- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Roughly 1.3 million vulnerable people have not yet taken up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine, new analysis suggests, amid concerns that the virus could circulate in unprotected communities as restrictions lift.
According to NHS England, 19 out of 20 of those most at risk from the virus have now received their first dose of a vaccine.
An estimated 27 million people in England are in the top nine priority groups for the vaccination - including over-50s, people deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, and health and social care workers. This means it is likely around 25.7 million have received their first Covid-19 jab, according to the Press Association.
But it also suggests around 1.3 million have not yet been vaccinated.
Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told the BBC Radio Four that it is "vitally important" to reach those at risk and unprotected.
"The problem here is that that five or 10 per cent who have not been vaccinated, when the virus re-circulates through the community, they could get infected and end up in hospital," he said. "So it's vitally important that we get that last few percent."
Earlier today Boris Johnson warned that lockdown - not the rapid vaccine rollout - is responsible for the "bulk of the work" to reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths across the UK. He suggested that as restrictions are eased, a slight uptick in cases is inevitable.
Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care have insisted that the offer of a vaccine is "evergreen", and those who have already been invited for a jab can come forward at any point.
Follow the latest updates below.
UK data: 2,472 data and 23 deaths
The UK coronavirus data has just been published, a little late because of delays in Wales. It shows that a further 2,472 people have tested positive as of 9am this morning, compared to 2,379 last Tuesday.
Fatalities are also plateauing, with further 23 deaths have reported compared to 20 seven days ago.
Government figures now show that 127,123 have died after testing positive for Covid-19, but separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have now been 151,000 deaths registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Meanwhile, official figures show that 32,250,481 people have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 7,857,396 their second.
This is an increase of 59,905 first shots and another 201,191 have had their second. The Government has today opened up invitations for those aged 45 to 50 to book a vaccination appointment, and insisted that it is still on track to offer all adults a shot before the end of July.
Canada talking to J&J about vaccine setback as PM frets over variants
Canada has said it is talking to Johnson & Johnson about reports its Covid-19 vaccine might be linked to very rare blood clots, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a surge in dangerous variants could threaten progress made so far.
Health Canada, the federal health ministry, said it was working with the manufacturer, the US Food and Drug Administration and other international regulators. Canada has approved the vaccine but deliveries are not due to start until the end of April.
The news is the latest potential challenge for an inoculation effort that is already dragging. Canada is due to import enough doses to ensure every person can receive a shot by the end of June, but the spread of new variants risks overtaking the pace of vaccination.
"More contagious and dangerous variants are spreading and threatening the progress we've made," Trudeau told a briefing, saying the situation was extremely serious as the number of cases jumps and the healthcare system struggles to respond.
Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, reported a single-day high of new Covid-19 cases on Sunday and has closed schools to in-person learning.
Frustration about shutdowns is rising across the country and rioters in Montreal smashed windows in the downtown area over the weekend.
Chief public health officer Theresa Tam said new cases had risen by 33 per cent over the last week. The number of daily cases is now over 8,100, about the same as during the peak of the second wave earlier this year.
France reports new year high, with 5,952 people in intensive care units for Covid-19
The number of people in France's intensive care units with Covid-19 rose by 36 to a new 2021 high of 5,952, reflecting increased pressure on hospitals, according to new health ministry data.
France also reported 324 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals, compared with 385 yesterday, along with 39,113 new cases, taking the total to 5.1 million. The cumulative death toll since the start of the epidemic is now very close to the 100,000 mark at 99,480.
France is hoping that a ramp-up of its vaccination campaign, combined with the one-month lockdown in place since the end of March, will help it regain control over the latest outbreak, fuelled by variants of the novel coronavirus.
France will suspend all flights to and from Brazil in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected there, Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament earlier today.
South Africa temporarily suspends rollout of J&J vaccine
South Africa has decided to temporarily suspend the rollout of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine, its health minister has announced, after US federal health agencies recommended pausing its use because of rare cases of blood clots in six people inoculated with it.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a briefing that in South Africa there had not been reports of such clots after vaccination with J&J's vaccine. He added the country had secured an additional 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer.
Analysis: How worried should we be about London’s cluster of South African variant cases?
Never tempt fate, writes Paul Nuki. For no sooner does a renowned neuroscientist claim we have reached the Holy Grail of herd immunity than fear of a new Covid surge breaks out.
On Monday evening, the government announced a huge mass testing campaign in south London, urging all residents of Lambeth and Wandsworth (population 656,000) to get themselves tested just as pubs, shops and gyms opened across the capital.
An executive summary of the outbreak published on April 12 and marked “Official Sensitive” said the virus had probably originated in an individual returning from South Africa, reported the BBC.
It is thought the virus was spread from that individual to members of their household and then to a care home in Lambeth where 13 staff and 10 residents were infected.
Six of the 10 residents had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine two or more weeks before their positive test date. One of the 13 infected staff had a single Pfizer vaccine dose two or more weeks before their positive test.
Now scientists are on tenterhooks to see how high the total numbers jump.
The variant is a worry because it is one of several containing the E484K, or “Eeek” mutation. This is thought to significantly reduce the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will account for an estimated 70 to 80 per cent of all UK jabs by the summer.
Read the full piece here.
'People need to learn how to do their own Covid risk assessment'
Covid-19 is likely to become an endemic disease and people will need to learn to live with that risk, Dr David Heyman, epidemiologist and public health expert has said.
Speaking at a Chatham House briefing, Dr Heyman said:
"People need to learn how to do their own risk assessment, as they've learned for HIV as they've learned for TB for other infections that have emerged from the animal kingdom into humans. We've learned to live with them and will learn to live with this."
When this becomes possible Governments will be able to "stop this strong arm of trying to keep people locked down in order to protect hospitals" and instead focus on "getting people vaccinated by making sure that they have decent programmes, and by doing the contact tracing and the outbreak investigation and containment that's necessary," he added.
Turkey logs 59,187 new cases in last 24 hours, an all time high
Turkey recorded 59,187 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Tuesday, registering the highest daily rise since the beginning of the pandemic. The total number of cases stood at 3.962 million.
The data also showed 273 people had lost their lives due to Covid-19 in the same period, bringing the total death toll to 34,455.
Earlier today Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced several new restrictions and a "partial closure" for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, to curb surging coronavirus infections.
Pandemic in pictures
New Delhi, India:
Mexico aims to have own vaccine approved for use by Christmas
Mexico aims to have developed a vaccine against Covid-19 that could be granted approval for emergency use by the end of this year, a senior official has announced.
Maria Elena Alvarez-Buylla, head of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), told a regular news conference that the vaccine under development known as "Patria" could be granted approval in November or December of this year.
Clinical trials with volunteers could begin this month, according to Avimex, the veterinary pharmaceutical company that is leading the vaccine's development in Mexico.
The company said it used existing technology from its veterinary influenza vaccine, which has been proven safe for humans, for an effective Covid-19 vaccine.
It is being developed with technology from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and a HexaPro protein developed by the University of Texas at Austin.
Mexico's foreign ministry and Conacyt contributed funding, Avimex said. The company has arranged exclusive infrastructure to make the vaccine, it said, and plans "industrial scale production" after successful phase one and two trial results.
