Coronavirus UK news – live: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine documents hacked as London ‘could face tier 3’ – The Independent

Face masks could be needed for another year, the government’s chief scientific adviser has warned

Documents concerning the development of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 have been “unlawfully accessed” in a cyber attack, the firms have said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had been subjected to a cyber attack but did not provide any details beyond saying a “full investigation” had been launched.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infection rates in London appear to be higher than dozens of tier 3 areas after rising by 12 per cent in one week, according to an analysis by The Independent.  

Public Health England data shows there were 174.1 infections per 100,000 London residents in the seven days to 3 December – which is higher than Middlesbrough (170), Manchester (166), Nottingham (152), Leeds (150), Bristol (141) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (128).  

The figures could further ignite fears over London being bumped up to tier 3 when government ministers review the restrictions on 16 December.

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California church pastor fined $55,000 for flouting coronavirus orders

A church in northern California and its pastor were found in contempt of court on Tuesday for repeatedly defying an order to stop holding unmasked indoor services and for violating coronavirus health orders, officials said, Graig Graziosi reports.

Mike McClure, the head pastor of Calvary Chapel San Jose, told NBC Bay Area that he understands the rules, but is following a higher order to continue his services.

“I respect the judge, I understand what the laws are, but there’s a bigger law,” he said.

Samuel Osborne9 December 2020 21:03

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Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine documents hacked in cyber attack on European Medicines Agency

Documents related to the development of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine were “unlawfully accessed” in a cyber attack on Europe’s medicines regulators, the firms have said, Kate Ng reports.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed earlier on Wednesday that it had been subjected to a cyber attack but did not provide any details beyond saying a “full investigation” had been launched.

Samuel Osborne9 December 2020 20:33

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Bill de Blasio says no one in New York will be able to jump the line for Covid vaccine

Bill de Blasio says no one in New York will be able to “jump the line” to get the Covid vaccine, Graeme Massie reports.

The city’s mayor warned that people of “privilege” will not get vaccinated ahead of priority groups, such as health care workers and first responders.

“Their time will come,” said Mr de Blasio. “We’ve got to protect those who serve us and those who are most vulnerable, and we will enforce that rigorously.”

Samuel Osborne9 December 2020 20:27

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Supermarket rate relief money should be used to support self-employed, MPs suggest

Three million self-employed workers who remain ineligible for Covid-19 support grants should benefit from the £1.95bn returned to the government by essential retailers, MPs have suggested.

Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said around one-in-10 of the UK’s workforce had “fallen through the gaps” of the various coronavirus income support schemes introduced this year.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate today, the Twickenham MP said it was a “glaring injustice” that the Treasury had “repeatedly refused” to address the issue.

One solution suggested by Conservative former cabinet minister Esther McVey was for the government to use the Covid-19 business rates relief that various supermarkets had returned.

The Tatton MP said: “Blue-collar Conservatives set up the campaign asking for supermarkets to return their Covid business exemption, specifically with the purpose that that money would be redirected to those who received no support during this period.”

She added: “Having spoken to those firms – that was the basis with which they handed that money forward.

“I do hope that the minister will act in the same faith and spirit of those supermarkets who handed over that money.”

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons were among several essential retailers who committed to returning savings they made during the rates holiday.

Samuel Osborne9 December 2020 19:43

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Bernie Sanders brands $600 Covid stimulus check proposal ‘crap’

Bernie Sanders has branded the White House’s proposal to give Americans a $600 stimulus check as “crap,” Graeme Massie reports.

The Vermont senator attacked Donald Trump’s plan as he pushed for another round of $1,200 per person payments in the next Covid relief bill.

The White House have offered Democrats a $916bn pandemic stimulus package, their first proposal since breaking off negotiations with Nancy Pelosi in November.

Samuel Osborne9 December 2020 19:18

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Almost two million children short on food over course of pandemic, study suggests

Almost two million children in the UK have been short on food since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) report suggested that child hunger and food insecurity had been exacerbated by the crisis, with one in four children facing some form of food deprivation.

You can find the full story below:

Conrad Duncan9 December 2020 19:00

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Workers at government department vote to strike over Covid safety

Contract staff at a government department, including cleaners and security staff, have voted to strike over coronavirus safety concerns, a union has said.

The Public and Commercial Services union said workers were concerned about the numbers of people allowed into the office in London as the city is currently in Tier 2 level restrictions.

Our reporter, Eleanor Sly, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan9 December 2020 18:49

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Earlier today, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel made an impassioned appeal to members of the public to follow coronavirus restrictions ahead of Christmas to avoid a spike in deaths.

You can find her comments in full below:

Conrad Duncan9 December 2020 18:32

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Turkish health minister clarifies comments on Russia vaccine

Turkey’s health minister has clarified that his country would be prepared to use Russia’s coronavirus vaccine if it meets the necessary criteria after Turkish media reported that he had ruled out using the jab.

“If [tests] are successful, there is no problem in procuring the vaccine produced in Russia,” Fahrettin Koca told a news conference following a meeting of the government’s science team.

Earlier on Wednesday, he was quoted as saying Ankara had ruled out the Russian vaccine as it did not meet conditions of “good laboratory practice”.

The spokesperson for the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which backs the country’s Sputnik vaccine and is responsible for its marketing abroad, said earlier that RDIF was continuing its talks with Turkey.

Conrad Duncan9 December 2020 18:22

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European Medicines Agency ‘targeted in cyberattack’

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it has been targeted in a cyberattack.

The Amsterdam-based agency, which is evaluating data for the approval of coronavirus vaccines, said it had launched a full investigation into the incident in close cooperation with law enforcement and other entities.

It declined to provide more details on the attack while the investigation is ongoing.

Last month, Microsoft said it had detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers.

The US tech giant said most of the targets – located in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States – were “directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for Covid-19”.

Conrad Duncan9 December 2020 18:08