- UK government faces questions over vaccine supply after NHS warns of a reduction in England in April
- Five million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, produced in India, have been held up by four weeks
- But the government says it's still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock says UK is "ahead of schedule" to offer a first dose to all over 50s by 15 April
- There are concerns over more than 500 "do not resuscitate" decisions made in England during the pandemic
- Tanzania's president dies following rumours he had contracted Covid-19
- Vaccine passports should be given to citizens across the EU "without discrimination", officials say
- The EMA is due to release the findings of an investigation into cases of blood clots in a handful of jab recipients
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's the main stories from the UK this morning:
- The UK’s vaccine supply is expected to reduce next month due to a delay in the delivery of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from India
- Individuals' human rights may have been breached in more than 500 cases where "do not resuscitate" decisions were made during the pandemic, the care watchdog for England has said
- Labour is also backing a call from bereaved families for a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic
- Wales' NHS will take "a number of years" to tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic, according to its boss
- Police in Northern Ireland have issued a number of fines as part of a large-scale operation to enforce coronavirus restrictions on St Patrick’s Day
India shortfall behind UK's vaccine supply delayThe UK’s vaccine supply is expected to reduce next month due to a delay in the delivery of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from India.
It is understood the shipment, produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been held up by four weeks.
The NHS warned of a significant reduction in supply in England in April in a letter to local health organisations.
The Department of Health insists it is still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
But after opening up appointments to all over-50s on Wednesday, the NHS in England was then told not to offer jabs to younger age groups throughout April.
Read more .
The papers: ‘Jabs in crisis’ amid ‘surprise slump’
- "Surprise slump" is how the i describes the expected drop in supplies of coronavirus vaccine in England next month.
- The paper quotes one person "closely involved" in the immunisation programme, who says they had no advance warning of the impending slowdown - while government sources tell the Guardian that the "looming squeeze" in availability of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is "far worse than predicted".
- The Financial Times says it's a "big setback" for a programme it calls "one of the few successes" of Boris Johnson's response to the pandemic.
- It points out there may be further trouble ahead - as officials in Whitehall are concerned about "significant manufacturing issues" with the Moderna vaccine, which was due to roll out in the spring.
- Other papers lead on the EU's warning that it could stop sending new batches of vaccine to countries like the UK.
- "We'll Grab Your Jabs" is the headline in the Metro - which says the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, may halt exports of Pfizer vials made in Belgium and Germany unless supplies to the EU of the AstraZeneca vaccine improve.
Read more from the papers here .
What's going on around the world?Here is a round-up of some of the biggest recent developments outside of the UK:
- Tanzania's President John Magufuli has died aged 61 , following rumours he had contracted Covid-19
- A digital certificate showing vaccination or Covid test status to kick-start foreign travel should be given to citizens across the EU "without discrimination" , officials say
- The European Medicines Agency is due to release the findings of an investigation into cases of blood clots in a handful of Oxford-AstraZeneca jab recipients
- A court in Egypt has sentenced the prominent human rights activist Sanaa Seif to 18 months in jail after finding her guilty of "spreading false news" about the handling of Covid-19 outbreaks in Egyptian prisons
- Delaying England’s winter lockdown ‘caused up to 27,000 extra Covid deaths’ . Delaying the winter lockdown caused up to 27,000 extra deaths in England, the Resolution Foundation thinktank has claimed as it accused the government of a “huge mistake” which should be central to any public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic.
- EU regulator to report on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine safety . Europe’s medicines regulator is under mounting pressure to clear up safety concerns over the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine as experts warned that arguably political decisions to pause it in many countries risked seriously delaying the continent’s already sluggish vaccination drive.
- Brazil cases topped 90,000 for the first time. Brazil on Wednesday registered an unprecedented 90,303 new coronavirus cases, a day after the country reported a fresh record for deaths related to the virus, Reuters reports.Infections now total 11,693,838.Deaths rose by 2,648, the second highest tally after the record reported on Tuesday, bringing the total to 284,775.
- Poorest countries will suffer most from Covid downturn, the UN said. The poorest and most vulnerable countries will be the biggest losers from a pandemic downturn that will leave the global economy nursing $10tn (£7.2tn) of losses by the end of the year, according to the UN.
- Japan to lift Tokyo area state of emergency as planned on Sunday – minister. The Japanese government’s advisory panel on coronavirus countermeasures on Thursday approved a plan to let the state of emergency expire in the Tokyo area as scheduled on March 21, Economy Minister Yasuhisa Nishimura said.
- Older people more likely to catch Covid a second time . Older people who have recovered from Covid cannot assume they are immune from a second attack, according to a new study that shows the under-65s are much less susceptible to reinfection.
- Indian state of Maharashtra accounts for 65% of new daily cases. India reported 35,871 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest in more than three months, with the worst-affected state of Maharashtra alone accounting for 65% of that.
- Tanzania’s Covid-denying president, John Magufuli, died aged 61. Tanzania ’s president, John Magufuli , one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 deniers, has died after a two-week absence from public life which prompted speculation that he had contracted the disease.Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday by the country’s vice-president Samia Suluhu, who said the president died of heart failure. He was 61.
- UK foreign secretary said EU threat to block exports of vaccine needs ‘some explaining’. The British foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said on Wednesday that the European commission’s threat to ban exports of Covid-19 vaccines cut across previous assurances, adding that the commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, needed to explain herself.
- NHS chiefs fear collision course with ministers over Covid backlog . Hospital bosses are bracing themselves for a clash with ministers over how quickly they can clear the backlog of NHS care that built up during the pandemic.
- Blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders imposed on English care homes, finds CQC . Blanket orders not to resuscitate some care home residents at the start of the Covid pandemic have been identified in a report by England’s care regulator.
- Quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand could be in place by end of April. Quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand could be in place by the end of April, Radio New Zealand reports . Ministers are working on the proposal, which could be put to Cabinet as soon as Monday. Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson says he is “very optimistic” about the travel bubble being opened soon.
- Taiwan began AstraZeneca rollout. Taiwan could begin distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine next Monday , according to its Central Epidemic Command Center, following the arrival of a first batch of nearly 200,000 doses earlier this month.
- China doubled down on Covid narrative ahead of WHO report. Chinese state media are doubling down on Beijing’s narrative about the origins of the Covid-19 ahead of the much anticipated release of the World Health Organization’s findings. Liang Wannian, who led the Chinese side of the joint WHO investigation in January, told the Global Times that China did not find evidence of the virus earlier than December 8, 2019.
Decisions on AstraZeneca and French lockdown - latest across Europe
- The EU’s medicines agency will give Europeans this afternoon its decision on the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug, after 15 countries suspended its use over a small number of blood clots. On Tuesday the agency said the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks of side effects. The World Health Organization says there's no proven link and the leaders of Italy and France say they’ll resume using the vaccine quickly if it’s given the green light.
- French leaders will this evening announce new measures aimed at slowing a “third wave” of Covid. A year after France’s first lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex will announce additional curbs from this weekend for the greater Paris and northern Hauts-de-France regions.
- Norway has recorded its second highest daily number of infections so far, with 1,064 cases.
- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will take part in a memorial ceremony in Bergamo this morning as part of a national day to remember more than 100,000 Covid victims. Bergamo is heavily symbolic for Italians as it was where military trucks were pictured last year transporting coffins out of the city.
- A Danish study suggests 80% of people who catch Covid are protected against further infection, although immunity falls after six months. But the study of PCR tests by the Statens Serum Institute also finds that only 47% of over-65s have the same protection. Researcher Steen Ethelberg says even if you have had Covid it would be a good idea to get vaccinated.