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Tuesday evening news briefing: World’s ‘first Covid-19 vaccine’

Russia approves ‘world’s first Covid-19 vaccine’

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia has become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess. The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continues. Speaking on state television, Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters. However, scientists in the UK say no scientific evidence backing these claims has been published. They also warn the release of a vaccine is not safe and could worsen the current situation. So when will a vaccine be ready in Britain? Read the latest on trials in the UK.

Meanwhile, New Zealand, which has been hailed for the success of its Covid-19 response, has shut schools and pubs in Auckland after identifying four new cases of community transmission in the city. The new cases end a remarkable run of 102 days with no community transmission in the country. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, and Ashley Bloomfield, director general of health, announced that the city would be going back into a rigid lockdown and new restrictions will be imposed on the rest of the country. Read on for details.

Exam results U-turn as teacher’s grades reinstated

Scotland’s Education Secretary has announced a screeching U-turn on the country’s exam results, revealing more than 124,000 scores that were downgraded by a controversial moderation process will revert to the grades estimated by pupils’ teachers. The Scottish government has come under fire for the process, in which students were marked down according to their school’s past performance, disadvantaging those in deprived areas. Pass rates for pupils in the most deprived areas were reduced by 15.2 per cent compared with 6.9 per cent in the most affluent parts of the country. John Swinney made the announcement in a statement at the Scottish Parliament. It comes with A-level results in England due to be announced on Thursday. Our liveblog has the latest.

Charles’ birthday portrait was an ‘absolute nightmare’

The Prince of Wales’ official 70th birthday photograph with his family was a “nightmare” to plan because his sons blew “hot and cold” with their father, a new book has claimed. Finding Freedom, the new biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which has already had many details released, was published this morning. It contains revelations about the princes’ relationship with their father, Meghan’s training to be a princess, and the Queen’s favourite film. Read on for a summary of the things we did not know about the book. Meanwhile, Harry Mount has already digested the biography and written a review, claiming it shows the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have an extraordinary ability to take offence.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Migrant crossings | The UK and French governments are “working at pace” to ensure they are “completely cutting” the route migrants are using to cross the Channel illegally, the immigration minister has said. Speaking from Paris, following crunch talks with officials, Chris Philp said both sides were “clear that more needs to be done” to stop the growing number of people making the journey, with more than 4,000 people reaching Dover already this year. Our liveblog has the latest.

Around the world: Lebanon PM’s explosion warning

Lebanese security officials warned the prime minister and president last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources. Just over two weeks later, the industrial chemicals went up in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port and swathes of the capital, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 and destroyed 6,000 buildings, according to municipal authorities. Read on for details.

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