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Covid-19: UK orders 5m doses of new vaccine and care home visits 'by Christmas'

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday evening. We'll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

1. UK orders 5m doses of 'almost 95% effective' vaccine

As Moderna announced a second breakthrough coronavirus vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK has secured "an initial agreement" for 5m doses. Preliminary results indicate the Moderna vaccine is almost 95% effective, just a week after rival Pfizer announced that initial results for its vaccine suggested it was 90% effective. The UK has previously ordered up to 350 million doses of six candidate vaccines, but Mr Hancock said the Moderna vaccine would not be available until the spring. Globally, share prices surged on the news of a second effective vaccine.

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2. Tests to allow care home visits 'by Christmas'

The government has said it is working to provide screening tests which it says could allow visits in all care homes in England by Christmas. A pilot programme began in 20 homes in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall on Monday and it is hoped that the tests, combined with measures such as face coverings, could end restrictions on visits. Many people have seen strict limits or complete bans on visiting relatives in care homes during the pandemic. "Our goal is to ensure that we have the testing available in every care home by Christmas," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

media captionFamily calls for testing to enable relatives to visit care home residents.

3. Six MPs and two aides follow PM into self-isolation

After the announcement that the prime minister would be self-isolating, six Tory MPs and two political aides have followed suit after attending a breakfast meeting inside 10 Downing Street last Thursday. The politicians were contacted by NHS Test and Trace after one of the MPs, Lee Anderson, later tested positive for Covid-19. The PM's official spokesman said "social distancing did happen" but factors such as the length of the meeting affected test-and-trace's assessment of the risk.

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4. Greeting cards boss criticises 'unfair' lockdown rules

The boss of Clintons cards has said other retailers are able to "exploit" unclear rules in England's lockdown rules to continue selling non-essential items. Eddie Shepherd said it was "grossly unfair" that supermarkets could continue to sell greetings cards while specialist retailers had to shut. During Wales' recent two-week "firebreak" lockdown, supermarkets had to cordon off aisles of clothes and toys, prompting criticism from some customers.

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5. Germany praises couch potatoes as 'heroes'

Good news for anyone feeling guilty about their lazy lockdown habits: the German government thinks you are heroes. It has put out a series of coronavirus public information adverts featuring elderly people reflecting on how they bravely fought the pandemic of 2020: "We did nothing. Absolutely nothing". "Laziness could save lives," another says. The wry videos have been a social media hit for highlighting how reducing contact with others can help stop the spread of the virus.

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And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

With the prime minister self-isolating, find out everything you need to know about who has to self-isolate and what it means here.

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