Prime Minister Boris Johnson says 'there is some evidence the UK variant of COVID19 may be associated with a higher degree of mortality', but adds 'all current evidence shows both vaccines remain effective against the old and new coronavirus variant'.
Coronavirus latest: Boris Johnson giving a Downing Street briefing from 5pm alongside Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
16:10Latest UK figures revealed for deaths, new cases and vaccinesThe UK has recorded another 1,401 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, up from 1,290 on Thursday.It means the official death toll now stands at 95,981.A further 40,261 new cases have been reported, an increase from Thursday's total of 37,892.
A total of 3,583,907 have now tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.The latest vaccine figures show 5.38 million people have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with a further 466,796 now having received the full two doses.
More than 400,000 first doses were administered on Thursday, a new daily high.15:52Cumbria GPs go the distance to vaccinate housebound patients15:40Police issue fines over barbecueFive adults have been handed £200 fines by the police after officers discovered three households having a barbecue on the moors. headtopics.com
Durham Police were called to Waskerley above Consett at around 4pm on Thursday and found 13 people - including seven children and a seven-month-old baby - from Gateshead.Officers said the adults at first did not think they had done anything wrong, but later accepted that their gathering was risky because of COVID-19 and the weather conditions caused by Storm Christoph if they had crashed on the way there.
15:30Latest vaccine numbers encouraging, but there's strong evidence the supply is more constrained than we expectedAnalysis by Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondentYesterday was another good day for the UK's vaccine programme.Not only did it hit a new high for the second day in a row, it once again surpassed the daily rate required to reach the government's target of vaccinating 15m people by the middle of February.
If the number of daily vaccinations continues at this rate - or, even better, continues to increase - the government will hit its target and (more importantly) many of the most vulnerable people will have the protection of the vaccine.Yet before we feel too confident, we should remember that there was a significant dip in vaccinations last weekend.
We've seen how test numbers fall over every Saturday and Sunday: if the same thing happens over this weekend then this could pose a problem for the programme in an ongoing way.More worryingly, there is strong evidence that supply is more constrained than we expected. Last week, I published an optimistic analysis based on projections accidentally published by the Scottish government. headtopics.com
The government offers no transparency on questions of supply, so it is hard to be sure what's going on, but I can see no sign that the UK is getting the numbers of doses predicted in that document.Still, as ever in this pandemic, things could always be worse.
Yesterday there was a fire at the Serum Institute in Pune, India. Five were killed. But the production of the world's supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca was saved.A reminder, if you needed it, that the fate of many is hanging by a thread.15:06Another mass vaccination centre to open
A mass vaccination centre is to be opened at Stoneleigh Park near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.Dr Sarah Raistrick, a GP and chair of both NHS Coventry and Rugby and Warwickshire North clinical commissioning groups, said:"It is good news for our area that alongside the site in Birmingham at Millennium Point, we will be having another mass vaccination centre at Stoneleigh agricultural park and that will be opening next week."
It is hoped that the site will be up and running by the middle of next week, but this is dependent on vaccine supplies.14:51Welsh first minister confident of hitting vaccine targetWales is on track to have offered coronavirus vaccines to 70% of people over the age of 80 and care home residents by the end of this week, the first minister has said. headtopics.com
Mark Drakeford said he had"confidence" the Welsh government would reach its target despite accusations that he and health minister Vaughan Gething had overstated the progress of the vaccination rollout in recent statements.On Friday, figures from Public Health Wales showed 30.2% of the over-80s and 59.9% of people in care homes have so far received their first dose of vaccine.
This comes despite Mr Drakeford saying on Monday he believed 40% of people 80 and above had received a jab, and then Mr Gething telling the Senedd on Tuesday that the"the majority" had received it.But Mr Drakeford told the government's press briefing that ministers had access to more up-to-date figures than the ones available to the public, which were subject to time delays, despite Mr Gething later apologising for making an"an innocent mistake".
14:40More than five million vaccine doses administered in EnglandA total of 5,100,475 COVID-19 vaccinations had taken place in England between 8 December and 21 January, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 359,897 on Thursday's figures.
