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  1. Thanks for joining us

    We are pausing our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak for now. Thanks for joining us, we'll be back in the morning to bring you more updates.

    Today's coverage has been brought to you by: Marie Jackson, Becky Morton, Joshua Cheetham, Katie Wright, Jennifer Scott, Sean Fanning, Claire Heald and Suzanne Leigh.

  2. Round-up of main headlines

    Our live coverage will be coming to a close shortly, on a day which has been dominated by the news that a vaccine will begin being rolled out in the UK next week. Here is a round-up of the main developments:

  3. Government adviser warns against fake news about vaccine

    Prof Peter Openshaw, a government adviser and medical expert at Imperial College London, said people should beware fake news and rumours about the safety of the vaccine.

    He told the BBC: "If people do not want to have it that is completely up to them."

    He added: "I really believe it is a safe way to get vaccinated and protected."

    The UK's regulator, the MHRA, says all of the vital checks and measures have been done and no corners have been cut, meaning the jab is safe to recommend.

    A snap poll by YouGov of 5,321 British adults suggests the majority of the public is confident about the vaccine.

  4. Reality Check

    Did Brexit speed up the vaccine approval process?

    A woman holding a bottle of vaccine

    There have been claims that Brexit allowed the UK to approve a vaccine more quickly than the EU, but is that correct?

    The EU - through the European Medicines Agency (EMA) - has yet to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

    But the idea that Brexit enabled the UK to press ahead and authorise one is not right.

    Under European law a vaccine must be authorised by the EMA, but individual countries can use an emergency procedure that allows them to distribute a vaccine for temporary use in their domestic market.

    Britain is still subject to those EU rules during the post-Brexit transition period which runs until the end of the year.

    The UK's own medicines regulator, the MHRA, confirmed this in a statement last month.

    And its chief executive, Dr June Raine, said today that "we have been able to authorise the supply of this vaccine using provisions under European law, which exist until 1 January".

    It is true that, in general, regulation of new medicines is done on an EU-wide basis. But that does not take account of the emergency provisions in EU law which Dr Raine refers to.

    Read the full analysis here.

  5. Football fans divided over spectator return, poll shows

    Wembley Stadium in August

    After 266 long days, the return of fans to English league football is finally here.

    But as clubs in certain areas of England open their turnstiles for the first time in almost nine months, a BBC Sport poll suggests fans are divided over whether they should be allowed to return before a Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out.

    In a Savanta ComRes poll of 2,100 football fans, 52% said they should be allowed to return to watch matches in person before a vaccine is available, while 45% said they should not.

    The poll also shows:

    • About half of football fans who regularly attended matches before the pandemic said they would return to watch their team regularly before a vaccine was available, while 12% said they would never go back without a vaccine
    • 28% said they cared more about their team now than before the Covid-19 pandemic
    • Younger fans (18-34) were more likely to say they cared more for their club since the coronavirus outbreak
    • Fans are split over who should bear the financial responsibility of ensuring clubs' survival
  6. Some university students in England won't return until February

    Sean Coughlan

    BBC News, education correspondent

    A student on public transport

    Students will have staggered starting dates for returning to universities in England after Christmas - with some not back until 7 February.

    The government's plan would see students on hands-on, practical courses such as medicine going back from 4 to 18 January.

    Other subjects would be taught online until face-to-face teaching begins between 25 January and 7 February.

    Students are being promised Covid tests when they return to university next term.

    The plan, to avoid a surge of students and the risk of spreading coronavirus, will mean a staggered return for students over five weeks in the new year - with most courses starting online before a return to in-person teaching.

    Students will be offered two lateral flow Covid tests when they arrive back - similar to the process for their departure.

    The arrangements for next term have been announced on the eve of students being able to return home for Christmas.

  7. Starmer: 'We need parties pulling together' for vaccine rollout

    Keir Starmer

    Labour's leader is calling for all parties to work together over the rollout of the vaccine.

    Speaking after the Downing Street press conference, Sir Keir Starmer said it was "really important... whatever our political party, [we] work together to make sure that the rollout is swift, safe and fair, and the people have confidence in it".

    He says he has asked Boris Johnson to share No 10's plan for communicating the rollout.

    Sir Keir added: "Then we will work together so that the public can see cross-party consensus on this.

    "This rollout is one of the biggest logistical exercises since the Second World War. We need the best of Britain, we need parties pulling together, and I'm very happy to put my party behind that effort."

  8. Main points from Johnson press conference

    Jonathan Van Tam, Boris Johnson, Simon Stevens

    The UK prime minister's press conference has just come to an end.

    So what did we learn from Boris Johnson, Simon Stevens and Jonathan Van-Tam?

    • The PM welcomed the new vaccine, saying rollout will begin next week
    • He said top of the list is vaccinating the elderly in care homes, but others may go first due to logistical challenges of transporting it
    • Johnson added that we are "no longer resting on the mere hope that we can return to normal next year but the sure and certain knowledge" we will
    • NHS England chief executive Stevens said the bulk of vaccine doses will be given between January and April
    • About 50 hospital hubs around England will start offering the vaccine to the first in line, before it moves to GP surgeries
    • Deputy chief medical officer Van-Tam appealed for "patience" and realism about the rollout
    • He warned the virus may become seasonal and will be with us "forever", but praised the "momentous journey" of scientists inventing the vaccine
  9. Johnson seems baffled at Van-Tam comments

    Jonathan Blake

    BBC political correspondent

    "It may be a good thing, but on the other hand..."

    The prime minister doesn't seem very impressed with Jonathan Van-Tam's claim that coronavirus safety measures may be with us long term.

    Boris Johnson looked a bit baffled and says people want to reclaim their lives.

    "I didn't mean to challenge you," he says before the deputy chief medical officer then clarifies his point that he hopes we'll get back to a much more normal world as soon as possible.

  10. Analysis: Vaccinating over 65s will have major impact on deaths

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    One of the big unknowns about this vaccine – and the others being developed – is whether it prevents transmission.

    It is possible that people who are vaccinated can still pass on the virus to others.

    It will take time to establish to what extent this is stopped.

    If it does stop transmission, once you have about 2/3 of the population vaccinated it is possible you then reach herd immunity and the virus stops spreading completely.

    But even if that doesn’t happen, vaccinating all over 65s - 12m people - will have a major impact on deaths. More than 90% of people who have died have been over that age.

    That in itself would be enough to lead to significant lifting of restrictions.

  11. Will the vaccine stop people spreading Covid?

    Rachel Schraer

    BBC Health Reporter

    The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective at stopping people from becoming ill from the virus – the first priority for getting life back to normal.

    But we don’t yet know whether this vaccine stops people spreading the virus.

    Both deputy chief medical officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS England head Simon Stevens stressed this point during today’s briefing.

    They are “very hopeful” it will also stop vaccinated people from spreading the virus to others.

    And there’s good precedent for this – the flu and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jabs both stop vaccinated people from infecting others.

    But for now, Van-Tam says, you can’t watch others get it (the jab) and hope it will protect you.

    He encouraged everyone who is invited to be given the vaccine to take up this opportunity, adding that low take-up of the vaccine will “almost certainly make restrictions last longer”.

  12. Virus with human kind 'forever'

    In the final question, Van-Tam is asked if he can envisage a world where we can cast aside our masks and hand sanitiser for good.

    The deputy chief medical officer says he doesn't think we will eradicate coronavirus "ever", adding: "It will be with humankind forever".

    He also thinks it may become "a seasonal problem", like flu.

    "Do I think there will be a big moment where we have a big party and throw off our masks? No I don't," says Van-Tam.

    Instead, he thinks the "personal habit" may carry on for some years, even if the government doesn't insist on the measures.

    And asked about the MPs that rebelled against the new tier system, the PM concludes the press conference saying: "I totally understand people's frustrations with the tiering system.

    "But we will make sure we are as local and as sensitive as we can possibly be [on restrictions]."

  13. Could the rules be relaxed early?

    Asked whether the current coronavirus restrictions could be ended early, the prime minister says the vaccine news “for now makes absolutely no difference”.

    However, he adds that there will come a moment to relax the “non- pharmaceutical interventions” but “we’re not there yet”.

    He stresses the moment when it is time to relax the rules is theoretical and there is “weeks, months of work to go” before we are in that position.

  14. Analysis: Huge logistical challenges remain

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    This is the day we have been waiting for.

    But it is clear listening to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam that there are some huge logistical challenges from here on in.

