- GCSEs and A-levels cancelled in England by the pandemic will be replaced by grades decided by teachers, exams watchdog Ofqual says
- Schools can determine grades this summer by using a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays
- It is important the pandemic does not prevent students going on to the next stage of their careers, schools minister Nick Gibb says
- It comes after education secretary Gavin Williamson says a "full return" of schools and colleges in England on 8 March is justified by data
- He is due to give more details on the plans for grades in the Commons later
- A review by US regulators of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine has found it is safe and effective
- Coronavirus cases and deaths are continuing to fall globally, a new report from the World Health Organization says
- The France rugby union team stops training for its Six Nations match against Scotland after an 11th player tests positive for Covid-19
Good morningWelcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
We will be bringing you the latest updates throughout the day.
Latest developments in the UK and around the worldHere is a summary of the latest developments so far this morning:
- GCSEs and A-levels cancelled in England by the pandemic will be replaced by grades decided by teachers this summer, using a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays, the exams watchdog Ofqual has confirmed
- Former Chancellor Lord Hammond has said the UK government must risk unpopularity and tell "some difficult home truths" about the state of the economy. He told the BBC dealing with the pandemic had been the financial equivalent of "fighting a war"
- Almost half of people with potential cancer symptoms in the UK did not contact their GP during the first wave of the pandemic, a survey suggests, raising concerns that people could be diagnosed later - and so be less likely to be treated successfully and recover
- Ghana has become the first country to receive coronavirus vaccines through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative, with a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in Accra on Wednesday. The scheme aims to reduce the divide between rich countries and poorer nations unable to buy doses
- A review by US regulators of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine has found it is safe and effective, paving the way for it to become the third Covid-19 vaccine to be authorised in the US, possibly within days
- Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has rejected remote working as a “new normal”, labelling it an “aberration” that will be corrected as soon as possible. He said the investment bank operated throughout 2020 with “less than 10% of our people” in the office.
Thursday's front pages: Teacher 'powers' and Sunak's 'giveaway'
The announcement that GCSE and A-level students in England will be assessed by their teachers in the summer - rather than exams - makes several of the front pages.
- The Education Policy Institute think tank tells the Guardian the credibility of this year's results will be "seriously undermined" unless "robust mechanisms" are in place to prevent widespread grade inflation.
- The Daily Telegraph reports Sir Jon Coles - who sat on a committee advising the government on exams - has resigned, unhappy that children will be tested under different conditions across the country.
- Meanwhile, "Rishi's Spring Booster" is how the Daily Mail describes the measures it expects the chancellor will set out in his Budget next week.
- It says Rishi Sunak has abandoned plans to increase fuel duty by 5p a litre - and will extend support to furloughed workers and prospective homebuyers who would have missed out if the current stamp duty holiday ended as planned in five weeks' time.
You can read the full paper review here.
How are vaccinations going in Europe?
- Hungary has become the first EU country to inoculate people with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, not yet authorised at EU level. Hungary’s right-wing nationalist government has criticised the slow pace of the EU’s vaccine rollout. It has ordered five million doses of the Sinopharm jab so far. With a 10m population, Hungary is also using the Russian Sputnik V jab - again not authorised by the EU. Covid infections are rising in Hungary – its death toll so far is 14,450. Neighbouring Serbia, not in the EU, is also using the Chinese and Russian vaccines
- Ukraine has just started vaccinating, using the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab. It registered 8,147 Covid cases in the past 24 hours – its highest figure since mid-January. It has shunned Sputnik V, as it regards Russia as an aggressor, with the conflict in eastern Ukraine unresolved
- Vaccines are top of the agenda at a virtual EU summit later today. There is still much concern about supplies: AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech are racing to expand capacity to meet the huge demand
- The idea of vaccine passports is gaining momentum – Israel already has them. Those who have had the jab, or who have had Covid – so who have antibodies – could potentially visit more places, events and travel abroad. Greece, Cyprus and Austria like the idea, hoping to salvage summer tourism. But Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen are sceptical - they worry that data on protection from Covid remains incomplete.