Australian Grand Prix 2021 | New target date of November 21 set for Formula One event at Albert Park


Last year’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute after Formula One teams and hundreds of staff had already arrived in Melbourne.

As the potential impact of COVID-19 on Australia started to emerge last March, the event was abandoned just before practice on the second day of the meeting with fans queuing up outside Albert Park to get in. Crew members from Maclaren had tested positive earlier in the week and that forced officials to take drastic action.

News of the new race date – the final event of the season is scheduled for Abu Dhabi in early December – comes on the same day as the Victorian government and health authorities publicly revealed the quarantine arrangements for a 1200-strong cohort of tennis players and officials about to arrive in Melbourne on chartered planes for this year’s delayed Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

The government has pointed out that quarantine arrangements will be central to the race going ahead on the rescheduled date.

“The operation of the four-day Grand Prix event at Albert Park will be subject to prevailing public health conditions and advice from the Chief Health Officer, with infection prevention and control at the centre of all decisions,” the media release said.

“Quarantine and other aspects of the Grand Prix will be considered in due course.”

Last week Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville conceded that the question of whether F1 personnel were “willing to quarantine” in Melbourne was central to negotiations.

Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said: “It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix.

“The virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021.”

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NRL 2021: South Sydney target David Nofoaluma as Corey Allan leaves, transfer news, Wests Tigers


The Wests Tigers face a fresh fight to retain Dally M winger of the year David Nofoaluma with the South Sydney Rabbitohs poised to make a play to sign the robust speedster for 2022.

Nofoaluma had a breakout 2020 season for the Tigers, scoring 17 tries in 20 NRL matches and collecting the club’s best and fairest Kelly-Barnes Award award.

With Corey Allan switching from South Sydney to Canterbury-Bankstown effective immediately as of Monday, the Bunnies are now eyeing off making a play to lure the Wests Tigers winger for next season.

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Round 1

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Tim Pain’s huge target a mark of respect for India on day when they deserved more


Tim Paine looks on as officials investigate a report of crowd abuse at the SCG on Sunday.Credit:Getty

Before Paine’s declaration, Australia’s innings was no easy procession towards setting a target. For much of the day, they were forced to eke out their runs against an Indian attack missing the injured Ravindra Jadeja.

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Marnus Labuschagne completed twin half-centuries for the match, while Steve Smith was ropable at missing out on twin centuries. Such are the differences between a mini-me and a me. Smith’s return to his run-making ways has been so complete that he has moved from anxiety to irritation.

If he had made the century he wanted, it would have been one of his slowest and hardest-earned. If Smith’s revival has filled in a gap in the slide puzzle of Australia’s batting, Matthew Wade has opened up another. We are all permitted our favourites, and Wade is one of mine. It’s a matter of personal taste, and I admire his team-first approach to cricket. Is he a genuine Test No.5? Probably not quite, but he was not a genuine Test opener either, and he still stepped into that role knowing he was putting his career at risk, just as he has done whenever his captain has asked him to sacrifice his average to lift the run rate.

Paine congratulates Cameron Green on his half-century.

Paine congratulates Cameron Green on his half-century.Credit:AP

In Sydney, Wade has had to press against a tide that, at the age of 33, seemed to have finally turned against him. He played with a run-hungry attitude in both innings but got himself out. In the field, catches constantly eluded him. What he would have given for a couple of Cameron Green’s inches. If Wade should lose his spot after this match, the Australians will be sorry to lose a true team player.

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It was Green’s innings that provided the most stimulating subplot. The 21-year-old battled to score, as had everyone else, and was lucky to survive some early scares when he closed his bat face dangerously on the slow pitch. Once Paine joined him and made noises about the declaration, however, Green found his freedom and hit some towering blows over the on-side to complement his more classical cover-driving. We can only hope that the Twenty20 recruiters were not watching.

Green even did the right thing by his captain at the end, getting out for 84 before he could prompt uncomfortable questions about whether a declaration should be delayed even further to give him time to make a hundred.

