- AstraZeneca says it is recruiting people for trials combining its own vaccine with Oxford University with Russia's Sputnik V
- The self-isolation period for travellers and contacts of those with Covid has been cut from 14 days to 10 in the UK
- Medical experts in the US recommend emergency approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
- An Australian candidate for a vaccine is abandoned after some trial participants return false HIV positive results
- Businesses reopen in Northern Ireland, and also in Glasgow and other parts of western Scotland as rules are eased
- EU leaders strike a deal over the bloc's budget and Covid recovery fund
- The Royal Shakespeare Company and arts organisations hit by the pandemic share £165m ($220m) in UK government loans
- The response to the pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since WW2, say researchers
- There have been 69.5m cases and 1.58m deaths worldwide, figures from Johns Hopkins University show
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Our teams from London and around the world will be bringing you the latest updates and analysis throughout the day.
What's happening in the UK?Here's an overview of the stories that have been making headlines in the UK in recent hours:
- The public spending watchdog has found that in the early stages of NHS Test and Trace in England, some call handlers were busy for only 1% of their paid hours
- Non-essential shops across much of western Scotland - including Glasgow - are re-opening today for the first time in three weeks
- In Northern Ireland, non-essential shops, close contact services such as hairdressers and most hospitality businesses are reopening
- A report says measures put in place to help NHS England cope with the pandemic have benefitted towns and cities more than rural areas
- The Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and English National Opera are among the arts venues to share £165m in government loans
What's happening around the world?Here are the latest headlines from around the world:
- Medical experts advising the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended emergency approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The decision comes after a 23-member panel met to determine whether the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks
- In Australia, a promising vaccine candidate has been abandoned after trial participants returned false HIV positive results . Australia had previously agreed to buy 51 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Australian firm CSL and the University of Queensland. The government said orders of other vaccines would now fill the shortfall
- EU leaders have struck a deal over the bloc’s €1.8tn (£1.64tn; $2.2tn) budget and Covid recovery fund, after reaching a compromise with Hungary and Poland. The two nations had threatened a veto over a clause that tied funding with adherence to the rule of law
- Pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline say a Covid-19 vaccine they were developing has showed an insufficient immune response in clinical trials. They say they will research other options with a view to coming up with an effective product by the end of next year
- France is tightening its restrictions over the Christmas period due to rising case numbers, Prime Minister Jean Castex said. The nightly curfew that comes into force on 15 December has been brought forward by an hour to 20:00 and will be enforced on New Year’s, Eve ruling out public celebrations
- A coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden has told Americans not to attend Christmas parties. Dr Michael Osterholm has urged people to refrain from seeing anyone from outside their immediate households. He warned of high numbers of cases in the coming weeks. "The next three to six weeks at a minimum are our Covid weeks," he told CNN.
German pandemic hits new peaks: Latest from Europe
- Germany has this morning reported a record number of 29,875 daily coronavirus cases and 598 deaths - bringing the total to 20,970. The latest figures have added to pressure to bring in tighter measures fast. The head of Germany's medical association Klaus Reinhardt wants to shut down public life between Christmas and 10 January. The south-western state of Baden-Württemberg will later announce its plans for tougher measures for the start of next week, and Berlin Mayor Michael Müller believes a hard lockdown should start on 20 December.
- Additional measures have come into force in Cyprus today until 31 December, shutting shopping centres and catering establishments and barring worshippers from church services.
- Last night's EU deal to unblock a €750bn (£685bn) coronavirus stimulus fund across the 27-country bloc will be welcomed in Spain and Italy in particular. It still has to go before the European Parliament, but it'll mean €140bn in grants and loans for Spain alone.
- Ukraine has reported its highest daily Covid-related death toll of 285, with 13,514 infections.
- The deaths of four patients in a Swedish hospital's cardiac intensive care unit (ICU) could be linked to an ICU Halloween party, Expressen newspaper reports. Vaxjo Central Hospital Operations Manager Thomas Aronsson is quoted as saying he would have banned the party had he known about it. Eleven staff in the cardiac intensive care unit reportedly became ill afterwards.
- Italian health officials say a 26% fall in case numbers in the past week confirms that the Covid curve is "freezing", despite a surge of 887 deaths reported yesterday. Covid commissioner Domenico Arcuri has appealed especially to young Italians to take care over Christmas and to act responsibly.
Russia reports record Covid deathsBBC Monitoring - The world through its media
Russia has reported a record rise in daily Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic - and for the first time the daily death toll has exceeded 600.
Over the past 24 hours, 613 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed, up from 562 deaths reported on the previous day, the country's Moscow-based coronavirus headquarters said on its Telegram account on 11 December.
Russia's total Covid-19 death toll now stands at 45,893. A total of 28,585 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours, up from 27,927 reported yesterday, with the highest numbers in the capital Moscow (7,215), St Petersburg (3,779) and Moscow Region (1,370).
The number of active cases currently stands at 491,978.
Overall, Russia has officially recorded 2,597,711 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. According to Russia's coronavirus headquarters, a total of 2,059,840 people have recovered from the illness.