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Coronavirus - 11th November


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 11:13

Summary for Wednesday, 11th November

  • The UK has staged the first of what will be a weekly data briefing, examining latest Covid-19 figures
  • Science 'just at the beginning of our journey' on vaccines, says England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam
  • University students in England will be asked to return home for Christmas in the week after the lockdown ends
  • As many students as possible will be offered rapid result Covid tests, and teaching should move online by 9 December
  • Details of how university students in Scotland should be able to return home for Christmas will be announced later
  • The US is seeing a record number of Covid patients in hospital - nearly 62,000 - as a surge shows no signs of slowing
  • Many countries are scrambling to get hold of the Pfizer vaccine awaiting authorisation - the EU is expected buy 300m doses
  • NHS England says GPs will need to cut back on their regular work so they can help deliver vaccines when ready
  • Conservative backbenchers have formed a group to oppose any extension to the lockdown in England
  • A study has concluded that the north of England has been hit harder than the rest of the nation by the pandemic

What's the latest in the UK?

Good morning and welcome. Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the UK:

Coronavirus in the UK

You can see the most recent coronavirus figures for the UK below.
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UK newspaper headlines

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Most of the papers lead with the UK's vaccination plans - and they are in little doubt about the daunting scale of the task.
View them in full here .

Vaccine hopes, 'salami lockdowns' and other Europe news

Like the UK, Spain and Italy are seeing their highest numbers of deaths since the second Covid wave began. Spain has recorded another 411 deaths over 24 hours and Italy 580. Both countries will benefit from the rollout of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in early 2021, if it gets safety approval. The European Commission expects to adopt a deal today to buy 300 million doses for the whole of the EU.
Spain says it hopes to get enough doses for 10 million people by the start of 2021. BioNTech, a German firm, hopes to have 70% of Germans covered by next summer. You can read more about the couple behind the firm here .
Hungary has just imposed a night-time curfew and closed secondary schools, bars and restaurants as it fights soaring infection rates. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has warned of a potential shortage of medics to treat patients.
Meanwhile, some 300,000 schoolchildren in Germany and 30,000 teachers are currently self-isolating, according to tabloid Bild. A teachers’ association leader has warned German schools are experiencing a “salami lockdown” - in other words, the gradual closure of more and more schools due to outbreaks.

US sees record number in hospital with Covid-19

The number of people in US hospitals with Covid-19 now stands at 61,964, an all-time high, new figures from the Covid Tracking Project show.
The number of new daily cases also broke records, with 130,989 reported on Tuesday. More than 10.2 million people have been infected and 239,000 have died overall in the US epidemic.
Several states, including Texas and Colorado, are seeing record numbers of new cases and many have tightened restrictions as the country confronts a new surge that is showing no signs of slowing.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has also taken a stronger stance on the wearing of face masks, issuing guidance that says numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of “universal masking policies”.

University plans in England will give students 'certainty' - minister

BBC Breakfast
Plans to get students home for Christmas will give them and their parents "the certainty that if they choose to go home they can do so," Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has said.
Universities in England have been told to switch from in-person teaching to online classes by early December and set staggered departure dates between 3 and 9 December to allow families to be reunited.
Ms Donelan told BBC Breakfast this would be "complemented" with rapid testing for certain groups, such as universities with higher infection rates.
She said the 9 December deadline had been created to give students "enough time to isolate and then return home for Christmas", although she acknowledged that not all students would want to go home.
And she stressed that "this is a choice", but added: "If they choose to leave after the 9th they run the risk of potentially not getting home because of that isolation window."

Hong Kong and Singapore agree 'travel bubble'

Flights are set to resume between Hong Kong and Singapore after the two governments agreed a “travel bubble”.
From 22 November, one flight a day carrying some 200 residents will be able to travel into each city from the other, Hong Kong's commerce minister Edward Yau told a news conference.
Travel will be restricted to those who have been in either city for at least two weeks and have tested negative for Covid-19 in the 72 hours before the flight.
Mr Yau said the bubble would be suspended for two weeks if coronavirus cases began to rise. But if no spike was reported then they would consider increasing flights to two per day each way from December.

