Thursday morning news briefing: Brexit 'helped UK win vaccine race'

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Brexit ‘helped UK get faster Covid vaccine approval’

Brexit may have helped Britain win the race for a Covid vaccine. The leader of a major pharmaceutical firm claimed that decoupling from the EU’s regulatory and purchasing mechanisms enabled “nimble buying” of hundreds of millions of doses and a rapid green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. Hugo Fry, the UK managing director of drugmaker Sanofi, said the UK’s emergency approval of the vaccine had set a precedent that could put Britain at the “front of the queue” for future drugs. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says Britain’s lightning-fast vaccination averts a calamitous slide into even deeper economic crisis – and that Europe will pay a high price for bureaucracyMatt imagines the EU’s approach to the jab in today’s cartoon. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was said to be “livid” that America’s vaccine regulator was not the first to give approval.

Now comes the huge logistical challenge. The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could arrive as soon as today, with the country’s biggest ever inoculation programme due to start on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it will be given to 2.5m people by the end of this month. The over-80s, care home staff and front-line NHS workers will receive the first jabs – ahead of care home residents due to “logistical challenges”. As the Government seeks to enlist “influencers” to help encourage take-up of the jab, Downing Street suggested Mr Johnson could receive one live on TV. Matt Ridley outlines three good reasons why he will queue for a vaccination with enthusiasm. Read all you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine. And see the priority list of recipients.

Brexit: UK gives ground on fishing quota demands

Britain has lowered its demands for a greater share of the fishing catch in UK waters after Brexit, Michel Barnier said, as he fought back against a rare rebuke from EU governments. Mr Barnier told EU ambassadors the UK had signalled it could accept 60 per cent of the value of stocks from British seas from Jan 1, down from the 80 per cent London had originally called for. With negotiations entering “a make-or-break phase”, a pizza delivery was made to officials as talks went on late last night in London.

Eton master quits role and attacks ‘indoctrination’

An Eton College master broke ranks to attack its “indoctrination” of students as he became the first of its own staff to speak out over a free speech row. Dr Luke Martin, who teaches divinity at the £42,500-a-year institution, resigned from his role as “master in charge of perspectives”, and said he is beginning to “lose faith” in Eton’s ability to promote independent thinking. Education Editor Camilla Turner explains the background to the questioning of “radical feminist orthodoxy”.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

‘Bribery for pardons’ | A suspected bribery scheme to lobby White House officials for a presidential pardon in exchange for political donations is being investigated by the US Justice Department. Court papers revealed prosecutors believed there was a “secret lobbying scheme”, which allegedly offered “a substantial political contribution… for a presidential pardon”. Rozina Sabur reports from Washington.  

Around the world: Pair force over Qatar

A brace of RAF Typhoons set off from Doha air base as part of Exercise Epic Skies IV. The RAF’s 12 Squadron is its first joint squadron since the Second World War and sees pilots and engineers from the Qatar Emiri air force embedded within its ranks. View today’s world gallery.

The RAF is taking part in a two-week exercise. CREDIT: CPL BABBS ROBINSON/MOD

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. Beauty or bust | Does the death of Debenhams mean the end of the make-up counter?
  2. Earwax | The secret stress indicator we all need to know about – and how to deal with it
  3. Julianne Moore turns 60 | Meet the women who appear to be ageing backwards

Business and money briefing

Pension top-up | The family of Sir Philip Green is to make a £50m payment into Arcadia’s stricken pension fund 10 months earlier than planned as calls grow for the entrepreneur to shore it up further using his remaining fortune. The decision came shortly after Business Secretary Alok Sharma asked the Insolvency Service to examine if the conduct of Arcadia’s directors led to problems at the retirement scheme.  

Sport briefing

Golden summer | Organisers of Wimbledon, the Open, Royal Ascot and the British Grand Prix have stepped up plans to host capacity crowds next summer after the first Covid vaccine was approved. Ben Rumsby explains the events of 2021 likely to still require distancing.  

Tonight’s dinner

Red mullet with fennel, leek and saffron broth and aioli | A light broth topped with pan-fried red mullet and a punchy aioli by Diana HenryView the recipe. For more ideas, try our Cookbook newsletter.

And finally… for this morning’s downtime

Conspiracies | Until the US election, the presence of labels on Facebook and Twitter stating that posts were “disputed” by fact-checkers was something of a rarity. But widespread claims of voting fraud have left their mark on the fake news landscape. Matthew Field meets the British start-ups battling a tidal wave.

Source: Thursday morning news briefing: Brexit ’helped UK win vaccine race’

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