Of this number, 4,661,293 were the first dose of the vaccine, a rise of 357,563 on Thursday's figures, while 439,182 were the second dose, an increase of 2,334.The NHS England data shows a total of 558,553 jabs have been given to people in London between 8 December and 21 January, including 504,082 first doses and 54,471 second doses.
This compares to 886,072 first doses and 66,841 second doses given to people in the Midlands, a total of 952,913.The breakdown for the other regions is as follows:North East and Yorkshire - 770,405 first doses and 71,599 second doses, making 842,004 in total
North West - 651,591 first doses and 63,149 second doses, making 714,740 in totalSouth East - 749,116 first doses and 76,088 second doses, making 825,204 in totalSouth West - 522,308 first doses and 53,256 second doses, making 575,564 in totalEast of England - 549,497 first doses and 53,487 second doses, making 602,984 in total
14:31Portugal reports record daily death tollA total of 234 more deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Portugal on Thursday, a record high for the country during the pandemic an increase on Wednesday's figure of 221.There have been a total of 9,920 coronavirus deaths in Portugal so far.
A total of 13,987 new infections were also reported over the last 24 hours.14:25More than 350,000 people have received first vaccine dose in ScotlandPublic Health Scotland said 358,454 people in the country had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 8.30am on Friday 22 January, an increase of 23,583 from the previous day.
It added that 4,689 people have received the second dose, an increase of 223.14:19Nearly 1000 more deaths reported in hospitalsA further 993 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 65,104, NHS England said on Friday.
Patients were aged between 23 and 102. All except 47, aged between 32 and 96, had known underlying health conditions.The deaths were between 12 December and 21 January.There were 68 other deaths reported with no positive COVID-19 test result.14:10Man arrested on suspicion of selling fake coronavirus tests at airport
A man suspected of selling fake coronavirus test certificates was arrested at Luton airport, police said.Several countries served by the airport require international arrivals to provide proof of a recent negative coronavirus test, including Italy, Bulgaria and Romania.
The suspect, in his 30s, was arrested at 8pm on Wednesday on suspicion of fraud by false representation, Bedfordshire Police said.He was released under investigation.Detective Sergeant Tom Hamm of Bedfordshire Police said:"If you are travelling abroad to a country that requires proof you are fit to fly, you can only obtain this from an approved test provider.
"Unfortunately, fraudsters have seen the ongoing pandemic as an opportunity to prey on people, and if you are approached by someone offering to sell certificates who is not an authorised provider, please report it immediately."Luton airport operations director Neil Thompson said:"We work closely with Bedfordshire Police to ensure we keep our staff and passengers safe at all times.
"Everyone working at the airport is trained in general security awareness and along with other measures in place, anyone attempting to commit crime at LLA (London Luton Airport) has a very strong chance of detection."We will always take a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour and will support police in any action they take."
::Anyone with information about the incident is asked to report it via Bedfordshire Police's online reporting system quoting reference 319 of January 20, or contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.14:05Morocco to become first African country to receive a significant vaccine supply
Morocco expects to receive two million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, two health ministry officials saidThe doses will enable the country to start rolling out a nationwide programme of immunisation.The shipment of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is the first significant COVID-19 vaccine supply to any African country.
14:04Uncertainty whether epidemic is growing or shrinking despite fall in R numberAnalysis by Thomas Moore, science correspondentThe latest official measure of the virus's spread is good news. Mostly.For the first time in many weeks the R number is below 1, indicating that the UK's epidemic is shrinking.
The SAGE committee, which advises the government on science, estimates that the reproduction number is between 0.8 and 1.0 - a range because it is based on several different models.It means that every 10 infected people will pass the virus on to between 8 and 10 others.
It's not a huge fall, despite lockdown.SAGE believes the number of infections is falling between 1 and 4% a day.We get a lot of data every week, sometimes conflicting. But the R number is fairly consistent with the ONS stats that I wrote about earlier.
London, the South East and East of England shows the sharpest deceleration in cases, with an R number broadly between 0.6 and 1.0 and a reduction in infections of roughly between 2 and 8% a day.The ONS also pointed to a fall in infections in these regions. They went into Tier 4 first and cases had begun to level off even before the country went into lockdown.
