AstraZeneca says its vaccine developed with the University of Oxford appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of Covid-19, based on early data from a trial.
The study from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University showed the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant, according to a Financial Times report.
Among coronavirus variants currently most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the Kent, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.
“In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said.
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Chinese whistleblower doctor remembered
The message was tucked into a bouquet of chrysanthemums left by a mourner at the back of Wuhan Central Hospital to honour a Chinese whistleblower doctor who died from coronavirus one year ago today.
It was simply the number of a Bible verse, Matthew 5:10, which says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Dr Li Wenliang died from the virus first detected in Wuhan. A small stream of people marked the anniversary with visits to the hospital, some leaving flowers.
The 34-year-old ophthalmologist was one of eight whistleblowers who local authorities punished early on for “spreading rumours” about a SARS-like virus in a social media group. His situation, eventually made public in media reports, made him a potent symbol for the perils of going against official messaging in China.
The Chinese public embraced Dr Li, whose presence online painted a picture of an ordinary person. His wife was pregnant and he was soon to be a father. He sent the “rumour” because he wanted to warn others.
The public also watched as he fell ill with the disease he was warning them about, eventually worsened, and died.
Wuhan one year on: The city that appears safe from Covid – but at what cost?
Players ready for first Grand Slam after quarantine drama
Australia reported no new local coronavirus cases for a third day on Sunday, as tennis players geared up for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne tomorrow.
The Australian Open will have a reduced attendance of 30,000 fans a day – about 50pc lower than usual because of Covid protocols.
Those public health protocols, which have been credited with making Australia one of the most successful nations in battling the virus, forced players into a two-week hotel quarantine after landing in Melbourne in January.
More than 500 staff and players tested negative on Friday in re-testing required after a worker at their quarantine hotel caught the virus.
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Tennis champ questions LTA’s Covid protocols
Former world number one Andy Murray has raised doubts about the Lawn Tennis Association’s health protocols at its high-performance training facility after he tested positive for Covid-19 and had to miss the Australian Open.
The three-time Grand Slam winner was forced to pull out of the first major of 2021 in Melbourne after he was unable to find what he called a “workable quarantine” following a positive test on January 14.
“I stuck to all of the protocols. I couldn’t pick it up anywhere else because I hadn’t left my house or National Tennis Centre for 10 weeks, and then there were some positive cases there,” the 33-year-old said.
READ MORE: Andy Murray ‘p—– off’ at LTA over slip in bio-secure standards he claims left him with Covid-19
Exclusive: Teachers jumping queue for vaccines
Teachers have been accused of jumping the queue for vaccines after a city council invited every school to put forward staff to receive the jab, a Telegraph investigation has found.
The Government has set a target for the first four priority groups, including everyone over the age of 70 and the clinically extremely vulnerable, to be vaccinated by the middle of February.
Former education minister Tim Loughton said anyone not providing “intimate care” for “clinically vulnerable” children was jumping the queue.
Read the full story here.
Hotel quarantine regime needs a ‘sunset clause’
Hotel quarantine needs a “sunset clause” otherwise foreign travel could be destroyed for years, hotels and MPs have warned the Government.
They want ministers to spell out a clear exit strategy for the quarantine which will see an estimated 1,425 passengers a day from 33 “red list” countries required to self-isolate in Government-approved hotels at their own expense for 10 days from February 15.
They fear the regime will decimate travel if it continues through the summer by deterring Britons from going abroad for fear their destination could be added to the “red list” of nations with new Covid variants, forcing them into quarantine hotels on their return.
Read the full story here.