AstraZeneca Tipped To Restart COVID 19 Vaccine Trial This Week: Report

Trials found Oxford's vaccine to be 90% effective when given as a half-dose then a full dose one month later

  • Efficacy dropped to 62% when participants were given a full dose initially then another full dose a month later

  • Oxford University and pharma company AstraZeneca found no serious cases of virus in 12,000 given the jab 

  • Vaccine costs between £2 and £4 per dose and can stored in normal UK fridge without specialist equipment 

  • Jabs being developed by Pfizer and Moderna in the US have produced 95% protection but more expensive 

  • By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter For Mailonline and Connor Boyd, Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline

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    Britain could have 19million doses of Oxford and AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year after clinical trials showed it is up to 90 per cent effective at preventing infection and can be stored cheaply in a fridge.

    President of AstraZeneca, Tom Keith-Roach said today that, on top of the four million doses on standby for the UK, a further 15million could be ready to roll out by the end of next month. They will be given to healthcare workers and the elderly first, subject to approval by regulators.

    The vaccine is expected to cost just £2 per dose and can be stored in ordinary equipment, unlike other jabs made by Pfizer and Moderna that showed similarly promising results last week but need to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures using expensive equipment.  It's also a fraction of the price, with Pfizer's costing around £15 per dose and Moderna's priced at about £26 a shot. 

    Oxford's trials found the jab has a nine in ten chance of working when administered as a half dose first and then a full dose a month later. Efficacy drops to 62 per cent when someone is given two full doses a month apart. 

    More than 24,000 volunteers were involved in Oxford's phase three trials in the UK and Brazil, half of whom were given the vaccine and the rest were given a fake jab. There were only 30 cases of Covid-19 in people given the vaccine compared to 101 in the placebo group. None of the participants who took the vaccine fell seriously ill. 

    The result also showed lower levels of asymptomatic infection in the smaller dose group which 'means we might be able to halt the virus in its tracks,' according to Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. He said today was 'a very exciting day' and claimed his team's jab would play a key part 'in getting the world back to normal'. 

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock also hailed the results this morning, saying millions of doses will be ready to go by the end of December. He told the BBC: 'It's really encouraging news... nobody who took it ended up in hospital or had serious conditions. We hope to be able to start vaccinating next month. The bulk of the vaccine roll out programme will be in January, February, March. And we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal.' 

    Oxford's jab is viewed as Britain's best chance of mass-inoculation of the population by the end of spring because Boris Johnson has pre-ordered 100million doses, enough to vaccinate 50million people. The UK already has 4million ready to go as soon as the jab is approved, which could see 2million people inoculated before the end of 2020. 

    Results from Oxford's trials will be sent to the British drug regulator, the MHRA, so it can assess the vaccine's safety, effectiveness, and that it is manufactured to high standard. The MHRA has been doing a 'rolling review' of the vaccine and could, as a result, complete the approval process within a matter of days of receiving the data. 

    The Prime Minister said this morning: 'Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.'  

    The London stock market edged up today following news of the breakthrough vaccine and as the City awaits Mr Johnson's  plans for a strengthened three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions to replace the national lockdown in England. The FTSE 100 index of Britain's leading firms was up by 0.49 per cent or 31 points at 6,382 in early trading this morning.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said his team's jab would play a key 'part in getting the world back to normal'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) hailed the results this morning, saying millions of doses will be ready to go by the end of December. Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said his team's jab would play a key 'part in getting the world back to normal'

    More than 24,000 volunteers were involved in Oxford's phase three trials in the UK and Brazil, half of which were given the vaccine and the rest were given a fake jab. There were only 30 cases of Covid-19 in people given the vaccine compared to 101 in the placebo group. None of the participants who took the vaccine fell seriously ill

    More than 24,000 volunteers were involved in Oxford's phase three trials in the UK and Brazil, half of which were given the vaccine and the rest were given a fake jab. There were only 30 cases of Covid-19 in people given the vaccine compared to 101 in the placebo group. None of the participants who took the vaccine fell seriously ill

    The Oxford vaccine is a genetically engineered common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees. It has been modified to make it weak so it does not cause illness in people and loaded up with the gene for the coronavirus spike protein, which Covid-19 uses to invade human cells

    The Oxford vaccine is a genetically engineered common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees. It has been modified to make it weak so it does not cause illness in people and loaded up with the gene for the coronavirus spike protein, which Covid-19 uses to invade human cells

    Oxford University made a celebratory tweet this morning showing two of its vaccine researchers in Brazil giving a high-five after they un-blinded the trial and found their jab could offer up to 90 per cent protection from Covid

    Oxford University made a celebratory tweet this morning showing two of its vaccine researchers in Brazil giving a high-five after they un-blinded the trial and found their jab could offer up to 90 per cent protection from Covid

    Boris Johnson hailed the 'exciting news' about the Oxford vaccine's encouraging results. He has ordered 100m doses

    Boris Johnson hailed the 'exciting news' about the Oxford vaccine's encouraging results. He has ordered 100m doses

    Professor Teresa Lambe Professor Katie Ewer

    Professor Teresa Lambe (left) and Professor Katie Ewer (right) were senior investigators during the trials of Oxford's vaccine and oversaw studies across the UK, Brazil and South Africa

    Oxford professor Sarah Gilbert Professor Adrian Hill

    Oxford professors Sarah Gilbert and Adrian Hill co-founded Vaccitech, the start-up that created the vaccine alongside experts at the university's Jenner Institute

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    'I have a tiny sense of pride': Volunteer in Oxford's coronavirus vaccine trial hails 'promising' results 

    A volunteer in Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine trial has revealed she felt a 'tiny sense of pride' at taking part in research that could finally beat the virus. 