Sweden's Covid infections among highest in Europe, with 'no sign of decrease'
The rate of new infections in Sweden has jumped to the second-highest in Europe after land-locked San Marino, the latest data shows, as the Scandinavian country which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic faces a third wave of cases.
The number of patients treated at Swedish intensive care units has now risen past the peak of the second wave around the turn of the year, with the country registering 19,105 new cases since Friday.
Sweden had 625 daily new cases per million inhabitants in a rolling seven-day average, statistics from OurWorldInData show - second only to San Marino, a small nation that is surrounded by Italy.
"Unfortunately we see an increased spread in Sweden. We'll see how this week turns out, but it's definitely a high spread and no signs of a decrease," Sweden's Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a news conference.
Tegnell also said Sweden would decide how to use Johnson & Johnson's vaccine within the coming days, following reports of rare blood clots similar to those reported for the AstraZeneca shot.
Sweden is due to receive its first doses of the J&J vaccine later this week. It paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, but later resumed use for people aged 65 and older.
India: Maharashtra state imposes 15-day lockdown as cases soar nationwide
India's richest state, Maharashtra, will be under lockdown from tomorrow night for 15 days to slow rising coronavirus infections, its chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has announcd.
Maharashtra, home to India's financial capital Mumbai and the country's most industrial state, has been the country's worst hit state, accounting for about a quarter of its 13.5 million cases.
The move comes as the country experiences a devastating surge in cases, reporting the world's highest daily case count since April 2. In the last week, average daily infections have exceeded 143,000:
Earlier today the government announced plans to fast-track emergency approvals for coronavirus vaccines that have been authorised by Western countries and Japan, paving the way for possible imports of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna shots.
India has the biggest vaccine manufacturing capacity in the world and had exported tens of millions of doses before its own demand skyrocketed and led to a shortage in some states.
Its need for imports would be a blow to dozens of poor countries that had relied on the country to run their inoculation drives.
To date, the country has administered more than 108 million doses, sold more than 54.6 million vaccine doses abroad and gifted more than 10 million to partner countries.
It is currently using the AstraZeneca shot and a homegrown vaccine for its own immunisation drive, and this week approved Russia's Sputnik V shot for emergency use.
Watch: Nicola Sturgeon brings forward Scotland reopening 'to help mental health'
WHO: Monitoring global data on J&J vaccine
The World Health Organization, asked about reports of rare blood clots after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 shot, told Reuters that it will await reviews by US and European regulators, but is actively monitoring global data.
"We're watching closely, waiting for EMA (European Medicines Agency) and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) reviews and monitoring the global database of adverse event reports to see if there have been cases anywhere else," the WHO said via email. "It will take a little time to review the data."
US federal health agencies today recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine after six women under 50 given the shot developed rare blood clots (see 12:22pm). Following the news, J&J said it was delaying the rollout of the vaccine to Europe.
Death rate for British cancer patients with Covid far higher than in Europe
Nearly half of UK cancer patients who caught coronavirus died – a much higher rate than counterparts in Europe, a study suggests.
Researchers found that UK patients were less likely to be receiving cancer treatment during the pandemic and less likely to be given the best life-saving therapies once they had caught the virus. The worse death rate also reflects the fact that British cancer sufferers tended to be less fit generally.
The study, published in the European Journal of Cancer, included 1,392 patients from the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Germany, tracking their progress between Feb 27 and Sep 10 last year.
It found that, 30 days after a Covid diagnosis, 40.34 per cent of the UK cancer patients had died, with the figure standing at 26.5 per cent of the European patients. After six months, the proportion had risen to 47.6 per cent of the UK cohort compared to 33.3 per cent of the European.
Scientists at Imperial College London pointed to disastrous guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which recommended pausing cancer treatment for many patients in order to stop them catching Covid in hospital.
Henry Bodkin has more details on this story here.
EU seeking clarification after J&J's 'completely unexpected' move to pause rollout
The European Commission is seeking clarification from Johnson & Johnson about its "completely unexpected" announcement of delays in deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union, an EU official has told Reuters.
Earlier on Tuesday the US company said in a statement it would delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe and was reviewing with European health authorities cases of extremely rare blood clots in people after they received the shot (see 2:47pm).
The company had confirmed at a meeting on Friday that it would aim to deliver the contracted 55 million doses to the EU by the end of June, the official said.
"The European Commission is in contact with the company" to get clarification on the decision, the official added, declining to be named because discussions are confidential.
A Commission spokesman said the EU executive was looking into the matter but had no comment at this stage. J&J did not immediately reply to questions on whether the delay could affect delivery targets in the EU.
South Africa: No decision yet on J&J Covid-19 vaccine, top adviser says
South Africa has not yet taken a decision on how to proceed with Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine, a top government adviser said.
US health agencies recommended pausing use of the vaccine because of concerns of rare cases of blood clots, while J&J has chosen to temporarily suspend the rollout in Europe.
In South Africa, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on vaccines would "be looking at all the issues shortly," the committee's chair Barry Schoub told Reuters.
The country has vaccinated almost 290,000 healthcare workers with the J&J vaccine in an ongoing research study, and is more reliant on the jab due to concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against a highly infectious variant that first emerged in South Africa.
UK: J&J suspension in Europe will not derail vaccination rollout
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has insisted that Johnson & Johnson's decision to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe would not derail the UK's programme to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July.
The UK has 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson product on order, but it has yet to be authorised for use by the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
A DHSC spokesman said: "Our vaccination programme continues to make phenomenal progress - with over 40 million vaccines administered so far.
"We have hit our target to offer a vaccine to everyone in phase one of the vaccination programme and we are on track to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July."
The 30 million doses are expected to arrive in the second half of 2021 if approved by the MHRA.
The regulator's director of licensing Dr Siu Ping Lam added: "No vaccine would be authorised for use in the UK unless the expected high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.
"Vaccine safety is of paramount importance and we will monitor and evaluate any safety reports received promptly and robustly before a decision is made, working and sharing safety data with international regulators as necessary."
UN: Pandemic led to 'a spike' in gender-based violence
Away from vaccine updates, the United Nations chief has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic led to "a spike" in gender-based violence last year.
In a report circulated yesterday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added that combatants continued to use sexual violence "as a cruel tactic of war, terror, torture and political repression" in a number of countries.
The report focuses on 18 countries where the UN said it has obtained verified information. It lists 52 parties "credibly suspected" of responsibility "for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence" in conflicts on the agenda of the UN Security Council.
The majority of those on the UN blacklist are "non-state actors" - opposition, rebel or terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State or al-Qaida extremist groups. National military and police forces on the list, including Myanmar's military and border guard, are barred from participating in UN peace operations until the adopt time-bound commitments to cease violations.
The "blacklist" also includes government forces of Congo, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan and Somali.
FDA: 'Plainly obvious' that rare blood clots look similar with AZ and J&J vaccines
Earlier today we posted reaction from experts which expressed concerns that there are links between blood clots and vaccines using a vector-based platform - which includes the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca-Oxford jabs.
At a press briefing Peter Marks, director of the FDA's centre for biologics evaluation and research, said he would "hesitate to call it a class effect".
But he added: "It's plainly obvious to us already that what we're seeing with the Jansen vaccines looks very similar to what is being seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"One is the AstraZeneca, is a chimpanzee adenoviral vector vaccine, the Janssen is a human adenoviral vector vaccine. I can't make some broad statement yet, but obviously they are from the same general class of viral vectors."
