The Government says it has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed – and currently at phase two trials – by BioNTech and German firm Pfizer.
There has also been an in-principle deal done for 60 million doses of a vaccine that is being developed by France’s Valneva.
The figure of 90 million is in addition to the 100 million doses of vaccine that are being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca.
But the head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has insisted that the Government is “not pursuing a strategy of vaccine nationalism”.
Kate Bingham said the UK’s goal was “to find vaccines for the UK, but also to ensure that any successful vaccine is distributed across the globe, so that anybody who is at risk of infection is vaccinated”.
She added that the latest deals are significant as they further the UK’s attempt to invest in a diverse portfolio of vaccines that use different technologies. This will maximise the chances of having access to a jab that meets regulatory and safety standards, Ms Bingham said.
Later today the first results of the Oxford University vaccine trial are also expected to be published. Last week the Telegraph was told by those involved in the trial that the vaccine did provoke both a T cell and antibody response – but the data itself will be thoroughly analysed.
Follow the latest updates below.
The women-only bank that could help Afghanistan’s economy recover
In a country where women are shut off from work and finance the government hopes the new venture will lift families out of poverty, Ben Farmer reports in this dispatch. Here’s an extract:
Visitors climbing the stairs of a Kabul office block are met with an unusual sight for a bank in Afghanistan.
The cashiers, advisers, manager and customers are all women. Moreover the Finca branch is buzzing with a hum of chatter more like a social club than a sober financial institution.
The busy women-only branch in a central suburb is part of an experiment giving more women access to loans in a country where many are shut off from work and finance. Tiny loans of just a couple of hundred pounds have allowed women to set up and grow businesses, or pay off emergency costs.
Such micro finance loans not only help development, advocates say, but could also be key to helping poor communities bounce back after the economic devastation wrought by Covid-19.
Experts say giving women access to banking and the opportunity to save, send and receive money can lift whole families out of poverty.
Hong Kong: 73 new cases as new restrictions introduced
Hong Kong has reported 73 new Covid-19 infections today, including 66 that were locally transmitted, authorities are reported.
This is a drop from a record number of more than 100 yesterday, but authorities warned that there was no indication that the situation was coming under control.
As of today, new restrictions have come into force, with non-essential civil servants told to work from home from this week. A requirement for restaurants to only provide takeaway after 6pm was extended and face masks will be mandatory in indoor public areas.
“The situation is very serious and there is no sign of it coming under control,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said yesterday.
France identifies as many as 500 active coronavirus clusters
French authorities have reported 400 to 500 active coronavirus outbreak clusters but there are no signs of an imminent “second wave,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said Monday.
Many of the current virus clusters involve abattoirs or other contained professional settings such as old age homes, he said. Others had resulted from family reunions during the summer holidays.
“At this point we are very far from a second wave,” Veran told Franceinfo radio, as face masks were made mandatory in all enclosed public spaces including shops, covered markets and administrative buildings.
“The goal is not to worry people excessively, but to keep them on their guard,” he said.
Nationwide the R number indicating the viral transmission rate now stands at 1.2, meaning the outbreak is growing – every 10 infected people will infect an additional 12 on average, according to the Sante Publique France health agency.
But in some areas on the French mainland, the rate is much higher, with the southern Mediterranean region including Marseille and Nice now reporting a rate of 1.55.
Blackburn with Darwen has Britain’s highest infection rate
Blackburn with Darwen has overtaken Leicester as the local authority with the highest coronavirus infection rate per 100,000 population, according to the latest ONS data for the week of the 11-17 July.
Our data team have crunched the numbers – here are the five biggest hotspots in the Britain:
Blackburn with Darwen: 78.8 infections per 100,000 people
Oadby and Wigston: 61.3
You can use our interactive tool here to find out whether cases are rising or falling in your are.
Lanarkshire call centre: Penalties not ruled out
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has not ruled out penalties being levied against the owners of a North Lanarkshire call centre which has seen a cluster of Covid-19 cases.
Six cases were reported yesterday within the Sitel call centre at Eurocentral business park near Bellshill, which is currently working on test and trace cases for NHS England (more detail on this here).
When asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Monday if penalties could levied against Sitel, Mr Swinney said:
“These are all issues that will be explored, but what our primary focus is on is to make sure that we interrupt any transmission of the virus.
“The virus is at a very low level within Scottish society today, the compliance efforts of members of the public have successfully reduced the prevalence of coronavirus, but we have to keep it that way.”
Weight loss surgery drive to tackle obesity
Boris Johnson is said to have emerged from his stint in hospital with coronavirus more determined than ever to reduce not only his own weight but the nations.
So what will his attempt to tackle Britain’s obesity problem look like? The Telegraph understands that ministers are set to dramatically increase the NHS’s capacity to conduct weight-loss surgery in a radical bid to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.