    Sarah Hurst, 47, from South Oxfordshire, said it was a 'great feeling' after hearing today that the vaccine could trigger an immune response in up to 90 per cent of those who receive the jab.

    Jack Somers, 35, from London, who also took part, said he was 'very happy' and felt like his vaccine team had 'just won'. 

    Sarah Hurst, 47, from Goring-on-Thames, who took part in the trials of the vaccine, said she had a 'tiny sense of pride' in helping to prove the jab worked

    Sarah Hurst, 47, from Goring-on-Thames, who took part in the trials of the vaccine, said she had a 'tiny sense of pride' in helping to prove the jab worked

    The pair, who both work as journalists, received two shots of either the experimental or placebo vaccine. Mr Somers said he suffered side-effects of a pain in his shoulder and slightly raised temperature, but Ms Somers said she didn't experience any. 

    Ms Hurst, who works as a journalist, said: 'It's really the developers and everyone who's done all the work, all the medical students who are constantly all day meeting the vaccine participants and testing them and being on the front line.

    'But it's good, it's a great feeling to help to make a vaccine.'

    Jack Somers, 35, from London , who also took part, said he was 'very happy' and felt like his vaccine team had 'just won'

    Jack Somers, 35, from London , who also took part, said he was 'very happy' and felt like his vaccine team had 'just won' 

    Explaining why she signed up, she said: 'I live near where it's being done and they were looking for people in the Thames Valley. As soon as I saw that I wanted to get involved to help research a vaccine.'

    She underwent health checks and blood tests before receiving her two shots, and filled in a diary to notify researchers of her movements over the course of the study, as well as any symptoms.

    'You have to treat it as if you were in the placebo group anyway, you wouldn't go out and randomly expose yourself because you don't know,' she said.

    Despite suffering no side effects, this doesn't mean she received the placebo. The trial used the meningitis vaccine as a control, which scientists argued would elicit a similar response to the Covid-19 jab. 

    She said today's results were 'promising' and noted 'the fact it doesn't need to be chilled at a very low temperature and is cheaper than the other vaccines will help in making it easier to distribute'.

    'You have to treat it as if you were in the placebo group anyway, you wouldn't go out and randomly expose yourself because you don't know,' she said. 

    'People have only been vaccinated for a few months so I would still want to know: what are going to be the results after a year? Is it going to be effective after a year?

    'That's something you really just have to wait for.'

    Mr Somers said he found it hard to believe how quickly scientists had developed the vaccine. 

    'I can't help but take my hat off to the scientists,' said the freelance journalist from south-west London.

    'I remember six months ago sitting in a hospital watching a safety video, with Professor Matthew Snape at Oxford University talking in quite careful, deliberate, cautious terms about how this vaccine might work or it might not work.

    'Now it seems amazing that we're here six months later and that jab is very effective at stopping coronavirus.

    'It's not where I thought we'd be six months ago, it's not even where I thought we'd be a month ago, but it's testament to the work of so many people, so many extraordinary people.' 

    Volunteers receive no information about how the trial is going so have been following the progress in the media along with everybody else.

    And Mr Sommers said that, while he had been very pleased to read about positive results from other vaccines such as that developed by Pfizer, there was a special feeling about this one.

    'It does feel a bit like I was supporting a team and it was good to watch other teams win and score, but now my team has won and I'm very happy about that,' he said.

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    Mr Keith-Roach said in an interview today that the UK Government was one of the first in the world to 'step forward' and sign a supply agreement in May.

    Asked if he was hopeful the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA), which decides whether a vaccine can be given to UK citizens, could approve the jab in the next week or so for the UK, Mr Keith-Roach said they were aiming to roll it out 'as soon as possible'. 

     'What I would say is, of course, that’s up to the regulator and the Government, but our experience so far with all of our interactions with all of the agencies and the government in the UK, is we’re all absolutely aligned to do everything we can to bring this to UK citizens as soon as humanly possible.

    'And I would expect that to be the philosophy over the coming weeks as well.'

    The MHRA has been conducting a rolling review of the vaccine data, meaning it has been sent data on the trials before they were completed in order to speed up the review and approval process.

    A spokesman for the regulator has said they expect the review time to be 'quicker than usual' and that the review process has been 'prioritised'. But they refused to give a date for when the roll out could get the green light.

    Backing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, Mr Keith-Roach added: 'We really believe that this vaccine has the potential to make vaccination a reality for hundreds of millions of patients globally and quickly by the end of quarter one,” he said.

    'We’re currently scaling up to produce one hundred to 200 million doses a month, and with a commitment to supply at no profit for the period of the pandemic. So what that should mean is that it’s between £2 and £3 a dose.'

    Commenting on the findings, Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford, who was not involved in the study, said: 'This is very welcome news, we can clearly see the end of the tunnel now.

    'There were no COVID hospitalisations or deaths in people who got the Oxford vaccine. Importantly, from what we have heard the vaccine seems to prevent infection not just disease. This is important as the vaccine could reduce the spread of the virus as well as protect the vulnerable from severe disease.'

    Oxford researchers said on average their jab gives 70 per cent protection, when combining the results of two different dosing regimes. When volunteers were given two 'high' doses the protection was 62 per cent, but this rose to 90 per cent when volunteers were given a 'low' dose followed by a high one. For comparison, the flu vaccine typically offers between 40 per cent and 60 per cent protection, depending on the strain that year.

    It's not clear why there is a difference when the smaller dose is given first. Oxford scientists believe the smaller initial dose may gradually prime the immune system to produce a more potent response later down the line. 

    Professor Pollard, who helped lead the research, said the 90 per cent effectiveness data was 'intriguing' and would mean 'we would have a lot more doses to distribute.' 

    He added: 'We have a vaccine for the world, because we've got a vaccine which is highly effective – it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation.

