Food & Drink

The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

By Michael Le Page
, Clare Wilson
, Jessica Hamzelou
, Sam Wong
, Graham Lawton
, Adam Vaughan
, Conrad Quilty-Harper
and Layal Liverpool
Paramedics transport a patient to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London on 4 January
James Veysey/Shutterstock
Latest coronavirus news as of 5 pm on 4 January
England expected to tighten restrictions and Scotland announces national lockdown
Much of the UK faces new lockdown measures as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is no question that restrictions in England will be tightened, and Scotlands first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a strict new lockdown in Scotland starting at midnight on 5 January. Johnson is expected to announce tougher restrictions in England this evening in a televised appearance, which could include schools being closed and Tier 4 restrictions across the country. The UK recorded 58,784 new coronavirus cases on Monday and 407 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre is expected to be raising the countrys covid-19 threat level to 5 the highest level.
Most primary schools in England reopened today, despite calls from teaching unions and some councils to keep schools shut. Primary schools in London and south-east England remain closed until 18 January. Council leaders in many areas including Manchester and Birmingham said they would support the decision of head teachers who think it is unsafe to reopen their schools.
First Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines administered in the UK
An 82-year-old man became the first person to receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, as part of the UKs mass vaccination programme. Brian Pinker received the jab at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and 530,000 doses were ready for use on Monday. AstraZeneca has said it expects to supply about 2 million doses of the vaccine every week by the middle of January in the UK.
Other coronavirus news
Coronavirus cases in the UK are continuing to surge, with concern growing about a variant of the virus first detected in South Africa. Im incredibly worried about the South African variant, and thats why we took the action that we did to restrict all flights from South Africa, UK health minister Matt Hancock told BBC radio. Its even more of a problem than the UK new variant, he said. John Bell at the University of Oxford told the Telegraphthere was a big question as to whether existing vaccines would be effective against the South Africa strain, which contains mutations that affect part of the virus that is recognised by antibodies. However, he added that it should be possible to make new vaccines quickly, if this or any future variant of the coronavirus emerges that is resistant to the current ones. It might take a month, or six weeks, to get a new vaccine, so everybody should stay calm. Its going to be fine, he said. Were now in a game of cat and mouse, because these are not the only two variants were going to see. Were going to see lots of variants.
India approved two coronavirus vaccines for emergency use on Sunday, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and a vaccine called Covaxin being developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech. Gagandeep Kang at the Christian Medical College, Vellore in India expressed concerns about Indias approval of Covaxin, as phase III trials of the vaccine havent yet been completed. Kang told the Times of India newspaper that she had never seen anything like this before, adding that there is absolutely no efficacy data that has been presented or published.
Coronavirus deaths
Matthew Rowett
The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 1.84 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 85.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.
Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist
Inaccessible vaccines: Many African countries applied for covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX initiative, but lack of funding could leave them without enough vaccines to reach herd immunity until 2024.
The bigger emergency: We’re all hoping 2021 will see the end of the pandemic. How we reboot the world after covid-19 will help shape our fate as an even bigger emergency looms dangerous climate change. 
Essential information about coronavirus
Everything you need to know about the pandemic
Where did coronavirus come from? And other covid-19 questions answered
What is covid-19?
You could be spreading the coronavirus without realising youve got it
Which covid-19 treatments work and how close are we to getting more?
What will it take to get a covid-19 vaccine to the world?
What to read, watch and listen to about coronavirus
Panorama: The Race for a Vaccine is a BBC documentary about the inside story of the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against covid-19.
Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine is a Channel 4 documentary which tells the story of the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of the scientists on the frontline.
The New York Times is assessing the progress of different vaccine candidates and potential drug treatments for covid-19, and ranking them for effectiveness and safety.
Humans of COVID-19 is a project highlighting the experiences of key workers on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus in the UK, through social media.
Belly Mujinga: Searching for the Truth is a BBC Panorama investigation of the death of transport worker Belly Mujinga from covid-19, following reports she had been coughed and spat on by a customer at Londons Victoria Station.
Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.
New Scientist Weekly features updates and analysis on the latest developments in the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees expert journalists from the magazine discuss the biggest science stories to hit the headlines each week from technology and space, to health and the environment.
COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie is about how the pandemic happened and why it will happen again if we dont do things differently in future.
The Rules of Contagionis about the new science of contagion and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour. The author, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and in the book he examines how diseases spread and why they stop.
Previous updates
A shopper walks past an Evening Standard newspaper stand in central London on 16 December, as new guidance on Christmas during the coronavirus pandemic was announced by the government
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images
17 December
Regions in the east and south-east of England face tier three rules from Saturday
Almost 70 per cent of Englands population will be living under strict tier three coronavirus rules from Saturday as pressures on the NHS remain, said UK health minister Matt Hancock on Thursday. Regions in the east and south-east of the country, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will move into tier three one minute after midnight on Saturday 19 December, as will parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire. I know that tier three measures are tough, but the best way for everyone to get out of them is to pull together, not just to follow the rules, but to do everything they possibly can to stop the spread of the virus, Hancock told parliament. There will be 38 million people in the country living in tier three from Saturday, including other parts of England already under tier three rules.
Hancock said cases in the south-east of England had risen by 46 per cent in a week, with hospital admissions up by more than a third, while cases in the east of England had gone up by two-thirds in a week and hospital admissions had risen by nearly half. He also announced that Bristol and North Somerset would be able to move down to tier two on Saturday and that Herefordshire would also be able to move down, to tier one. I think this is a wise precautionary measure to damp down virus transmission in the lead up to the Christmas 5-day relaxation and afterwards, to restrict wider virus  transmission coming out of this break, said Julian Tang at the University of Leicester, UK, in a statement. 
Yesterday, the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments released a joint statement with advice on household mixing during Christmas. The safest way to spend this Christmas is with your own household or your existing support bubble in your own home and we strongly recommend that this is what you do if at all possible, the statement said. It also stressed that scientific advice is clear: the longer you meet others for, the higher the risk of you catching and spreading the virus and that if you do intend to form a bubble, you should keep the bubble small and your visits short. 
Other coronavirus news
Two healthcare workers in Alaska developed allergic reactions after receiving the coronavirus vaccine developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, including a woman who did not have a history of allergies to vaccines and who was admitted to hospital. Both individuals received treatment and have recovered. The womans reaction appears to be similar to the allergic reactions experienced by two healthcare workers who were vaccinated in the UK last week. Following the two allergic reactions in the UK, US Food and Drug Administration officials said they would require Pfizer to monitor severe allergic reactions and submit data on this later on.
French president Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, the Élysée Palace said Macron would self-isolate for seven days in line with the health protocol applicable to everyone and that he would continue to work remotely. 
Coronavirus deaths
Matthew Rowett
The worldwide covid-19 death toll has passed 1.65 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 74.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.
Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist
Lasting immunity: We are starting to get answers to the big questions about immunity to covid-19, such as how long it lasts, can people be reinfected and whether vaccines stop transmission.
Coronavirus year in review: In an extraordinary year for science, research into covid-19 has shed a bright light on the unknown.
More on these topics: