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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Tuesday evening UK news briefing: T-cell Covid vaccine ‘gives better immune response than current jabs’

With countries in the EU including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria beginning to reimpose lockdown restrictions, the UK appears to be coping with the return to relative normality.

Now the boss of AstraZeneca has said the reason why Britain is faring better than Europe when it comes to Covid could be as a result of his company’s vaccine.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, believes this could be due to the fact that so many older people were given the Oxford vaccine in Britain, whereas members of the EU banned the jab for its elderly populations. 

With the AstraZeneca jab overwhelmingly used in the rest of the world, Jeremy Warner sets out how the company lost the vaccine battle in Europe and the US – but is now winning the war globally.

Britain outpaces eurozone

This comes as figures show Britain’s economy is outpacing the eurozone as supply shortages and Covid fears held back growth on the continent this month, even before the latest restrictions came into force in Austria. 

Rising infections already appear to be affecting household spending patterns, hitting tourism and recreation spending, while supply problems dragged down car manufacturing, particularly important to countries such as Germany, for the third consecutive month.

Yet Britain also faces a forecast of economic headwinds, with traders wagering a £2bn bet on a plunge in the pound after the Bank of England failed to deliver on a widely expected interest rate rise earlier this month.

‘The most precious gift’

Despite resisting lockdowns, the UK will have some Covid restrictions this winter. 

People have been urged to work from home if possible in Northern Ireland as part of plans to tackle rising Covid cases. 

Ministers met today to sign off on a range of recommendations made by Health Minister Robin Swann, which also include minimising contacts and ventilating spaces. 

Nicola Sturgeon has said the “most precious gift” that can be given this Christmas is to be vaccinated and tested before meeting loved ones. 

Ms Sturgeon reiterated the advice that people take a lateral flow test before meeting or mixing with others, and urged people to continue working from home. Our liveblog has all the developments.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Biden releases oil in prices battle

Joe Biden has announced the release of 50 million barrels of national reserves of crude oil in an unprecedented coordinated move with other major nations. The unusual action is an attempt to tackle his sinking approval rating as soaring gasoline prices hit ordinary Americans, but also marks a challenge to the grip that major producers such as Russia and Saudi Arabia hold over the market. His struggling poll numbers, shown in this graph, have led some Democrats to wonder whether he might not seek another four-year term, although White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Mr Biden intends to run for re-election in 2024. It comes as Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old cleared of all charges over the shooting of three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, is considering legal action against the President for “defaming” him over claims Mr Rittenhouse is a “white supremacist”. Read on for details.

Tuesday big-read

Why the Brits scrapping gendered awards isn’t woke nonsense – it’s common sense

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