Boris Johnson is to urge world leaders to unite to fight against disease as he hosts a global vaccine summit in London amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister will open the Gavi meeting with a plea to raise £6bn to immunise 300 million children in the poorest countries as the UK death toll from Covid-19 nears 40,000.
It comes as a former MI6 chief claimed the pandemic may have started as an accident in a Chinese laboratory and business secretary Alok Sharma self-isolated at home after falling unwell in parliament.
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Meanwhile both Mexico and Brazil recorded record daily numbers of coronavirus deaths as the total number of cases worldwide passed 6.5 million.
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Bill Gates has called for international health workers to be immunised first when a vaccine for Covid-19 is developed.
The US billionaire, who heads Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, told BBC’s Radio 4 that any vaccination programme “should be done on a global basis”.
It comes amid rising fears that governments will look to hoard supplies of the vaccine, when it is produced, and treat their citizens first.
“Pretty clearly the health workers in the countries where you still have the epidemic would be the first priority, because allowing them to keep doing their jobs, saving lives and not be at the incredible risk they’re at today, that would be top of the list,” he said.
“Then you’d have police and other first responders, essential workers on the front lines. Only after you get to those then you would start to do the citizens, particularly if the vaccine does work in older people. That would be a key criteria, getting it out to nursing homes, prisons, homeless shelters so you really got those at risk. It should be done on a global basis.”
New Zealand is on the verge of eradicating coronavirus from its shores after reporting no new confirmed cases for nearly two weeks.
‘Our strategy of go hard, go early has paid off,’ she says
Brazil registered a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second day in a row, according to Health Ministry data.
The nation recorded 1,349 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, bringing the total to 32,548 deaths and 584,016 total confirmed cases.
Mexico's health department reported 1,092 deaths, more than double the previous one-day record, despite predictions from officials that the outbreak may have peaked.
Pakistan reported a record single-day spike in coronavirus-related deaths with 82 new fatalities and 4,688 cases that it says resulted from increased testing in the past 24 hours. A total of 1,770 people have died and 85,264 have tested positive.
Etihad Airways has announced it will resume carrying transit passengers from 20 cities in Europe, Asia and Australia on 10 June after the United Arab Emirates government lifted a suspension on those flights.
The UAE government suspended all passenger flights in late March but airlines were later allowed to operate services for foreign citizens leaving the Gulf Arab state.
It said late on Wednesday that UAE carriers, which include Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia, could resume transit flights.
Around 1,500 jobs are set to be axed and another 12 showrooms closed at struggling car dealership Lookers as the group announced plans to slash costs in the face of the coronavirus crisis and a tough car market.
The Altrincham-based firm, which has 8,100 staff, said it was launching redundancy consultations across all areas.
It comes on top of the 15 dealerships being closed already under plans announced in November, leaving it with 136 dealerships across the UK.
Ministers will be 'interventionist' in supporting 'many, many' workers who will lose jobs due to pandemic, pledges PM
Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of a sub-group of Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), has cast doubt over the effectiveness of a blanket quarantine arrangement for visitors to the UK.
The Nottingham Trent University academic is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which reports to Sage.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are not seeing new clusters that are taking off from people who have been travelling abroad.
"I think we would really need to get the level in this country significantly further down before quarantine started to become a useful measure.
"That I think, even then, we would have to see something that is targeted on countries with a significantly higher level of community transmission than ourselves - and there aren't too many of those around, I'm afraid.
"If you're a holiday destination in Europe in a country that has worked really hard to get its levels of community transmission down and you're perhaps looking forward to seeing the end of the virus circulating, apart from in isolated outbreaks, then you have to wonder would they really want to welcome a load of British tourists from a country which hasn't fully got this virus under control yet?"
UK quarantine 'useless and ineffective', says Ryanair boss
Ryan air boss Michael O'Leary has again warned that the 14-day international quarantine, due to start on 8 June, will damage the country's tourism industry.
"This is going to do untold damage to British tourism, the thousands of hotels and restaurants and guest houses all over the UK that depend on European visitors will be deterred by this useless and ineffective quarantine," he told the BBC.
Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said the current restrictions on travellers from most UK airports meant it would be difficult for the majority of holidaymakers from Britain wanting to take a trip to the European country.
Mr Theoharis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Testing is mandatory and for a certain amount of days you wait for the test results.
"If it is a negative result, then it is effectively a self-imposed quarantine of seven days but you can go ahead to your destination. If, however, it is a positive result then it is a supervised quarantine for longer than seven days."
Yesterday the government forced through a 14-day quarantine on travellers in the face of growing opposition within the prime minister’s own party and from the travel and aviation industries.
And amid ritual protestations from ministers that the government was “following the science”, the PM’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance made it brutally clear that the timing of the unprecedented measure was decided by ministers alone.
Chief scientific adviser stresses decision that time is right for mandatory self-isolation of travellers made by ministers
Clinical trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus are to re-start the World Health Organisation has said amid concerns over research into its effects that have been published in leading medical journals.
Concerns should lead to ‘serious reflection on whether the quality of editorial and peer review during the pandemic has been adequate’
Sir Richard Dearlove has said he believes the coronavirus pandemic may have “started as an accident”, with the virus escaping from a Chinese laboratory.
The former head of MI6 cited a new study by British and Norwegian researchers which had been rejected by several journals, despite scientific consensus that the disease most likely originated in bats.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government has seen “no evidence” to suggest the virus originated in a laboratory.
Sir Richard Dearlove cites study by researchers claiming to have found ‘inserted’ elements in virus
Boris Johnson will urge the world to unite to pledge billions of pounds to fund vaccinations in the poorest countries in the world when he opens the Global Vaccine Summit in London today.
The prime minister will say the move would save millions of lives and protect the world from future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
At least 35 heads of state or government, as well as leaders of private sector organisations and civil society, will take part in the virtual event, designed to raise funds for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Summit aims to raise at least £6 billion, to immunise 300 million children by 2025
Good morning and welcome to The Independent's coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and worldwide.