The UK records biggest ever daily Covid deaths on Wednesday
On Wednesday, the daily number of coronavirus deaths reached 1,820 – the highest since the pandemic began. On Tuesday coronavirus deaths within 28 days of testing positive reached the second highest number at 1,610. The number of cases rose sharply to 38,905, after a fall earlier in the week which inspired optimism that lockdown restrictions were working.
The prime minister said: “These figures are appalling, and of course we think of the suffering that each one of those deaths represents to their families and to their friends. I’ve got to tell you … there will be more to come”. He said that the new variant was now in virtually all parts of the UK. “It’s true that it looks as though the rates of infection in the country overall may now be peaking or flattening but they’re not flattening very fast and it’s clear that we must keep a grip on this. We must maintain discipline, formation, keep observing the lockdown.”
Read the full story in the Guardian.
Oxford scientists preparing new vaccine versions to combat emerging Covid strains
Scientists at Oxford University are preparing to rapidly produce new versions of their vaccine to combat emerging Covid-19 variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
The university has confirmed that the team behind the AstraZeneca jab are currently undertaking feasibility studies to reconfigure the technology at 48 hours notice.
The news came as new research suggested that the current generation of Covid vaccines may not work against the new South African strain. A laboratory study found that the 501Y.V2 variant achieved ”complete escape” from monoclonal antibodies.
Boris Johnson said he was holding ”intensive talks” with scientists about the new variants. The Prime Minister told MPs he was confident that the medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was capable of approving new vaccine modifications as quickly as necessary.
Read the full article in the Telegraph.
Almost 2m UK people received first Covid vaccine in past week
Nearly two million people in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine in the past week, government figures show.
By the end of Tuesday, 4.61 million people had received their initial jab, up from 2.64 million the week before. Matt Hancock told MPs: ”We’re giving 200 vaccinations every minute”. Boris Johnson warned there were ”unquestionably going to be a tough few weeks” while the vaccine was rollout out and urged people to observe lockdown.
Read the full story in the BBC.
Oxford research tackles threat of antibiotic resistance
Oxford University is opening a new research institute dedicated to tackling resistance to antibiotics. The university says this is one the biggest rising threats to global health, already causing 1.5 million deaths per year worldwide.
The institute will be funded by £100m donated by the Ineos chemical company. There will be 50 researchers working in the new Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance, addressing the “over-use and mis-use” of antibiotics, which the university warned could cause 10 million excess deaths per year by 2050.
Vice chancellor Louise Richardson said the Covid pandemic had shown the “high cost of ignoring something that is likely to head our way”. Routine operations and “taken-for-granted treatments” would become much riskier without effective antibiotics, said the university.
Read the full story in the BBC.
Quote of the week
The UK Government’s chief scientific adviser commented on situation in hospitals due to the influx of Covid-19 patients in the second wave of the virus and a more infectious variant which has exacerbated the crisis in hospitals.
Sir Patrick Vallance told Sky News: ”When you go into a hospital, this is very, very bad at the moment with enormous pressure and in some cases it looks like a war zone in terms of the things that people are having to deal with,”
Read the full story in the Telegraph.