    'I think these are really exciting results because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature – it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunisation distribution system. And so our goal at the beginning was to make sure that we can have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere.

    'I think we have actually managed to do that, so it's a very exciting day today. I think this is an incredibly exciting moment for human health.' 

    The Oxford vaccine is a genetically engineered common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees. It has been modified to make it weak so it does not cause illness in people and loaded up with the gene for the coronavirus spike protein, which Covid-19 uses to invade human cells. 

    When the vaccine is injected, the weakened virus delivers the coronavirus gene to human cells so they start to reproduce the spike protein.

    These are detected by the immune system which produces antibodies, which the body then stores and uses to fend of the real coronavirus if they are exposed to someone who is infected. 

    During a round of interviews this morning, Professor Pollard also told the Radio 4 Today programme: 'We now have a vaccine that can prevent coronavirus disease and hopefully will play a part in getting the world back to normal.

    'The most important thing to get us back to normal is going to be to use these vaccines all of the vaccines that are going to be available as soon as possible. Because once we have protected the vulnerable in the population we will be able to start getting back to normal so we've just got to get on with this as soon as possible.

    'The most important thing we need this year if we possibly is to prevent people getting severe disease but to completely halt the pandemic we need to go further than that and most importantly we need lots of people vaccinated and i think that's why having a vaccine that appears to have very good protection.

    'I mean, even the top level results of 70 per cent is better than the flu vaccine in most years, and we also have a vaccine that is going to be easy to distribute, it is stored at fridge temperatures. And we can get it to every corner in the world it's already been manufactured in ten different sites in the world to make sure that can happen.' 

    Professor Andrew Pollard said that he was 'optimistic' that the study would produce results showing how well it protected against Covid before Christmas. 

    The following procedure for getting it licensed and then delivered to clinics, however, is 'not under our control' and could take weeks longer, he said, which would push the delivery into next year.  

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier today: 'This is really encouraging news on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, that obviously we've been backing since the start. And I'm really very pleased, really welcome these figures, this data, that show that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90 per cent effective.

    'Of course, it's vital that the independent regulator, the MHRA, will need to look at the data, will need to check to make sure that it's effective and safe of course. But we've got 100 million doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.'

    He added: 'And of course this vaccine, this homegrown vaccine, is easier to administer as well than the Pfizer vaccine, because it doesn't need to be stored at minus 70. So having two vaccines that appear to have effectiveness, done right, in the 90 per cent range is really, really good news.' 

    Professor Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinologist at Oxford and one of the lead researchers behind the new vaccine, added: 'The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by (Covid-19).

    'We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.'

    The Oxford vaccine is based on different technology to Pfizer and Moderna's candidates, which are known as 'mRNA', or messenger RNA, vaccines. Both use genetic material called mRNA which instructs human cells to make coronavirus spike proteins. 

    Unlike Oxford's vaccine, which are produced using weakened forms of the virus, RNA vaccines can be constructed quickly using only the pathogen's genetic code. The new mRNA vaccines have never been approved by regulators before, whereas the Oxford approach has been used in vaccines for diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, MERS and Ebola.

    Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna in the US have showed 95 per cent protection - but both have to be stored between minus 70C and minus 20C and are up to £24 more expensive per jab. 

    Pfizer's jab throws up the biggest logistical problems for the UK Government because it needs to be kept at -70°C (-94°F). This would require expensive specialist freezers and huge supplies of dry ice to prevent it from spoiling. Moderna's, meanwhile has to be stored at between -20°C (-4°F) and 8°C (46°F).

    Britain has pre-ordered 40million doses of Pfizer's jab, with up to 10million anticipated by the start of next year, and 5million shots of Moderna's vaccine, which will be the last to make its way to the UK because the American firm needs to drastically ramp up its supply chain.

    Scientists reacting to Oxford's breakthrough described it as a 'herculean achievement' that three vaccines had been developed and proven effective in under a year.

    Professor Peter Openshaw, an expert in experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said: 'These preliminary results are impressive and add to optimism that we can use vaccination to prevent Covid-19. 

    'The Oxford/AZ vaccine dosage was chosen as one that gives acceptable side effects and a half-dose starter dose is great news, if confirmed once all the data has been reviewed.

    'The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seem counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: with drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects (and more side-effects), but the immune system does not work like that.

    'The report that an initial half-dose then a full dose is even better than two full doses is great news, potentially increasing the number of people that can be vaccinated and reducing costs.'

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  • HOW DO THE OXFORD, MODERNA AND PFIZER/BIONTECH VACCINES COMPARE? 

    Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have both released interim results of the final stage clinical trials of their vaccines, with both suggesting they are extremely effective. 

    Oxford University has published the findings from its second phase, which show the jab provokes an immune response and is safe to use – it is not yet clear how well it protects against coronavirus in the real world.

    Here's how they compare: 

    CREATOR:

    MODERNA (US)

    PFIZER (US) & BIONTECH (DE)

    OXFORD UNIVERSITY (UK)

    How it works: 

    mRNA vaccine – Genetic material from coronavirus is injected to trick immune system into making 'spike' proteins and learning how to attack them.

    mRNA vaccine – both Moderna's and Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccines work in the same way.

    Recombinant viral vector vaccine – a harmless cold virus taken from chimpanzees was edited to produce the 'spike' proteins and look like the coronavirus.

    How well does it work?

    94.5% effective (90 positive in placebo group, 5 positive in vaccine group) .

    95% effective (160 positive in placebo group, 8 positive in vaccine group).

    62% - 90% effective, depending on dosing.

    How much does it cost?

    Moderna confirmed it will charge countries placing smaller orders, such as the UK's five million doses, between £24 and £28 per dose. US has secured 100million doses for $1.525billion (£1.16bn), suggesting it will cost $15.25 (£11.57) per dose.

