A coronavirus vaccine thought to protect 90% of people may be available in the coming months.
Here are some of your questions about the vaccine, and other related topics.
No. It will be optional and offered first to those who could benefit the most, such as the elderly and healthcare workers.
England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed: “We are not proposing to make this compulsory – not least because I think the vast majority of people are going to want to have it.”
If it becomes available, children will not routinely be offered it because they are low risk.
If regulators agree that the vaccine is safe and effective, then doctors, nurses and pharmacists can start giving it to people.
Those with the greatest clinical need will be offered it first, as long as the it has been shown that vaccine works well enough in this high risk group. Age is the biggest risk factor for severe covid, which is why older people will be put at the front of the queue for a vaccine.
The UK’s independent advisory committee on immunisation – the JCVI – has drafted a provisional priority list. At the top are elderly people living in care homes, along with the staff who look after them. Next are people aged 80 and over, along with other health and social care workers.
The ranking then moves down the age brackets to eventually include everyone over the age of 50 as more stock becomes available.
The priority list could change if Covid vaccine trial findings show particular jabs are more effective for certain groups or populations.
The ingredients in the vaccine are not very stable and need to be kept at below minus 70 degrees Celsius until before use.
That means it must be transported carefully. But it must be thawed before it is given to a patient and Pfizer says the jab remains viable for up to five days kept in a normal fridge before it is administered.
If a coronavirus vaccine is approved for widespread use, it is likely that people will still be offered the jab even if they have had Covid-19 in the past. That’s because natural immunity may not be long-lived and immunisation could offer more protection.
More studies and data are needed before any of the many coronavirus vaccines in development can be approved.
The Pfizer trial only included volunteers who had not caught Covid before, so the results do not provide information on vaccinating people with prior exposure to the pandemic virus.
Experts have recently discovered mutations in the genetic code of coronavirus that appear to have happened when mink caught the disease from humans and then passed it back to people.
Scientists are studying these alterations to see if they have significantly changed the behaviour and threat of the virus to mankind. So far, there is no evidence that the mutations pose an increased danger to people or that they will undermine the effectiveness of any Covid-19 vaccines.
All viruses mutate to some extent over time. Some changes can make a virus less lethal or contagious. Flu – a different virus to Covid – changes frequently, which is why the annual flu vaccine changes too, to keep pace.
Drug company Pfizer has announced preliminary results from its ongoing vaccine trial. Experts need to wait to see the full results to know exactly who the vaccine will protect best and whether it could stop people spreading the infection even if they do not have symptoms.
The interim findings from the Pfizer trial suggest 90% or nine in every 10 people who get the vaccine will have protection against catching and getting symptomatic coronavirus seven days after a second dose of the jab (with the first dose given three weeks before the second one).
The finding is based on tests in 43,500 people – half who received the real jab and the other half who received a dummy or placebo vaccine containing only salt water.
During the trial, 94 of the 43,500 volunteers developed Covid symptoms and tested positive for the virus. Almost all of these were people who received the placebo vaccine.
It is likely that people will need booster or repeat immunisations against Covid-19.
Experts are unsure how long immunity might last against the virus – they suspect it will wane over months, meaning a Covid vaccine could become an annual event, a bit like the flu shot.
Scientists around the world have been working at record speed to find a vaccine that can protect people against Covid-19. Although the research is being fast-tracked, safety is paramount.
No vaccine will be approved unless regulators are satisfied that it is safe as well as effective. Clinical trials involving thousands of volunteers are used to check this.
Even after a vaccine is approved, safety is continuously monitored. Any treatment can have some side effects in some people – vaccines are no different. Scientists and medics assess the possible risks against benefits of any treatment or intervention.
Unfortunately, visits are discouraged if you live at university.
The regulations say you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. Students should only return home at the end of term, and further guidance will soon be published on how this can happen safely.
However, many people have voiced concerns about students’ mental health. Student Minds, a student mental health charity has set up Student Space to offer support, online and over the phone.