    First of all, supply. The UK is expecting 800,000 doses in the next few days. But given there are 15 million people over the age of 65 and working in health and care sectors, and all need two doses, it is clear getting more into the country is essential.

    Rollout is also difficult. Through a combination of the need to keep the vaccine at ultra cold storage and the fact that the jab comes in batches of 975 that cannot be split up at the moment, immunisation will only be offered from a network of 50 hospitals to start with.

    It is why there is still so much hope pinned to the Oxford University vaccine, that regulators are currently reviewing. That does not need to be kept in ultra cold storage and so can be distributed much more easily. Plus there are already millions of doses in the country.

    Then there is vaccine hesitancy. Officials have been at pains to stress that despite the vaccine being developed in record time the full testing and regulatory process has been followed.

    But the more people don’t come forward, the longer restrictions have to remain in place.

    There is a long way to go yet.

  15. Van Tam: Priority list covers 99% of Covid-related deaths

    Next up is a question on the vaccine roll-out again and about what stage it will be right to lift all the restrictions?

    Stevens says the "goal" of the vaccination programme is to "protect vulnerable individuals" - hence the graduated list of who will get it when - and to stop people spreading it.

    But we don't know yet if that vaccine will have the power to stop transmission.

    Van Tam points to the priority list, working down the ages and at risk groups, saying it is "not an accident" they take out 99% of groups linked to Covid related mortality deaths in the UK.

    Johnson says the reason the UK got the vaccine ahead of other countries is down to the vaccine task force's work.

    But they are "global efforts of scientists around the world".

  16. Science has performed 'a kind of biological jiu jitsu'

    Jonathan Blake

    BBC political correspondent

    The prime minister loves a colourful metaphor and so does Jonathan Van-Tam.

    Boris Johnson began the briefing by saying science had performed a kind of biological jiu jitsu - turning the virus on itself to make this vaccine.

    Soon after the government's deputy chief medical officer likened it to a train arriving at a station which people needed to get on and compared the vaccine to a yoghurt, saying it couldn't be taken in and out of the fridge.

    Tabloid headline writers will be able to take their pick.

  17. 'Tier system still crucial' - PM

    Beth Rigby from Sky News asks whether we should all still prepare for restrictions to run until April.

    Boris Johnson says he accepts that the new tier system in England is “tough” but he says the way forward is local restrictions and mass testing to “keep the virus under control”.

    He says he hopes places are able “to come down the tiers” before Easter, adding that it is necessary to have these measures alongside the vaccine.

    Asked whether the PM expects to roll over the tier system at the start of February, Johnson says the situation will be judged on the data but “for the time being you’ve got to take it that tiering will be a very, very important part of our campaign against coronavirus."

  18. Watch: How will the Pfizer vaccine work?

    The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is the first one in the UK to be approved for use, with hopes people can start receiving the injection within a week.

    In the video below BBC health correspondent Laura Foster helps explain some of the logistics around how it will be rolled out.

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid-19: How does the new Pfizer vaccine work?
  19. Vaccine 'not a yoghurt that can be put in the fridge'

    Jonathan Van-Tam, Boris Johnson, Sir Simon Stevens

    The next question is on care home residents, as despite scientists calling for them to get the vaccine first, the government says they may not.

    Johnson says: "Of course we want to get it into care homes as fast as we possibly can".

    But the issue is in distributing the cases of the vaccine.

    Each case has 975 vaccines in it, but you cannot currently divide it up, so the government wants to "avoid wastage".

    The PM says they are waiting to hear more, but they "certainly" want to get it to "the most vulnerable".

    Van-Tam says remarks about failure on care homes are "extremely unfair when one considers a new virus emerged less than 12 months ago and we now have our first vaccine".

    He adds: "This is a complex product. It is not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in several times."

  20. PM: 'We can't think it's game over'

    Now we turn to questions from journalists, and the BBC’s Fergus Walsh asks, how important is this moment?

    Boris Johnson says it’s a “huge moment” and he agrees with Jonathan Van-Tam that it’s also “a very moving thing”.

    He says he is “lost in admiration” for the way scientists can solve problems.

    However, he adds that although it’s a fantastic moment, “the worst thing now would be to think that this the moment when we can relax our guard and think that it’s game over".