    The US will pay $1.95bn (£1.48bn) for the first 100m doses, a cost of $19.50 (£14.80) per dose.

    Expected to cost £2.23 per dose. The UK's full 100m dose supply could amount to just £223million.

    Can we get hold of it?

    UK has ordered five million doses which will become available from March 2021. Moderna will produce 20m doses this year, expected to stay in the US. 

    UK has already ordered 40million doses, of which 10million could be available in 2020. First vaccinations expected in December.

    UK has already ordered 100million doses and is expected to be first in line to get it once approved.

    What side effects does it cause? 

    Moderna said the vaccine is 'generally safe and well tolerated'. Most side effects were mild or moderate but included pain, fatigue and headache, which were 'generally' short-lived. 

    Pfizer and BioNTech did not produce a breakdown of side effects but said the Data Monitoring Committee 'has not reported any serious safety concerns'.

    Oxford said there have been no serious safety concerns. Mild side effects have been relatively common in small trials, with many participants reporting that their arm hurt after the jab and they later suffered a headache, exhaustion or muscle pain. More data is being collected.

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    Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive at UK Research and Innovation, which helped to fund the vaccine, said: 'It's a Herculean achievement in under a year and a tribute to the dedication of many people – from scientists and clinicians in universities and industry to the trial volunteers – who have come together to deliver this promising vaccine with tremendous speed.

    'These preliminary Phase III results show the Oxford-led Covid-19 vaccine could be more effective against coronavirus than typical vaccines against seasonal flu, but more study is needed to understand dosing and the protective response from the vaccine.

    'We are proud to have supported this promising and inexpensive vaccine, which could be easily distributed at fridge temperature and administered by healthcare systems worldwide.'

    Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, added: 'This is yet more excellent news and should be considered tremendously exciting. The Oxford vaccine, as for the others we've heard about recently, is capable of generating 90 per cent protection against Covid-19. Given the favourable stability seen for this vaccine, it has great potential to be delivered across the globe, achieving huge public health benefits. 

    'Whilst we are all eagerly awaiting the full data, including efficacy across age groups, vulnerable patients and whether infection is prevented compared to severe symptoms, we can all be encouraged by yet another leap forward in the strategy to deal with this pandemic. Nevertheless, whilst this prepares us for the next potential wave of infection, we must remain vigilant and resilient during the ongoing crisis.'

    Professor Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, said: 'Once again we are waking up on a Monday morning to further good news about a Covid-19 vaccine. The results from this trial of the Oxford/AZ vaccine are highly encouraging demonstrating significant efficacy. 

    'A particular strength of this vaccine is that it can be stored in a fridge; this means that it can be distributed around the world using existing delivery mechanisms. This could therefore have a truly significant impact across the globe and enable an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, added: 'We have further exciting news that vaccine development is proving successful. These results are intriguing, with two different estimates of efficacy depending upon the dose used with the vaccine. 

    'This vaccine candidate also requires refrigeration storage rather than the ultra-low temperatures of the Pfizer candidate. Oxford have previously confirmed that there would be some level of distribution to low-and-middle-income countries so this may also be good news around the subject of equitable access to vaccine development with a product that is much easier to store and distribute. The pandemic is everyone's problem at least until the vast majority of the globe is vaccinated, not just the rich countries.'

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the results of an interim analysis of the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca's coronavirus vacccine candidate were 'very promising'. 

    He tweeted: 'Very promising data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca Phase III clinical trials. We are on the cusp of a huge scientific breakthrough that could protect millions of lives. The UK has secured early access to 100m doses of their vaccine - on top of 255m doses from other developers.'

    AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, said: 'Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine's efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency.

    'Furthermore, the vaccine's simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.'

    Today's announcement comes just days after Oxford officially published the results of the second phase of its trial, which proved that it was working in elderly people and wasn't causing any safety concerns.

    It found two doses created strong signs of immunity in 99 per cent of people across all age groups. The second-phase study included 560 volunteers, most of whom were white and British, and showed that people across all age groups seemed to react equally well to the jab. It adds to data published in July suggesting it would work safely for under-55s. Studies of people with serious health conditions and other ethnicities are ongoing.  

    It showed that the vaccine caused more side effects than a fake jab but that these were 'mild' and more common in young people than older participants. Within the first week after having the injection more than eight out of 10 under-55s said their arm hurt and and they later experienced tiredness, muscle aches or headaches. Experts explained this might just be because younger people's immune systems are more active and likely to overreact.

    Final trial results of the jab by Pfizer showed that only eight people out more than 20,000 who got the vaccine caught coronavirus compared to 162 who were given a fake jab. A total of 10 people got severe Covid-19, one of whom had been given the real vaccine. 

    Pfizer's early estimate was that its vaccine was 90 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 infection after reflecting on preliminary data from the study. That was bumped up to 95 per cent after the full results were un-blinded.  

    However, Oxford University/AstraZeneca say they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who the received jab (a volunteer getting the injection in Brazil this year)

    However, Oxford University/AstraZeneca say they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who the received jab (a volunteer getting the injection in Brazil this year)

    Stock market creeps up 0.49% or 31 points to 6,382 after Oxford and AstraZeneca announce vaccine success

    The London stock market edged up today as the City awaits Boris Johnson's plans for a strengthened three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions to replace the national lockdown in England.

    The FTSE 100 index of Britain's leading firms was up by 0.49 per cent or 31 points at 6,382 in early trading this morning.

    The Prime Minister will detail his winter strategy this afternoon, with a proposal to deploy a major testing scheme in an attempt to winner over rebels on the Conservative backbenches.