Rapid Covid tests 'not as accurate'

We've heard this morning that an evacuation-style operation will take place to get students home safely for Christmas after England's lockdown.
The key part of the plan is the mass distribution of rapid result Covid tests, beginning at the end of November, which will then be followed by a "travel window" in early December for students to return home.
Jacqui Rammage, executive dean for the science faculty at Durham University, which has been piloting a mass testing programme, welcomed the plan.
"I think mass testing is absolutely essential because... so many people in the age group that our students are in are asymptotic carriers of the virus," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Ellen Brooks Pollock, an infectious diseases modeller at the University of Bristol, said the government's new plan was "an improvement" but she warned about the restrictions of the type of rapid testing to be used on students.
She told Today that the self-administered "lateral flow" tests were not as accurate as PCR testing - the type of tests that has been used at the NHS Covid tests.
"Although a positive test is a good indicator of infection, a negative test does not guarantee that you're not infected," she said.
Read more here about the dilemma students face.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 11:21

US confronts virus surge as Biden plans transition

The US has now recorded more than 10 million cases and almost 240,000 deaths from coronavirus, the highest figures in the world.
For almost a week, more than 100,000 new cases have been confirmed each day, as infections continue to rise across the country in a third peak that threatens to be worse than those of the spring and summer.
Transmission of the virus slowed in August, but has been rising since September, driven by renewed outbreaks in the north and Midwest.
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With several states posting record numbers of cases, more state leaders are tightening restrictions.
Residents of Wisconsin and Nevada have been urged to stay at home for two weeks. Bars and restaurants are to shut at 22:00 in Minnesota and masks will be required at indoor gatherings of 25 people or more in Iowa, the Associated Press reports.
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President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to make tackling the coronavirus his first priority upon taking office in January. Having long criticised President Trump's handling of the pandemic, he has set up an advisory panel of scientists and experts and wants to see mandatory mask wearing in public places.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 11:38

BUILDING BRITAIN 2020: How the construction industry across Britain and Ireland weathered the Covid-19 crisis

Fiona Audley - Irish Post

No-one could have forecasted the year we have had.

As we stepped our toes into a chilly January and got back into our suits or onto our worksites after a festive Christmas break, we were not to know what lay ahead.

We could not have known that in just two short months we would find the toes of the nation positioned permanently indoors.

Nor that those sites would be closed, and those suits would hang lifeless in our wardrobes for an unthinkably long amount of time.

But March arrived and, with soaring rates of Covid-19 devastating the country and waging war on our National Health Service, we found ourselves in lockdown.

It was an unprecedented situation and a virus which has sadly touched the lives of far too many.

And so we stopped. Everything stopped. For a time.

But slowly, the world started to open up again – albeit with masks, hand gel and social distancing in place.

It started to poke it’s toe out of the door once more.

For some sectors the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic – leisure, entertainment and pubs and restaurants couldn’t have faced a more devastating opponent and continue to do so.

The construction sector has fared much better, relatively speaking.

Quickly deemed a key industry – many projects have continued throughout the health crisis.
That said, there have been casualties. Jobs lost and contracts put off indefinitely.

The construction industry was behind only retail, accommodation, and manufacturing in the scale of furlough cash it claimed, totalling £3.2 billion at the end of July, according to HMRC data.

But then, July and August began to see a building bounce back.

And suddenly, with health and safety practices updated, Covid secure workplaces are the new norm and Britain is regrouping and rebuilding as it cautiously makes moves to overcome the impacts of the crisis.

There is still some way to go before the coronavirus is truly behind us, but there is certainly a brighter future ahead.

