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Shooting at a shopping centre in Wisconsin leaves eight injured *
Police are searching for the suspect in a shooting at a suburban Milwaukee mall that left seven adults and a teenager injured.
Police searched on Friday evening for the suspect in a shooting at a suburban Milwaukee mall that left seven adults and a teenager injured.

Wauwatosa Police chief Barry Weber gave no motive for the attack at the Mayfair Mall in a brief update about three hours after the 2.50pm local time incident near an entrance to the Macy’s store.

He said the extent of the eight victims’ injuries was unknown, but all were alive. He added that the gunman was “no longer at the scene” when authorities arrived.

“Preliminary statements from witnesses indicate that the shooter is a white male in his 20s or 30s,” Mr Weber told reporters.

“Investigators are working on determining the identity of that suspect.”

The chief called the mall an active crime scene and asked people to continue to stay away. He said the mall would remain closed until further notice.

Witnesses told WISN-TV that they had heard what they believed to be eight to 12 gunshots.

Some people remained in the mall while police searched for a suspect. The station interviewed several people outside the mall who said they had friends sheltered inside stores while the search was ongoing.

Jill Wooley was inside Macy’s with her 79-year-old mother when they heard eight to 12 gunshots just outside the store entrance.

“We heard the first shot fired and knew immediately it was a gunshot,” Ms Wooley told CBS58 in Milwaukee. “We both just dropped to the floor.”

Ms Wooley said she did not see anyone but the shots were “very close”. She added that they ran in the opposite direction to the basement of the store, where they then hid.

Trish Cox’s 19-year-old nephew works at Finish Line sporting goods store.

She said she was worried because the store’s phone was not being answered and was frantic as she waited while FBI agents cleared the mall.

An agent who would not give his name said the mall was being “methodically” cleared. Heavily armed FBI personnel were visible at the mall.

Mall operator Brookfield Properties said in a statement they were “disheartened and angered that our guests and tenants were subject to this violent incident today”. They declined further comment.

Published: 21/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Jeremy Kyle may have played a part in the death of a guest on his TV show, according to a coroner
TV presenter Jeremy Kyle “may have caused or contributed” to the death of programme guest Steve Dymond, who is suspected to have taken his own life after failing a lie detector test on the show, a pre-inquest review has heard.
The preliminary hearing is being held into the death of the 63-year-old, who died of a morphine overdose and a heart problem at his home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, seven days after he had filmed The Jeremy Kyle Show last year.

He took a lie detector test on the programme to show whether he had cheated on his ex-fiancee Jane Callaghan, from Gosport.

Coroner Jason Pegg said he has made Mr Kyle an “interested person” for the inquest, stating the presenter is someone “who may have caused or contributed to the death of Stephen Dymond”.

He added: “It might seem ludicrous not to have Mr Kyle to give evidence to give his take on the situation.”

Counsel for Mr Dymond’s family Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC told the Winchester hearing that Mr Dymond became “distressed” after he failed the lie detector test.

She said Mr Dymond had gone on the show to “prove his fidelity”, and had said: “I pushed and pushed but it all went wrong.”

Ms Gallagher said after the result was announced during filming, the audience “booed and jeered” at him and he was “called a failure by the presenter”.

She said Mr Kyle was “in his face” and even when he was “at the point of collapsing, he was still being heckled”.

She said Mr Dymond sought to leave through a side door but found it locked, and she added: “He couldn’t escape the heckling. He was on his hands and knees because he thought he was going to pass out from the stress.”

Ms Gallagher said his state of mind was known by the crew on the show, with a message sent on a WhatsApp group stating: “Just so you know, he’s still crying, he has just said he wishes he was dead. Just giving you the heads up.”

Ms Gallagher added: “While he was still on the programme, within minutes, he was talking about wishing he was dead.”

She said Mr Dymond called his brother as he was taken home by taxi from the show.

In a statement read to the hearing, Leslie Dymond said: “He seemed completely broken and frightened and told me he couldn’t go on living.”

The hearing was told Mr Dymond was originally turned down to appear on the show but was accepted as a guest after gaining a letter from his doctor.

