Coronavirus in UK live blog: latest as UK vaccine to be trialled on patients from Thursday

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 9:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 5:14 pm

We will be providing live updates until 6pm this evening.

Homemade pompoms showing support for the NHS (Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 21

Last updated: Tuesday, 21 April, 2020, 17:48

UK death toll up by 828

Government stand by 100,000 tests a month claim

The Government is doing its "very best" to hit the 100,000-a-day coronavirus testing target set by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a minister has said.

Local government minister Simon Clarke admitted reaching the target - set for the end of this month - was a huge challenge but suggested the Government was still on track.

A gulf has opened up between the number of frontline workers being tested to see whether they have Covid-19 and testing capacity within the system.

Latest official figures show just 19,316 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday, while the most recent total testing capacity is 36,000.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Clarke said the UK was seeing "exponential growth" in terms of testing capabilities.

Testing in Europe breakdown

Matt Hancock is hosting the daily press briefing. 

He says there are close to 3,000 spare beds for coronavirus patients. 

On PPE he says the UK have delivered a billion items of PPE. 

He says the government have a diverse range of suppliers and thanks companies who have come forward offering to produce PPE. Can't work with everyone for scale reasons.

He says the UK are working with 159 manufacturers. 

On vaccines Hancock says the UK is at the forefront of the global effort. 

Two of the leading vaccine developments are taking place at Oxford and Imperial College. 

£22.5m being made available to Imperial project. 

£20m being made available to Oxford for clinical trials. 

The vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from Thursday.

Manufacturing capabilities are also being improved in the event of a successful vaccine. 

"Nothing about this process is certain".

Jonathan Van-Tam is now talking through today's slides. 

Transport usage remains low across the country. 

The number of new cases remain high and it isn't clear that there is a major downturn at this point. 

The number of people in the UK in hospital with Covid-19 is dropping in London. In the other regions there is more of a "plateau". 

On deaths he says there is no comparison of excess deaths across Europe. 

The trio are taking questions now. 

Asked why the government is "scrambling" to distribute PPE Hancock says that the government are doing everything they possibly can. 

Hancock says there was no "political" decision to not take part in EU scheme. He says that scheme has not yet delivered a single item of PPE.

On face masks Hancock says a science-based approach will be taken by Sage on whether they should be used. 

On testing he says the government are above their predicted trajectory on working towards 100,000 tests a day. 

John Newton says "we are meeting the requirement in hospitals". 

NHS absence rates are falling. Newton admits that drive-through tests are not ideal for staff. 

Matt Hancokc says billions of items of PPE needed per month, "hence the need" to manufacture at home and order it from abroad. 

On why some companies' offers haven't been accepted he said that some companies had only been set up in recent days.

"It is a complicated picture". 

Asked about reports of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by the China government, Hancock says we have seen more broadly disinformation. 

"Tackling disinformation is incredibly important", says Hancock.

Says he can't comment on specific piece. 

On asymptomatic transmission Jonathan Van-Tam says that it is impossible to rule out that spread occurs from asymptomatic people, but the vast majority is still coming from people with symptoms. 

That's not to say that those who are asymptomatic can't spread disease, according to Van-Tam.

John Newton says tests will show the virus in people who are asymptomatic. 

Matt Hancock is asked to clarify if UK are part of EU PPE scheme. 

He says that we are, but the scheme has not yet delivered PPE. 

Jonathan Van-Tam has hinted tha the UK may consider screening at airports once transmission rate is down. 

Hancock says that its "normal and standard" for NHS staff to come forward and talk about issues at work. 

He says that he is unaware that the Veterans helpline has gone offline and will look into it. 

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