And from an extension at Great Ormond Street, to the data centres underpinning an exciting new 5G economy, to the future of London's central shopping district, Irish building firms - just as they have for many years - will be busy at work building it.

readmore  HERE

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 11:53

No decision yet on Northern Ireland extending curbs

Chris Page - BBC News Ireland correspondent
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Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has said she’s “deeply disappointed” the devolved government has not yet reached a decision on whether to ease or extend covid restrictions after two days of talks.
The current measures, which include the closure of most of the hospitality sector, are due to expire at midnight tomorrow. Businesses are expressing strong frustration about the political deadlock.
Ministers in the five-party power-sharing coalition disagree on what should happen next. The Democratic Unionist Party blocked a proposal from the health minister to extend the current restrictions for another two weeks. The economy minister, Diane Dodds of the DUP, has brought forward a plan to allow unlicensed premises such as cafés to reopen, along with close contact services like hairdressers.
Arlene Foster told BBC Radio Ulster a “balanced and proportionate” approach was needed. Ministers are due to meet again at lunchtime today.
Read more about Northern Ireland's approach to Covid-19 here .

Denmark shaken by mass mink cull

Adrienne Murray - DenmarkCoronavirus - 11th November 5e57fc10
Denmark is the world's biggest producer of mink fur

There was shock last week when Denmark decided to cull all its mink - up to 17 million animals - because of the spread of coronavirus.
That national cull has caused a political outcry, now that the prime minister has admitted the plan was rushed and had no legal basis.
Danish scientists worry that a mutated form of coronavirus found in mink could potentially hamper the effectiveness of a future vaccine.
The situation has attracted widespread international attention, and prompted the UK to ban travellers from Denmark who are not UK citizens.
Meanwhile, Danish mink farmers are seeing their livelihoods wiped out. Some have appeared on TV in tears.
Animal rights groups however want to see the industry phased out completely.
You can read more of Adrienne's report here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 12:50

EU buys 300 million vaccine doses

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European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said it was an "extremely important" deal

This just in from Brussels - the European Union has confirmed it has made a deal to buy up to 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine which has showed strong results in trials.

  • Deliveries are expected to start by the end of this year, the companies said
  • The EU said it was an "extremely important agreement", adding that doses would be "supplied once [the vaccine] is proven to be safe and effective"
  • But European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides refused to detail a specific timeline for when the vaccine would be rolled out. "It has to receive authorisation from the European Medicines Agency," she said. "A number of steps need to be followed before we will actually be able to have a timeline"
  • Kyriakides also urged caution, saying: "[The vaccine] will not be a silver bullet that will make the virus disappear overnight"
  • On Monday, BioNTech and Pfizer announced their vaccine could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, according to preliminary analysis. The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use it by the end of November

Breaking News 

Scotland records highest death total since 6 May

There have been 64 deaths after a positive coronavirus test registered in Scotland since yesterday, which is the highest daily total since the 6 May, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Some 1,235 people are in hospital with the virus.
Scotland's first minister is now leading the Scottish government's daily Covid-19 briefing.
Today she is joined by Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland's National Clinical Director.
You can follow the latest developments in detail on BBC Scotland's dedicated live blog .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 12:55

Students in Wales asked to travel home by 9 December

Students in Wales are being asked to leave university no later than 9 December in order to travel home for Christmas.
It follows a similar announcement in England .
Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams says universities will stop in-person teaching in the week ending 8 December to allow students to leave.
Students will be offered new "lateral flow" rapid Covid tests, designed to diagnose people without symptoms, she said.
Anyone who tests positive will have to time to rearrange travel plans and isolate for 10 days but still be home in time for Christmas.

Scottish statement later on students' Christmas return

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the nation's higher education minister, Richard Lochhead, will deliver a statement later this afternoon on how university students should be able to return home for Christmas .
She said it will reveal how students can get tested before going home.
During her daily Covid briefing, Sturgeon also summarised the changes made to Scotland's Covid restriction levels - stressing that overall case numbers must fall if areas are to have measures relaxed:

  • Fife, Angus and Perth & Kinross are to have tougher coronavirus rules imposed amid concern over an increase in cases - with a move from level 2 to 3
  • However, up to six people from two households in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will be able to meet inside their homes from Friday
  • Officials are concerned about a sharp rise in cases in Stirling and Inverclyde, and to a lesser extent South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 13:56