FDA: Pausing J&J jab will boost, not harm, confidence in rollout
Back to the Food and Drug Administration briefing, where officials have been quizzed about the potential impact of the paused J&J jab rollout on vaccine confidence.
"I think we need to reiterate, we are committed to vaccination we feel that is a really important tool to get this pandemic under control," said Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner.
"We're also committed to patient safety and our message is that in doing this, we feel we're taking the route that will provide the most safety for the patient, by enabling healthcare professionals to to recognise to properly treat and properly report any of the events that might happen."
Peter Marks, director of the FDA's centre for biologics evaluation and research, added that the traditional treatment for blood clots is different from the rare disorder potentially linked to vaccines.
"The issue here with these types of blood clots is that if one administers the standard treatments that we as doctors have learned to give for blood clots, one can actually cause tremendous harm, or the outcome can be fatal.
"So one needs to make sure that providers are aware that if they see people who have low blood platelets, or if they see people who have blood clots, they need to inquire about the history of recent vaccination, and then act accordingly," he said.
Norway to ease restrictions from Friday, Prime Minister announces
Moving away from the news around the J&J vaccine for a moment to Scandinavia, where Norway will start to unwind some restrictions and allow more people to gather in private homes and at events from Friday.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced that the easing of rules at the national level will not affect those in areas where infection rate is the highest, such as in the capital region.
Norway has had some of Europe's lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, but imposed stricter measures after a rapid increase in hospitalisations in March led by more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
FDA: J&J pause likely to last a couple of days
The paused J&J vaccination rollout in the United States will last a couple of days, as investigators explore a link between the jab and very rare blood clots, according to officials from the Food and Drink Administration and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
"Well, the timeframe will depend obviously on what we learn in the next few days, however we expect it to be a matter of days, for this pause," Janet Woodcock, acting FDA Commissioner, told a press conference.
Anne Schuchat, principle deputy director at the CDC, added that the team will provide regular updates over the coming days as more information emerges.
"We are committed to an expeditious review of the available information, and to an aggressive outreach to clinicians so that they know how to diagnose and treat [the blood clots]," she said.
Officials also insisted that the decision had been taken out of an "abundance of caution", with just six cases and one death linked to blood clots after many more than six million J&J vaccines had been delivered.
"I know there are people who have gotten the vaccine, who are probably very concerned for people who've got the vaccine, more than a month ago, there was a very low, at this time," added Dr Schuchat. "For people who recently got the vaccine within the last couple of weeks, they should be aware, to look for any symptoms.
"If you receive the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider into medical treatment."
Russia expects India to produce 50m doses of Sputnik V each month this summer
Russia is expecting India to initially be making 50 million doses of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine each month this summer, Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russian RDIF fund, told reporters today.
On Monday, India, the world's second most populous nation, approved the use of Sputnik V, hailed by Dmitriev as a milestone for the vaccine.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, has signed deals with six firms in India to produce more than 750 million doses of Sputnik V.
Dmitriev also said manufacturing of Sputnik V would also begin in Serbia and Iran in the "nearest future", while production in Italy is expected in the next few months.
Sputnik V will be produced in Italy by Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Adienne Pharma & Biotech.
White House: J&J rollout pause to have little impact on US vaccination plan
The White House Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said a recommended pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine will not have a significant impact on the country's vaccination plan and was taken out of "an abundance of caution."
"This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date," Zients said in a statement.
Several US states have already enacted recommendations to pause the rollout - including Ohio, New York, Connecticut and Georgia.
The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) is hosting a briefing on the vaccine starting at around 3pm - you can watch live via the link below:
France suspends all flights to and from Brazil
France has announced plans to suspend all flights to and from Brazil, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in parliament.
"We take note that the situation is getting worse and we have decided to suspend all flights between France and Brazil until further notice," Castex said.
Yesterday Brazil reported a further 1,480 coronavirus fatalies, as a looming investigation of how the government has handled the world's second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak is placing increased pressure on right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
A brutal new wave of Covid-19 in recent weeks has pushed the official toll since the pandemic began to more than 13.5 million cases and over 354,000 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday.
The Senate is preparing to install a special committee to investigate how Bolsonaro's government has dealt with the pandemic. Going against the medical consensus around Covid, Bolsonaro has downplayed the severity of the virus, opposed lockdowns and only recently embraced vaccines as a solution.
J&J 'proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe'
Johnson and Johnson has announced it has decided to "proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe", after regulators in the United States paused the rollout amid concerns that the jab is linked to very rare blood clots.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine," the company said in a statement. "In addition, we have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities. We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.
"We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public."
The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) is hosting a briefing on the vaccine starting at around 3pm - you can watch live on YouTube.
Long queues in south London as surge testing rolled out to catch SA variant
There are long queues at surge testing sites in south London, where some 44 cases of the south Africa variant - known as 501Y.V2 or B.1.351 - have been detected in the boroughs of Lambeth and Wansworth.
Clips from an LBC reporter show long, socially distanced queues at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton, which is hosting surge testing, with some people queuing for as long as two hours before reaching the front.
Residents in the area have been urged to get a coronavirus test even if they do not have symptoms.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said the number of 501Y.V2 cases was "significant" and stressed that it was "really important people in the local area play their part in stopping any further spread within the local community".
Dutch regulator: Benefits of J&J jab outweigh the risks
The Dutch medicines regulator (CBG) has said the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson Covid19 vaccine outweigh the possible risks, after US. federal health agencies recommended pausing the use of the shot (see 12:20pm).
"Together with the European Medicines Authority we are monitoring the situation very closely", the CBG said. "For now, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the possible risks."
The US agencies made their recommendation after six recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. A press conference is expected at 3pm from the FDA to extrapolate on the decision.
Recap: As lockdown lifts infections will rise, Boris Johnson warns
Boris Johnson has warned that coronavirus infections will rise as lockdown eases, but said there is no reason to change the proposed roadmap to end restrictions.
Speaking to broadcasters in Downing Street, the Prime Minister warned that the "bulk of the work" in reducing new cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the UK has been down to the lockdown - rather than the rapid vaccination rollout.
"People, I don't think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement," Mr Johnson said. "Of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of work in reducing disease has been done by the lockdown.
"So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths. People have just got to understand that."
But the Prime Minister insisted that this increase does not mean that the current roadmap out of lockdown should be adjusted - though he urged people to be "cautious" as they return to some semblance of normality.
"At the moment I can't see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we've set ourselves," he said.
Estimates suggest 1.3 million vulnerable people haven't taken up offer of jab
Around 1.3 million vulnerable people are yet to take up the offer of a Covid-19 jab, according to analysis from the Press Association.
The NHS in England said 19 out of 20 of those most at risk from the virus have now received their first dose of a vaccine.
An estimated 27 million people in England are in the top nine priority groups for the vaccination - including over-50s, people deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, and health and social care workers. This means it is likely around 25.7 million have received their first Covid-19 jab.
But it also suggests around 1.3 million have not yet been vaccinated.
The analysis comes as one vaccination expert warned that it is "vitally important" for people at highest risk to come forward.
Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC: "The problem here is that that five or 10 per cent who have not been vaccinated, when the virus re-circulates through the community, they could get infected and end up in hospital, so it's vitally important that we get that last few percent."