The inquest has heard he had been receiving mental health care from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Dymond’s death in May 2019 was caused by a morphine overdose and left ventricular hypertrophy, which is when the left chamber of the heart is not pumping properly, the inquest has heard.

The hearing continues.

Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Substantial regional differences in Covid-19 infections across England – ONS
There are “substantial differences” in Covid-19 infection rates across England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although the national picture suggests there may be some impact of lockdown.

Data from November 8 to 14 suggests the overall national infection rate for England is similar to the week before, but there are stark regional divides, with rising rates in primary school aged children.

The ONS said: “Over the last week, infection rates have continued to increase in London, the East of England and the South East, however rates now appear to be decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands.

“The highest Covid-19 infection rates remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.”

Its estimates for cases are based on 665,759 swab tests in people’s homes in England over the last six weeks, regardless of whether people have symptoms.

The ONS said the highest infection rates are in secondary school aged children, older teenagers and young adults and that rates continue to increase in primary school aged children.

Meanwhile, infection rates appear to be levelling off in people aged 25 and over.

Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “There are early signs that the national level of infections in England might be levelling off but this hides a lot of variation at a regional level.

“Whilst the highest levels of infection remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, rates are now decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands while increasing in London, the East of England and the South East.

“New increases appear to be driven by infections in younger people, with increasing levels in primary school age children.

“Elsewhere in the UK, we are seeing a similar picture with increasing infections throughout October which are now decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland and levelling off in Scotland.”

The ONS said there were an average of 38,900 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between November 8 to 14.

This is down from an estimated 47,700 new cases per day for the period October 31 to November 6.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

Analysing the data, Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, said: “The ONS data continue a run of data suggesting that the number of new infections is now beginning to fall.

“These numbers would be the first where we might hope to see the national lockdown beginning to impact.”

Meanwhile, data from the Zoe app coronavirus study run by King’s College London suggests the UK reproduction number – the R value – is around 1.

The R represents the average number of people someone with Covid-19 goes on to infect.

The Zoe app team put the R in England at 1.0, and at 0.9 in Wales and Scotland.

But it said “worryingly, the east of England and especially the Midlands are both seeing numbers still increasing with R values of 1.1 and 1 respectively”.

Meanwhile, the North West and the North East and Yorkshire both have R values of 0.9 as cases decline.

In the South East, London and South West, cases are not declining, the researchers said, and the R is 1.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “The reason we are now seeing an overall R value of 1 in England is because numbers are falling in the North, rising in the Midlands and East but staying flat in the south of England.

“The continued rise in the Midlands, despite national lockdown, is concerning.

“This suggests an approach focused on improved compliance at regional, not national level, over a longer time frame is the best way forward.

“We need to keep cases low enough for us to function as a nation until vaccines arrive without further harmful lockdowns.”

Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Ministerial standards adviser quits as PM contradicts his Patel bullying advice
Boris Johnson’s adviser on ministerial standards has resigned after the Prime Minister contradicted his advice by judging that Priti Patel did not breach the rules despite being found to have bullied staff.
Sir Alex Allan said the Home Secretary had not always treated civil servants with “consideration and respect” and concluded that her approach on occasions “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”.

He said Ms Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code”, though said there was “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour”.

But Mr Johnson, who is arbiter of the code, judged that Ms Patel did not breach the rules.

He continues to have “full confidence” in the Home Secretary and “considers this matter now closed”, according to a Government statement.

Sir Alex resigned in response to Mr Johnson’s verdict, saying in a statement: “I recognise that it is for the Prime Minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a Minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code.

“But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on the code.”

Ms Patel said she was “sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people” and thanked the Prime Minister for his support.

Ministers are usually expected to resign if they breach the code, and Mr Johnson’s decision to stand by Ms Patel sparked fury from opposition MPs.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top.”

Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic violence, said it was an “utter disgrace” and that any Conservative MP “seeking to defend this is utterly without reason or comprehension”.

Sir Alex concluded that Ms Patel’s behaviour – which was said to include some occasions of shouting and swearing – met the definition of bullying adopted by the civil service.

In his advice published on Friday morning during Anti-Bullying Week, he said: “The definition of bullying adopted by the Civil Service accepts that legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker’s performance will not amount to bullying.