Delhi experiencing 'third wave' of Covid

Andrew Clarance - BBC News, Delhi
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People in Delhi are preparing for Diwali - the festival of light

India’s capital Delhi is experiencing a fresh spike in Covid-19 cases; the city's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called it the “third peak” of the virus.
On Tuesday, the city recorded 7,830 fresh cases in 24 hours, up from its previous high of 7,745 on Sunday. Total cases now number more than 450,000 and Delhi has overtaken Kerala as the region in India with the fastest-growing caseload.
City officials have now ordered all Covid-19 test centres to check the oxygen levels of those attending, and increased the number of hospital beds available to Covid patients.
Kejriwal tweeted that cases had increased due to the festival season and pollution. He has banned the sale and use of fireworks. The air in Delhi is especially bad in winter when several factors - from farmers burning crop stubble to car pollution, festive fireworks and low wind speed - combine to create what doctors say is a "deadly cocktail of poisonous gases".
Meanwhile, Delhi's High Court has pulled up the Kejriwal government for relaxing restrictions on public gatherings and public transport. The government has been asked to file a report on the steps it has taken over the last two months to control the spread of the virus.

Russia declares Sputnik-V vaccine '92% effective'

Sarah Rainsford - BBC Moscow Correspondent
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Medics in Russia are already receiving doses of the Sputnik V vaccine

Hot on the heels of an announcement by US and German rivals, Russia has announced that its Sputnik V vaccine has shown to be 92% effective against Covid-19.
Pfizer and BioNTech grabbed global headlines this week when they announced that their vaccine could prevent more than 90% people getting the virus , based on interim trial results studied by external analysts.
The Russia team say their own interim results, which hadn’t been expected so soon, come from their own analysis of data from 16,000 volunteers – those who’ve so far received two injections with Sputnik V, 21 days apart. Twenty caught the virus, some of whom had received the placebo.
Russia was widely criticised for its triumphalism back in August when it declared Sputnik V "the world’s first" to be registered. At that point, Phase 3 trials had not even begun.
Some 36,000 people have since had at least one of the two injections required, and the developers report no serious side-effects.
Several volunteers we spoke to at a Moscow health centre said they felt fine, though opinion polls show many Russians remain sceptical about receiving the vaccine.
The developers have also revealed for the first time that 10,000 Russians in high-risk professions, including doctors, have been vaccinated with Sputnik V outside of the formal, clinical trials.
Read more here about Russia's approach to coronavirus.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 14:05

No decision on how vaccine will be rolled out to under-50s

Following this week's encouraging vaccine news, officials have said no decision has been made on how people under 50 should be offered a Covid vaccine.
The UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said the first phase of rolling out the vaccine would focus on older people who are at most risk.
"Phase two" in younger people would depend on the precise details of how the vaccines work, they said.
The current priority list known as "phase one" is:

  • People living and working in care homes
  • Then those over 80, then over 75, over 70, over 65 and over 60
  • Then adults, but not children, with a health condition that puts them at greater risk
  • Then people aged over 55 and finally those over 50

However, the priority list is subject to change with close attention being paid to how the vaccines work in older age groups, who often have a weak response to immunisation.

The maids held prisoner during lockdown

Some live-in maids in Spain have been forbidden from leaving their employers' houses during the pandemic.
The union that represents them has heard from around 100 women who say they have been kept locked inside for months.
It said that live-in maids had already often been treated like “modern-day slaves” in the country and that lockdown had made things worse.
Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie has spoken to live-in maids about their experiences. Two of them, whom we call Isabella and Maria, have had their names changed to protect their identities.


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 15:25

Covid: care home called police after woman sneaked in to see husband

Robert Booth - The Guardian
A care home called the police when a woman who had been denied visits to her 83-year-old husband for eight months amid the Covid pandemic sneaked in to get him out.
Patricia Hodges, 75, used to visit her husband, Graham, daily at Wayside House in Bromsgrove, where he was being cared for with Lewy Body dementia. But her anguish at being prevented from seeing him from March to October, and a row over fees, sparked an attempt to move him to another home, she said.
The incident on 28 October followed a dispute between the Hodges and the care home, which began with requests for visits being denied. It ended with the home’s owner being accused of “holding” Graham Hodges over missing fees, which the home strongly denies
Read more

Iran's largest graveyard struggling to keep up with the coronavirus pandemic

For over half a century, a massive graveyard on the edge of Iran’s capital has provided a final resting place for this country’s war dead, its celebrities and artists, its thinkers and leaders and all those in between.
But Behesht-e-Zahra is now struggling to keep up with the coronavirus pandemic ravaging Iran, with double the usual number of bodies arriving each day and grave diggers excavating thousands of new plots, AP reports.
With 1.6 million people buried on its grounds, which stretch across more than 5 square kilometers, Behesht-e-Zahra is one of the world’s largest cemeteries and the primary one for Tehran’s 8.6 million people. The golden minarets of its Imam Khomeini Shrine, the burial site of the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, are visible for kilometres.
But it was not big enough for the coronavirus, which roared into Iran early this year, seeding the region’s worst outbreak.
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A cemetery worker prepares new graves at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery on the outskirts of the Iranian capital, Tehran, Iran, Sunday, 1 November 2020. Photograph: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Iran has reported over 700,000 infections and more than 39,000 deaths — and has set single-day death records 10 times over the past month. Almost half of the country’s reported virus fatalities have happened in Tehran, putting pressure on the cemetery.
Tehran’s leaders announced in June that they were preparing 15,000 new graves there — about 5,000 more than in a typical year.
Satellite pictures from September show the plots — deep enough to allow for as many as three bodies in each — newly dug, each separated by a layer of dirt and bricks.
While not all of the new graves are for coronavirus victims, most are.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 15:34

Japan warns of third wave amid rising Covid infections

Justin McCurry - The Guardian
Officials in Japan have warned of an impending third wave of coronavirus infections amid a rise in cases blamed on colder weather and a government campaign to encourage domestic tourism.
As the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to secure enough vaccines to cover Japan’s entire population, the number of daily cases continued to rise after several weeks of staying relatively stable.
Japan reported 1,284 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing its total to 111,222 according to a Kyodo news agency tally based on official data. The death toll stood at 1,864.
While Japan has avoided the large number of cases and deaths seen in the UK, US and other countries – with widespread mask-wearing often cited as a factor – the decision to press ahead with a heavily subsidised tourism campaign in July appears to have contributed to a new wave of infections.
You can read the full story here .

The World Health Organization has posted this handy graphic showing the number of Covid cases and deaths in the western Pacific.
It confirms that the previously Covid-free Vanuatu has recorded its first case. The country’s director of public health said the patient was a 23-year-old man who had recently returned from the US. He was confirmed to have the virus on Tuesday after being tested on the fifth day of his quarantine.

Tweet  World Health Organization Western Pacific:

#COVID19 confirmed cases and deaths in the @WHO Western Pacific Region as of 10 AM Manila time on 11 November   For more info on #coronavirus cases in the region, see the dashboard here:
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 15:45

Russia reports record daily deaths

Russia has reported a record high of 432 new deaths related to Covid-19, taking the official death toll to 31,593.
Authorities also reported 19,851 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, including 4,477 in the capital, Moscow, Reuters reports. This brings the national tally to 1,836,960.
Its infections tally is the fifth highest in the world, behind the US, India, Brazil and France. Its death toll is the 13th highest, according to data from Johns Hopkins University .

The Philippine health ministry has recorded 1,672 new coronavirus infections and 49 additional deaths.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 401,416 while deaths have reached 7,710.

