Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down – PA
Military labs will quadruple the number of tests carried out each week under government plans to ensure that vaccines can protect against new Covid variants.
Ministers have announced a £30 million investment at Porton Down so that 3,000 blood samples – up from the current 700 – can be tested weekly.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said the advances would help “future-proof country from the threat of new variants” by ensuring the rapid development of vaccines designed to combat specific mutations of Covid.
“The UK has proven itself to be a world-class force in the production of Covid-19 vaccines, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax and Valneva vaccines all researched, developed or manufactured on British soil,” he said.
“We’ve backed UK science from the very start of this pandemic, and this multi-million pound funding for a state of the art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will enable us to further future-proof the country from the threat of new variants.”
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India posts record daily rise in deaths
India’s coronavirus deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours, a day after the country became the world’s second, after the United States, to cross the grim milestone of 20 million infections.
Daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.
Read more: Medical students to be sent to frontlines as India’s hospitals face collapse
People watch the cremation of people who died due to Covid-19 at Sahudangi Crematorium – AFP
Australia’s largest state reports first case in more than a month
Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) on Wednesday reported its first locally acquired Covid-19 case in more than a month, sending authorities rushing to trace the source of the virus.
A man in his 50s who tested positive had visited a movie theatre, restaurants, a service station and a meat store in Sydney’s eastern suburbs while unknowingly infectious, authorities said.
The infected person has not travelled overseas in recent times and does not work in any high-risk jobs such as in hotel quarantine or hospitals, NSW state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said in Sydney.
Comment: Australia risks undermining its Covid success with monstrous border policies
El Salvador inks deal with Pfizer for 4.4m vaccine doses
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele said on Twitter on Tuesday night that the Central American nation has signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc for 4.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.
“With this purchase, we guarantee uninterrupted immunisation for our entire target population,” said Mr Bukele.
Japan considering extending state of emergency
The Japanese government is considering an extension of the state of emergency for Tokyo and other major urban areas that was scheduled to end on May 11, the Yomiuri Newspaper said on Wednesday.
Japan had placed Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures under a 17-day state of emergency on April 25 in an effort to reverse the surge in coronavirus infections.
An extension of the emergency restrictions would come with fewer than three months left until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, fanning persistent concerns over whether they can be held as planned.