The Department of Health and Social Care said that, in England, around 95 per cent of people aged 50 and over have received a first dose, while 92 per cent of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 have also had a vaccination.
Officials have insisted that the offer of a vaccination is "evergreen" and that people who have been invited for a jab can come forward to receive it at any point.
Ireland: 'Fairly minimal' impact on vaccine rollout from AstraZeneca restriction
Irish authorities expect new restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to have a "fairly minimal" impact on the country's vaccine rollout in the coming months, the country's acting chief medical officer said.
Ireland said yesterday it would limit AstraZeneca's vaccine to those over 60, but Ronan Glynn said there were still a significant number of eligible people to use the doses.
"I would hope that on the basis of last night's recommendations that the impact on the overall rollout at the population level should be fairly minimal when you look to where we would be now by the end of May, the end of June," Glynn told a parliamentary briefing.
UK will look 'very carefully' at emerging J&J data, says JCVI, amid rare blood clot concerns
The UK will need to look "very carefully" at data emerging from the US around the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Earlier today the US recommended a "pause" in administration of the single-dose jab - also known under the Janssen brand - to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots (see 12:20pm).
"The Johnson & Johnson vaccine of course is the same platform vaccine as the AstraZeneca... so I think this news is important and I think clearly they are experiencing (blood clot) cases in the United States and have paused that vaccine programme," Prof Harnden told BBC Radio 4's World At One.
"We need to look at this data very carefully. As you know we are not using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in this country at the moment because we have a portfolio of vaccines which are alternative to that, but of course we need to carrying on looking in detail at the emerging data from the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine."
Asked whether the US move was likely to impact upon the UK's rollout of Johnson & Johnson, Prof Harnden said: "We've ordered millions (of doses of different vaccines), we have many different options in this country which is down to the fine work by the vaccine taskforce.
"So what we will do is tailor the advice of vaccines accordingly to the data that we see so this is emerging but we can't make any decisions about Johnson (& Johnson) - it hasn't been approved in this country yet - and obviously we will be keeping a very close eye on the American situation."
Portugal urges common EU approach on vaccine guidance amid blood clot concerns
All European Union countries should ban AstraZeneca for the under 60’s because of fears it causes blood clots, according to Portugal, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, James Crisp reports.
Marta Temido wrote to her fellow EU health ministers after a fraught meeting last week, which followed the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there could be a link with very rare blood clots but the benefits of the jab far outweighed the risks.
The Telegraph has obtained a copy of the letter, which suggests the ban could be a “good starting point” to create a “common European approach”.
“This is essential in order to maintaining the trust of the European citizens in the safety of vaccines against Covid-19... There are many ways through which we can attempt to establish a shared European position and restricting the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the same ages might be a good starting point.”
Ms Temido added that many member states “would support a restriction of the administration of AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 60 years of age.”
“I ask you to please consider adhering to this policy option which would, undoubtedly, constitute an important step in ensuring cohesion in the European vaccination efforts,” she wrote.
Ireland became the latest EU country to introduce age restrictions on Monday night after France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands imposed bans. Some countries, such as France, imposed a lower age limit of 55.
Merkel defends stricter lockdown powers as key to beating pandemic
Angela Merkel has insisted that her decision to seek temporary powers from parliament to enforce coronavirus lockdowns in areas with high infection rates was necessary for Germany to curb a third wave of the pandemic.
With infections rising rapidly in some areas, Merkel's government is pressing for a change to the Infection Protection Act to enable federal authorities to enforce restrictions under certain scenarios.
"For the situation to improve we need to stop the third wave, break it, and reverse it, and the measures to fight the pandemic need to be stricter," the Chancellor told a news conference after the cabinet approved the draft law.
According to the draft, a mandatory nationwide "emergency brake" will be introduced if the number of new infections per 100,000 residents in a district or city exceeds 100 for three consecutive days within a week.
The brake would include measures such as a curfew between 9pm and 5am, placing limits on private gatherings and closing all but essential shops. Schools will also have to return to distance learning if the virus incidence rises above 200 per 100,000 for three consecutive days.
The bill must now be approved by the lower and upper houses of parliament. The change to the law will only apply until June 30.
Germany is grappling with a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 five months before a national election in which Merkel's conservatives are forecast to suffer major losses.
She and several regional leaders have called for tougher curbs to prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed, after some state leaders refused to impose agreed stricter measures even as new infections rose dramatically.
Testing firm cuts price of PCR tests to £60 for travellers
Major coronavirus testing firm Randox has announced it will reduce the price of PCR tests to £60 for travellers returning to the UK from overseas, which will half the typical cost.
The discounted tests will be available for people flying with partner airlines, who have not been announced.
It comes after widespread concerns that the cost of coronavirus tests would be prohibitively expensive for many travellers.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that travellers in self-isolation after a trip abroad will be visited by Test and Trace staff this summer as part of a Government crackdown on quarantine dodgers.
The strict new service will use NHS workers to ensure that anyone required to stay at home after international travel is doing so. The checks will be in addition to those already carried out by police offiers, who the Government says make up to 1,000 home visits a day.
Find out more over on our travel news liveblog.
Benefits of vaccines outweighs risks, says Spanish Prime Minister
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has said that the benefits of all the approved Covid-19 vaccines outweighs risks, after authorities in the United States recommended a suspension of the shot developed by Johnson & Johnson (see 12:52).
Mr Sanchez added, though, that authorities would slow down the rollout of vaccines to evaluate the risks if and when serious side effects are reported.
Natalie Dean, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Florida, has also shared a useful thread on twitter with key things to consider about the suspended rollout in America:
Hancock: Government working 'incredibly hard' to tackle treatment backlog in NHS
Matt Hancock has insisted that the Department of Health is working "incredibly hard" to tackle the treatment backlog in the NHS caused by the pandemic, after being quizzed by Labour in the House of Commons.
Shadow health minister Justin Madders warned that new investment is "no consolation to those patients missing out because the rest of the NHS estate is being starved of investment".
There has been a 23 per cent increase in treatments being delayed or cancelled in the last year because of infrastructure failure, while the maintenance backlog went up by another 50 per cent last year as well, Mr Madders told MPs.
"We're not going to see those record waiting lists drop if operations are cancelled because basic repairs are not done, so can (Mr Hancock) tell us by what date will we see no more delays to treatment because of crumbling buildings?"
The Health Secretary responded: "We're putting a record amount of investment into the infrastructure of the NHS and that's evidenced by the questions we've had already - the improvements in Stoke, the improvements in Scunthorpe and across the rest of the country.
"Of course it's not just about the physical investment, it's about making sure we support staff to be able to deliver, and making sure that the NHS gets the support it needs to tackle this backlog. We have got a very significant backlog because of the pandemic and we're working incredibly hard to tackle it."
Iran sees record spike in coronavirus cases after holiday travels
Iran has reported a record 24,760 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, as the worst-hit country in the Middle East is hit by a fourth coronavirus wave.
Authorities have blamed the latest surge on millions travelling across the country for Iranian New Year last month and taking part in family gathering,s in defiance of health precautions promoted by the government.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 24,760 new daily cases were identified, taking the total to 2,118,212 cases. The daily death toll rose to 291, the highest since December 9, bringing the total to 65,055.
Lari added that 295 counties across the country have been classified as very high-risk "red" zones, while 99 are deemed high-risk "orange" areas, 45 counties rated "yellow" and just nine considered as low-risk "blue" zones.
On Saturday, Tehran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country. The lockdown affected 23 of the country’s 31 provinces. Non-essential businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday in Iran.
Here's a look at the trajectory of the country's outbreak:
International travel a 'significant risk', says Nicola Sturgeon
Back to Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon has warned that international travel still represents a "significant risk".
The First Minister told the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh she hoped that travel restrictions outwith the UK could be agreed "on a four nations basis":
"I know this is difficult but it is important for me to stress it - international travel does remain a significant risk, particularly given the acceleration of spread that we're seeing in may other parts of the world and given the possibility and indeed the reality of new variants and the risk of the virus and new variants of the virus being imported into Scotland.
"It may well be the case that we do have to endure restrictions on international travel for a bit longer as the price we pay for much greater normality here in Scotland."
Ms Sturgeon added that measures to allow more people to meet outside had been brought in sooner than initially planned to boost people's mental health.
As we reported in our 12:33pm post, people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings from Friday, while requirements to stay local lifted. It is expected that shops, pubs and restaurants will start to reopen from April 26, while people may be able to meet indoors in mid May.
Reaction: J&J jab suspended as regulators review links to rare blood clots
As we reported earlier, regulators in the United States have suspended the use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they investigate possible links to very rare blood clot events. According to the Food and Drug Administration, six cases have been reported out of some 6.8 million jabs delivered in America.
Experts have unsurprisingly jumped to Twitter with reaction, with several suggesting there may be a link to the technology used. Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, J&J is based on an vector-based platform.
Others have pointed that that the risks of Covid-19 still far outweigh the risks of a blood clot:
And while there are concerns that the news could undermine confidence in a crucial vaccines, others think that pausing the rollout is the "right step" to ensure people trust the system:
There will be an FDA press conference at 3pm UK time on the decision to halt the rollout, where we can expect a little more detail about the data and rationale behind the decision.
Lobby latest: South Africa variant being taken 'very seriously' in south London
Downing Street has insisted that a cluster of cases of the South African coronavirus variant, known as 501Y.V2 or B.1.351, is being taken "very seriously".
Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in the south London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth and residents have been urged to get a coronavirus test even if they do not have symptoms.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said the number of cases was "significant" and stressed that it was "really important people in the local area play their part in stopping any further spread within the local community".
Speaking to journalists during a briefing this lunchtime, the Prime Minister's official spokesman added: "I think this is something that we are taking very seriously and the effective surge testing processes that we have in place have been working well here.
"We know that variants do pose a risk, it's one of our four tests for the progression of the road map. But... we have strong measures in place to find and isolate any new cases."
Boris Johnson said earlier today that he "can't see any reason" to deviate from the road map, which would see further lockdown restrictions lifted on May 17 in England. Watch his comments here:
Updates from Scotland: Travel restrictions and outdoor meeting rules to ease from Friday
Nicola Sturgeon has announced that coronavirus travel restrictions within Scotland will be eased from Friday, when six adults will be able to meet outside - 10 days earlier than planned.
From 16 April people will also be able to travel anywhere within the country to see family and friends, although indoor meetings won't be allowed until later in May. Parts of the country still in level four will also move to level three on 26 April, when shops will fully reopen and pubs and restaurants will be able to open outdoors.
The First Minister said that the country had made "significant progress" in reducing the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases, while the government has met its target of offering everyone over the age of 50 a jab by the middle of April.
Addressing a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon added infections are now at their lowest since September, and have fallen by 40 per cent in the past two weeks.But she warned against complacency.
"We've got to be careful not to do too much all at once, because we don't want the virus quickly gaining ground again, particularly because this new variant is we know more infectious and setting us all back."
FDA pause Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of 'abundance of caution'
An update to our previous post - the US Food and Drug Administration has announced in a series of tweets that is it recommending "a pause in the use of this vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) out of an abundance of caution".
It comes after six reports of "extremely rare" blood clots in women in the US, out of more than 6.8 million doses delivered so far.
"CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases," the statement said.
"Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause. This is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot."
US looks set to pause rollout of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine
Health agencies in the United States are set to call for an immediate pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine, after six recipients developed a very rate disorder involving blood clots within two weeks of having the jab.
That's according to the New York Times, which cites officials briefed on the decision. All six recipients were women aged between 18 and 48. One woman died, while a second in Nebraska is in a critical condition in hospital.
To date, almost seven million people in the US have had the J&J vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and CDC are set to jointly examine possible links between the vaccine and the disorder, to determine whether regulators shoul continue to authorise the vaccine for use in all adults of limit recommendations.
The news comes amid concerns in Europe about a possible link between the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and rare blood clots, including the UK -regulators have said people under 30 should be offered a different vaccine.
The US, meanwhile, has not yet approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country's top pandemic adviser to the White House has suggested America may not use vaccine at all, because it has now bought so many alternative jabs (story here).
Today in brief
Just joining us? Here's a look back at some of today's key headlines:
While it is "inevitable" that coronavirus infections will rise as lockdown eases, there is no reason to change the proposed roadmap to end restrictions, according to Boris Johnson.
The NHS has invited people over the age of 45 to book their Covid-19 vaccine appointment from today, causing the NHS website for booking Covid-19 vaccine appointments to temporarily crash.
The Moderna vaccine rollout has started in England, after beginning in Wales and Scotland last week.
The number of registered deaths involving coronavirus in has fallen to the lowest level in six months in England and Wales, according to the ONS, although the Easter break has affected numbers.
Surge testing has been deployed across south London after the South African variant of coronavirus was detected in a number of boroughs.
Elsewhere, America may not use the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine because it has now bought so many alternative jabs, according to President Joe Biden's top advisor, Dr Anthony Fauci.
Germany's government will ask parliament for temporary powers to enforce a nationwide lockdown, after several regions failed to impose agreed curbs to bring a third wave of the pandemic under control.
India is to fast-track emergency approvals for Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorised by Western countries and Japan, paving the way for possible imports of Pfizer, J&J, and Moderna shots, as the country reported 161,736 new infections.
And finally - for now - Austria's health minister has resigned because he is overworked. He said he couldn't continue in the grue;ling job of helping lead the country's coronavirus response because of persistent personal health problems caused by overwork.
Infections will rise as lockdown eases, warns Boris Johnson, but no reason to change roadmap
While it is "inevitable" that coronavirus infections will rise as lockdown eases, there is no reason to change the proposed roadmap to end restrictions, according to Boris Johnson.
Here's what the Prime Minister said when speaking to broadcasters in Downing Street this morning:
"It's great that we've managed to achieve the target of getting everyone in our one to nine groups vaccinated by the deadline, a little bit ahead actually. 32 million people now have got their first dose which is terrific.
"I just want to make a very important point a out where we are with the pandemic. Clearly everyone's been able to, yesterday, go to the pub, to go shopping, get a haircut and so on. And that's great, the numbers are down for infections and hospitalisations and deaths.
"But it is very very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers, in hospitalisations and deaths and infections has not been achieved by the vaccination programme. People, I don't think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement.
"Of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of work in reducing disease has been done by the lockdown. So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths. And people have just got to understand that.
"At the moment I can't see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we've set ourselves... But it's important that people continue to be cautious."
Sky News has shared a clip of the interview here:
In pictures: First Moderna jabs administered in England
The Moderna vaccine is the third to be approved for use in the UK, and is now being given to patients in England. Here are snaps from the vaccination centre at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire:
Russia suspends flights to Turkey, leaving half a million tourists in limbo
Russia’s travel industry is in “shock” after the government on Monday suspended flights to Turkey for at least a month and a half due a coronavirus scare, throwing the plans of at least half a million holiday-makers in disarray, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports.
The Russian government announced the decision on Monday night, citing both a skyrocketing rate of new infections in Turkey and a high number of positive coronavirus tests that Russians have to take upon return.
“That decision came as a shock,” Maya Lomidze, head of Russia’s Association of Travel Agencies, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station Tuesday morning. “The market is already on the brink of collapse and a nervous breakdown.”
While Turkey has indeed been showing an alarmingly high increase in new Covid-19 cases, some Kremlin critics suggest that the real motive behind the suspicion was to get back at Turkey for voicing its support for Ukraine amid increasing tensions with Russia.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is often described as Vladimir Putin’s close ally, during talks with the Ukrainian leader last week insisted that Turkey still views Russia-occupied Crimea as Ukrainian territory and would not support potential Russian aggression.
Konstantin Kosachyov, a senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker, in a Facebook post on Tuesday lashed out at the Russians lamenting their ruined holidays and called the government ban a “test of patriotism,” urging Russians to willingly boycott the sandy beaches of the country that has openly backed Moscow’s adversary.
Germany: Merkel government seeks law change to take back pandemic control from states
Angela Merkel's government has agreed changes to the country's coronavirus laws, handing more power to Berlin to impose stricter measures.
The amended law, which still needs to be approved by the German parliament, would allow Merkel's government to impose curfews from 9pm to 5am, to close schools and to shut businesses in high infection areas.
Private gatherings and sports will also be subject to tighter restrictions as Germany remains gripped by a dangerous third wave of the pandemic which is putting increased strain on the country's health system.
The move aims to end a political tug-of-war between the federal government and powerful regions over coronavirus measures, with manoeuvring ahead of September elections adding to the tensions.
Currently restrictions are agreed in consultation with Berlin, and in theory implemented by the federal states. Yet in many cases, regional leaders have failed to put in place shutdown measures which they agreed with Merkel, with some even allowing shops and cinemas to reopen.
Covid care home deaths drop 43 per cent in England and Wales
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were 86 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales in the week to April 2, a drop of 43 per cent compared to the previous week.
In total, 42,189 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began. The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.
This comes as registered deaths in the two nations fell to the lowest level in six months - though reporting delays over the Easter break have affected numbers.
There were 400 deaths registered in the week ending April 2 where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said, a decline of 44 per cent since the previous week.
Here's a look at the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK:
India: More than 100 people test positive at Hindu festival amid super-spreader fears
At least 102 people tested positive for Covid-19 at the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela yesterday, raising fears that its five million attendees could become super-spreaders, Joe Wallen reports.
Public health experts have called for the festival, which sees pilgrims descend on the northern Indian city of Haridwar for a ritual dip in the River Ganges, to be cancelled as New Delhi struggles to contain the world’s fastest-growing Covid-19 epidemic.
But, the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party controversially decided it could go ahead, as long as precautions were made to monitor for the virus.
These now appear to have been discounted, with some devotees still allowed into Haridwar despite not presenting a negative RT-PCR report, while no thermal scanning or action against those not wearing masks is taking place, according to an investigation by The Indian Express.
The authorities admitted they were unable to enforce social distancing measures on the huge crowds that gathered on the banks of the River Ganges on Monday, saying they did not want to risk a “stampede-like situation.”
Testing rates are also very low inside Haridwar, with only 18,169 people sampled on Monday which means many devotees could unwittingly contract the virus and carry it back to their hometowns and villages across India.
Solicitor, 28, receives first Moderna vaccine in England
A 28-year-old solicitor has become one of the first people in England to receive the Moderna vaccine as part of the mass vaccination programme.
Emily Sanderson received the jab the Sheffield Arena vaccination centre.
Ms Sanderson, who has an underlying health condition, was due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine but it was changed to Moderna, the NHS said.
It comes after UK regulators said that people under the age of 30 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying there was a possible link between the jab and "extremely rare" blood clots.
Suspend the sale of live animals in food markets as an emergency measure, says WHO
The World Health Organization has urged countries to suspend the sale of live animals captured from the wild in food markets as an emergency measure, saying wild animals are a leading source of emerging infectious diseases like the coronavirus.
The World Health Organization, backed by key partners, issued new guidance saying that animals - particularly wild animals - "are the source of more than 70 percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses."
The coronavirus's origins more than a year ago have been the source of intense speculation, much of it centered around the likelihood that it was carried by bats and passed to humans through an intermediary species sold as food or medicine in traditional Chinese wet markets. The pandemic first appeared in the city of Wuhan, China.
WHO highlighted the risk of direct transmission of emerging infectious diseases to humans who come in contact with bodily fluids of an infected animal, and cited the "additional risk" of picking it up in places where such animals are housed or locations that could have been contaminated with such viruses.
"Globally, traditional markets can play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations," WHO said in a statement. However, "Banning the sale of the animals can protect people's health - both those working there and those shopping there."
WHO joined with the World Organization for Animal Health and the U.N. environment programme in its analysis leading to the new recommendations.
Austria health minister quits over Covid crisis 'overwork'
Austria's health minister announced Tuesday he would resign as he was overworked and exhausted managing the coronavirus crisis.
Rudolf Anschober became health minister early last year when his Green party formed an unlikely coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservatives, just before coronavirus started spreading rapidly in Europe.
"I've decided to resign from my job," the 60-year-old told reporters.
"I'm overworked and powered out," he said, adding that 15 months on the job had felt like 15 years.
He warned the pandemic was still in full swing and should not be "underestimated".
"We are not out of the woods yet," he said, becoming emotional as he thanked friends and colleagues.
Bulgaria could withdraw the AstraZeneca vaccine
James Crisp reports:
Bulgaria has suggested it could withdraw the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a lack of interest after fears the jab can cause blood clots.
Sofia has not followed some other EU nations, such as France and Germany, in restricting the jab to the over 65s but, according to the EurActiv news website, only 154 doses were administered on Monday.
“There are only a few people who want to get the AstraZeneca vaccine now. From a medical point of view, the vaccine is tested, safe and effective, but there are reasons for its outflow. You are witnesses to these reasons,” Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said on Monday.
Germany green-lights changes to national infections control law
The German government agreed Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law, a government spokesman said, handing Berlin more power to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews to halt the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The adjusted law, which still needs to be approved by parliament, would allow Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to impose curfews from 9pm to 5am and close schools and businesses in areas with high infection rates.
Philippine president waives chance to receive vaccine
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he will "waive" his chance to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, arguing that elderly people like him should not be prioritised.
Just over one million people in the Philippines have received their first shot since the beginning of March - a fraction of the number needed to reach herd immunity in the country of 110 million.
"I will waive. Whoever wants to get my slot, I will give it to them," he said Monday. "Let's prioritise those who, once they get a vaccine, there's a chance that he would live and live productively."
He added: "Most of the senior citizens are no longer that productive."
The vaccination campaign initially targeted healthcare workers and soldiers, but it has since widened to include the elderly and those with co-morbidities.
Lowest number of weekly Covid deaths since October
A total of 400 deaths were registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 2 which mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics - the lowest number since the week ending October 2.
The figure is down 44 per cent on the previous week's total, although the ONS said the number of deaths registered was affected by the Good Friday bank holiday.
Around one in 20 - 4.9 per cent - of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to April 2 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
The number of deaths registered in England and Wales was also below the five-year average for the fourth consecutive week. Some 8,201 deaths were registered in the week to April 2, 19 per cent below the average for the corresponding period in 2015-19.
Prior to the four most recent weeks, the last time deaths had been below average was in the week to September 4 2020.
There could be a 'big third wave' of Covid-19, says Professor Jeremy Brown
Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation, warned that, even with the vaccination programme in place, there could be a "big third wave" of Covid-19, with potentially tens of thousands of deaths.
"I feel mighty relieved that we are now in a position where a very high proportion of the vulnerable population have been vaccinated so, if control of the virus is lost, then the damage it can do will be relatively restricted," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"But when I say relatively restricted, what I mean is that a big third wave could still end up with 30,000 to 50,000 deaths, potentially, if it was a similar sort of size to the previous waves that we've had.
"So although the vaccines are important, there are the components to controlling this virus that are important and that is the social distancing measures that we have.
"Now, those will be less necessary the higher proportion of the population gets vaccinated, which is another reason why young people vaccination is important, is that for population control, the bigger the proportion of the population that the vaccinated, the less we will need in a way of social distancing."
NHS booking site now 'fixed'
Shortly after the NHS booking site crashed, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that the problem had been "fixed".
There is no 'one-way, inexorable, inevitable track to it all being fantastic'
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said that, despite the success of the UK vaccine rollout, people should not assume the country is on a "one-way, inexorable, inevitable track to it all being fantastic".
"I know I might sound a bit like a prophet of doom the day after we've started enabling people to go back to the pub garden, but the reality is there are ... really good reasons why we need to be cautious here," he told Sky News.
"We need to be really careful about assuming we're on a one-way, inexorable, inevitable track to it all being fantastic and we can go back to normal, because actually we'll need a new normal."
He added: "We need everyone to put their own personal pedal to the metal and ensure they follow the rules."
Booster jabs will be mix and match with previous vaccine, JCVI boss confirms
JCVI member Prof Jeremy Brown told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that it will be difficult to guarantee people get the same vaccine in a few years time that they had originally.
"It's practically gonna have to be that way because once you've completed a course of, say, the Moderna or the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca with two doses, in the future it could be quite difficult to guarantee you get the same type of vaccine again.
"So there will be a mix and match just by the sort of practicalities of doing a third or fourth vaccination over the next few years."
NHS website crashes
The NHS website for booking vaccination appointments crashed on Tuesday morning after those aged over 45 were allowed to receive a jab.
A message on the website said: "The NHS website is currently experiencing technical difficulties.
"We are working to resolve these issues. Thank you for your patience."
Other users reported being placed in a queue, with a holding screen which read: "You are in a queue. Lots of people trying to book an appointment."
Hong Kong struggles with vaccine uptake
Karina Tsui in Hong Kong reports:
The Hong Kong government is struggling to convince the public to be jabbed against Covid-19, despite securing over three times the number of vaccines needed to immunise the entire population.
Vaccine hesitancy is tied to the public’s mistrust of authorities, fuelled by a deep suspicion of the Chinese-produced CoronaVac vaccine, which was administered for emergency use in February after receiving approval from a small panel of health experts in Hong Kong.
In a move to inspire confidence, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her cabinet members took their first doses of Sinovac in a live broadcast. However, the government’s public relations campaign did little to convince the public.
Hong Kong has been extremely successful in managing and containing the spread of Covid-19, in large part inspired by the lessons learned during the 2003 Sars epidemic. A dense city of 7 million, Hong Kong has reported fewer than 12,000 cases and just over 200 deaths since its first case in January 2020.
CoronvaVac, which was manufactured by the Chinese pharmacy Sinovac, has not yet been approved for use by the World Health Organization, and there is limited Phrase Three trial data for the vaccine.
Suspicion of the government runs deep in Hong Kong.
Authorities have repeatedly enacted pandemic protocols that have done little to protect the public but rather bolster the local economy. This year, the government authorised “ambush-style” lockdowns, shutting residential buildings in areas suspected of containing invisible cases and requiring occupants to stay home and undergo testing.
All over-50s offered Covid vaccine in 'hugely significant milestone'
People over the age of 45 can now book their Covid-19 jab.
The NHS booking website has updated to say that people aged 45 and over can now book a vaccine.
It signals the start of 'Phase 2' of the vaccination programme - which involves offering vaccines to healthy adults under the age of 50.
Until now the NHS in England had been focusing on offering vaccines to those at highest risk including people over the age of 50 and people deemed to be "clinically extremely vulnerable".
Laura Donnelly reports here.
Moderna vaccine is 'another tool in the toolbox,' says Professor Adam Finn
Professor Adam Finn said that the Moderna vaccine, which begins rollout in the UK today was "enormously important" and would enable the country to begin phase two of the vaccination programme.
"This is enormously important, these are large numbers of doses (and) it's another tool in the toolbox," he told BBC Breakfast.
"We've got two excellent vaccines already that work really, really effectively but the more vaccines we've got the more security over supply.
"I hope this is another step along the way and that we'll actually see more vaccines come through over the coming months and we'll have a really strong and secure supply."
"The programme hasn't been able to move forward quite as fast ass it would have if there had been more vaccine supply this month.
"Having this additional supply of Moderna is clearly going to speed that up and enable us to get started on phase two and people in their forties."
Millions of pilgrims gather on banks of Ganges despite surging Covid infections
In the middle of a surging second wave, with the number of Covid cases hitting more than 150,000 a day, millions of Indian pilgrims are gathering at Kumbh Mela, one of the biggest religious festivals in the world.
Around a million people a day will take a ritual dip in the Ganges this month, with the total expected to hit 30 to 50 million by the end of April. On Monday, a particularly auspicious day, more than five million bathed in the holy river, with crowds seen surging on the banks and limited social distancing.
These are staggering numbers at any time, but in the face of a raging Covid pandemic with India now the second hardest-hit country in the world, there are major concerns about the event’s safety, with many health experts calling for it to be cancelled.
Read the full story here.
US may never use Oxford jab, says Dr Anthony Fauci
Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the President of the United States told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think the AstraZeneca vaccine, from a standpoint of efficacy, is a good vaccine and if the safety issue gets straightened out in the European Union - which I understand is still in a bit of controversy about how to use it and when to use and what age groups to use it - the efficacy of that vaccine is really quite good.
"The way the United States has made contractual relationships with a number of companies, we clearly have enough vaccine - or will get enough vaccine - that does not include AstraZeneca, which would be enough quantitatively to vaccinate everybody in the United States.
"Whether or not we ever use AZ is unclear but it looks right now at this point in time that we will not need it.
"It is not a negative indictment of AZ - it just possible that, given the supply we have from other companies, that we may not need to use an AZ vaccine."