The Czech Republic has reported 9,016 new coronavirus cases, a drop of 3,072 from a week earlier.
The country of 10.7 million had one of Europe’s highest infection rates for several weeks and recorded a total of 429,880 infections.
Its health ministry ministry on Wednesday reported 249 new deaths, including 109 on Tuesday and adding in revisions to previous days. Overall, 5,323 people in the Czech Republic have died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Mongolia has reported its first domestic transmissions of the coronavirus, from a truck driver who infected his wife and two other relatives after three weeks of quarantine, according to the AFP news agency.
The landlocked country bordering Russia and China has so far reported only 376 virus cases – all imported – and enforced strict arrival controls that have prompted protests by Mongolians stranded abroad.
But national emergency committee officials said a truck driver who had arrived in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, from Russia last month had infected three relatives despite being quarantined for three weeks as required by Mongolian law.
The national health committee published his movements – including attending a concert with about 3,000 others – and told anyone who might have crossed paths with him to get tested.
The city has closed its borders with other provinces and closed schools for a three-day-lockdown, prompting panic-buying.

Indonesia has reported 3,770 new coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 448,118, according to the country’s Covid-19 taskforce. It also reported 75 more deaths, taking total fatalities to 14,836.

The race to produce the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine is not only a matter of public health. It’s also an issue of fierce geopolitical rivalry, akin to the moon landings.
Hot on the heels of Monday’s announcement that the Pfizer-BioNTec vaccine had proven 90% effective in interim trials, Russia has claimed that its own candidate, Sputnik V, is even more effective – reducing the likelihood of catching the disease by 92%.
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Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, shows bottles with the Sputnik-V vaccine. Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has been backing the vaccine, said on Wednesday its interim results were based on data from the first 16,000 trial participants to receive both shots of the two-dose vaccine.
“We are showing, based on the data, that we have a very effective vaccine,” the RDIF head, Kirill Dmitriev, was quoted by Reuters, adding that it was the sort of news that the vaccine’s developers would talk about one day with their grandchildren.
The chances of contracting Covid-19 were 92% lower among people vaccinated with Sputnik V than those who received the placebo, the RDIF said.
The phase 3 trial of the shot developed by the Gamaleya Institute is taking place in 29 clinics across Moscow and will involve 40,000 volunteers in total, with a quarter receiving a placebo shot.
Despite the claims, Sputnik V is not one of the vaccines generally considered to be the most promising. Those are listed below:
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Guardian graphic Photograph: Guardian graphic

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 15:50

Wales reports another 45 Covid deaths

There have been 45 more deaths with Covid-19 in Wales and 928 new cases, Public Health Wales has said.
It takes the total number of deaths to 2,108 and the number of cases to 62,286.
Follow live updates from Wales .

Further 361 Covid hospital deaths in England

A further 361 people have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in England, NHS England has said.
It brings the total number of people who have died by this measure to 35,324.
NHS England said the dates of deaths reported ranged from 13 October to 10 November.
The patients were aged between 43 and 102 years old and all except 20 had known underlying health conditions.

Scottish government expects 80,000 students going home for Christmas

Students across Scotland will be advised to only go out for essential reasons and exercise for two weeks before going home for the Christmas holidays, the country's higher education minister has said.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Richard Lochhead said there will be "staggered and early departure irrespective of the level the institution is currently in".
He added: "Universities will be asked to make any necessary adjustments to scheduling to ensure that in-person teaching and assessment ends early enough to allow students time to get home at the end of term.
"I see that Universities Scotland has highlighted the staggered dates for the end of in-person teaching at Scottish universities from late November to mid-December, so they are not expecting a great surge of movement."
The Scottish government is expecting up to 80,000 students to be going home for Christmas and as many as possible will be offered voluntary tests for coronavirus before they travel, according to Mr Lochhead.
He said Scotland would be part of a UK-wide programme of asymptomatic testing for students.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 16:49

Winter will be 'gruelling', doctors warned

The second wave of the UK's coronavirus pandemic will be gruelling with increased pressure throughout winter, doctors have been warned.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the NHS, the General Medical Council and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have written to doctors urging them to be flexible during the second wave, which may require them to work in clinical areas outside their usual practice.
The letter, tweeted by Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, says the second Covid wave "may well be prolonged throughout the winter period", and he warns of local variation and fluctuation which may require a "sustained response from the whole profession".
"This will be gruelling professionally and personally," the letter says.
It also thanks doctors for their "tireless efforts" and "exemplary" response to the pandemic.