Elsewhere the R number remains a little higher, notably the Midlands, North East and Yorkshire, North West and South West, where the estimate straddles 1, so there is uncertainty whether the epidemic is growing or shrinking.There will be concern that cases may still be rising in some regions - the ONS pointed to a sharp rise in the North East.
We are dealing with a more transmissible virus and it may be that tougher controls will be needed, perhaps regionally, to bring the epidemic under control across the country.13:57Home secretary pays tribute to officer who died of coronavirusPriti Patel has said her"thoughts and prayers" go out to the family of a police officer who died after contracting COVID-19.
PC Michael Warren was classed as"vulnerable" and had been shielding at home, working remotely to help his team.13:53Find out the R number in your areaThe chart below allows you to check the R number, or reproduction number, where you live.The number represents the average amount of people a person with coronavirus will go on to infect.
13:41Reproduction number fallsThe R number has dropped to between 0.8 and 1.0 - down from between 1.2 and 1.3 last week, the government's Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have said.R represents the average number of people each coronavirus-positive person goes on to infect.
When the figure is above 1, it means the outbreak is growing exponentially.An R number between 0.8 and 1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people.13:37Could vaccine supplies be moved from some regions to boost others?
A report in The Yorkshire Post has been causing a bit of a stir today.According to the paper's front page, supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to GPs in the region could be diverted to other parts of the country to help them catch up.Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi denied this was true, with a number of other Conservatives also criticising the newspaper.
But asked by journalists at a regular Westminster briefing to repeat the minister's denial, Boris Johnson's spokesman said:"I'm simplifying pointing out the fact that we'll continue to prioritise the over-80s and will ensure the areas that need more in order to increase those percentages can receive it, while ensuring that we provide vaccine doses to all areas of the country."
The PM's spokesman added:"We will continue to ensure that all areas and regions of the UK receive the vaccine to ensure we can protect the most vulnerable in society."I would point to what Matt Hancock said yesterday where he said we have got to make sure vaccination is fair across the UK and some parts of the country, including parts of the North East and Yorkshire, have gone fast early on.
"He also said why we're putting more vaccine into areas that haven't made as much progress, so everyone in the top four groups can receive the offer of a vaccine by February 15."We've always said that we will prioritise those first four cohorts, which is why we set the mid-February target.
"But it remains the case that areas of the UK will continue to receive doses of the vaccine."13:21Percentage of people testing positive with new variant around BritainThe proportion of people testing positive with the new variant of COVID-19 has fallen in London, South East and East of England, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
Infection rates for the new variant have also levelled off for the other regions, marking a decline for England as a whole.The number of infections in the community has decreased slightly but remain high, including for all variants of COVID-19, with 1 in 55 people testing positive in England.
Wales and Scotland saw people testing positive level off, while positivity rate continues to rise in Northern Ireland.Just in the week ending 16 Jan, 2.9% of Londoners had COVID-19 - the highest of any region.North East follows with 2.5% of its populating testing positive for COVID-19 for that week.
Both regions are more than twice as high as the lowest regions in England.For the same week, Yorkshire and The Humber, as well as the South West had a little over 1.2% of its populating testing positive for COVID-19.13:14Full line-up for Downing Street news conference revealed
We'll have live coverage of the prime minister's news conference, as well as rolling analysis throughout.13:10Government will not pay everyone who tests positive for coronavirus £500 - Number 10 saysDowning Street has denied reports the government is preparing to pay everyone in England £500 if they test positive for coronavirus.
It was said the move would be part of efforts to increase the number of people abiding by quarantine rules.The prime minister's official spokesman told reporters:"There are no plans to introduce an extra £500 payment."We already offer a £500 payment to support those on low incomes who cannot work from home.
"We've given local authorities £70 million for the scheme and they are able to provide extra payments on top of those £500 if they think it necessary."That £500 is on top of any other benefits and statutory sick pay that people are eligible for."
The spokesman, asked about the Department of Health and Social Care document the universal payment suggestion was allegedly made in, said he would not comment on a leaked paper.13:00Primary school teacher absence rates 'six times higher than for children in same setting'
Absence rates for primary school teachers with COVID-19 were six times higher in England than for children in the same settings, analysis suggests.Teacher absences due to a confirmed case of coronavirus were up to three times higher in secondary schools than those of pupils, according to research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) think tank.
It is"highly likely" that more teachers had a confirmed case of COVID-19 during the autumn term than the wider adult population, but more government data is needed to confirm this, the report says.Approximately 0.5% to 0.9% of primary teachers in England were absent due to a confirmed Covid-19 case during the autumn term, compared with 0.05% to 0.15% of primary pupils, the analysis finds.
About 0.6% to 1% of secondary teachers were absent compared with 0.2% to 0.3% for secondary pupils12:52Senior figures in the Jewish community criticise wedding attended by 400 peopleJonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, has criticised the"shameful" wedding he says took place in a Jewish school.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has condemned the"flagrant and disgraceful breach of COVID-19 regulations".Their comments come as the organiser of a wedding attended by 400 people in Stamford Hill is facing a £10,000 fine.
The windows of the state-funded Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School had been covered to stop people seeing in when officers arrived on Thursday night.12:41Analysis: Latest figures show we're still paying the price of Christmas mixingBy Thomas Moore, science correspondent
Lockdown is working, but not everywhere.That’s the take home message from the latest snapshot of the UK’s epidemic from the Office for National Statistics.Across England, the number of people infected with the virus fell from 1 in 50 just before lockdown to 1 in 55 in the week leading up to 16 January.
But, as ever, that masks a complicated geographical variation in the virus’s spread.In London, the South East and East of England, which were in Tier 4 for longest in the run-up to Christmas, cases dropped sharply.London still had the highest infection rate – 1 in 35 people – but that was down from 1 in 28.
The concern will be what is happening in the North East. Despite being under the same restrictions as the rest of the country, the infection rate rose steeply over the two week period from 1 in 60 to 1 in 40.The infection rate in Northern Ireland has also more than doubled.
The rise in those areas is almost certainly due to momentum from social mixing over Christmas and New Year. Further restrictions may be needed to bend the curve.The cases of today are the hospital admissions of the next fortnight. So the NHS in those regions will face increasing pressure.
Elsewhere there will be some hope for hard-pressed doctors and nurses that the corner is being turned. Admissions are still eye-wateringly high, but at least there is an indication that numbers will soon start to decline.12:18Real Madrid manager and France football great tests positive for coronavirus
Zinedine Zidane, the manager of Real Madrid and a World Cup winner with France, has tested positive for COVID-19.Zidane scored twice when France won the World Cup in 1998. He also won the Champions League three times as manager of Real Madrid.12:12More than 800 cases reported in Wales
There have been a further 801 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 185,836.Public Health Wales reported another 67 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 4,459.Public Health Wales said a total of 212,317 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had now been given, an increase of 21,882 on the previous day's figure.
The agency say 415 second doses were also given, an increase of 19.In total, 30.2% of those aged over 80 have received their first dose of the vaccine, along with 59.9% of care home residents and 69.8% of care home staff.Health minister Vaughan Gething previously said he expected 70% of the over-80s, care home residents and care home staff to have received their first jab by 25 January.
12:10Infection rate decreased slightly last weekThe number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England decreased slightly in the latest week but prevalence overall remained high, the UK's Office for National Statistics said on Friday.An estimated one in 55 people in private households in England had COVID-19 between 10 and 16 January, the ONS said. This was the equivalent of 1.02 million people, or 1.88% of the population.
This compares with an estimated one in 50 people, or 1.12 million, for the period 27 December 2020 to 2 January 2021.The ONS also estimates one in 35 people in London had COVID-19 last week.In Wales, around one in 70 people had COVID-19 between January 10 and 16 - unchanged from the previous ONS estimate for 27 December to 2 January.
In Northern Ireland the ONS estimates around one in 60 people had COVID-19 between 10 and 16 January, up from one in 200 for 27 December to 2 January.The estimate for Scotland is broadly unchanged, up slightly from around one in 115 people for 25 and 31 December to one in 100 for 10 and 16 January.
