- The UK approves the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and manufactured by AstraZeneca
- It is considered a game-changer as it does not have to be stored at very low temperatures
- The first immunisations of the jab will start on 4 January, says the UK's health secretary
- It is the second jab to be deemed safe in the UK, following the Pfizer-BioNTech roll-out earlier in December
- Millions of people in England will hear later if they will move into a higher tier of restrictions
- Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will make a statement later about the return of schools in England in January
- A major incident is declared Essex in south-east England amid fears Covid cases could overwhelm its health services
- The US reports its first known case of highly infectious Covid-19 variant first found in the UK
- Nearly 500,000 in the Chinese city of Wuhan may have had virus, according to a new study
Good morningWelcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. The UK is waking up to some good news this morning that it has approved a second coronavirus vaccine.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second jab deemed safe by UK regulators, paving the way for millions of vaccinations.
It is considered a game-changer as it does not have to be stored at very low temperatures like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses and can now start vaccinating millions more people.
Read the full story here.
Round-up of latest headlinesWe’ll be bringing you all the latest news about the vaccine and other coronavirus developments on what is expected to be a very busy day. Here are the main headlines:
- The coronavirus vaccine designed by scientists at the University of Oxford has been approved for use in the UK.
- Millions more people in England are expected to be placed under tougher coronavirus restrictions amid escalating case numbers
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to detail the changes to England's restrictions - which could be introduced within days - in the House of Commons after 14:30 GMT
- The UK reported a record 53,135 new Covid cases on Tuesday - the highest single day rise since mass testing began
- A "major incident" is declared by NHS and emergency services in Essex due to growing demand on hospitals and social care
- The US has reported its first case of the highly-infectious coronavirus variant that emerged in the UK in the state of Colorado
- A recently elected US lawmaker has died from Covid-19. Republican Luke Letlow, 41, is the first member of the US Congress to die from the disease
- And a study has shown that almost 5% of the people in the Chinese city of Wuhan - 500,000 people - may have been infected with Covid-19
First doses to be given 'as quickly as possible'The UK Department of Health and Social Care said it has accepted the recommendation the UK regulator MHRA "to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use".
A spokesperson said that after "rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data" MHRA has "concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness".
It said that the NHS had a clear vaccine delivery plan and it would now begin putting its extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.
A statement added that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – which advises the government on who to vaccinate first – had said the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first, it added.
"From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups."
Oxford vaccine rollout to begin next week, says health secretaryUK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hailed the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, calling it "fantastic news".
He confirmed that rollout of the vaccine would begin on 4 January.
Oxford vaccine 'a game changer'Approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a "game changer" in the’s UK's battle with coronavirus, says Prof Andrew Hayward, a scientist advising the government.
He told BBC Breakfast that it was "exactly what we need right now" as the UK is facing an "extraordinarily difficult situation" following the emergence of a fast-spreading variant of coronavirus.
"This has turned into a race between us and the virus and what we need to do is slow the virus down as much as we can as we get as many people vaccinated as possible."
He said the plan to give as many people as possible a first dose of the vaccine will give a reasonable proportion of protection, "particularly against severe disease".
He added that this would allow the UK to protect more people a lot more quickly.
Vaccine approval 'a landmark moment'We've got some reaction now from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, who joined up to create this new Covid-19 vaccine.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford trial, said: "The regulator's assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.
"Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible."
AstraZeneca said it aimed to supply millions of doses in the first quarter of next year as part of an agreement with the UK government to supply up to 100 million doses.
Its chief executive Pascal Soriot said: "Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine.
"It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit."