People under the age of 30 will be offered a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead of an AstraZeneca jab after the UK's medicines regulator found that it was linked to blood clots in young people.
The benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine continue to outweigh any risks for most people, the UK medicines watchdog has said, as European regulators ruled that unusual blood clots were "very rare side effects" of the jab.
A review by the European Medicines Agency's safety committee concluded on Wednesday that "unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects" of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there were still huge benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 and serious disease.
But due to a very small number of blood clots in younger people, those under the age of 30 will be offered Pfizer or Moderna instead.
People who have a range of symptoms including severe headaches, blurry vision and shortness of breath more than four days after the jab should contact a doctor.
Follow the latest updates below.
That's it from us today
We are going to leave the politics blog there for today.
My colleagues on the coronavirus blog will continue this evening with all the latest Covid-19 news.
We'll be back tomorrow morning from Westminster with all the latest political news. See you then.
This side effect is 'vanishingly rare,' says Prof Van Tam
Prof Van Tam says that his "final cautionary point" is that this is a "serious but vanishingly rare" side effect.
The UK needs to "wait and and see or not see" what happens from now on.
"It's important to have many horses in this race," he says.
JCVI chair: Every country must make their own decision on vaccines
Prof Wei Shen, chair of the JCVI, says every country has to take their own decision based on their own population, the scale of the pandemic, the values of its people and the quantity of vaccines.
"I believe that every country eventually will have to make their own decision," he says.
Countries with lower life expectancy will find they have a different risk-benefit analysis to others.
"Given our vaccine availability, our supply, the kind of pandemic we are having, the B.1.1.7 variant [...] it is the younger people below 30 who will be offered an alterative vaccine."
Young people are slightly more at risk of blood clots
Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Committee of Human Medicines, says there is a slightly higher risk of blood clots in young people versus older people.
The reason for that is not clear, he says.
An Oxford trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine in children has been paused, but children are at a lower risk of clots, he says.
Officials will liaise with that trial in the coming days and weeks.
People aged 31 or 32 should take the AZ jab, says JCVI chair
Prof Wei Shen, chair of the JCVI, says one of the fundamental things about the vaccine programme is that it is "fair and transparent".
"That is why we have set up this briefing," he says.
Someone who is 31 or 32 should make their own decision, but the committee would advise that they take the AZ jab if offered, he says.
Prof Van Tam: We don't want this to damage vaccine confidence
The experts will now take questions.
Fergus Walsh at the BBC asks whether the Government is worried that this will damage vaccine confidence in the young.
Prof Van Tam replies: "This is a course change. We don't want it to result in a loss of vaccine confidence...it is vitally important that people who are called back for their second dose come for it."
Prof Van Tam: This course correction is actually 'business as usual'
Prof Van Tam says this is a "course correction," but changes in vaccines being delivered to large numbers of people are "business as usual".
In a classic Van Tam analogy, he adds: "If you sail a massive liner across the Atlantic, it's not really reasonable that you aren't going to have to make at least one course correction during that voyage. And I see this in those terms."
Prof Van Tam says that there may be small delays, or people may have to drive further to get their jabs.
But the NHS is "all over this," he says.
Effect on the vaccine rollout 'zero or negligible,' says Prof Van Tam
Prof Van Tam says this is a change in clinical advice for the under-30s, and will require some changes in the way the NHS rolls out the vaccine.
"I am assured that actually because of our supply situation in relation to alternative vaccines, the effect on the timing of our overall programme should be zero or negligible," he says.
"That of course is contingent on getting the supplies that we expect to get of the alternative vaccines, which are the Pfizer vaccine currently in use or the Moderna vaccine that we hope to use from mid-April in England."
Prof Van Tam says the scientific experts are "all over this" and have worked "night and day" to review all the latest evidence.
People aged 18-29 should have an alternative vaccine, says chair of the JCVI
Prof Wei Shen, chair of the JCVI says the committee has reviewed the safety evidence from the MHRA and Public Health England.
"We are well aware of the high level of protection against Covid-19 that the vaccine provides," he says, but protection must be weighed against the risks.
"Information being given to individuals [...] should be updated to include the considerations and deliberations by JCVI and MHRA," he adds.
Adults aged 18-29 who do not have a health condition that would put them at a higher risk of suffering from Covid should receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine where possible, he says.
Professor Van Tam weighs up the risks
Prof Jonathan Van Tam is showing a chart that demonstrates the benefit of the vaccine versus the risk.
He says that older people are less likely to be at risk from the blood clotting, but there is a much greater benefit for them to have the vaccine, since they are more at risk from Covid-19.
There are a lot of numbers in this section, but my colleague Harry Yorke sums it up thus:
People with a history of blood clots should speak to a doctor before the jab, says Prof
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Committee of Human Medicines (which advises the government on the safety of medicines), said pregnant women and people with a history of blood clots should speak to their doctor to see if the benefits of having an AstraZeneca jab outweighs the risks.
Anyone who experiences blood clots and low levels of platelets after their first dose should not have a second dose, he says.
It is not possible to judge how frequently blood clots happened after a second dose of the vaccine because not enough people have had two jabs, he said.
Sir Munir points out that blood clots in the lungs and legs is comparatively common in people who have Covid-19.
Around seven per cent will get a clot in the lungs and 11 per cent will get a clot in their leg, he says.
The evidence shows that the "link is getting firmer" but "extensive scientific work" will be needed to decide conclusively that there is a causal link.
Get medical advice if you have these symptoms after an AZ jab, says MHRA chief
Dr June Raine says the balance of risk is in favour for older people.
The MHRA will be offering guidance to healthcare workers to help reduce the chance of people getting blood clots.
People who have the following symptoms after four days or more should speak to a doctor:
Shortness of breath
Persistent abdominal pain
"I would like to reiterate that this is extremely rare," she said.
Four in a million chance of getting a blood clot, says MHRA chief exec
Dr June Raine says the risk of the rare side effect of blood clots "remains extremely small".
Only 79 people have presented with a blood clot, and 19 people have died.
Of these, 51 people were women and 28 were men, she says.
The risk is therefore about 4 in one million.
MHRA chief executive: There is a strong possibility AZ jab causes blood clots
Dr June Raine says she will now update on safety reports from patients with blood clots and low platelet counts who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine.
"No effective medicine or vaccine is without risk," she says.
"While the clinical trials of vaccines allow us to assess common effects, very rare effects are only seen when the vaccine is used at scale."
Routine monitoring has concluded that there is a "strong possibility" that the AstraZeneca vaccine has caused blood clots in an extremely small number of cases.
"The public's safety is at the forefront of our minds," she says.
Professor Van Tam: The UK needs a 'course correction'
Professor Jonathan Van Tam introduces the press conference and his colleagues, Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Committee of Human Medicines (which advises the government on the safety of medicines) and Prof Wei Shen, chair of the JCVI.
Today's briefing is about the AstraZeneca vaccine and a "course correction" to the UK's vaccine rollout, he says.
He says the UK's vaccine rollout has been "the most enormous success indeed" but he would have been amazed if it did not need a course correction by this point.
Boris Johnson: AstraZeneca vaccine is safe
The PM has spoken to reporters in Cornwall ahead of the MHRA briefing this afternoon.
More on the EMA conference
My colleague Jordan Kelly-Linden is covering it, here.
EMA: Blood clots are a very rare side effect of AstraZeneca jab
Prior to a briefing by the MHRA in London, a review by the European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
"The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive it. The vaccine is effective at preventing Covid-19 and reducing hospitalisations and deaths," the agency said.
AstraZeneca blood clot link 'at the limit of what is detectable'
Professor Sir Kent Woods, the former chief of the MHRA between 2004 and 2013, has said that determining whether there is a potential link between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the extremely rare type of cerebral blood clots is "at the limits of what is detectable".
"I think this possible association between the vaccine and these clotting events as being at the limits of what is detectable by the methods that we have. We’re talking about a small number of cases emerging in many millions of vaccinated individuals, which is an extremely low incidence rate," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.
"We don’t know with precision how common these events are outside vaccination. In other words, it still remains possible that this is a chance association. And then, of course, coronavirus infection itself does very considerably increase the risk of blood clotting events."
Sir Woods suggested that there were two options for regulators; either regarding it as a risk which is "so much smaller than the risk of Covid that the information should simply be added to the information sheet underlying the licensing of the product".
Or, to provide advice to "selectively use some other vaccine in particular sub-groups of patients".
Holidaymakers hit by 10 week passport delays
British travellers could be left waiting for up to 10 weeks for a new passport this summer, HM Passport Office has warned, after a delay in processing time caused by the pandemic and a recent surge in demand for new travel documents.
Under the revised timeframe, a passport applied for today may not be received until mid-June – one month after the proposed restart of international leisure travel, on May 17. Those hoping for an early summer getaway have been urged to check their paperwork now.
Sadiq Khan: Men must change
Sadiq Khan has pledged to boost measures to combat violence against women and girls if returned as London's mayor next month.
In the wake of anti-violence protests following the death of Sarah Everard, whose body was found after she disappeared while walking home in south London, Mr Khan will announce a manifesto package aimed at ensuring all women and girls always "are safe and feel safe" in the capital.
Mr Khan will also direct attention to the attitudes of men towards women and girls as he unveils his plans while insisting "men simply must change".
"It breaks my heart that so many women and girls do not feel safe in our country on a daily basis. And let's be honest - these problems are caused by the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours of men," Mr Khan said in a statement.
"The problem is not just with the minority of men who are violent, the problem is also with those men who are sexist, continue to behave inappropriately around women, perpetuate a toxic form of masculinity or just stand by silently when women feel threatened or are being threatened.
"Men simply must change."
Government's position on vaccine passports 'a complete mess' says Starmer
Boris Johnson is facing a growing battle to introduce coronavirus health certificates, after Labour and the SNP joined Tory rebels in ruling out backing the proposals as they stand.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the current state of play on so-called vaccine passports a "complete mess" on Wednesday, warning that they could be a vast waste of taxpayers' money when the focus should be on administering jabs.
A Government review into "Covid status certification" said they could "potentially play a role" in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events, and might also be used in pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing restrictions.
But, during a visit to Plymouth, Sir Keir told broadcasters: "We do not support the Government's plans in their current form, it's as simple as that.
"In fact the Government's plans seem to be changing on an almost-daily basis. Only a few weeks ago the Prime Minister was saying he was thinking of vaccine passports to go to the pub - now he says isn't. One day he's talking about tests - then it's certificates. It's a complete mess."
What supermajority? Only 3 per cent of voters plan to support Salmond's Alba at Scottish elections
Just three per cent of Scottish voters plan to support Alex Salmond's new venture Alba at the Scottish elections on May 6, a new poll shows.
The Ipsos Mori poll for STV found more than half (53 per ceny) of the respondents intend to chose an SNP candidate in their constituency on May 6.
This is a rise of one percentage point from the previous Ipsos Mori poll for STV in February.
The SNP's support on the regional list - where they are competing against Alba - has fallen by nine percentage points since the previous poll, to 38 per cent.
Support for the Scottish Greens has risen by four percentage points in the same period, to 12 per cent.
Sir Keir Starmer: AstraZeneca jab is no cause for concern
The Labour leader has said he and millions of others have had the AstraZeneca jab and it is no cause for concern.
Plaid Cymru's manifesto pledges to hold independence referendum by 2026
Plaid Cymru has pledged to hold a referendum on Welsh independence by 2026 if it wins the upcoming Senedd elections.
Announcing its manifesto ahead of the May 6 poll, the party said that a Plaid first minister would "let the people of Wales, not Westminster, decide on our future".
"We believe independence to be the only sure and sustainable means to achieving social and economic progress," Adam Price, the party leader, said.
Mr Price also promised to create 60,000 green jobs, extend free school meals to all primary age pupils, cut council tax bills and build 50,000 homes.
On the NHS, Plaid is planning to recruit an extra 1,000 doctors and 5,000 nurses and other health professionals - and guaranteeing a £10 an hour minimum wage for care workers.
Recap: Moderna vaccine could be 'reserved for young'
The new Moderna vaccine could be reserved for young people amid fears over the risk of blood clots from the AstraZeneca jab, a member of the Government's vaccination advisory board has said.
The Moderna jab is the third to be approved in the UK, after the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, and begins its rollout in Wales today.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said it was possible doses of the Moderna jab could be reserved for young people, if the UK's medicines regulator decides to pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca version in that age group.
Asked if different vaccines could end up being reserved for certain groups as more vaccines come on stream, owing to fears over blood clots in younger people, he told BBC Breakfast: "That's certainly possible. We are seeing another vaccine coming in (Moderna), and further vaccines are approaching licensure, and I know that the UK has made contracts for quite a wide range of different vaccines.
"As time goes forward we will have much more flexibility about who can be offered what."
Paul Scully, a business minister, said the Moderna jab could be offered to patients in England within "a few days".
Salmond accuses Sturgeon of insufficient urgency in push for independence
Alex Salmond, the former Scottish First Minister, has accused his successor Nicola Sturgeon of failing to pursue the fight for independence strongly enough.
In a thinly veiled attack, he told BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "I think in terms of urgency, in terms of getting on with that job, I am not certain why the case has not been pursued as urgently as it should have been over the last five years, but it should be pursued now."
He said there is a "growing realisation in Scotland that that should be done", adding: "People will get very frustrated if we return pro-independence majorities and nothing happens."
Mr Salmond is bidding to make a return to frontline politics in Scotland as the leader of the new pro-independence Alba Party, seven years after he stood down as leader of the SNP. The Alba Party is fielding candidates on Holyrood's list ballot, and Mr Salmond believes his party can help secure a "supermajority" of pro-independence MSPs.
"Now I think a supermajority... gives a much better chance of it happening in the next parliament than it happening in the last parliament," he said.
"I think the first job of that new parliament, with its supermajority, should be to pass a resolution in week one, instructing the Scottish government to open negotiations with the UK Government on Scottish independence, that is the sort of urgency we want to inject into the independence debate."
Ban mobile phones in classrooms, Williamson urges
The Education Secretary has backed schools which take a "firm" stance on poor behaviour - including headteachers who "tackle the scourge of ever-present mobile phones" and maintain quiet corridors.
Gavin Williamson launched his latest push against bad behaviour - reiterating calls for mobile phones to be banned in schools - following a year which he said has "inevitably" affected students' discipline.
But the school leaders' union accused the minister of "not doing his homework", saying heads are reporting "a sense of calm and co-operation" from students and that "behaviour has never been better".
The Department for Education (DfE) has announced further details of its £10 million "behaviour hub" programme, which will start this summer term.
Vaccine passports are really only for larger events, says minister
Paul Scully, a business minister, has said that officials are "really looking at the larger ticketed events that are far more of a challenge" for vaccine passport plans - not shops.
The minister acknowledged there were "debates and discussions... to be had" in the "longer term" about where else the certificates might be required.
The minister says the government is "working through all the evidence" and has not made a final decision.
"There are obvious practicality issues we've got to work through as well as ethical and discriminatory issues," he said.
First Minister repeats calls for police chief to resign
Northern Ireland's First Minister has defended her call for the police chief to resign after a decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein politicians over attending a large funeral last year despite Covid restrictions.
Arlene Foster also deflected criticism for not meeting with Chief Constable Simon Byrne when she met with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries just weeks ago.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland recommended prosecutions against deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and 23 others for alleged breaches of the regulations last year at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey, but the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced last week it will not pursue prosecutions.
The PPS pointed to police engagement with the funeral planners as one reason why any prosecution was likely to fail as well as the repeatedly changing and inconsistent nature of Stormont's coronavirus regulations.
UK policing watchdog Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary is to conduct a review of the PSNI's handling of the policing of the funeral.
First Moderna jab recipient had never heard of it
Elle Taylor, who has become the first person in the UK to receive a Moderna vaccine, said she had not heard of it until she was told she was receiving it.
"It was great, the nurses were lovely and it didn't hurt," she said.
Miss Taylor said she was aware of concerns about patients receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine developing blood clots.
"I had heard but it doesn't concern me too much, and I guess if it happens, it happens and I am in the right care if I need it, and I feel happy that I've tried the new one."
Asked how she felt to be a trailblazer for millions of other people, the 24-year-old unpaid carer said: "I feel thrilled and really happy and honoured, and I just hope it goes well for everybody."
First Moderna jab administered in Wales
Unpaid carer Elle Taylor, 24, from Ammanford, has became the first Briton in the UK to receive the Moderna vaccine after being given the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.
Risks of Covid 'much higher' than AstraZeneca jab
The former chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said he has "no reservations" about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Professor Sir Kent Woods told LBC radio: "The risks of Covid are much higher.
"The reason it is so difficult to be certain whether or not there is a cause-and-effect relationship, even in younger people, between the vaccine and these thrombotic events, these clotting events, is that there are such clotting events occurring in the background anyway."
He added: "It's not an unknown event."
George Osborne to wed his former adviser
George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and editor of the Evening Standard, is to wed his former adviser Thea Rogers, he announces in the Times today.
Ms Rogers was Mr Osborne's chief of staff when he was Chancellor.
They began dating two years ago following Mr Osborne's separation from his wife, Frances.
They are also expecting a child.
Why the models predicting a deadly third wave could be flawed
Much of the data suggesting a surge in hospital admissions and deaths this summer is needlessly negative and often out of date, Sarah Knapton writes.
It seems absurd that Britain should find itself facing a similar situation to the second wave after an extremely successful vaccination programme.
Here is how the data was flawed:
Jeremy Hunt: Vaccine passports would be 'abhorrent' in normal times
"In normal times, if you were being asked to show your health records or your Covid status before going into a pub or something like that, it will be absolutely abhorrent," he said.
"But this is a pandemic, and it may not be necessary to do any of that if the vaccine programme is as successful as we hope, if cases fall to low enough levels.
"But if the only way to socialise in the public places safety is to ask people to demonstrate that they're not likely to be a risk to others."
Mr Hunt said he thought the Government had been "sensible" and "pragmatic" in his plans.
Today's front page
Here is today's front page.
Our top stories today are:
Jeremy Hunt: Public will 'keep calm and carry on' with AstraZeneca jab
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and chair of Parliament's health and social care select committee, said the public will be "sensibly British" and "keep calm and carry on" when faced with concerns that the AstraZeneca jab is associated with a higher risk of blood clots.
"It's the balance of risk," he said.
"What we know is that the risk of Covid killing you is higher for older people.
"And it looks like the risk of this type of blood clot is also lower for older people, so that risk profile may change depending on age.
"But there is tremendous public confidence in the vaccine programme.
"I think people will listen to [the MHRA's] advice when it happens today or tomorrow, and I think they'll be sensibly British and keep calm and carry on and follow that advice."
All eyes in Westminster today are on the MHRA, the UK's medicines regulator, amid speculation that the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be paused in young people amid concerns over blood clots.
A very small number of patients have reported blood clots after having the AstraZeneca jab. The clots are also associated with a low platelet count, which is unusual.
Paul Scully, a business minister, said this morning that the vaccine was and urged people to take it they are offered one.
In better vaccine news, the rollout of the Moderna vaccine begins in Wales today, and Mr Scully says it could be expanded across the rest of the UK in the next "few days".