“It defines bullying as intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down. Instances of the behaviour reported to the Cabinet Office would meet such a definition.”

He added: “Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals. To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the ministerial code, even if unintentionally.”

However, he said there was “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour, and no feedback was given to her at the time”.

He added: “The high pressure and demands of the role, in the Home Office, coupled with the need for more supportive leadership from the top of the department has clearly been a contributory factor.

“In particular, I note the finding of different and more positive behaviour since these issues were raised with her.”

Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, said relationships between officials and ministers at the department had “improved considerably” but admitted the report made for “difficult reading”.

The full report into her conduct has not been published by the Government.

A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March over allegations that Ms Patel belittled colleagues and clashed with senior officials in three different departments.

It followed the resignation of the Home Office’s permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, who accused Ms Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Northern Ireland shuts retail and hospitality for two weeks to curb virus spread
Northern Ireland will shut non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants for two weeks from November 27 to save the health service from becoming swamped. The country was poised to emerge from a limited circuit-breaker lockdown until the number of infections rose to worrying levels.

Close-contact services and cafes can open this Friday as planned but will have to close again next Friday, while other hospitality sectors like pubs and licensed restaurants will remain closed throughout, Stormont ministers said.

From November 27, non-essential retail and services like hairdressers, beauticians and driving lessons will also have to shut to protect an NHS battling a surge in coronavirus cases.

Takeaway hospitality will be allowed but leisure and entertainment venues will be closed.

The measures were taken as top doctors warned hospitals could otherwise be overwhelmed.

Business leaders predicted a “huge” number of redundancies.

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks.

“It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.”

The Stormont Executive also decided sporting events will only be allowed for elite athletes, with no spectators.

Other decisions included:

– Rules around household gatherings will be unchanged and places of worship will close.

– People will be strongly encouraged to stay at home and work from home.

– Schools and child care centres can remain open and universities will conduct distanced learning except where it has to be face to face.

– Outdoor playgrounds can remain open.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “It is a difficult and challenging decision and as a mother and daughter I understand how difficult these new interventions will be on family lives.

“Given the gravity of the situation there is no other choice but to act now.”

Health Minister Robin Swann’s ultimatum to Stormont colleagues stated that if they did not take action, a full lockdown in mid-December would not be enough to prevent hospital services from being outstripped.

Colin Neill, chief executive of industry group Hospitality Ulster, said: “There is a huge amount of anger right across the hospitality industry.

“We have been left with left with no trade, no hope and a huge amount of redundancies on our hands.”

Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton represents traders in the city.

He said: “There is real anger tonight that the Executive’s new lockdown decision will inevitably have a catastrophic effect on jobs and livelihoods.

“Their trust in this Executive is now at rock bottom.”

Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland Council Dr Tom Black said infection rates were still too high, GP practices were still exceptionally busy and hospitals were either at or above capacity.

“As we have seen, failure to do just that in recent weeks has undermined the hard work and selfless dedication of frontline health and social care staff, and put our health service in a precarious position heading into winter.”

Another 487 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.

A total of 3,401 cases have been diagnosed over the last seven days.

Another 12 deaths were reported, the department’s daily update showed.

Published: 20/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh mark wedding anniversary with new photo
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have marked their 73rd wedding anniversary by releasing a photograph showing them opening a card from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children.
The colourful homemade gift was created by Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and is emblazoned with the number 73 – that pops out from the front of the card.

In the touching image, the Queen and duke are sat on a sofa in Windsor Castle’s Oak Room and appear to be reading the card’s message from George, a future king, and his siblings.

The picture, taken by Chris Jackson from Getty Images, also shows a small pile of anniversary cards and letters sent by well-wishers on a nearby table.

The monarch, 94, was a 21-year-old princess when she married the dashing Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey on November 20 1947.

Their enduring relationship has lasted the longest of any British sovereign and Philip has been at the Queen’s side throughout the decades, supporting her as she devotes herself to her role as head of state.

The Queen and the duke, who has retired from public duties, are spending the lockdown in England isolating at Windsor Castle, and anniversary celebrations are expected to be low-key.

