Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 Feb 2021

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

1. Oxford jab ‘can cut spread’

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could lead to a “substantial” drop in the spread of Covid-19, according to scientists. Preliminary results from a study due to be published in The Lancet suggest that a single dose reduces transmission by 67%. Previous trials have demonstrated that the vaccine stops people developing symptoms, but the new “data indicate that it may have a substantial impact on transmission by reducing the number of infected individuals in the population”, the study concluded.

2. Leak reveals Labour flag plan

Labour must make “use of the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly” as part of a radical rebranding to help it win back “red wall” voters, according to a leaked internal presentation. The proposed strategy targets “foundation seats”, a new term for the northern constituencies that handed Boris Johnson a landslide in 2019. Some party officials have expressed concern that the new approach could evoke nationalistic sentiments.

3. Tributes for Captain Moore

The Queen and Boris Johnson have paid tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died yesterday at the age of 100 after testing positive for Covid-19. Buckingham Palace said the Queen and the Royal Family’s thoughts are with his loved ones, while the prime minister described Moore as a “hero in the truest sense of the word”. He received international attention when he raised more than £32m for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.

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4. Mass arrests after Navalny jailed

Riot police have beaten demonstrators with batons and detained nearly 1,400 people during protests in Russia in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The 44-year-old was earlier given three and a half years in prison for violating the conditions of a suspended sentence. The Guardian says the sentencing makes Navalny “the most prominent political prisoner in Russia”.

5. Bezos to leave Amazon top job

Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive of Amazon, the company announced yesterday. The billionaire, who will remain executive chair, will hand the reins to Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon Web Services, the company’s fast-growing cloud computing business. Bezos founded the web giant in 1994 and built it into one of the largest companies in the world, amassing a fortune of $185bn.

6. Study finds self-isolation failings

About 70% of people who apply for financial support to self-isolate due to Covid-19 are rejected, according to local authority data. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said the “patchy” and “paltry” approach to reimbursing people’s lost earnings was forcing people to choose between “doing the right thing and being plunged into hardship”.

7. Biden reverses Trump separations

Joe Biden has signed three executive actions to reunite migrant families split up by Donald Trump’s border policies. The Trump administration had separated undocumented adults from children as they crossed into the US from Mexico. Biden will set up a task force to try to reunite an estimated 600 to 700 children who are still apart from their families. The new US president has also ordered a review of his predecessor’s wider immigration agenda.

8. Online casinos face new rules

Internet casinos will have to tell customers how long they have been playing online slot machines and display their total wins or losses, under new regulations. The Gambling Commission will also limit the speed of games, stop sounds and images that suggest a win when the user has lost, and end settings which allow gamblers to set the slot to spin automatically multiple times.

9. Draghi may head Italy’s government

Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, says he wants a “high profile” government amid speculation that the new administration may be led by the former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi. Party leaders have failed to agree on a new coalition following the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last week. Italy's Five Star Movement, the largest party in parliament, has said it will not back a government led by Draghi.

10. Harry wants to keep army titles

The Duke of Sussex is determined to keep his honorary military titles, according to The Daily Telegraph. Harry will reportedly battle to keep the three patronages he was forced to give up pending a one-year review of his withdrawal from royal duties and considers his military links pivotal to his reputation and his future. “His military work is one of the most important things to him,” a friend said.

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