Yes, you are. There is nothing in the new regulations that would prevent people returning home – the restrictions apply to holidays, returning to your home country is permitted.
Entry to Australia is currently closed to most people. However, Australian citizens and permanent residents, and their immediate family members, are allowed to travel to the country.On arrival, all international travellers must spend 14 days in quarantine at a designated facility, for instance at a hotel, at their port of arrival.
This will be arranged by the state or territory in which travellers arrive. You may have to pay a fee for your quarantine.You may also have to undergo enhanced health screening before entering quarantine. The Australian government has travel advice for Australians wanting to go back home to the country.
While you are allowed to stay away from home overnight for work purposes, you can only do this in another household’s home if you have formed a support bubble with them.
So if you are not already in a support bubble with someone else, then you can form a bubble with your colleague in order to stay in their home.
Otherwise you would have to stay in guest accommodation such as a hotel.
The new English lockdown restrictions will not prevent you doing either of these things. You are allowed to travel for work, if you cannot work from home, and you are allowed to travel to your local supermarket.
Wales is currently under a “firebreak” lockdown until 9 November, and during this period, travel into Wales is limited to essential journeys only. However, this includes travelling for work and to acquire necessities such as food, so you are allowed to cross the border for both these purposes.
Travel in and out of Wales will still be restricted after the firebreak ends, but you should still be able to travel for work and to buy food.
If this is your job, you are allowed to carry on. Where it is necessary to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so, as long as the owners are happy for you to come into their house and you follow the guidance for working safely. If the garden can be accessed without going into the house, even better.
However, people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions are classed as vulnerable and advised to minimise contact with others, so it’s important to check they would be happy for you to come.
If you are looking after their garden on a voluntary basis, then the guidance is less clear. You can continue to provide support as a carer, but gardening may not not qualify as part of that role.
Yes. Any one person can meet any other one person in a public outdoor space for the purpose of exercise and recreation.
There is no limit to how many different people you can meet on successive days – or even on the same day. However, you cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
Children under five, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care, are not counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside.
Up to a point.
The government says you should avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. But it says you may “travel to exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so”.
It says that you are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible, and to try to avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Yes. Informal childcare bubbles can carry on during the lockdown period.
Grandparents can still look after their grandchildren as long as they are aged 13 or under.
However, all people aged over 70 are considered to be “clinically vulnerable”, whether or not they have any underlying health conditions, and are advised to take extra precautions in terms of washing their hands and thoroughly cleaning frequently touched areas.
Unless you have already formed a household support bubble with your son, you will not be able to stay overnight in his house during the lockdown period.
Overnight stays away from your primary residence are not allowed unless they are for work or education, or for other specific circumstances such as moving house or attending a funeral.
If you are not already in a support bubble with your son, and you are not working on the house in a professional capacity, you will not be able to continue helping him during this period if you both need to be inside the house.
Yes, you should be able to attend your appointment.
Opticians and other businesses providing medical services, including dentists, are allowed to remain open during the lockdown.
However, it would be worth reconfirming the details with your optician in case they have made any changes to appointments which may affect you.
As with any shop, you should wear a mask while you are inside the premises and should maintain social distancing from staff wherever possible.
Yes, you are allowed to leave home to look for a property to buy or to rent, and that includes viewing residential properties.
The rules permit any activity in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property, such as visiting estate or letting agents, viewing show homes, preparing a property for a move and, ultimately, moving house.
People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless it is absolutely necessary, and you should wear a mask and maintain social distancing wherever possible.
It depends on a number of factors, but it should be allowed if it is not at someone’s home.
The latest government guidance for England states that it’s permitted to leave one’s house for a funeral, and “to attend a commemorative event celebrating the life of a person who has died”.
A maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral, while a maximum of 15 are allowed at a linked ceremonial event (this also includes stone settings and ash scatterings).
The wake must not be held in a “private dwelling”, and whoever is organising or managing the event must take required precautions regarding social distancing and hygiene.
Yes – unlike the first lockdown.
