Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 Jan 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Novavax ‘89.3% effective’

A new Covid vaccine is 89.3% effective, according to the manufacturer’s UK clinical trial results. The Novavax jab is the first to demonstrate that it is effective against the new variant of the virus discovered in Kent at the end of last year. Boris Johnson welcomed the “good news” and said the UK’s medicines regulator would now assess the vaccine. The UK has secured 60 million doses of the jab, which will be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees.

2

China threatens Taiwan

China has warned that the attempt by Taiwan to seek independence from Beijing “means war”. The statement comes days after Beijing escalated military activities and sent warplanes towards the island. Taiwan, which is democratic and considers itself a sovereign state, is seen by China as a breakaway state. Relations between Taiwan and the US have strengthened since the inauguration of Joe Biden.

3

Tax revenue early warning

The Times says its annual Tax List has revealed a “worrying trend” for the Treasury, as two-thirds of the 50 business owners, celebrities and entrepreneurs who featured last year appear to be paying less tax now. Last year, you needed to have paid £20.4m of tax to make it onto the high-payers list but this year the entry level has plummeted to £13.1m. Tax revenues are expected to fall further due to the effects of Covid.

4

Banned royal doc resurfaces

A documentary banned by the Queen has been uploaded to YouTube. She regretted granting the BBC behind-the-scenes access for the 1969 film and requested it never be broadcast again. The film, which was watched by more than 30 million people when it was first broadcast, was uploaded to YouTube by an unknown user, but quickly deleted after a copyright complaint.

5

Congresswoman accuses Cruz

The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused Ted Cruz, a Republican senator who led efforts to overturn the presidential election result, of “trying to get me killed” during the rioting at the US Capitol earlier this month. When Cruz endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a congressional hearing into online trading platform Robinhood, she tweeted: “I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered three weeks ago so you can sit this one out.”

6

Skunk adds to mental health crisis

Super-strength ‘skunk’ cannabis has contributed to a record 100,000 people being admitted for drug-related mental health treatment in the past year. Drug-related hospital admissions have risen by 21% in the decade after the emergence of super-strength cannabis. The amount of THC, the main psychoactive component of the drug, has risen from 5% to 25% over the past ten years.

7

Royal says home-schooling exhausts her

The Duchess of Cambridge says the challenges of parenting and home schooling during lockdown have “exhausted” her. During a video call with a group of parents, Catherine urged people “to reach out to loved ones and friends” if they were struggling or feeling isolated. She also joked about her three children reacting with “horror” when she had to cut their hair.

8

UK launches Hong Kong visa

Britain has launched a visa scheme that will allow just under three million people in Hong Kong to apply to live, study and work in the UK. As many as 300,000 people are expected to leave Hong Kong for Britain using the new visa route which launches on Sunday. Boris Johnson said the move honoured the UK’s “profound ties of history and friendship” with the former British colony.

9

Police apologise for viral video

West Midlands Police have apologised after a video showed a man being detained in a police car when challenged on his way to work by an officer citing Covid legislation. The footage, viewed more than one million times, shows officers quizzing Nino Romano on his plans, calling him an idiot and threatening him with “locking up”. The force said the officer’s actions were “unacceptable”.

10

RSPCA scraps prosecutions

The RSPCA will stop bringing private prosecutions and hand over responsibility for the role to the Crown Prosecution Service. The charity’s decision comes after years of criticism for its allegedly “political” role in leading court cases and warnings that the charity was alienating key supporters. However, it says the decision was made as part of a ten-year plan because of the increasing complexity of cases.

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