There is no traditional gift, jewel or colour associated with 73rd wedding anniversaries in the UK.

In the new photograph, the Queen is wearing a pale blue double wool crepe dress by Stewart Parvin and a chrysanthemum brooch made from sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, while Philip wears a blazer, shirt, tie and trousers.

The head of state, when Princess Elizabeth, was photographed wearing the brooch in images taken on her honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire, and again in pictures released to mark the Queen and duke’s 60th wedding anniversary in 2007.

The past year has been a tumultuous one for the nation, with people learning to live with coronavirus that has had a profound impact on all aspects of society.

Royal events moved online during the first national lockdown, with the Queen holding virtual engagements via video calls and meetings by phone.

In the spring, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as working royals for financial freedom and now live in California after signing a lucrative Netflix deal and appear poised to announce projects through their charitable body Archewell.

Philip celebrated his 99th birthday on June 10 and a joint portrait with the Queen was released to mark the milestone.

The Queen and the duke have also just celebrated the 72nd birthday of their eldest child, the Prince of Wales.

During the summer the Queen’s consort made a rare public appearance when he stepped down as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles and the Duchess of Cornwall took up the role.

Their long union is seen as a key source of stability within the monarchy.

Together they have celebrated the silver, golden and diamond jubilees of the Queen’s reign, and faced ups and downs over the years including the breakdown of three of their four children’s marriages, and the backlash which followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, the Queen paid a touching tribute to her husband, saying: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

Philip used the occasion to praise the Queen for her abundance of tolerance.

“I think the main lesson that we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage,” he said.

Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Each day’s Christmas mixing could see five days of tighter restrictions follow
Household mixing could be allowed over Christmas, but scientists have warned that each day’s freedom might require five days of tougher measures to make up for it. The Government is considering ways to allow people to spend time with family over the festive period, although a senior health official said any socialising would likely have to be followed by “very responsible” behaviour and a reduction in contacts again.

Reports suggest households might be allowed to mix indoors for a five-day period from Christmas Eve, and that ministers are considering plans to allow three or four households to form bubbles.

A five-day easing could mean a potential 25-day period of tighter measures into January if the Government follows advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies).

Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the Government’s Covid-19 response, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if curbs are to be eased for a time.

She told a Downing Street briefing: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.

“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.”

While she said scientists had suggested that one day of greater freedom required two days of restrictions, PHE later said Dr Hopkins “misspoke” and that Sage advice had referred to modelling indicating that for every one day of relaxation, five days of tighter restrictions could be needed.

She said she was hopeful the Government would make a decision “that will allow us to have some mixing”, but added: “Once we have got past the Christmas period, if there has been some release and some socialisation, we will all have to be very responsible and reduce those contacts again.”

With Christmas Eve falling on a Thursday and a bank holiday Monday on December 28, it is thought that ministers are looking at that five-day period to allow some sort of indoor gatherings.

Churches are likely to be allowed to hold Christmas Day services, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Boris Johnson wants to ease coronavirus rules to allow families to be reunited over Christmas and his Government has been working with counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to agree to a UK-wide approach.

His official spokesman said: “We are looking at ways to ensure that people can spend time with close family over Christmas at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year.”

Sage member Professor John Edmunds said normal socialising activity around Christmas “all unfortunately carries a risk” and people should probably prepare for a “slightly disappointing Christmas”.

He told ITV’s Peston: “I think that it would be prudent not to go wild at Christmas quite honestly, so I think that we will have to moderate and have a slightly disappointing Christmas, unfortunately.”

Ministers are also working out what new tiers should replace the previous system once England emerges from the current lockdown on December 2.

Scientists including Dr Hopkins have said the previous Tier 1 had very little effect on reducing coronavirus cases, with the highest impact found from enhanced restrictions in Tier 3 areas.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for a beefed-up tier system when England’s lockdown ends.

Deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean said it was important to go into the festive week of Christmas with “infections in the community as low as possible”.

The latest reproduction rate – the R value – of the virus is still above one, according to most recent estimates, meaning the disease is still spreading.

A further 529 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, the Government said, bringing the UK total to 53,274.

There had been a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, taking the total to 1,430,341.

Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

PM vows to ‘end era of retreat’ with biggest military investment since Cold War
Boris Johnson will “end the era of retreat” when he unveils what is being billed as the biggest programme of investment in Britain’s armed forces since the end of the Cold War. The Prime Minister is set to lay out a four-year financial deal for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “transform” the military, developing cutting-edge capabilities in the future battlefields of cyber and space.

It will include the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.

The plan – to be announced in the Commons on Thursday – will see the MoD get an additional £16.5 billion over and above the Government’s manifesto commitment to a 0.5% real terms increase for each year of the Parliament.

It comes as the Conservative Party leader refused to rule out slashing the foreign aid budget by more than £4 billion as the Treasury looks to raise money to pay for the Government’s borrowing during the coronavirus response.

Mr Johnson, challenged at Prime Minister’s Questions over reports that plans are being drawn up to pare back the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid to 0.5% in next week’s Spending Review, said only that the UK would “continue” to tackle global poverty.

The Prime Minister’s defence announcement will come as a relief for military chiefs, who have been pressing for a multi-year settlement to enable them to plan effectively for the future.

It is thought their demands were being resisted by the Treasury, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak holding out for a one-year deal – along with the rest of Whitehall – in next week’s spending review.

“I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first,” the Prime Minister said.

“The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.

“This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our armed forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life.”

The spending commitments are set to be made despite reports that the Spending Review will reveal that the UK’s economy will contract by almost 11% in 2020, the worst annual performance for more than three centuries.

The Financial Times said, based on previous Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and Bank of England statements, the Chancellor was likely to publish forecasts showing the country’s economy would still be reeling from the impact of Covid-19 by the time of the next general election in 2024.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s armed forces announcement marks the first phase of the Government’s Integrated Review of the UK’s foreign, defence, development and security policy, with the final conclusions due to be unveiled next year.

Officials said it would cement the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in Nato.

As well as promising a new space command, the Prime Minister will also set out plans for a national cyber force to protect the country from attack.

Washington’s acting secretary of defence, Christopher C Miller, said in a statement the US “applauds the announcement”, which he added would ensure “the UK military continues to be one of the finest fighting forces in the world”.

“Their commitment to increased defence funding should be a message to all free nations that the most capable among us can – and must – do more to counter emerging threats to our shared freedoms and security,” Mr Miller said.

The move will be underpinned by an additional £1.5 billion investment in military research and development with a commitment to invest further in the Future Combat Air System to develop the next generation of fighters for the RAF.

Downing Street said that together, the various projects were expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs a year across the UK.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is excellent news for defence, and provides us with the financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face.”

Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “This signals a welcome and long overdue upgrade to Britain’s defences after a decade of decline.

“Since 2010 the size of the armed forces has been cut by a quarter, defence spending was cut by over £8 billion and the defence budget has a £13 billion black hole.”

Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

No deal in EU-UK trade talks would make country ‘less safe’, says terror chief
The UK’s top counter-terrorism police chief has warned a no-deal outcome in the trade talks with the European Union would make the country “less safe”. Negotiators are currently locked in intensive discussions in Brussels as they look to secure a post-Brexit trading arrangement before the transition period ends on December 31.

As the clock ticks down on the chance to strike a deal, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said a failure to ratify fresh terms would have security implications.

He told Channel 4 News: “We’ve always been very clear in policing that to have no negotiated outcome at all in this and to lose the security tools that the EU brings would make this country less safe.

“We’ve been very clear with Government about that, the Government has listened, and I know the Government is doing what they can to negotiate that deal.”

Mr Basu suggested, however, that efforts to tackle terrorism would not be hindered in the same way by a no-deal outcome as compared with other police work.

He added: “I’m actually much luckier than my much wider policing counterparts because I work in counter-terrorism.

“That is a bilateral arrangement with countries, it is not necessarily an EU arrangement.

“We will be negotiating individual treaties if we have to with every single one of our EU partners.”

The red flag comes after Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister urged that a Brexit deal be agreed as she warned of a potential “organised crime bonanza” on the Irish border.

Naomi Long described “huge uncertainty” for justice agencies with just weeks to go until the end of the transition period.

