Covid news - live: New drugs that ‘significantly’ reduce risk of death rolled out as daily UK fatalities pass 1,000 again

Follow the latest updates on the pandemic

All care home residents to be vaccinated by end of the month, Johnson says

 Almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 and everyone in care homes should receive a jab by the end of January, Boris Johnson says.

But  GPs are warning of problems in some areas getting supplies as surgeries began rolling out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, beginning the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS.

A further 1,162 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, the second-highest daily increase since the start of the outbreak. And coronavirus cases in England rose by almost a quarter over Christmas according to the latest Test and Trace data.

NHS hospitals across the country have been told to start vaccinating frontline health and care workers immediately, and seven mass vaccination centres will open next week, in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.

But an official briefing has warned hospitals in London are on the verge of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases even under the “best case” scenario, leaving the capital short of nearly 2,000 general and acute and intensive care beds by 19 January.

Meanwhile critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units across the UK will be able to receive new drugs that can "significantly" reduce the risk of death as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.

NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab - which are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis - under updated guidance due to be issued tomorrow by the Government and the NHS to Trusts across the UK.


All care home patients in England to receive vaccine by end of January, says Boris Johnson

The government plans to have all care home patients in England vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of this month, the prime minister has said.

Read more about the breaking news by my colleague Rory Sullivan:

All care home patients in England to receive vaccine by end of January, says Boris Johnson

The government plans to have all care home patients in England vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of this month, Boris Johnson has said.

Kate Ng7 January 2021 17:46

Hospital watchdog chief called for honesty over pandemic’s impact on patient care

The chief inspector of hospitals has called for honesty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on patients, warning that poor care could become normalised.

Professor Ted Baker told The Independent it was vital staff continued to report incidents and revealed the Care Quality Commission had seen a 60 per cent rise in whistleblowing concerns during the last national lockdown in November.

Our Health Correspondent Shaun Lintern has the full story:

Watchdog chief calls for honesty over pandemic impact on patient care

'We need to acknowledge that the pandemic continues to affect quality of care,’ Ted Baker says

Kate Ng7 January 2021 17:30

50% more Covid patients in hospital now then during peak of first wave

NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens has said that there are not 50 per cent more Covid inpatients in hospital than during the peak of the first wave in April.

He thanked colleagues across the NHS for their hard work, but acknowledged that there has been an increase of 10,000 patients in hospital since Christmas Day.

Sir Simon told today’s press conference that NHS staff are “living with the tragic consequences of not having coronavirus under control”.

Kate Ng7 January 2021 17:25

Nearly 1.5m people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the UK, including 1.26m in England, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister also told the Downing Street briefing taking place now that every elderly care home resident will be offered a coronavirus vaccine by the end of January.

Kate Ng7 January 2021 17:10

New treatment ‘significantly’ reduces mortality in critically ill Covid patients - study

Two drugs normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to “significantly” reduce the risk of mortality in patients ill with coronavirus who have been admitted to intensive care.

Critically ill Covid patients will be given access to tocilizumab and sarilumab under new NHS guidance. Both are immunosuppressive drugs that can improve the chances of survival and recovery, reports Samuel Lovett.

Read the full story below:

New treatment ‘significantly’ reduces mortality in critically ill Covid patients, study finds

Tocilizumab and sarilumab both shown to improve chances of survival and recovery in patients admitted to intensive care

Kate Ng7 January 2021 17:00

UK records second highest daily death toll with 1,162 Covid deaths

A further 1,162 people have died after contracting coronavirus within the previous 28 days in the UK, the second highest daily increase reported since the start of the outbreak.

The highest figure was recorded during the first wave of the pandemic, with 1,224 fatalities added on 21 April 2020.

The death toll from Covid-19 in the UK now stands at 78,508. My colleague Vincent Wood reports:

Covid UK deaths hit 1,162, second highest daily toll ever

Cases up by 52,618, government confirms

Kate Ng7 January 2021 16:43

People may need Covid vaccine every six months, says Matt Hancock

The health secretary has told MPs that people may need to have a coronavirus vaccine ever six months.

Matt Hancock also said he believed this would be the last lockdown required to control the virus because of the rollout of the vaccines.

He told the Health and Social Care Committee that vaccines and coronavirus testing would still be a “feature” in people’s lives in 2022.

“We will need both the surveillance testing to be able to understand where the virus is and we will need testing for people who have symptoms, in the same way that you get tested for al sorts of other things,” he said.

On vaccines, Mr Hancock said: “I anticipate we will probably need to revaccinate because we don’t know the longevity of the protection from these vaccines.

“We don’t know how frequently it will be, but it might need to be every six months, it might need to be every year.”

Kate Ng7 January 2021 16:30

WHO Europe calls for intensified measures over ‘alarming’ Covid variant

The World Health Organisation’s European branch has called for coronavirus restrictions to be intensified to respond to the new, more transmissible variant that was discovered in the UK.

Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told a press conference that the region faces a “tipping-point in the course of the pandemic”.

Chantal Da Silva reports:

Intensified restrictions required to combat ‘alarming’ Covid variant, WHO Europe warns

'We need to do more,' WHO Europe regional director  Hans Kluge said

Kate Ng7 January 2021 16:20

Death rate should fall as vaccines rolled out, health secretary says

Health secretary Matt Hancock said he believed the death rate would fall as the vaccine is rolled out.

Mr Hancock said the priority groups targeted for vaccines by mid-February accounted for around 85 per cent of deaths.

He told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee: "I am as confident as you can be, based on all the clinical advice that I have seen and all my own reading of the data, that the number of deaths in this country will fall - for any given number of cases - once the vaccine is rolled out to the vulnerable groups."

Mr Hancock warned the number of people in hospitals may not fall as quickly as death rates once the vaccine is rolled out.

He told MPs: "Hospitalisation levels I would also expect to fall, but ironically not as quickly as deaths in the first instance.

"The reason is that people that are slightly younger spend longer in hospital, often because they survive when somebody who is very old and frail might not survive for as long."

Samuel Osborne7 January 2021 16:03

Pubs should be allowed to act as off-licenses to survive lockdown, industry group warns

Pubs struggling to survive the third national lockdown should be allowed to operate as off-licenses, an industry group has said.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has urged the government to let pubs sell beer and cider in “sealed containers” for people to take home, as supermarkets and off-licenses do.

My colleague Kate Ng reports:

Allow pubs to trade as off-licenses to survive lockdown, industry says

Sale of takeaway and click-and-collect alcohol is banned under new lockdown restrictions in England

Samuel Osborne7 January 2021 15:33

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