'We're half way up the hill,' says Professor Adam Finn
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said that "we're half way up the hill" after the news that the Government has met its target of offering a jab to all those at highest risk of Covid-19.
"I think it's an enormously significant milestone because this really represents the culmination of phase one, which was really aimed at trying to rescue the NHS from the enormous surge of cases that we had at the beginning of the year," he told Sky News.
"Of course the lockdown has contributed very significantly to that success as well.
"We're half way up the hill if you like, we can look back and be pleased with what we've achieved, but we need to look forward to get to the summit, and really finish this off."
Enjoy easing of lockdown 'safely', says director of public health for Lambeth Council
Ruth Hutt, director of public health for Lambeth Council, said local people can still enjoy the easing of lockdown despite surge testing across the borough following the discovery of cases of the South African variant of coronavirus.
Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today about whether people in the area should stay home rather than visit newly opened non-essential shops and beer gardens, Ms Hutt said: "No, we want everybody to follow the advice that still stands around 'hands, face, space'.
"We want them to enjoy the easing of lockdown but to do that safely, and it is a really good opportunity now to mobilise all this testing just to check we don't have any further cases of this variant in either Lambeth or Wandsworth."
Moderna vaccine to be rolled out in England
NHS patients in England are to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from today, officials have confirmed.
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said the move "marks another milestone" in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
It is the third vaccine to be added to the NHS "armoury", alongside the Covid-19 vaccines from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
The news comes as the Government confirmed that it has met its target of offering a Covid-19 vaccine to the highest priority groups by mid-April - those over the age of 50 and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
And the next phase of the vaccination programme - for healthy adults under the age of 50 - is expected to begin this week.
The Vaccines Taskforce has secured 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine for the UK.
The jab has already been rolled out in Wales and Scotland, and the vaccine is expected to be delivered to people in Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.
The NHS in England confirmed that the Moderna jab will be delivered at more than 20 vaccination sites this week including Reading's Madejski Stadium and the Sheffield Arena.
More sites will be able to deliver the jab as supply increases.
India authorises Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
India has authorised Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, a leading local drugmaker said on Tuesday, in a boost for the nation's inoculation drive as virus cases mount.
Russia's Sputnik V is the third vaccine to be approved by India after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Covaxin, which was developed by Indian firm Bharat Biotech.
"We are very pleased to obtain the emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V in India," Dr Reddy's Laboratories co-chairman and managing director G.V. Prasad said in a statement. "With the rising cases in India, vaccination is the most effective tool in our battle against Covid-19."
Merkel seizes reins as German states dither over virus
The German government is expected to agree on Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law which would hand Berlin more centralised power to impose sweeping measures to curb the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed changes, criticised by some states, could give Chancellor Angela Merkel's government the power to impose night-time curfews and close schools in areas with high infection rates.
The move aims to end a political tug-of-war between the federal government and powerful regions over coronavirus measures, as Germany remains gripped by a dangerous third wave of the pandemic which is putting increased strain on the country's health system.
Currently coronavirus measures are decided on in consultation with Berlin and - in theory - implemented by the federal states. Yet in many cases, regional leaders have failed to put in place shutdown measures to which they agreed.
Largest surge testing to date deployed in two London boroughs
Surge testing has been deployed across south London after the South African variant of coronavirus was detected in a number of boroughs.
A total of 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases of the B.1.351 variant have been discovered across Wandsworth and Lambeth.
It is the UK’s largest surge testing operation to date, with residents of both boroughs encouraged to get a test regardless of whether they have symptoms.
India reports world's highest daily tally again
India reported 161,736 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, hitting the world's highest daily tally once again, for a total of 13.69 million cases, health ministry data showed.
Deaths rose by 879 to 171,058. Numbers typically fall on Tuesdays because of delayed results from tests done on weekends.
Australia has second likely AstraZeneca clot case
Australian authorities have identified a second case of a rare blood clot likely linked to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
Officials said Tuesday the woman is in her 40s and is in a stable condition. A 44-year-old man developed the same condition following an AstraZeneca injection March 22.
Australia has administered 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine since early March. That equates to a clotting frequency of 1-in-350,000 cases. British authorities say the risk of such blood clots has been 1-in-250,000 in that country.
Indonesia satisfied with effectiveness of Chinese vaccine
Indonesia's government says it is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine it has been using, after China's top disease control official acknowledged that current vaccines offer low protection against the virus.
Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for Indonesia's Covid-19 vaccine programme, said on Monday that the World Health Organisation had found the Chinese vaccines had met requirements by being more than 50 per cent effective. She noted that clinical trials in Indonesia for the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac showed it was 65 per cent effective.
"It means ... the ability to form antibodies in our bodies is still very good," she said.
Australia shelves plans to buy J&J's one-dose vaccine
Australia has no current plans to add Johnson & Johnson's one-dose coronavirus vaccine to its immunisation drive, authorities said on Tuesday, as it moves away from procuring vaccines under review over blood clots.
Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca anti-Covid vaccine doses use an adenovirus, a harmless class of common-cold viruses, to introduce coronavirus proteins into cells in the body and trigger an immune response.
But both vaccines are under review by Europe's drug regulator after it found rare cases of blood clots among some adult vaccine recipients, although it said the advantages still outweighed the risks.
Pandemic hits 'critical point' as Europe deaths top one million
Europe passed the grim milestone of one million coronavirus deaths on Monday, as the World Health Organisation warned that infections are rising exponentially despite widespread efforts aimed at stopping them.
The death toll across Europe's 52 countries, compiled by AFP from official sources, totalled at least 1,000,288 by 1830 GMT.
"We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19. "The trajectory of this pandemic is growing... exponentially. This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, when we have proven control measures."
The coronavirus has already killed more than 2.9 million people and infected nearly 136 million across the world.
Brazil death toll rises by 1,480 as probe pressures Bolsonaro
Brazil added an additional 1,480 people to its Covid-19 death toll on Monday, as a looming investigation of how the government has handled the world's second-deadliest outbreak puts increased pressure on right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
A brutal new wave in recent weeks has pushed the official toll since the pandemic began to more than 13.5 million cases and over 354,000 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures released on Monday.
The Senate is preparing to install a special committee to investigate how Mr Bolsonaro's government has dealt with the pandemic. Going against the medical consensus around Covid, Mr Bolsonaro has downplayed the severity of the virus, opposed lockdowns and only recently embraced vaccines as a solution.
Today's top stories
Britain has hit "a hugely significant milestone" and offered Covid jabs to everyone over the age of 50, Boris Johnson has announced, as a third vaccine is deployed to boost rollout in younger groups.
Pubs and bars face fines or the removal of their licences over queues on the street after officials threatened to crack down on the most popular venues as they reopened on Monday.
The UK coronavirus variant is not more deadly than the original strain, researchers have concluded.
Scotland's hospitality sector has warned that Nicola Sturgeon's decision to delay reopening until a fortnight after England will cost the economy £20 million, prompting calls for restrictions to be eased sooner.
Holidaymakers are being "ripped off" by being forced to pay 20 per cent VAT imposed on imposed on PCR tests, The Telegraph can reveal.
Businesses fear that Covid passports would slash pub and restaurant profits by a quarter, according to a new survey.
Surge testing has been deployed across south London after the South African variant of coronavirus was detected in a number of boroughs.