Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 17 Nov 2020

1. Ministers order five million doses of the Moderna vaccine

The government has ordered five million doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine candidate after it was found to be almost 95% effective. A $125m (£96.6m) deal was agreed just hours after early trial data was announced. The Guardian says Moderna’s results bode well for the Oxford jab, because the latter vaccine also relies on stimulating cells to produce a specific protein, which in turn triggers an immune response.

Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine shows ‘encouraging’ results

2. Johnson tells MPs devolution was a ‘disaster’

Boris Johnson last night told a virtual meeting of Conservative MPs that devolution had been a “disaster” in Scotland, allegedly describing it as Tony Blair’s “biggest mistake”. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Worth bookmarking these PM comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

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Would handing No. 10’s powers to local leaders have improved the UK’s Covid response?

3. Biden says ‘people may die’ because of Trump’s denial

Joe Biden has warned that President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 US election could hamper the incoming administration’s ability to rapidly distribute a vaccine for Covid-19. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” the president-elect said, describing Trump as “totally irresponsible”. The Republican on Monday tweeted: “I won the Election!”

US election: Joe Biden locked out of classified briefings as Donald Trump refuses to concede

4. Vote on Brexit deal to be held 72 hours before deadline

A European Parliament vote to agree a Brexit trade deal could be delayed until 28 December, leaving just three days before the end of the transition period. An European Union diplomat said that Brussels might need to be “creative” to get the agreement ratified. With less than seven weeks to go, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, yesterday said negotiations were “not in a good place”.

Sunak and Gove urge compromise as Frost says UK ‘may not succeed’ in avoiding no-deal

5. Human transmission of rare virus detected in Bolivia

Researchers in Bolivia have discovered human-to-human transmission of a rare disease belonging to a family of viruses that can cause haemorrhagic fevers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2019, two patients transmitted the virus to three healthcare workers in Bolivia’s de facto capital, La Paz. The virus is believed to be carried by rats, who in turn may have passed it to humans.

How did the new coronavirus start?

6. Smoke alarms to be installed in social housing

Residents in social housing are set to have the right to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors under plans drawn up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. The government is to announce proposals to end an “anomaly” under which the law offers social housing residents less protection than those in the private sector, The Times says.

A tragedy in pictures: three years since the Grenfell Tower disaster

7. Obama says Queen ‘didn't mind’ hand on shoulder

Barack Obama has dismissed the controversy about whether his wife Michelle breached royal protocol by placing a hand on the Queen’s shoulder. The former US president insists in his new memoir, A Promised Land, that Her Majesty “didn’t seem to mind”. Writing of the incident that took place in 2009, he said the Queen even “slipped her arm around Michelle in return”.

Royal protocol: the dos and don’ts for meeting the Queen

8. Man behind The Crown defends invented scenes

The lead writer of The Crown has defended creating scenes in which Lord Mountbatten reprimands Prince Charles for his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Peter Morgan, creator of the Netflix saga, admitted he “made up in my head” details of the conversations between the men, but believes they accurately “represent [Mountbatten’s] view”.

A guide to The Crown’s filming locations

9. Taylor Swift hits out as music catalogue sold again

Taylor Swift has confirmed that music mogul Scooter Braun has sold the rights to her first six albums. Writing on Twitter, the pop singer said it was “the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge”. Braun’s deal is thought to be worth more than $300 million (£227m), with Swift previously accusing the record executive of trying to “dismantle” her musical legacy.

Man says his double lottery win is down to Taylor Swift

10. Hamilton crowned Britain’s most influential black person

Lewis Hamilton has been named as the most influential black person in Britain. The Formula One driver tops the Powerlist 2021, ahead of Public Health England’s regional director for London, Professor Kevin Fenton, and the musician and philanthropist Stormzy. Hamilton has “combined record-breaking achievements on the track with raising awareness of racial injustice”, The Guardian says.

‘Sir’ Lewis Hamilton hailed as Britain’s greatest ever sportsman

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