The plans, which are said to be part of a broader “comprehensive obesity strategy” to be announced later this summer, could see obesity formally defined as a “chronic disease” and NHS trusts and GPs financially incentivised to encourage those most at risk to have bariatric surgery.
You can find all the details about the plans in this report – but these analysis pieces are a must-read:
Just joining us? Here’s a quick update of all the international news stories to be aware of this morning:
EU leaders were making progress after three days of haggling over a plan to revive economies throttled by the Covid-19 pandemic – but Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned the discussions could still fall apart.
As of today, France has made face masks mandatory in supermarkets, shopping malls, banks, stores and indoor markets to curb worrisome signs that the coronavirus is making inroads again.
Similar measures have been introduced in Australia – people in Melbourne must now wear masks when leaving their homes as Victoria marked two weeks of triple-digit increases in new coronavirus infections yesterday.
An inquiry in Victoria is also trying to determine how security breaches may have undermined the Covid-19 hotel quarantine programme in the state.
India reported more than 40,000 new cases of the coronavirus today – a record high for the country.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has said coronavirus lockdown measures “kill” and have “suffocated” the country’s economy.
Hong Kong tightened coronavirus restrictions, with non-essential civil servants told to work from home from this week, as the territory reported a record number of daily cases.
And ending on some good news from South Korea – the country reported its smallest daily jump in local Covid-19 transmissions in two months as health authorities express cautious optimism that the outbreak is being brought under control.
Watch: How to stop your glasses steaming up when wearing a face mask
Thailand in favour of closing borders to tourists
Perhaps hold off booking that trip to Thailand, if these numbers are anything to go by. More than 90 per cent of Thais would be in favour of barring foreigners from entering the country to prevent a second Covid-19 wave, according to a new poll.
The opinion survey in mid-July by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University in Bangkok found that 94 per cent of respondents would rather keep the borders closed for health reasons, despite the damage to the economy, Nicola Smith reports.
It was conducted in the wake of public frustration over recently imported cases – one an Egyptian soldier, and the other involving a Sudanese diplomatic family. Some 52 per cent of respondents said they were very worried about the two cases.
The poll also showed that 86 per cent suggested stringent screening processes at the border and that 76 per cent want free access to Covid-19 tests.
Despite Thailand’s relative success in containing the spread of the virus – with just 3,249 cases and 58 deaths – more than 95 per cent of respondents said they were worried about a second round of infections.
UK ‘not pursuing a strategy of vaccine nationalism’
Vaccine news has dominated the headlines this morning, after the UK announced it has signed two deals to secure 90 million doses of promising immunisations. This is in addition to 100 million doses of jabs being developed by Oxford University with AstraZeneca.
But speaking to Sky News Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, insisted that the UK is “not pursuing a strategy of vaccine nationalism”.
There are some concerns that wealthy countries will purchase the majority of vaccine supplies and leave nations with fewer resources unable to access immunisations (more on this here).
Ms Bingham said the UK’s goal was “to find vaccines for the UK, but also to ensure that any successful vaccine is distributed across the globe, so that anybody who is at risk of infection is vaccinated”.
“We are recognising that this is a global pandemic and we need to ensure that the globe – and all those who need it – are vaccinated,” she added.
Ms Bingham also said that the UK Vaccine Taskforce is investing in a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates, in an attempt to maximise the chances of having access to a jab that meets regulatory and safety standards.
But she warned: “I urge against being complacent or over-optimistic. The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”
Indonesia set to become one of the ‘worst hit countries worldwide’
Here’s a stark update from our Asia Correspondent, Nicola Smith, about the unfolding crisis in Indonesia – experts have warned the nation is on track to become one of the worst coronavirus-afflicted countries in the world.
The Southeast Asian country has seen cases and deaths double as citizens re-emerge from a lockdown during a government effort to reboot the economy. As of Sunday, Indonesia had recorded 86,521 total cases and 4,143 deaths, twice the cumulative figure from the previous month, reported the Jakarta Post.
On Saturday, the case count had exceeded the official tally in China for the first time after large-scale social restrictions were lifted in early June.
Riris Andono Ahmad, an epidemiologist from Gadjah Mada University, told the Post that the country to become one of the worst hit in the world if there was no intervention, pointing to risk factors like boarding schools, which drew people from all over the country.
Confirmed Covid-19 hotspots have now spread outside of the capital, Jakarta, to East Java, Central Java, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan.
“There must be tough enforcement from the government and popular awareness if [people] don’t want to prolong the pandemic. The problem is that there is sometimes resistance, and with the large number of people there, there has to be bargaining in prevention efforts,” he said.