    It comes as data from AstraZeneca and Oxford University shows a vaccine developed in the UK can prevent up to 90 per cent of people from getting Covid-19.

    Today, Mr Johnson is set to tell MPs that non-essential shops can open in all three tiers after the current restrictions expire on December 2, in a boost for retailers.

    The PM will set out plans to allow a small number of households across the UK to mix over a limited number of days at Christmas, but is not expected to give specifics.

    Appearing virtually in the Commons from quarantine, Mr Johnson will reveal major rapid testing programmes for all areas forced into the highest tier of restrictions.

    He will also set out a trial of the repeat testing of close contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid-19 to prevent them from having to isolate. 

    More areas are expected to enter the higher end of the tiered-system next month, which will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made in the four-week lockdown. 

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    The drugmaker said the vaccine seemed to work 'consistently' well on people across all age groups and ethnicities, which is crucial for protecting elderly and non-white communities, who are most at risk from severe Covid-19.

    This also means that the vaccine will be useful for countries all over the world and not just Western Europe and the US. Efficacy in adults over 65 years, who are at particular risk from the virus, was over 94 per cent.

    Moderna's results show 95 out of more than 25,000 participants caught the coronavirus in the trial. Only five out of the 95 had actually been given the vaccine, while the other 90 were in a placebo group and given a fake jab.

    And nobody in the vaccine group got seriously ill with Covid-19, compared to 11 in the placebo group, who were given a fake vaccine to compare against the real one. The results suggest the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of people testing positive for coronavirus or getting sick with Covid-19. 

    Meanwhile, a volunteer in Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine trial has revealed she felt a 'tiny sense of pride' for taking part in research that could finally beat the virus. 

    Sarah Hurst, 47, from Goring-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire, said it was a 'great feeling' after hearing today that the vaccine could be up to 90 per cent effective. 

    The journalist received two shots of either the experimental or placebo vaccine, and has been regularly monitored by scientists to see whether she catches Covid-19. 

    Pfizer sends full results on breakthrough Covid vaccine to Britain's drugs watchdog so it can be approved for December roll-out 

    Pfizer has sent the full results of its final Covid-19 vaccine trial to the drugs watchdog in the UK as the world inches closer to getting its hands on a jab.

    The American pharmaceutical giant - most famous for making Viagra - claims its vaccine is 95 per cent effective and works in older people most vulnerable to Covid.

    Regulators at the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now pore over data from the phase three clinical trial to make sure the study was up to scratch and the jab is safe to dish out en masse.

    The MHRA has been doing a 'rolling review' of the vaccine. It means the approval process could be wrapped up in a matter of days and the high risk people could start getting their hands on it by the end of the year.

    But officials still face the mammoth task of transporting and storing the jab, which may need expensive specialist freezers and huge supplies of dry ice to keep it at the required -70°C (-94°F).

    The UK is expected to receive a total of 40 million doses by the end of 2021, enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses anticipated in the first half of next year.

    Though there's a chance it could receive up to 10 million before then end of 2020. 

    The Covid-19 vaccine will only be authorised for supply by the UK's independent regulator the MHRA if it meets strict standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness, and if they are satisfied the vaccine can be consistently manufactured.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'The whole country will be cheered by the news that Pfizer/BioNTech have formally reported the data from their clinical trials for their vaccine to the regulator. This is another important step on the road to recovery. 

    'We must now allow the MHRA's renowned teams of scientists and clinicians to make an independent assessment of whether it meets their robust standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness.

    'If approval is granted, the NHS will be ready to deliver. The NHS has vast experience in delivering widespread vaccination programmes and an enormous amount of work has taken place to ensure we have the logistical expertise, transport and workforce to roll out a vaccine according to clinical priority, at the speed at which it can be manufactured.'

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: 'Today, we have renewed hope that we are on the brink of one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time, as we reach the crucial last stage to finding a Covid-19 vaccine.

    'While this news is a cause for celebration, we must make sure that this vaccine, like all new medicines, meets standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness. I urge the public to be patient while we wait for regulators to do a thorough assessment.

    'Finding a vaccine is not going to end the pandemic overnight, but we are hopeful of being one step closer to defeating this terrible virus.'

    Chair of Vaccines Taskforce Kate Bingham added: 'We are moving ever closer to having the means with which to help end this pandemic but we must wait for the outcome of the MHRA assessment before we will truly know if we have our first approved vaccine.

    'Irrespective of the outcome, which we all hope will be positive, this is a tremendous day for science. It is testament to the herculean efforts of the scientific and biopharmaceutical community and it makes me immensely proud.'

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    Scientists at Oxford University today revealed their vaccine triggers an immune response in up to 90 per cent of volunteers when the first shot is administered as a half dose - heralding a way to get the world back to normal.

    Of the 20,000 people who got the jab, half received the vaccine. There were only 30 Covid-19 infections in this group, compared to 101 in the placebo, and none of them experienced a severe reaction. 

    Politicians and experts congratulated the Oxford team on their breakthrough today, after their vaccine bolstered global armaments against the virus. 

    A second volunteer in the trials previously told MailOnline they had suffered a fever, headaches, chills and fatigue 14 hours after getting their first shot.

    Brazilian doctor João Pedro R. Feitosa, 28, died from Covid-19 during the trials after receiving a placebo. He had been working in emergency wards and intensive care treating infected patients since March at two hospitals in Rio de Janeiro. 

    Ms Hurst, who works as a journalist, said: 'It's really the developers and everyone who's done all the work, all the medical students who are constantly all day meeting the vaccine participants and testing them and being on the front line.

    'But it's good, it's a great feeling to help to make a vaccine.'

    She said that today's results were 'promising' and noted  'the fact that it doesn't need to be chilled at a very low temperature and is cheaper than the other vaccines will help in making it easier to distribute'.