Breaking News 

Further 595 deaths takes UK total past 50,000

A further 595 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test in the UK, taking the total by that measure to 50,365 .
According to the Department of Health and Social Care , 22,950 more people have tested positive for the virus as of today.

Analysis: Grim and tragic milestone reached in UK

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The UK's Covid death toll has reached a grim and tragic milestone - and illustrates what a devastating impact the pandemic has had on the country.
But one figure alone cannot tell the full story. The burden has not been felt equally.
The single biggest factor has been age - with more than nine in 10 deaths in the over-65s.
Poorer areas and ethnic minorities have also been disproportionately affected.
Deaths from other causes have also risen as people have gone without treatment.
The UK has on most measures seen one of the highest death rates in the world.
Blame, understandably, has been laid at the government's door. It has been criticised in particular for being too slow to lockdown and for its record on testing and tracing.
But the UK is not alone in struggling. Similar debates have been had in Italy, Spain and France.
And the sad reality is this figure will keep climbing in the months to come.
But there is now at last some real hope that, with a vaccine looking likely, the toll will be much, much less next year.

How does the UK's death toll compare to other countries?

The UK is the fifth country to pass 50,000 deaths, coming after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
The US has recorded the most deaths worldwide at 238,680, followed by Brazil, with 162,802, and India, 127,571.
After the UK, Italy has the next highest death toll in Europe, at 42,953, while France has suffered 41,062 deaths and Spain 39,345.
You can see how other countries compare here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 18:51

An 81-year-old Italian man was spotted serenading his wife of 47 years beneath her hospital window.

Stefano Bozzini, who was unable to visit his wife Carla due to Covid-19 restrictions, decided that rules weren't going to stand in the way of the love he and Carla share.
On Sunday, Stefano grabbed his accordion and sat in the courtyard of the hospital in Castel San Giovanni - a small town in the north of Italy - and played his wife a love-song.
"I did it for Carla - to show her how much I love her and to thank her for all she has given me," Bozzini said.
"I wasn't able to see her in hospital and so went to the courtyard with the accordion - my heart told me to go. After she heard the music she looked out of the window, so at least I got to see her."
Stefano played her 'Spanish Eyes' by Engelbert Humperdinck.
"She was so in love with that song, I play it all the time at home," he said. "I played others that everyone knows, one song after the other, I didn't stop. A lot of the sick people in the hospital were looking out of their windows."

Carla, 74, was in hospital for 10 days, carrying out tests for a suspected cancer, but was discharged on Monday, the day after she was serenaded.
"They offered to bring her home in an ambulance. I said no, I'm coming to get her straightaway. We're by each other’s side all the time. The illness she has is very serious and will now need treatment in a specialist hospital."


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 19:01

Italy braced for 'lockdown lite' as Covid cases soar

Mark Lowen - BBC News, Rome
How quickly it has changed. A month ago, Italy seemed to be avoiding the worst of the second wave that other European countries were seeing. Now its numbers are even worse than many of its neighbours.
On Wednesday it passed the milestone of more than a million Covid cases. The health ministry reported 623 deaths, a level not seen since early April.
The first country in the west to be crushed by the pandemic is falling again. And this time, it’s not just wealthy Lombardy in the north that’s suffering - but Campania and Calabria in the south too, two of the EU’s poorest regions.
That’s prompted serious concern over their ability to cope. In Naples, some Covid patients had to be transferred to ambulances parked outside hospitals, since ICUs inside were filling up.
Italy has increased its number of intensive care beds since the first wave - but in some places they’re again nearing capacity.
Unlike March though, when Italy became the first country in the world to impose a national lockdown, this time the government is resisting it, opting so far for a regional tiered approach - a mix of red, amber and yellow zones.
But although there’s some evidence that the rate of infection is beginning to stabilise, pressure is growing for a national red zone - "lockdown lite" is how it’s dubbed here, closing most shops, bars and restaurants and banning movement between regions. There could be a decision by the weekend.