She told Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: “It isn’t just the future security partnership that affects policing and justice in Northern Ireland, it is also the economic decisions that are made because if we have increased differentials in terms of tariffs and other issues around the border, then we will end up with a potential bonanza for organised crime.”

Meanwhile, the Government faced further defeats in the Lords over its controversial Brexit bill, amid accusations that it “brushed aside” the freedoms of the devolved nations.

The House of Lords backed a cross-party move by a 158 majority to ensure the administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland retained a voice and powers in the future operation of the UK internal market following the split from the EU.

The Government setback at the report stage of the Internal Market Bill follows two defeats in the upper house last week, with peers stripping out law-breaking powers that would enable ministers to override parts of the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.

As the trade talks with the EU continue to drag on, former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott offered a boost to Boris Johnson on his chances of increasing Britain’s trade with members of the Commonwealth before the year is out.

He told MPs there was an “eagerness” on both sides to secure a UK-Australia free trade deal before Christmas.

Mr Abbott, who now acts as an adviser to the UK Board of Trade, said they hoped to get a deal with no tariffs and no quotas “as quickly as we can”.

Giving evidence to the Commons International Trade Committee, he said: “I know that on both sides there is an eagerness to try to get the Australia deal done before Christmas.

“Ideally a deal between Britain and Australia would involve no tariffs, no quotas, as full as possible mutual recognition of standards and qualifications, and as free as possible movement of people for well-paid work, not welfare.”

Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine produces strong immune response in older adults – study
The University of Oxford is expected to release data on the effectiveness of its coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks, with the latest trial results suggesting it produces a strong immune response in older adults. The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70.

Phase two data, published in The Lancet, suggests one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity, researchers say.

According to the researchers, volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).

The study of 560 healthy adults – including 240 over the age of 70 – found the vaccine is better tolerated in older people compared with younger adults.

Volunteers received two doses of the vaccine candidate, or a placebo meningitis vaccine.

No serious adverse health events related to the vaccine were seen in the participants.

The results are consistent with phase one data reported for healthy adults aged 18-55 earlier this year.

Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group and consultant physician, said: “Older adults are a priority group for Covid-19 vaccination, because they are at increased risk of severe disease, but we know that they tend to have poorer vaccine responses.

“We were pleased to see that our vaccine was not only well tolerated in older adults, but also stimulated similar immune responses to those seen in younger volunteers.

“The next step will be to see if this translates into protection from the disease itself.”

Study lead author Professor Andrew Pollard, from the University of Oxford, said: “Immune responses from vaccines are often lessened in older adults because the immune system gradually deteriorates with age, which also leaves older adults more susceptible to infections.

“As a result, it is crucial that Covid-19 vaccines are tested in this group who are also a priority group for immunisation.”

Researchers say their findings are promising as they show that the older people are showing a similar immune response to younger adults.

Dr Ramasamy added: “The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging.

“The populations at greatest risk of serious Covid-19 disease include people with existing health conditions and older adults.

“We hope that this means our vaccine will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, but further research will be needed before we can be sure.”

The study also found the vaccine, being developed with AstraZeneca, was less likely to cause local reactions at the injection site and symptoms on the day of vaccination in older adults than in the younger group.

Adverse reactions were mild – injection-site pain and tenderness, fatigue, headache, feverishness and muscle pain – but more common than seen with the control vaccine.

Thirteen serious adverse events occurred in the six months since the first dose was given, none of which were related to either study vaccine.

The authors note some limitations to their study, including that the participants in the oldest age group had an average age of 73-74 and few underlying health conditions, so they may not be representative of the general older population, including those living in residential care settings or aged over 80.

Phase three trials of the vaccine are ongoing, with early efficacy readings possible in the coming weeks.

UK authorities have placed orders for 100 million doses of the vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – should it receive regulatory approval.

The Oxford findings come after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine candidate has shown 95% efficacy, with a 94% effectiveness in those aged 65 and over.

Forty million doses of that vaccine have been bought by the UK, with rollout potentially starting in early December if the jab is given the green light by regulators.

Earlier in the week US biotech firm Moderna released data suggesting its vaccine is almost almost 95% effective.

Published: 19/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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