The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said he was vaccinated against coronavirus at the weekend as he urged others to follow suit when invited to do so.
Welsh leader defends staggered rollout of Pfizer Covid vaccine
The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has defended the slower rollout of the vaccination programme in Wales, saying the Pfizer vaccine could not be used all at once.
Statistically, Wales is behind the other home nations in delivering the first dose of the vaccine per 100,000, with 3,215 having received it as of last week, compared to 3,514 in Scotland, 4,005 in England and 4,828 in Northern Ireland.
Drakeford dismissed the statistics as “very marginal differences”, explaining that supplies of the Pfizer vaccine had to last until the beginning of February.
Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
There will be no point and certainly it will be logistically very damaging to try to use all of that in the first week and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do with for another month. The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you’ve got over the period that you’ve got it for so that your system can absorb it, they can go on working, that you don’t have people standing around with nothing to do.
“We will vaccinate all four priority groups by the middle of February, alongside everywhere else in the UK,” he added.
Russia plans to vaccinate more than 20 million people against coronavirus in the first quarter of 2021, the deputy prime minister announced on Monday.
Tatiana Golikova said that Russia, which has registered two vaccines against the virus, plans to register a third vaccine on 16 February.
Passengers arriving in the UK on Monday faced long queues as new Covid travel rules came into effect at 4am.
Strict rules requiring all international arrivals to be forced to quarantine as well as demonstrate they have had a negative Covid test were brought in to prevent new strains of coronavirus entering the UK.
Some of the earliest arrivals at London’s Heathrow airport said it had taken more than an hour to be processed due to “substantial” lines at passport control.
Andy Hart, from London, who arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 from Nairobi with his partner on Monday morning, said he was “shocked and disappointed” to see the queues at passport control.
We felt unsafe. We felt that, even though everyone was masked, they were far too close together. It took an hour and 10 minutes. I’ve been flying 30 times a year for 20 years. I mean, once or twice have I ever seen it (airport queues) like this. How can this happen during Covid times?
Norway’s government will ease some Covid restrictions after extra measures imposed for the past two weeks appear to have had the desired effect, prime minister Erna Solberg said on Monday.
“We still have control over the spread of infections, but the situation can change quickly,” Solberg told parliament.
The government will permit households to receive guests, but only up to a maximum of five visitors, while children and teenagers can resume sports activities.
Bars and restaurants, however, are still banned from serving alcohol until further notice.
Hello everyone, this is Yohannes Lowe. I’ll be taking over the running of the blog now. As always, feel free to get in touch on Twitter if you have any story tips.
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France is on track to reach its target of vaccinating 1 million people against Covid-19 by the end of January and has enough doses to increase the total to 2.4 million by the end of February, health minister Olivier Véran said on Monday.
During a visit to a vaccination centre in the eastern city of Grenoble, Véran told reporters that France had now set up about 800 such centres.
“With the acceleration of the vaccination campaign in retirement homes, we will comfortably reach our goal of 1 million French people vaccinated by the end of this month,” he said.
Austria, Greece and Denmark will jointly pressure the European Medicines Agency to approve AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said on Monday, adding: “Every week counts”.
Kurz was speaking before a European leaders’ virtual summit on Thursday, and a day after he said Austria’s lockdown was being extended until at least 7 February as it tries to contain highly infectious new variants, Reuters reports.
EMA, the EU drugs regulator, said last week it would review the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Britain’s Oxford University this month under an accelerated timeline.
Kurtz told a news conference:
Every week counts. We expect that work be done day and night, that a decision be reached unbureaucratically and that Europe not fall behind.
What is now needed is – based on all scientific facts, of course – an immediate and quick decision, because AstraZeneca can deliver up to 2m doses in the first quarter for Austria alone, and that of course makes an enormous difference to our success in vaccinating the population.
Austria has a population of just under 9 million people.
Kurz also said part of the already-approved vaccine doses being supplied by Pfizer would arrive late, after Pfizer said it was temporarily reducing deliveries to Europe.
Yes, there will now have to be a small adjustment here or there because it currently seems as though we will receive 20% less, which will then be caught up in February at the latest.