    Ms Hurst suffered no side effects after receiving her two doses - but this does not necessarily mean she got the placebo, as this was a meningitis vaccine which they believed would elicit a similar response to the Covid-19 jab.

    She said after hearing they were looking for volunteers, she wanted to sign up immediately. 

    She underwent health checks and blood tests before receiving her two shots, and filled in a diary to notify researchers of her movements over the course of the study, as well as any symptoms. 

    'You have to treat it as if you were in the placebo group anyway, you wouldn't go out and randomly expose yourself because you don't know,' she said.

    She added: 'People have only been vaccinated for a few months so I would still want to know: what are going to be the results after a year? Is it going to be effective after a year?

    'That's something you really just have to wait for. I live near where it's being done and they were looking for people in the Thames Valley,' she said. 'As soon as I saw that I wanted to get involved to help research a vaccine.'

    Meanwhile, Pfizer has sent the full results of its final Covid-19 vaccine trial to the drugs watchdog in the UK as the world inches closer to getting its hands on a jab.

    The American pharmaceutical giant - most famous for making Viagra - claims its vaccine is 95 per cent effective and works in older people most vulnerable to Covid.

    Regulators at the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now pore over data from the phase three clinical trial to make sure the study was up to scratch and the jab is safe to dish out en masse.

    The MHRA has been doing a 'rolling review' of the vaccine. It means the approval process could be wrapped up in a matter of days and the high risk people could start getting their hands on it by the end of the year.

    But officials still face the mammoth task of transporting and storing the jab, which may need expensive specialist freezers and huge supplies of dry ice to keep it at the required -70°C (-94°F).

    The UK is expected to receive a total of 40 million doses by the end of 2021, enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population, with the majority of doses anticipated in the first half of next year.

    Though there's a chance it could receive up to 10 million before then end of 2020. 

    The Covid-19 vaccine will only be authorised for supply by the UK's independent regulator the MHRA if it meets strict standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness, and if they are satisfied the vaccine can be consistently manufactured.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'The whole country will be cheered by the news that Pfizer/BioNTech have formally reported the data from their clinical trials for their vaccine to the regulator. This is another important step on the road to recovery. 

    'We must now allow the MHRA's renowned teams of scientists and clinicians to make an independent assessment of whether it meets their robust standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness.

    'If approval is granted, the NHS will be ready to deliver. The NHS has vast experience in delivering widespread vaccination programmes and an enormous amount of work has taken place to ensure we have the logistical expertise, transport and workforce to roll out a vaccine according to clinical priority, at the speed at which it can be manufactured.'

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: 'Today, we have renewed hope that we are on the brink of one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time, as we reach the crucial last stage to finding a Covid-19 vaccine.

    'While this news is a cause for celebration, we must make sure that this vaccine, like all new medicines, meets standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness. I urge the public to be patient while we wait for regulators to do a thorough assessment.

    'Finding a vaccine is not going to end the pandemic overnight, but we are hopeful of being one step closer to defeating this terrible virus.'

    Chair of Vaccines Taskforce Kate Bingham added: 'We are moving ever closer to having the means with which to help end this pandemic but we must wait for the outcome of the MHRA assessment before we will truly know if we have our first approved vaccine.

    'Irrespective of the outcome, which we all hope will be positive, this is a tremendous day for science. It is testament to the herculean efforts of the scientific and biopharmaceutical community and it makes me immensely proud.'

    The Oxford scientists behind new COVID vaccine: A mother of triplets who is 'used to working on no sleep', the biologist who failed to get into medical school and an Everest mountaineer are all on team 

    They are the lab-coat wearing virus-fighting team who may have landed the killer blow in the battle against Covid-19.

    Oxford University has today announced its clinical trial results for its jab, which show it is up to 90 per cent effective at stopping the virus.  

    The news is a huge boost to the Government, which already has 4million doses ready to be administered as soon as it's approved and has ordered 100million.

    The jab is expected to cost just £2 a time and can be stored cheaply in a normal fridge, unlike other vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that showed similarly promising results last week but need to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures using expensive equipment.

    But who are the 'fantastic five' behind the newest jab - which the Government hope could help restore normality to British life?

    Sarah Gilbert

    Sarah Gilbert is a British vaccinologist who is Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University.

    Leading the team is Sarah Gilbert, a British vaccinologist who is Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University

    Leading the team is Sarah Gilbert, a British vaccinologist who is Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University

    She has more than 25 years experience in the field and has previously led the development and testing of a universal flu vaccine, which underwent clinical trials in 2011.

    Professor Gilbert is not just busy at work, she's got her hands full at home too, being the mother of triplets. 

    Born in April 1962, she attended Kettering High School, before attending the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, where she studied Biological Science and later University of Hull for her doctoral degree.

    She later took roles in Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire before joining the lab of Irish vaccinologist Adrian Hill, where she carried out research into malaria. The pair are both involved in Oxford University spin-off biotech firm Vaccitech.

    She was made Professor at the Oxford-based Jenner Trust in 2010 and started work on research for a universal flu vaccine, which underwent clinical trials in 2011.

    The 58-year-old's work this year on the Covid-19 vaccine has earned her a spot on The Times' 'Science Power List' in May 2020.

    She has had to juggle the intense work with her home life, including being a mother to triplets - all of who are now at university.

    Earlier this year, Professor Gilbert told the Independent: 'I'm trained for it – I'm the mother of triplets.

    'If you get four hours a night with triplets, you're doing very well. I've been through this.' 