Alok Sharma confirms new coronavirus vaccine deals
“I am delighted to announce a new partnership with some of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and vaccine companies,” he says
“This deal will help ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine for COVID-19 that protects those most at risk.
I am delighted to announce a new partnership with some of the world’s foremost pharmaceutical and vaccine companies.
— Alok Sharma (@AlokSharma_RDG) July 20, 2020
Gavin Williamson would “absolutely” take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he would “absolutely” take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial.
Mr Williamson told BBC Breakfast on Monday that 500,000 people would be needed to take part in clinical trials during the winter months.
It comes as the Government announced it had signed new deals which will provide more than 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
Asked if a vaccine would be ready by winter, Mr Williamson said: “The whole purpose is that they will be getting trialled out.
“Half a million people will be having the trials of these vaccines and it will be something that comes after winter.”
Asked if he would take part in a trial, Mr Williamson said: “Absolutely. As you are probably aware politicians tend to meet lots of people, so it would be a sensible thing to do.”
Synairgen drug trials give positive results
The preliminary results of a clinical trial suggest a new treatment for Covid-19 dramatically reduces the number of patients needing intensive care, according to the UK company that developed it.
Synairgen’s drug SNG001 has been found to prevent COVID-19 coronavirus becoming more severe in around 79% of cases, it says.
The treatment uses a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when it gets a viral infection.
The protein is inhaled directly into the lungs of patients with coronavirus, using a nebuliser, in the hope that it will stimulate an immune response.
The initial findings suggest the treatment cut the odds of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – such as requiring ventilation by 79 per cent.
Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, said: “We are all delighted with the trial results announced today.”
The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, nor has the full data been made available; so the
Macron accuses Dutch of acting like Brexit Britain as EU coronavirus summit enters fourth day
James Crisp, our Brussels Correspondent, has been watching the EU bloc’s difficult negotiations over the scale of a coronavirus rescue fund.
He writes: “Emmanuel Macron accused the prime minister of the Netherlands of taking Brexit Britain’s obstructive role at EU summits, as marathon talks over a massive coronavirus rescue fund stretched into a fourth straight day on Monday.
“The French President’s patience snapped as tempers flared in tough negotiations over the plans for a €750 bn coronavirus stimulus package and bolstered €1.1 trillion EU Budget for seven years from 2021.
“The package is backed by France, Germany, Spain, Italy and others but resisted by the “frugal four” of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, who were joined by Finland on Sunday.
“Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands and his allies have demanded more oversight of payments from the rescue fund, more of the cash to be loans rather than non-repayable grants and for the Budget to be slimmed down.
“Mr Macron accused Mr Rutte of behaving like David Cameron, the former British prime minister who would often boast of “battling for Britain” in Brussels.”
Questions over test and trace privacy
Privacy campaigners say the coronavirus test and trace programme implemented in England broke a key data protection law.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) wrote to the Open Rights Group (ORG) to concede the scheme was launched without an assessment of its impact on privacy, the group told the BBC.
ORG said the concession meant the programme has been unlawful since it started on May 28, but DHSC says there is no evidence data has been used in an unlawful manner.
ORG is just one group to raise privacy concerns over the scheme, with a former Cabinet minister also previously warning of “serious errors” in its implementation.
Labour’s Lord Hain said last month that the NHS had failed to carry out its legal data protection obligations prior to the launch and had entered into data sharing relationships “on unnecessarily favourable terms to large companies”.
The track and trace app has been trialled on the Isle of Wight, but the Government has suggested it may not be ready to roll out across the UK until the winter.
Covid vaccine deal signed by Government
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported the Government has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed – and currently at phase two trials – by BioNTech and German firm Pfizer.
There has also been an in-principle deal done for 60 million doses of a vaccine that is being developed by France’s Valneva.
The figure of 90 million is in addition to the 100 million doses of vaccine that are being developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca, as well as another at Imperial College London which started human trials in June.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the new agreements would “ensure the UK has the best chance possible of securing a vaccine that protects those most at risk”.
Tower of London Beefeaters facing redundancies over coronavirus
The PA news agency has reported that Beefeaters are facing redundancies for the first time in their long history, due to the coronavirus lockdown’s impact on tourism at the Tower of London.
John Barnes, the head of the Historic Royal Palace (HRP) charity which runs the Tower, said: “We simply have no choice but to reduce our payroll costs,” according to the Sun.
“We are heartbroken that it has come to this.”
There are 37 Yeoman Warders, nicknamed Beefeaters, who guard the Crown Jewels and live inside the Tower’s grounds with their families.
At least two Beefeaters have taken voluntary redundancies but HRP has warned compulsory redundancies will be enforced.
The attraction reopened on July 10, with new provisions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 including hand sanitiser dispensers and one-way routes throughout.
Tourists wanting a photograph with a Beefeater now have to do so while standing two metres away.
Three million visitors passed through the Tower last year, but now it can welcome less than 1,000 people each day.
Outbreak spreads to second city in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang
China’s latest outbreak has spread to a second city in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
One of the 17 new cases reported on Monday was in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, the regional government said on its official microblog. The remainder were in the regional capital of Urumqi, where all other cases have been reported since the outbreak that has now infected at least 47 people emerged earlier this month.
Authorities in Urumqi have tried to prevent the spread by closing off communities and imposing travel restrictions.
Xinjiang is a vast, thinly populated region of mountains and deserts and had seen little impact from the pandemic that emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and was largely contained within China in March.
Another five new cases reported Monday by the National Health Commission were imported.
Cases in South Korea at two-month low
South Korea has reported its smallest daily jump in local Covid-19 transmissions in two months as health authorities express cautious optimism that the outbreak is being brought under control.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday still reported 26 newly confirmed cases, including 22 that were tied to international arrivals.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said during a virus briefing that the four local transmissions represented the first time that such infections came below 10 since May 19. He continued to plead for vigilance, encouraging people to avoid crowded places or even stay at home during the summer holiday period.
Summary of news from around the world
Numbers of confirmed cases in China‘s northwestern city of Urumqi continue to rise, with another 17 reported on Monday, bringing the total in the latest outbreak to at least 47.
Hong Kong has seen a spike in cases, with more than 100 reported on Sunday.
Beijing has gone 14 days without a case of local transmission and city authorities on Sunday said they were downgrading the emergency response level from two to three.
France’s most worrisome virus hot spot is on the northern coast of South America: French Guiana, a territory of about 300,000 people where poverty is rampant and health care is scarce.
The Italian region that includes Rome is warning citizens that local lockdowns might have to be ordered if there are more clusters of infections.
Pope Francis is assuring his closeness to all those grappling with Covid-19 and its “economic and social consequences”.
Turkey has suspended flights to Iran and Afghanistan because of the outbreak, Turkey’s Transport Ministry said on Sunday.
Cyprus’ health minister says there’s concern that infected migrants could be seeping through the ethnically divided island nation’s porous cease-fire line.
A record 24-hour surge of 38,902 new cases has taken India’s total to 1,077,618.
Australia warns outbreak will take weeks to tame
A surge in cases in Australia’s second-biggest city could take weeks to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, Australia’s acting chief medical officer said on Monday as the country braces for a second wave of infection.
Coronavirus flared up in the state of Victoria in July, mainly in Melbourne, with a daily record of 438 new cases detected on Friday.
Victoria’s government has ordered about five million people into a partial lockdown for six weeks and told residents around Melbourne to cover their faces if they have to leave their homes.
Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said it would take “weeks” to slow the outbreak to levels seen as recently as June, when Victoria and the rest of Australia reported single or double-digit daily infections.
“We have learned over time that the time between introducing a measure and seeing its effect is at least two weeks and sometimes longer than that,” Mr Kelly told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
Mexican president pays tribute to 39,000 victims of virus
Mexican president Manuel Lopez Obrador on Sunday vowed to improve health standards in the nation, which has the fourth-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, as the number of fatalities rose to nearly 39,000.
“We want to remember those who died from the Covid-19 pandemic, and send a loving, fraternal hug to their relatives, to their friends,” Mr Lopez Obrador said in a video released on social media.
Mexico, with 127 million inhabitants, had recorded 38,888 deaths, according to health authorities on Saturday, with additional suspected deaths lifting the total to more than 40,000.
Mexico has the second-highest death toll in Latin America after Brazil, which has 78,772 deaths.
Cases continue to surge in US as Trump says ‘it’s going to disappear’
Florida reported over 12,000 new cases on Sunday, the fifth day in a row the state has announced over 10,000 new infections, even as President Donald Trump pledged that “it’s going to be under control”.
The virus has claimed over 140,000 US lives and Florida, California, and other Southern and Western states shatter records every day.
Texas reported 7,300 new cases on Sunday after five straight days of new infections exceeding 10,000.
Despite record levels of new cases nationwide, the Trump administration is pushing for schools to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate to wear masks in public.
Mr Trump, who faces a tough battle for re-election in November, defended his handling of the pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Mr Trump on Fox News Sunday repeated his assertion that the virus would eventually disappear.
“I’ll be right eventually,” he said. “It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right.”
Councils to be given names and addresses of people who test positive
Councils will be given the names and full addresses of people who have tested positive for Coronavirus under government plans to tackle local outbreaks.
The government is expected to announce as early as Monday that public health directors working with councils will be able to access the “named patient data”, as long as they abide by strict rules on data protection.
Councils can already access details of patients’ postcode areas, age and occupations. A government source said: “We’ve been giving more and more data over the past few weeks.”