Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 March 2021

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

1. Oxford vaccine ruled safe

British and European regulators have declared that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and its benefits “far outweigh any risks”. Boris Johnson, who will get the vaccine today, said: “The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid, which is why it is so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.”

Why has the Oxford vaccine faced so much scrutiny?

2. Jabs alone ‘won’t stop Covid‘

Vaccinations “won’t be enough” to contain the spread of Covid in the UK, according to a new study. The University of Warwick said measures such as test, trace, and isolate, hand hygiene and mask-wearing “may also be necessary for some time”. However, it also said that “gradually easing measures over a period of many months could reduce the peak of future waves”.

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How many people need to be vaccinated to get life back to normal?

3. Paris to enter new lockdown

Paris is set to go into a month-long lockdown as the country tries to fend off a new wave of Covid-19. France has recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours and the prime minister, Jean Castex, said a “third wave” of infections in the country was looking increasingly likely. There are 1,200 people in intensive care in the capital, more than at the peak of the second wave in November.

4. Sun paid for Meghan info

A private investigator employed by The Sun has admitted he illegally accessed the Duchess of Sussex’s private information. Dan Hanks said that he compiled a 90-page report on the future member of the royal family in 2016, shortly after the media became aware of her relationship with Harry. The information included relatives’ phone numbers, background information on her ex-husband, and Meghan’s personal social security number.

Meghan Markle challenges Royal Family to offer evidence of bullying

5. Nato warns of new cold war

The head of Nato has warned that Russia and China are slipping towards a new cold war. Jens Stoltenberg said the two nations are increasing their military presence in the Arctic Circle. Climate change is having “direct consequences” for Nato’s security, he added, as melting sea ice is “heating up the strategic competition”.

Podcast: French sperm, reparations and the Arctic

6. Ex-mayor denies taking bribe

Joe Anderson, the former mayor of Liverpool, has said his arrest for bribery and witness intimidation was “bizarre”. He told The Daily Telegraph: “I have never taken a bribe in my life.” Lawyers for Anderson, who stepped aside after the allegations emerged, have launched a judicial review against the chief constable of Merseyside Police, arguing that the arrest was “unnecessary and therefore unlawful”.

Labour Left accuses party of mayoral ‘stitch-up’

7. Raab ‘misunderstands Brexit deal’

Dominic Raab has been accused by Brussels of displaying a “total misunderstanding” of the Brexit deal after claiming the EU was trying to erect a barrier between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Maros Sefcovic, the European commission’s vice-president, said Britain was denting its global reputation by ignoring the terms of its agreements with EU.

Why the Irish border is back on the agenda

8. New wave of belt-tightening

Britain is set for another era of austerity, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. After studying Rishi Sunak’s plans, the leading tax and spending think tank found deep cuts in spending plans for Whitehall departments and local government. “For many public services, the first half of the 2020s could feel like the austerity of the 2010s,” it said.

In numbers: Rishi Sunak’s spring budget

9. Bank holds rates again

The economy will be allowed to recover before interest rates are raised, the Bank of England has ruled, as it voted unanimously to hold the base rate at 0.1% for the second time this year. Despite growing concern about inflation, rate setters signalled that no action will be taken to increase the cost of borrowing until the recovery is better established and prices are rising faster.

10. Actor denies rape allegations

The actor Armie Hammer has been accused of raping a woman in Los Angeles in 2017. The 24-year-old woman, named only as Effie, made the allegations during a news conference. Hammer, known for films including The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name, denies the allegations, which his lawyer described as “outrageous”.

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