What you need to know about the coronavirus vaccines
Hospitals in the south of England have seen a “real rise in pressure” as the number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment heads towards the April peak.
Paramedics in the capital are receiving almost 8,000 call-outs daily, with Boxing Day described as one of London Ambulance Service’s “busiest ever days”.
The rise in patients come as hopes grow for the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming days, with volunteers ready to help roll out the jab nationwide, according to reports.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told the BBC “ambulance trusts in particular are coming under extreme pressure, as are community and mental health services” as “many more people” are coming through the door with Covid and other conditions.
The 7,918 calls received by London Ambulance Service on 26 December was up more than 2,500 on the 5,217 received on the same day last year, and medics are receiving support from other ambulance services in the south.
Disney employee brags about getting vaccine early
A Disney employee in California bragged that she got a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine early due to her husband’s aunt being a “big deal” at the Redlands Community Hospital outside Los Angeles. The woman got the vaccine despite not being a frontline health care worker.
Gustaf Kilander has more details below:
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 16:11
London hospital declares major incident over oxygen supply fears
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Woolwich, southeast London, has become the latest to declare a major incident over fears about a shortage in oxygen caused by the demand from coronavirus patients on its wards.
It comes after the hospital was forced to turn away some emergency patients yesterday amid concerns about the flow of oxygen to patients.
Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has this exclusive report:
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 15:56
Russia extends UK flight suspension
Russia has decided to keep flights to and from the UK suspended until the end of 12 January because of the new coronavirus variant detected in Britain, the TASS news agency cited Russia’s coronavirus taskforce as saying.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 15:37
England’s Covid death toll rises by 318
A further 318 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 48,860, NHS England said.
Patients were aged between 38 and 100. All except 13, aged between 64 and 92, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between 13 and 27 December.
There were 12 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 15:10
Teaching union calls for delay to reopening of schools
A teaching union is calling for a delay to the reopening of schools in January as the government hopes to push ahead with its new year plan.
Earlier this month, the government said exam-year students would go back to school as normal after the Christmas holidays while the majority of secondary school pupils would start the term online to allow headteachers to roll out mass testing of children and staff.
Officials from Downing Street and the Department for Education are due to discuss the issue today amid concerns over the spread of a new variant of coronavirus.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT has written to the education secretary demanding further action on school safety.
“Delaying the return of pupils to schools and colleges at the start of the spring term will also enable all school and college employers to undertake and consult as required on new risk assessments and ensure that they can be compliant with any new measures or requirements contained in any forthcoming national guidance,” his letter states.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 14:50
Wales cases rise by 2,273
There have been a further 2,273 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 141,915.
Public Health Wales reported another 15 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 3,383.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 14:45
Russia to test new Covid antibody drug in new year
Russia will begin trials of an antibody treatment for Covid-19 patients next year, the head of the Moscow institute that developed Sputnik V, the country’s first vaccine against the new disease, said.
Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute, was cited by the RIA news agency as saying that he hoped trials for the new antibody-based drug would begin in the autumn of 2021.
“I hope clinical trials will begin in autumn,” he said. “We need to develop this drug using several technologies at the same time, which is something that is being done right now.”
Russia has been asking Covid-19 patients to donate blood plasma, which is rich in antibodies, for research.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 14:35
Scotland cases rise by 967
Scotland has recorded 967 positive coronavirus tests in the past 24 hours, Scottish government figures show.
A total of 120,891 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 119,924 on Sunday.
The daily test positivity rate is 12.2 per cent, down from 12.3 per cent on the previous day.
Information on coronavirus deaths and other statistics related to the virus is next due to be updated on 29 December.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 14:25
Schools must only reopen with 2-metre distancing & face masks, union says
Schools must only reopen next month if two-metre distancing between staff and pupils can be guaranteed and with compulsory face coverings, a union says.
And head teachers must be given the option of remaining closed except for vulnerable children and those of key workers in Covid-19 hotspots, the NASUWT has told Gavin Williamson.
The union, representing heads and other teachers, backed reopening next month – but has shifted its stance because of evidence of increased transmission among pupils of the new variant of the disease, writes Rob Merrick.
Jon Sharman28 December 2020 14:17
German districts unable to use some Covid-19 vaccine shots due to refrigeration problem
Some German districts will not deploy doses of Covid-19 vaccine received over the weekend over fears the cold chain may have been interrupted during its delivery, Reuters reports.
“There were doubts as to whether the cold chain was maintained at all times”, Lichtenfels district administrator Christian Meissner told Reuters TV.
“Biontech commented and said that the vaccine was probably okay, but probably okay is not enough,” he said, adding that the jabs would not be used to avoid damaging public trust in the inoculation campaign.
A Lichtenfels district spokesman said on Sunday that 1,000 jabs earmarked for use in Lichtenfels as well as Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel in northern Bavaria had been affected by the temperature problem.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 14:02