Covid live news: pressure grows on Boris Johnson over lockdown parties; Djokovic to spend night in detention

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Keir Starmer has ramped up the pressure on Boris Johnson as the prime minister fights to save his job, arguing that the stream of explosive allegations of Downing Street parties has left him “unable to lead”.

In a speech to the Fabian Society conference, the Labour leader accused the Conservatives of running the NHS into the ground because they are “too preoccupied defending his rule breaking”. Stressing that “waiting times were the shortest on record” when Labour left government 12 years ago, he said:

Rather than concentrating on getting through the pandemic and bringing down waiting lists, this self-indulgent Tory party is instead having a fight about a leader who they should have known from the start is not fit for office.

We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a prime minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead.

The opposition is not alone in calling for Johnson to step down over rule-breaking following his public apology to the Queen on Friday for the parties that took place on the eve of her husband’s funeral.

On Saturday Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence select committee, said that “we need leadership” and Johnson must “lead or step aside”.

And Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire and a former Johnson ally, repeated his calls for the PM to resign. He told Sky News his position as prime minister was “untenable” and there was a “pattern of behaviour that the inner circle can do what they want and the rest of us have to what we are told”.

The prime minister needs to do the honourable thing and call it a day for the good of the country.

The full story is here: Boris Johnson ‘mired in deceit’ and unable to lead, says Keir Starmer

A new Covid-19 vaccine is being developed by Texas scientists using a decades-old conventional method that will make the production and distribution cheaper and more accessible for countries most affected by the pandemic and where new variants are likely to originate due to low inoculation rates.

The team, led by Drs Peter Hotez and Maria Bottazzi from the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, has been developing vaccine prototypes for Sars and Mers since 2011, which they reconstructed to create the new Covid vaccine, dubbed Corbevax, or “the world’s Covid-19 vaccine”.

Although more than 60 other vaccines are in development using the same technology, Bottazzi said their vaccine is unique because they do not intend to patent it, allowing anyone with the capacity to reproduce it.

“Pretty much anybody that can make hepatitis B vaccines or has the capacity to produce microbial-based protein like bacteria or yeast, can replicate what we do,” Bottazzi said.

Patent wars over mRNA vaccines have recently heated up. Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are in a dispute over who should get credit for specific discoveries that led to a Covid-19 vaccine which has been delivered to more than 73 million Americans. If Moderna is found to have infringed on the federal government’s patent, it could be forced to pay more than $1bn.

At the same time, activists have called for Pfizer and Moderna to share the technology and knowhow for producing their vaccines, including taking the fight to the World Trade Organization. Low-income countries, which have few vaccine research and production facilities, have vaccinated just one in nine people, according to the World Health Organization. The US has fully vaccinated 67% of the population and provided a third vaccine dose to more than one-third.

Corbevax’s clinical trial data has yet to be released due to resource constraints, but Texas Children’s hospital said the vaccine was over 90% effective against the original Covid-19 strain and over 80% effective against the Delta variant. The vaccine’s efficacy against the Omicron variant is currently being tested.

The process to create the vaccine involves the use of yeast – the same method by which hepatitis B vaccines are produced.

Read the full story here: Texas scientists’ new Covid-19 vaccine is cheaper, easier to make and patent-free