Thursday briefing: Vaccine reality check needles Trump

Top story: ‘Late second quarter, third quarter 2021’

Hello, Warren Murray here, and I’d appreciate you taking on board the following.

Donald Trump has been set scrambling after the director of the CDC health authority said a coronavirus vaccine that is “generally available to the American public” may still be a year away. The US president has been promising as part of his election campaign to have a vaccine released before the end of 2020. But Robert Redfield of the CDC has told a Senate panel: “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at … late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” Redfield said he expected vaccinations to begin in November or December but in limited quantities prioritised for healthcare personnel and the most vulnerable. Trump claimed Redfield had made a mistake or “he was confused. I’m just telling you we’re ready to go.” Trump said one would be rolled out in “a matter of weeks” – but no successful vaccine has yet been unveiled from US trials. Redfield also contradicted Trump’s stance on face masks, calling them “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” to combat coronavirus.

New restrictions on social contact between households and a 10pm curfew on pubs are expected to be introduced in parts of north-east England in an attempt to curb rising coronavirus cases. Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle city council, confirmed “additional, temporary restrictions” were planned. Measures due to be announced today are expected to also include a ban on mixing between households. They will come into effect from midnight tonight, and are expected to apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland, but not Teesside. Our live blog is bringing you the latest coronavirus developments.

‘Worse, not better’ – Conservative rebels have forced Boris Johnson into a climbdown with the PM agreeing to grant MPs a vote about when to invoke powers in the UK internal market bill that would breach the EU withdrawal agreement. But Labour has raised alarm that the compromise appears to restrict any legal challenge to use of the new powers, saying it would make the bill “worse, not better”. The shadow attorney general, Lord Falconer, wrote: “This doesn’t remedy the breaches of international law which arise from the bill.” Lord Keen, the UK government’s law officer for Scotland, resigned on Wednesday over the bill’s proposed breaches of law, putting pressure on the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, and the attorney general, Suella Braverman, to consider their positions.

Saudis could fuel own nuclear reactors – Saudi Arabia likely has enough mineable uranium ore to produce its own nuclear fuel, according to confidential documents seen by the Guardian. Chinese geologists have been helping Riyadh map uranium reserves under a nuclear energy cooperation agreement. Their survey estimates 90,000 tonnes of uranium reserves could provide Saudi Arabia with both fuel for the reactors it wants to build and surplus for export. The disclosure will intensify concerns about Riyadh’s interest in an atomic weapons programme and its lack of transparency. The Saudis avoid international inspections through a small quantities protocol (SQP) but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying unsuccessfully to convince the Saudi monarchy to accept full monitoring.

Equality not seen on TV – BBC Newsnight went a week without a single live interview with a guest from a minority ethnic background, according to an analysis of national media output by the Women in Journalism group. Its survey concluded that there was a “shocking” lack of racial diversity and representation of women in journalism. The group’s other findings included that just one in four front-page newspaper stories were written by women; that 16% of people quoted in front-page news stories were women; and that out of 111 people quoted on national newspaper front pages, only one was a black woman: Jen Reid in the Guardian after a statue of her was erected in place of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. The report found that people of colour were more likely to be asked on air to discuss issues of race, rather than for their knowledge of other areas.

Belarus regime charges Kolesnikova – Belarusian authorities have charged the opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova with “actions aimed at undermining national security”, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Kolesnikova last week thwarted an attempt to deport her by tearing up her passport on the border with Ukraine. She remains in police custody as protests continue against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

Women tear balaclavas off security officers amid mass arrests in Belarus – video

Meanwhile the police and assorted thugs loyal to Lukashenko who harass, assault and arrest peaceful demonstrators are finding themselves having their masks torn off by protesters. Online groups have been using face recognition, databases and public callouts to identify officers. One group has published the names and dates of birth of 12 riot police officers it said had “blood on their hands”, as well as some of their car licence plate numbers.

Today in Focus podcast: Dissent in the Tory ranks

The PM has been attempting to quell disquiet on several fronts, says the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot, with backbench Conservative MPs rebelling over the government’s latest Brexit plans, Covid-19 restrictions and a series of damaging U-turns.

Today in Focus

Dissent in the Tory ranks

Lunchtime read: The battle over dyslexia

It was once a widely accepted way of explaining why some children struggled to read and write. But in recent years some experts have begun to question whether dyslexia even exists.

Illustration of cartoon people juggling giant letters

Illustration: Nathalie Lees


A summer that defied expectations ended with a fitting finale but England were defeated as centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey steered Australia to a nail-biting three-wicket victory and a memorable 2-1 series win. Tottenham are confident they will secure a deal to bring back Gareth Bale from Real Madrid and the hope is that it will be completed before the end of the week. Primoz Roglic increased his overall lead in the Tour de France at the monumental summit of the Col de la Loze in the Savoie Alps, after seeing off his closest rival and Slovenian compatriot, Tadej Pogacar, and inching closer to final victory in Paris on Sunday. The former head of global athletics Lamine Diack has been found guilty of corruption for covering up Russian doping cases in exchange for bribes.

The British Gymnastics chief executive, Jane Allen, has been accused of “hanging gymnasts out to dry” and presiding over a culture where complaints were ignored, in an explosive letter written by the Rio Olympic bronze medallist Amy Tinkler. A second cricketer has made allegations of experiencing racism at Yorkshire, with the seamer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan claiming “systematic taunting” existed at the county, after the former spinner Azeem Rafiq outlined a culture of “institutional racism”. The administrators trying to find a buyer for Wigan Athletic fear the club could become the next Macclesfield, because of the difficulty of finding willing investors during the pandemic. League Two’s Salford proved a test of Everton’s patience and creativity but Carlo Ancelotti’s side ultimately secured a Carabao Cup third-round meeting at Fleetwood Town in comfort.


Asian stock markets have fallen back after the US Federal Reserve indicated its benchmark interest rate would stay close to zero at least through 2023 but announced no additional stimulus plans. Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong all went into retreat. The pound is worth $1.292 and €1.098 while the FTSE is headed lower by two-thirds of a percentage point at time of writing.

The papers

The Guardian leads with “Thousands of teachers forced to stay at home amid lack of testing”, after Boris Johnson admitted the system had “huge problems”. The Mail is blunt – “Boris: we’ve failed” and the Mirror says “Tories aren’t testing”.

Guardian front page, Thursday 17 September 2020

Guardian front page, Thursday 17 September 2020.

The Telegraph has “Only select few to get rationed Covid tests” – our report explains how teachers and health workers will be among those prioritised and the importance of this is highlighted in the i: “Schools ‘will close without virus tests’”. The Express colours things in its time-honoured way: “Boris: I’ll stop at nothing to avoid second lockdown” while the Sun also goes with a heroic line: “My plan to save Christmas” (brick up your chimney folks) and a portrait of the PM looking oddly well groomed.

“Curfew for restaurants and pubs to tackle virus” reports the Times – here is an update on restrictions that are expected in parts of England. The Metro leads with that unthinkable story: “The newborn killed by dog” – baby Elon was mauled in his Moses basket by the family’s Chow-Chow cross, named Teddy, the paper reports.

Sign up

The Guardian Morning Briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, you can sign up here.

For more news:

The Guardian

Leave a Reply