    Adrian Hill

    Adrian Hill is an Irish vaccinologist and director of the Jenner Institute - which develops vaccines and carries out clinical trials for diseases including Malaria, Tuberculosis and Ebola

    Adrian Hill is an Irish vaccinologist and director of the Jenner Institute - which develops vaccines and carries out clinical trials for diseases including Malaria, Tuberculosis and Ebola

    Adrian Hill is an Irish vaccinologist and director of the Jenner Institute - which develops vaccines and carries out clinical trials for diseases including Malaria, Tuberculosis and Ebola.

    Formed in November 2005, the institute is named after Edward Jenner - the inventor of vaccinations.

    Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1958, Professor Hill attended Belvedere College in Dublin for secondary school. He later went on to study medicine at Trinity College in Dublin, before transferring to Magdelan College in Oxford - where he completed the rest of his medical degree.

    He later joined charity the Wellcome Trust and in 2014 he led a clinical trial of a vaccine for Ebola following the outbreak in Africa.

    According to the New York Times, Professor Hill became interested in vaccines in the early 1980s, when he visited an uncle who was a priest working in a hospital in Zimbabwe. 

    He said: 'I came back wondering, 'What do you see in these hospitals in England and Ireland?'. They don't have any of these diseases.' 

    Andrew Pollard

    Andrew Pollard is the director of the vaccine group. He is also a Professor of paediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford

    Andrew Pollard is the director of the vaccine group. He is also a Professor of paediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford

    Andrew Pollard is the director of the Oxford vaccine group. He is also a Professor of paediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford, honorary consultant paediatrician at Oxford Children's Hospital and Vice Master of St Cross College, Oxford.

    After obtaining his medical degree at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School at the University of London in 1989, he trained in paediatrics at Birmingham's Children's Hospital.

    He later specialised in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at St Mary's Hospital, London, UK and at British Columbia Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada. 

    He has been a member of the World Health Organisation's SAGE committee on Immunisation since 2016.

    He has published 46 papers in his field and has supervised 37 PhD students.

    His publications includes over 500 manuscripts and books on various topics in paediatrics and infectious diseases.

    Outside of work, Professor Pollard made the first British ascent of Jaonli (6632m) in 1988 and Chamlang in 1991 (7309m) and was the Deputy Leader of the successful 1994 British Medical Everest Expedition.

    Teresa (Tess) Lambe  

    Teresa Lambe is an associate professor and investigator at the Jenner Institute. She has previous experience working on vaccine research, including into Ebola, the common flu and MERS - another coronavirus

    Teresa Lambe is an associate professor and investigator at the Jenner Institute. She has previous experience working on vaccine research, including into Ebola, the common flu and MERS - another coronavirus

    Teresa Lambe is an associate professor and investigator at the Jenner Institute. 

    She has previous experience working on vaccine research, including into Ebola, the common flu and MERS - another coronavirus.

    Dr Lambe grew up in County Kildare, Ireland, and went on to study pharmacology and molecular genetics at University College Dublin, before moving to Oxford University in 2002.

    Outside of her work she likes to job and spend time with her husband and children, something which she says she has not had much time to do this year. 

    She told the Irish Times: 'I love science and working on vaccines, and I am lucky that this means I get to do something constructive in this pandemic. I want to help, and that keeps me going.'  

    Professor Katie Ewer

    Despite being unable to make the grade for medical school, Katie Ewer did not give up on her dreams. She took up microbiologist instead, and grew fascinated by infectious diseases

    Despite being unable to make the grade for medical school, Katie Ewer did not give up on her dreams. She took up microbiologist instead, and grew fascinated by infectious diseases

    Despite being unable to make the grade for medical school, Katie Ewer did not give up on her dreams.

    She took up microbiology instead, and grew fascinated by infectious diseases.

    After completing her PhD in the subject she joined Oxford University's Jenner Institute - where she has spent the last 13 years working on a malaria vaccine.

    She is now a senior scientist at the Jenner Institute.

    When asked by Esquire magazine earlier this year whether the work to develop a vaccine had been stressful, she simply replied: 'Yes.'

    She added: 'I try not to think about it too much.'

    Professor Ewer also added that she has stopped using social media, adding: 'I had to stop engaging with it because if I think too much about it, I get really stressed.'

     

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    Brace for Christmas shopping! The High Street re-opens next week with the end of national lockdown as Boris Johnson draws up plan for family 'bubbles' to gather for Christmas

    Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today.

    The Prime Minister will confirm that the second national lockdown in England is to end on December 2, when a new system of tiered Covid restrictions will be introduced.

    He is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones.

    The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

    The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

    Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today

    Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today

    The proposal would allow up to three households to gather for Christmas, provided they meet with no one else during this period. The respite will last for five days, beginning on Christmas Eve and running through to the Bank Holiday Monday on December 28.

    Travel and overnight stays will be permitted across the UK to allow friends and families to unite for the Christmas break. But there will be no relaxation of the rules for New Year.

    Government sources said last night that after England's lockdown ends on December 2, non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen across the country in the hope that retailers can salvage part of their vital Christmas trade.

    Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume. But, under the plan signed off by the Cabinet last night, most of the country will be placed in the top two tiers, where the hospitality sector will remain subject to heavy restrictions.

    Sources said 'most people' would be placed in tiers two and three, where all indoor socialising with other households will be banned – potentially until the spring.

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday acknowledged that Christmas 'is not going to be normal', but said ministers wanted to give families some respite without risking a third wave of the virus.

    Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume

    Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume

    Public Health England warned last week that five days of tougher restrictions would be needed for every day of relaxation over Christmas. But the Chancellor played down the warning, saying it was 'difficult to be so precise'.

    Police chiefs warned last week that they had no interest in trying to enforce the rules around family gatherings at Christmas. Government sources said the Prime Minister would appeal to people to show 'common sense' in ensuring that the Christmas relaxation does not spark a fresh surge in cases.

