- UK becomes first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for widespread use
- Regulator Dr June Raine says at a government briefing that "no corners have been cut" in approving it
- A priority list of those who will get the vaccine first is published - with care home residents at the top
- Health secretary says the NHS 'stands ready' to begin immunisations next week for people in high priority groups
- 800,000 doses will be available next week, but the "bulk" of the vaccines will be available in the New Year
- The prime minister will lead a press conference on the development at 5pm
- Meanwhile, a new three-tier system of restrictions has come into force in England, as a four-week lockdown ends
- It comes after MPs backed the new rules which came into effect at midnight - despite a sizeable Tory rebellion
- Under the new tier system, non-essential shops can open everywhere
- But nearly all of the population are in the two toughest tiers where households cannot mix indoors
- From today, people who test negative for Covid-19 are allowed to visit relatives in England's care homes
- Bargain-hunters have overwhelmed the Debenhams website as the collapsed department store chain holds a huge clearance sale
- The UN calls for seafarers to be classed as essential workers so the thousands stranded can return home or to their ships
- Globally, there have been nearly 64m cases of coronavirus and more than 1.4m people have died, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University
Good morning and welcome to our live coverageThe UK is waking up to some good news this morning about the coronavirus vaccine.
The Pfizer/BioNTech jab has been given the green light by the UK’s medicines regulator, meaning mass vaccinations can now begin.
Immunisations could start next week for people in high priority groups. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses - enough to vaccinate 20 million people, with two shots each.
Read the full story here.
What's the latest around Europe?
- Austria’s government will decide today how to allow shops and schools to reopen when lockdown ends next week. All teachers will be tested as part of a national mass testing programme and younger secondary pupils will be allowed back with masks. Hotels, bars and leisure facilities are set to remain closed but ski resorts could be allowed to open before Christmas for locals and day visitors alone.
- France wants to ban its citizens from going on ski holidays abroad, as neighbouring Switzerland is keeping its resorts open. President Emmanuel Macron wants to avoid “creating an imbalance with ski resorts in France” that are being kept shut.
- Ski resorts will also stay shut in Italy until January. Italians will have to stay in their local area over Christmas and New Year and a 21:00 curfew will stay in place throughout December. However, restaurants will stay open, including at Christmas.
- Latvia has extended a state of emergency until 11 January – from tomorrow a 2+2 rule is required for meetings limited to two people two metres apart; shopping centres are shut at weekends and masks must be worn indoors including at schools. Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins says the situation in Latvia is “very serious”.
- Germany has reported a record 487 deaths in 24 hours although infections have fallen and health officials put the transmission or R-rate at 0.89, so every 100 people with the virus infect 89 others.
- Turkey has reported a record 190 deaths in 24 hours and has imposed curfews every night from 21:00 to 05:00.
- The number of people in intensive care in Belgium has fallen below 900 for the first time since 26 October - 198 people were admitted to hospital yesterday.
'Help is on its way' - HancockHealth Secretary Matt Hancock has welcomed the news, tweeting: “Help is on its way.”
“The MHRA has formally authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19,” he said.
"The NHS stands ready to start vaccinating early next week.
“The UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine for supply.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma also tweeted, saying: "The UK was the first country to sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech - now we will be the first to deploy their vaccine
"To everyone involved in this breakthrough: thank you. In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity's charge against this disease."
When will people start getting vaccinated?Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
This is the most exciting news since the initial trials were announced in early November.
We understand that hospitals will be the first recipients - because remember this has to be stored at -80C - and that is difficult in a lot of settings. Hospitals are able to do that and have been prepared for it.
So it seems very likely that NHS staff and some patients will start receiving the vaccine from next week.
The vaccine is manufactured and stored in Belgium so it will have to be transported and I’m told that could take a matter of days. It’s not clear how much will be available next week - possibly only a small amount, but developing over the weeks ahead.
We’ll have to wait for more details from the government about exactly when it will start arriving.
Elderly and people in care homes will get jab firstAsked who will get the jab first, Mr Hancock says the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations is in charge of the priority list.
"So it's according to clinical need, the goal is to save as many lives as possible and stop hospitalisations," he tells BBC Breakfast.
"So it will start with the most elderly and with people in care homes and of course their carers to make sure that others don't catch it.
"And then essentially it comes down the age range. NHS staff are also high on that priority list and also the clinically extremely vulnerable who we've supported throughout this crisis, those who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
"The details of that will be set out mid-morning by the JCVI. And the regulators will also be setting out the details of the clinical trials and why they felt able to approve this vaccine."
People will be contacted by NHS when it's their turnHealth Secretary Mr Hancock is asked by BBC Breakfast how many doses will be rolled out by Christmas.
"The timing will be determined by how rapidly they can be manufactured," he says.
"We haven't put a figure on the numbers before Christmas but what we do know is that we can get started next week with that first load and then several millions will be coming throughout December.
"And people will be contacted by the NHS when it's their turn. And I urge you very strongly to come forward because obviously being vaccinated is good for you.
"It's approved as clinically safe by the regulator and it's good for your community as well to get this virus finally under control once and for all."