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Covid news - live: EU threatens export controls on vaccines and Hancock refuses to say when lockdown will end

Andy Gregory,Liam James and Chiara Giordano
·1 min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The EU has threatened to impose export controls on coronavirus vaccines as part of a row with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca which could affect the UK’s supply of Pfizer jabs.

European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides accused UK-based AstraZeneca of failing to give a valid explanation for failing to deliver doses to the bloc and warned the EU would “take any action required to protect its citizens and rights”.

It came after Matt Hancock said the “end is in sight” for coronavirus restrictions but refused to be drawn on when England’s lockdown might be lifted during a Downing Street briefing.

In a televised update on the coronavirus crisis, the health secretary implored people to stick to the rules, urging: “We’ve all frankly sacrificed too much and it’s so important that we protect lives. We are making progress with the vaccine and the end is in sight and we cannot put that progress at risk.”

“There is a promise of better days that lie ahead," he added. “We have to hold our nerve and persevere through this difficult winter.”

Asked when England’s national lockdown restrictions might be eased, Mr Hancock said ministers would only do so once the pressure on the NHS begins to ease and coronavirus case numbers fall.

He said there were currently 37,000 people in hospital with the disease - almost double the amount during the first peak in April – and that there were more patients on ventilators than at any point during the pandemic.

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