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Coronavirus news live: UK reports 43676 daily coronavirus cases and 149 deaths – as expert predicts New Year surge – Sky News

Coronavirus latest as Germany records more than 100,000 COVID related deaths; scientists warn of new variant with “unusual constellation of mutations” in Botswana; 11 December booster jab will offer best possible protection for Christmas.
The official Downing Street Twitter account has posted a number of photos after the prime minister met social care workers yesterday. 
Boris Johnson welcomed the group to No.10 to thank them for their “courage, selflessness and hard work” during the COVID pandemic. 
Americans will pack football stadiums, flock to parades and gather more freely for family feasts, to celebrate Thanksgiving Day traditions after the pandemic kept many at home last year.
An estimated 53.4 million people will travel for the holiday, up 13% from 2020, according to the American Automobile Association. 
Air travel is expected to recover to about 91% of pre-pandemic levels.
Fans will also be able to return to the three National Football League stadiums, restoring a spectacle that is part of the Thanksgiving tradition. 
Likewise, spectators will return to New York City’s 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after last year’s pageant
was scaled down and closed to the public.
Earlier today, we told you about a report by Bloomberg that said the European Union (EU) is set to recommend a nine month time limit on the validity of COVID-19 vaccines for travelling (see 9.06 post).
Now, an EU official has told Reuters that the European Commission will indeed recommend that COVID vaccine certificates last for nine months. 
People who get a booster shot will have the validity of
their certificates automatically extended, the source said.
The recommendation is not binding but is expected to help form a joint approach across EU states.
In our previous post about the new B.1.1529 COVID variant, we told you it has 32 spike protein mutations. 
But what are spike proteins? 
They are what viruses use to get into human cells. 
Some vaccines work by training the body to recognise the spikes and neutralise them.
Mutations on the spike can therefore potentially prove problematic for mRNA doses, like Pfizer and Moderna.
Earlier today, we told you a new COVID variant, named B.1.1529, has been identified in Botswana (see 6.64 post).
Scientists are still unclear whether existing antibodies would react well to the variant – which has 32 spike protein mutations.
Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, branded the mutations “really awful”.
You can read more by clicking the link below. 
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Fleur Anderson has pressed the Government on a report from non-profit Transparency International, which “identified 73 COVID contracts that raised red flags for corruption”.
She appeared in the House of Commons to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, and Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis a question. 
She said: “After 18 months of deflecting and secrecy, the list of those companies awarded contracts through the VIP lane was finally revealed and we can see now why it was kept secret.
“It is curious that after recommendations from politicians to that list, only Conservative recommendations were successful, no other political party.”
Mr Ellis claimed Ms Anderson “is conveniently forgetting that Labour members of Parliament also recommended individuals, as far as PPE is concerned”.
He went on: “There is nothing wrong with that because there was a national emergency at the time and everyone was asked to assist, and if they knew someone who might be able to assist in supplying personal protective equipment they were invited to say so. 
“Not only is there nothing wrong with that but it was a public service to do so.”

Relatives of a grandmother in her 50s left brain-damaged and paralysed from the neck down after contracting COVID-19 have won the latest stage of a life-support treatment fight.
A judge in the Court of Protection ruled earlier this year that the woman should be allowed to die.
Specialists treating the woman – who doctors have described as the most complicated COVID patient in the world – at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge said life-support treatment should end.
Relatives challenged that decision at a Court of Appeal hearing a few weeks ago.
Today, judges have allowed their appeal and said the case should be re-heard.

The woman is not allowed to be identified in media reports. 
France is set to announce that COVID-19 booster shots will be made available to all adults, two parliamentary sources confirmed to Reuters. 
Stricter rules on wearing face masks and health pass checks to curb a new wave of infections are also due to be announced. 
France’s health regulator said it was backing booster COVID vaccination shots for those aged 18 and over, and that the interim period between full vaccination and the third jab should be shortened to five months instead of six.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government on Wednesday said it would focus on tougher social distancing rules and a faster booster shot programme. 
The extra jab will become a requirement for a valid health pass, which is needed to enter restaurants, cafes, cinemas and museums, among other public venues.
Health minister Olivier Veran is due to hold a news conference later today. 
Russia has recorded 1,238 new COVID-19 related deaths in the latest 24 hour period. 
A total of 33,796 confirmed cases were also reported, which is up from 33,558 recorded yesterday. 
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