All figures are for people in private households.12:00EU to seek clarification over vaccine delaysThe European Commission will seek clarification from Pfizer for new delays in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to EU countries next week, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Friday.
The spokesman was answering a question about new slowdowns in deliveries reported by EU countries for next week.Pfizer and the Commission had earlier said that there would have been no more slowdown next week, after supplies slowed this week.11:52Mental health fears for athletes planning to retire after Tokyo Games
Athletes planning to retire after the Tokyo Games face a mental health"double whammy" if the event is cancelled, according to the chair of an athletes' representative body.Vicki Aggar, a Paralympic rowing bronze medallist in 2008 and the chair of the British Athletes Commission, says governing bodies are already trying to help athletes prepare mentally for the possibility of the Olympic and Paralympic Games being called off amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections worldwide.
The International Olympic and Paralympic committees issued statements on Friday underlining their commitment to staging this summer's Games, which were due to take place in July and August last year but had to be delayed due to the pandemic.But Aggar says behind the scenes some sports are having"mature conversations" with athletes to help them at least talk about the possibility of cancellation.
The British Athletics Indoors Championships, due to be held in Glasgow this year, was cancelled earlier today.11:38Sky correspondent Ashna Hurynag has been meeting emergency services workers who are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.Police officers and London Fire Brigade officials are driving ambulances to help the London Ambulance Service save lives.
11:30Scientists say 'don't rely on the fact your neighbours have been vaccinated'Scientists are urging people not to"rely on the fact that your neighbours have been vaccinated" as they warned it is"pretty much impossible" for the UK to reach herd immunity against COVID-19.
Professor Paul Hunter and his colleague Alastair Grant, from the University of East Anglia, have warned that herd immunity cannot be achieved either through natural infection or the programme using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.Professor Hunter told Radio 4's Today programme that vaccines would allow a return to near-normal life for large parts of society but those who refuse a jab will not be protected by herd immunity.
He said:"The rolling out the vaccine is going to make a huge difference and going to enable us to relax many of the restrictions that we're under at the moment and, certainly as we're moving into spring when the better weather comes along, that'll considerably help.
"I think there are two key issues. The first is that if you are uncertain about whether you want the vaccine or not - and especially if you're a vulnerable person - you cannot rely on the fact that your neighbours have been vaccinated so please, please, please make sure you go and be vaccinated yourself."
11:24Low-paid workers 'twice as likely to have lost jobs'People on low wages are more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs during the coronavirus crisis, new research suggests.The Institute for Employment Studies said its findings also indicate that workers in low-paid jobs are at greater risk of being temporarily laid off or having their hours cut.
Its report said it is likely that around four million workers have either been temporarily laid off or are working fewer hours than normal.Employment loss in the crisis has been driven by falls in lower-paying jobs such as those in food services and manufacturing, hospitality, residential care and construction, said the report.
Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said:"This crisis has already taken a significant toll on jobs and incomes, with low paid workers bearing the brunt."With unemployment set to rise sharply this year, we are likely still in the foothills of the employment crisis, but we can take action now and at the Budget to address this.
"We need to do more to support low-income households, reform sick pay and ensure that workplace rights can be properly enforced."11:03IOC dismisses reports the Olympics will be cancelledThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have dismissed renewed speculation that the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games are set to be cancelled.
A report in the Times claimed that the Japanese government has"privately concluded" that the Olympics and Paralympics will have to be called off due to rising coronavirus rates.The IOC issued a statement in which it echoed the response of the Japanese government in describing the report as"categorically untrue", adding:"The IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year."
In a separate statement, the IPC said:"We believe that with the robust measures and plans we have in place, the Games can and will go ahead safely."10:53Deaths and infections rise in MalaysiaAnother 18 people have died from coronavirus in Malaysia.Read more: Sky News »
Pope arrives in Iraq for historic first-ever papal trip to nation despite fears over security and coronavirus
The pontiff is visiting the Middle Eastern country after more than a million Christians were driven out by violence.