Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.
1. Downing Street staff joked about Christmas party
A video’s emerged of senior staff at No 10 joking about a Christmas party – days after one took place in Downing Street during lockdown. Obtained by ITV, jokey exchanges continue throughout the footage of a mock news conference in December last year. It’s sparked criticism on both sides of the political divide, and beyond. “Indefensible”, “catastrophic” and “astonishing” are the condemnations, not from Boris Johnson’s political opponents, but from his own side, says our political editor Laura Kuenssberg. Downing Street continues to insist no party took place.
2. Omicron and vaccines
Although lab tests suggest the Omicron variant can partially evade the Pfizer jab, the World Health Organization says existing vaccines should still protect people from severe Covid as a result of the new variant. Initial data indicates Omicron doesn’t make anyone sicker than previous variants, according to WHO emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan and there’s no sign it would be better at evading vaccines than the others like Delta. The picture will become clearer in the coming weeks, says our health editor Michelle Roberts, as we gather more data from around the world.
3. How vaccines changed the course of the pandemic
A year ago 91-year-old Margaret Keenan received the first approved Covid jab. Since then nearly 120 million have been given in the UK, and more than eight billion across the world. Our health correspondent Nick Triggle takes a look at how vaccinations have changed the course of the pandemic as the booster jab booking system opens to over-40s in England.
4. Tea party distraction for young patients
Ten-year-old Elise was diagnosed with cancer and Covid restrictions meant it was even more challenging for her and her family. She’s been to a tea party for seriously ill young people aimed at distracting them and giving them a break from their treatment. For some children who went, it was one of the first times out since the start of the pandemic.
5. Royal call
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are urging anyone hesitating about getting a Covid vaccine or a booster to come forward and get jabbed. Prince Charles, 73, and Camilla, 74, have both had their boosters and encouraged people to listen to the warnings of those working in the NHS. Here’s the full story.
And there’s more…
Here’s more on how vaccinations have progressed round the world, a year since the first approved jab was administered.
You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
What questions do you have about coronavirus?
Use this form to ask your question:
If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or send them via email to [email protected] Please include your name, age and location with any question you send in.