Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 23 Oct 2020

1. Trump and Biden trade corruption charges at live debate

The two US presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, each accused the other of corruption in their final live TV debate last night. Trump cited unsubstantiated claims that Biden personally profited from his son's business dealings, while his challenger brought up Trump’s mysterious tax affairs. The pair also clashed on race and Covid-19. CNN said the debate was “more substantive” than the previous one but “still full of falsehoods”.

US election 2020: Joe Biden wins the White House

2. Johnson admits test-and-trace must improve amid failings

Boris Johnson said yesterday he understands “people’s frustrations” with test-and-trace failures and admitted that the government must “improve it”. The latest data shows just one in seven people having a test at a centre received their result within 24 hours. Just 59.6% of people who came into contact with someone who tested positive were reached - the lowest weekly rate.

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Test and trace: how the system is changing

3. Sunak announces last-ditch economic support package

With fears of mass unemployment growing, Rishi Sunak has announced a multibillion-pound package for business and workers. Just over a week before the furlough scheme ends, the chancellor said he would expand the new support system to protect jobs through the winter. He said he was responding to the changing epidemiological picture as he delivered the fourth major economic update in as many months. The UK recorded 21,242 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and 189 deaths.

Has Rishi Sunak’s rising star made him the target of ‘malign forces’ in the Conservative Party?

4. Barnier arrives for London talks wearing an EU face-mask

Michel Barnier is in London for “intensified” Brexit talks, which resume today with the clock ticking towards a no-deal deadline. The bloc’s chief negotiator arrived in the UK capital wearing a face mask bearing the blue and gold flag of the EU. Although Brussels and London have both made conciliatory noises this week, Downing Street has warned that it is “entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed”.

Brexit deal could be done in fortnight after three phone calls ‘unlock’ talks

5. Study finds Oxford’s Covid vaccine works ‘perfectly’

The coronavirus vaccine developed at Oxford University works perfectly and builds strong immunity to the virus, according to a study published in the Daily Mail. The University of Bristol report says research using cells found the vaccine effectively delivers the instructions for the Covid protein, which means a person’s immune system recognises the disease and shrugs it off without them falling ill. It is currently undergoing large-scale safety trials.

Oxford scientists: ‘here’s what we are doing to develop our coronavirus vaccine’

6. China warns Canada over its position on Uighurs

The Chinese government has told Canada to halt its “blatant interference” in China’s internal affairs, after a parliamentary committee concluded that Beijing’s actions against ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang province constituted a genocide and called for sanctions. China’s foreign minister ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian condemned the committee’s findings, saying the report was “full of lies and disinformation”.

7. Doctors catch Covid after rules ‘ignored’ at Surrey function

An NHS investigation is underway after two junior doctors in Surrey contracted Covid-19 following a gathering of 20 colleagues where social distancing rules were allegedly ignored. Health Service Journal says police are also investigating the allegations, which reportedly relate to an event in Guildford earlier this month. It is claimed that the staff were swiftly isolated.

8. Snowden granted permanent residency in Russia

The former US national security contractor Edward Snowden has been granted permanent residency in Russia, his lawyer has revealed. Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the US after leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programmes. He was able to obtain permanent residency rights because of the changes in Russia’s immigration laws made in 2019.

9. US regulators give green light to remdesivir

Medical regulators in the US have given approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients in hospitals. The US Food and Drug Administration claims the drug cut the recovery time on average by five days during clinical trials. Last week the World Health Organization said remdesivir had little to no effect on patients' survival rates.

Explained: which drugs has Donald Trump been prescribed and why?

10. Goldman Sachs pays out $2.9bn after admitting bribery charges

The investment bank Goldman Sachs has pleaded guilty to charges that it conspired to violate US anti-bribery laws in a massive scheme involving the Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as 1MDB. The giant has agreed to pay about $2.9bn (£2.2bn) to various authorities. Commenting on the case, the FBI said: “Greed is not good. Greed like this eventually exacts an immense cost on society.”

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