Sweden to limit alcohol sales after 10pm

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
Sweden is banning alcoholic drinks sales after 22:00, as part of its efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19. The law comes into force on 20 November and is expected to stay in place until the end of February 2021.
Sweden - like many European countries - has experienced a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Several thousand infections are being reported on a daily basis in a country of only 10 million. Some 131 people are currently in intensive care.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the country was heading towards “darker times” in terms of the spread of infection. He said that while many Swedes were following the country’s voluntary guidelines - which include working from home and avoiding public transport - growing numbers had “begun to relax” during the autumn.
The announcement comes amid growing national debates about whether Sweden is doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Uppsala University Hospital’s Head of Infectious Diseases, Fredrik Sund, has called the voluntary guidelines “toothless” and says he is worried about the growing pressure on hospitals.
Sweden has never had a formal lockdown, although in recent weeks the government has sharpened its tone. A ban on groups of more than eight people in pubs and restaurants was announced last week.
Tougher local recommendations have been introduced in different regions. These vary but usually include avoiding physical contact with people you don’t live with and staying away from public places.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 19:06

Fauci 'would love to see Americans relaxing on the beach'

Top US scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has spoken of seeing pictures of Australians “sitting on the beach, relaxing, enjoying the sun" and thinking "that’s what we would love to see here in the United States".
He told Australian broadcaster ABC that controlling the outbreak in the US was not impossible but was getting harder as record numbers of infections are reported each week.
While he said lockdowns should only be used as a last resort, he noted that Australia’s tough restrictions had enabled the country to get cases down to a “very, very good baseline which means… that it’s much easier to identify, isolate and contact trace”.
Dr Fauci also admitted during the interview that working with the Trump administration – which has opposed much of his and other experts' advice – had “obviously been very stressful". He said he hoped the incoming Biden administration would focus on bringing in "universal" safety measures across the US, and spoke of his optimism that a vaccine might bring "some sort of normality" next year.

'We didn't keep our eye on the ball' - ex-government adviser

Former chief scientific adviser Sir David King has said the UK's pandemic death toll was "astonishing" and "really bad news".
He said: "What I think happened was we as a government did not keep our eye on the ball, particularly in the early days."
Sir David said the country should have started preparing for the pandemic in February, pointing to the example of Greece, and should have been in a position where hospitals had the equipment they needed in March, along with setting up local public health services to carry out test and trace.
Sir David, who chairs the Independent Sage group of scientists, said the "big fault" in his view was a "very slow reaction in the first place" and then going into lockdown in March without developing a test, trace and isolate system.
"Quite simply we haven't yet seen an end strategy to deal with this," he said.

'Upward trend likely to continue', medical director warns

Following the UK's coronavirus deaths exceeding 50,000, the medical director of Public Health England warned that the "upward trend is likely to continue".
Dr Yvonne Doyle said: "Sadly the upward trend is likely to continue and it will be several weeks before any impact of the current measures - and the sacrifices we are all making - is seen and is reflected in the data.
"By limiting contact with others, you are helping to stop the spread of the virus.
"This will lead to fewer infections and help to save lives. Together we can bring the virus under control."

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Nov 11 2020, 19:09

Today's main developments

We'll be wrapping up our live page coverage shortly. Here are the main Covid-related headlines from today:

  • The UK has become the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 coronavirus deaths , according to the latest government figures.
  • Plans are being made across the four UK nations to get students home safely for Christmas.
  • UK PM Boris Johnson would be happy to take a coronavirus vaccine, No 10 says. England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam also said he'd be at the front of the queue for it if he could be.
  • Early results from trials of a Covid vaccine , Sputnik V, being developed in Russia suggest it could be 92% effective.
  • The EU has agreed to buy up to 300 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which has showed strong results in trials.
  • Italy has passed the milestone of more than one million Covid cases. Its health ministry also reported 623 deaths, a level not seen since early April.
  • The small Pacific island of Vanuatu has reported its first Covid-19 case - a 23-year-old man who returned from the US was diagnosed with the virus.
  • Socially distanced events have taken place across the UK to mark Armistice Day. Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the prime minister were among those commemorating 100 years since the body of the Unknown Warrior was buried at Westminster Abbey.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:33