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Covid UK news – live: Vaccine delay for care homes as pupils to get exam help next year

Most care home residents will need to wait to receive the newly-approved coronavirus vaccine after Boris Johnson warned of “immense logistical challenges” in distributing the jabs this winter.

The UK became the first country in the world to give the go-ahead to the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday, paving the way for vaccinations to start next week.

However, the jab has to be stored at very low temperatures and comes in large batches which can only be moved a few times, meaning it cannot be directly sent to individual care homes yet.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that extra measures will be used to “boost fairness and support students” for next year’s GCSE and A-level exams in England.

Students will be marked more generously and get advance notice of exam topics to make up for disruption to their education caused by the pandemic.

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Our reporter, Zoe Tidman, has more details below on the changes to exams for next year:

Conrad Duncan3 December 2020 08:08

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Students to receive more generous grading to make up for Covid disruption

Students taking GCSE and A-level exams next year will be awarded more generous grades to compensate for disruption during the coronavirus pandemic, the education secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson confirmed pupils in England will receive advance notice of some topics ahead of tests – as well as exam aids when sitting papers – to ensure students are not disadvantaged.

The Department for Education added that additional exams will be run to give students more chances to sit papers if they miss their main exams or assessments due to illness or self-isolation.

It is hoped that the measures will help to avoid the fiasco around exams in the summer this year.

“Exams are the best way of giving young people the opportunity to show what they can do, which is why it’s so important they take place next summer,” Mr Williamson said.

“But this isn’t business as usual. I know students are facing unprecedented disruption to their learning. That’s why exams will be different next year, taking exceptional steps to ensure they are as fair as possible.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said the measures would bring “some much-needed relief” to schools after a difficult year.

Conrad Duncan3 December 2020 08:03

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Further work needed before Covid vaccine can go to care homes, Johnson says

Further authorisation is needed from regulators before residents and staff can receive the coronavirus vaccine in care homes, Boris Johnson has revealed.

Although experts have said people in care homes should be top of the list for receiving the vaccine, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab cannot be sent directly to care homes yet because it comes in large batches of 975 doses.

Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan3 December 2020 07:51

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today.

Conrad Duncan3 December 2020 07:43

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