    Mr Sunak said the new tiered system would be 'tougher' than the previous one. It is expected to last until the spring, when ministers hope the rollout of vaccines will allow life to start returning to normal. Ministers will announce on Thursday which areas of the country will go into which tiers.

    Government scientists have warned that Tier One restrictions proved ineffective last month.

    As a result, tens of millions of people will be placed in tiers two and three where much tougher restrictions apply. In Tier Three, pubs and restaurants can only offer takeaway services, people are banned from overnight stays outside the home and travel outside the local area is frowned on.

    Downing Street last night said that mass testing would be made available in all Tier Three areas to help them catch infections early and slow the spread of the virus.

    Johnson is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones

    Johnson is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones

    Mr Johnson will unveil the details of the plans to MPs this afternoon. In a message overnight, he said the UK was 'not out of the woods', but suggested there were reasons for cautious optimism.

    'The selflessness of people in following the rules is making a difference,' he said. 'The virus is not spreading nearly as quickly as it would if we were not washing our hands, maintaining social distance, wearing masks and so on. And in England, where nationwide measures came into effect at the start of this month, the increase in new cases is flattening off.

    'We are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still present in communities across the country, and remains both far more infectious and far more deadly than seasonal flu. But with expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there.'

    The Government announced a further 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626. 

     

    Tests will offer freedom in SEVEN days: Boris Johnson is set to unveil plans for a £7billion coronavirus screening revolution in bid to cut self-isolation time by half 

    Boris Johnson will tomorrow unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative.

    The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person.

    Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.

    Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative

    Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative

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  • The scheme will deploy new 'lateral flow tests' which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes.

    Ministers believe they could revolutionise the test and trace system, which has struggled to persuade people to self-isolate for the full 14 days.

    Under a new system, those who come into contact with an infected person will be able to take a Covid test every day for a week.

    If they test negative they will be able to go about their lives as normal. After seven days of negative tests they will be released from the system. Trials of the scheme will begin this week in Liverpool, where the Army has been helping to conduct the first mass testing of an entire city.

    If successful, the project will be rolled out for NHS staff next month, before being made available to everyone from January.

    Fast-turnaround tests will also be used to enable care home visits this winter. Downing Street last night confirmed that ministers hope to be able to allow residents to receive regular visits from two loved ones.

    The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes

    The scheme will deploy new 'lateral flow tests' which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes

    Named visitors will be tested twice a week. Negative tests will allow people to visit their loved ones and drop social distancing requirements. 

    A Number 10 spokesman said: 'Crucially, visitors will be able to have physical contact, such as a hug or holding hands with their loved ones.'

    Trials have already begun in 20 care homes ahead of a national rollout planned for next month.

    Care workers looking after people in their homes will also be offered weekly tests from today.

    The mass testing initiative is part of a new Covid Winter Plan to be announced by the PM today.

    It is expected to cost £7 billion, taking the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £22 billion this year.

    Ministers believe mass testing could play a critical role in enabling society to open up again in the coming months.

    Plans are also being drawn up for the development of so-called 'freedom passes', which could allow people to attend events like live theatre and sport matches.

    But these are not likely to be available until the New Year.

    In the short term, the tests will be deployed mainly to help bring the pandemic under control.

    Mass testing will be made available to all areas placed in the 'very high risk' category of the updated three-tier system the PM will roll out today.

    Sources said trials in Liverpool had shown the tests had proved effective in detecting cases in people with no symptoms, helping to break the chain of transmission and bring down case numbers more quickly.

    Weekly tests will also be made available to people in high risk occupations, including prisons and food processing plants.

    Teams of people delivering the new vaccines in the coming months will also be eligible for regular testing.

    Twice-weekly testing has already begun in the NHS to help identify asymptomatic cases and prevent outbreaks in hospitals.

    Care home staff will have testing doubled from weekly to twice weekly from next month. Care home residents will be offered tests weekly rather than the current once a month.

    Universities will also be offered testing capacity to test students wanting to travel home to their families at Christmas

    Q&A

    Will the lockdown continue?

    No. Boris Johnson will confirm today the lockdown will end on December 2. It will be replaced by a system of regional restrictions in three tiers.

    Will the tiers be the same as before?

    No. The Government will revert to a three-tier system, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it will be 'tougher' than before the lockdown.

    What were the tiers before?

    Three tiers of restrictions operated in England. Tier One contained only national restrictions like the 10pm curfew and Rule of Six, under which gatherings of more than six people are illegal unless they are all from the same household or bubble. Tier Two added a ban on indoor socialising, while Tier Three restricted pubs and restaurants to providing a takeaway service and banned wedding receptions and overnight stays.

    The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

    The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

    What will reopen when the lockdown ends?

    Shops are expected to reopen to allow them some Christmas trade. Gyms will reopen and outdoor sport is likely to restart. Betting shops are likely to close in the higher tiers and hospitality venues will probably remain takeaway-only in parts of the country, with restrictions on houses mixing elsewhere.

    Will I be able to see family and friends?

    The Rule of Six will remain in place. Indoor socialising with other households will remain banned in the top two tiers and is likely to be restricted in the lowest tier as well.

    What about Christmas?

    Mr Johnson is pushing for a five-day break from the rules, during which time people from up to three different households would be allowed to mix.

    How will they pick which tier my area goes into?

    Ministers will announce on Thursday which tiers will apply to which parts of the country. The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading. But Government sources have said that 'most people' will be in the top two tiers.

    Will 10pm curfew stay?

    No. Pubs and restaurants will stop serving alcohol at 10pm, but customers will have until 11pm to drink up and leave.

    How long will the new tier system last?

    Government sources said it was expected to remain until spring. 

    Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8976835/Oxford-AstraZeneca-announce-Covid-vaccine-70-effective.html

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