thought the true figure is far higher.
Ministers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have endorsed a shared UK objective of allowing “some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days” over Christmas, the Cabinet Office said on Sunday. However, they “reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real”. It was unclear how many households would be permitted to mix over Christmas and for how many days restrictions will be relaxed.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a potential “existential threat” to central London because many people may in future choose to work in the suburbs rather than in the heart of the capital, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Sunday.
Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, has effectively confirmed that this week’s spending review is likely to feature a pay freeze for many public sector workers in England, saying it was “entirely reasonable” to consider pay policy in the context of the Covid-hit economy.
A sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip could overwhelm the Palestinian enclave’s meagre medical system by next week, public health advisers said on Sunday.
Iran has recorded 13,053 new cases of coronavirus and 475 related deaths over the past 24 hours, after tougher coronavirus restrictions came into force in the country.



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