The government’s guidance states that “a number of public services will also stay open and you will be able to leave home to visit them”. It has been confirmed by the Chief Dental Officer for England that this includes dentists. Practices are expected to continue operating under the restrictions which have been in place since they began to reopen during the summer.
Yes you can. During England’s temporary lockdown, you can only meet with one other person from outside your household or bubble, and then only at an outdoor public place such as a beach, park, public garden, allotment, playground or in the countryside.
But children under school age are not counted in the total. So meeting your friend for a walk with your baby is fine. But you should not meet indoors or in a private garden.
Unfortunately not. Group exercise classes are not permitted in any setting during the lockdown, with indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as gyms and dance studios told to close. Community halls will still be able to host support groups and childcare.
You can exercise in an outdoor public place with one person from outside your household or bubble if you remain socially distanced. This could be a jog or bike ride, or a one-to-one pilates session.
Yes. All non-essential shops will have to close under the new regulations.
However, the government says that retailers who deliver to customers or offer click-and-collect services may stay open to do this.
According to the government rules for England, due to come in to force at 00:01 GMT on Thursday, you can still travel to work “if your job involves working in other people’s homes”.
There is, as yet, no specific government guidance, but the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has tweeted that “tradespeople will be able to enter homes” as long as they follow social distancing rules.
However, you may not work in the home of anyone who is self-isolating because of coronavirus.
In addition, the government is advising people over the age of 60, and anyone with conditions or illnesses that make them particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, to minimise their contact with other people.
Support bubbles are still in place during the new lockdown. Anyone who lives alone can join up with one other household, which can be of any number of people. It’s advised that you form a bubble with someone who lives nearby to avoid unnecessary travel.
Bubbles can also be formed with another household if a single adult lives with children who were under the age of 18 on 12 June 2020. And if someone shares custody of their child or children with someone they do not live with, they can have a bubble with the child’s other parent in addition to their chosen support bubble.
So, as long as your neighbour lives alone or with children under 18 and is not already in a bubble, other than for shared custody purposes, the answer is yes.
Hotels, and other types of guest accommodation, are only going to be open for people who have to travel for work purposes.
There are going to be a “limited number of other exemptions” set in law, the government has said.
Also, if you were planning a holiday rather than a business trip, you should bear in mind that the new rules state “you should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport”.
The government has said that certain businesses will have to close during the lockdown, with only those offering what are deemed essential services staying open.
Those having to shut include what it called “personal care facilities”, which are places like hairdressers and barbers, beauty and nail salons and spas. That was also the case during the first lockdown earlier this year.
In addition, mixing of households indoors is only allowed for very limited purposes – like childcare or providing other care – which would mean a mobile hairdresser could not visit your home.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said that people will still be able to move house, whether they are renting or buying. Removal firms and estate agents can also carry on working but must follow Covid safety guidance.
Places of worship will not be open for normal services.
They will however stay open for funerals, individual prayer, for broadcasts of acts of worship, formal childcare, voluntary and public services like blood donation or food banks, or for some support groups.
All indoor and outdoor leisure facilities – including gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools – will have to shut.
People are being encouraged to exercise outside during the lockdown, in places such as local parks.
Mortgage payment holidays are being extended for homeowners financially affected by the pandemic.
Borrowers who have not yet had a mortgage holiday can request from their lender a pause in repayments, and that can last up to six months.
Those who have had their payments deferred already can extend their mortgage holiday until they reach the six-month limit.
If you can’t download the new NHS Covid-19 tracing app, it is probably because your phone runs on an older operating system. The app will only work on a certain number of newer models.
This is because it uses technology only recently developed by Apple and Google, which will not work on earlier operating systems.
Your phone must have the IOS 13.5 operating system installed (released in May 2020), or Android 6.0 (released in 2015), as well as Bluetooth 4.0 or higher.
This excludes the iPhone 6 or any earlier models, as well as old versions of Apple’s handsets (and some newer Huawei phones).
If your smartphone is not compatible, the NHS Test and Trace Service is still the first port of call for any contact tracing issues.