India’s progress, in a long final session, gave Paine enough to worry about but not enough for nightmares. Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma were critical to India’s hopes. Both threatened, producing the most attractive batting of the game, but both were ultimately cut short. Josh Hazlewood, who had created enough scares for a haunted house, eventually secured Gill’s wicket.

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Late in the day, Patrick Cummins had Rohit caught on the boundary, a mode not previously seen in this Roundhead battle.

The rope where Rohit holed out was in front of the Brewongle Stand, from which six spectators had earlier been ejected after Indian players accused them of abuse.

As long as the matter remained under investigation, the exact nature of the alleged abuse was being debated. But from all accounts, the kindest interpretation of the taunts was that they were witless and stupid. If the Brewongle Six were Australian patriots, they would have done well to follow their captain’s example and treat our guests with respect.

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Target Time and superquiz, Monday, January 11


TARGET TIME

Find words of four letters or more. Every word must include the centre letter and each letter is used once only. Find at least one nine-letter word. No colloquial or foreign words, capitalised nouns, apostrophes or hyphens. No verbs or plural words ending in “s”. Solution list is not exhaustive.

Reference source: Macquarie Dictionary

Today’s Target: 24 words, average; 32 words, good; 45+ words, excellent.

Saturday’s Target: chow, codon, coot, coth, count, couth, dhow, donut, doth, down, hood, hoot, hound, nohow, notch, nutwood, onto, outdo, thou, toon, touch, TOUCHDOWN, town, undo, unto, wont, wood, woodcut, wound.

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Dow Jones Futures: Congress Back To Work After Pro-Trump Mob Storms Capitol Hill; Apple Sells Off, Target, GM, Qorvo Are Buys


Dow Jones futures rose Wednesday night, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures, as Congress returned to Capitol Hill to finish the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Earlier, Georgia runoff election results fueled a stock market rally and a shift into cyclical sectors, but the major indexes closed Wednesday mixed as a pro-Trump mob stormed Capitol Hill.




X



Target stock, Apple chipmaker Qorvo (QRVO), General Motors (GM), trucking firm XPO Logistics (XPO) and wellness specialist Medifast (MED) all broke out or flashed bullish signals Wednesday, closing in buy range.

The Dow Jones, S&P 500 index and small-cap Russell 2000 rallied to record highs Wednesday, fueled by infrastructure plays, financials, hospitals, casinos, marijuana-related companies as well as old and new energy stocks.

The Nasdaq composite rebounded for modest gains, but faded late on the Trump mob’s Capitol Hill breach. Tech giants such as Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Nvidia (NVDA) retreated, along with many software names.


Georgia Results Shake Up Stock Market Outlook; Key Winners, Losers


CAN SLIM expert David Ryan highlighted the shift into cyclical stocks in a special IBD Live on Wednesday.  IBD has highlighted a possible change in leadership in recent days and weeks, including in our latest IBD Weekly cover story.

Many of Wednesday’s big winners are extended, such as Caterpillar (CAT), HCA Healthcare (HCA), US Steel (X), Canopy Growth (CGC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Tesla (TSLA). They aren’t actionable now, though investors should keep an eye on them.

Apple stock, Tesla and Target are on IBD Leaderboard. Target (TGT), XPO Logistics and GM stock are on SwingTrader. Microsoft stock is an IBD Long-Term Leader. Nvidia and Amazon stock are on the IBD 50.

Congress Returns To Work

Congress returned to Capitol Hill Wednesday night to complete the Electoral College certification vote, to show that lawmakers won’t be cowed by political violence.

At least a few GOP lawmakers that had previously planned to object to some states’ electoral votes changed their minds after pro-Trump riots. That includes Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who just lost her Georgia runoff Tuesday night.

Law enforcement earlier secured the Capitol building, with a very heavy presence inside and out, but it was different story in the afternoon.

Trump Mob Stormed Capitol Hill

President Donald Trump held a D.C. protest Wednesday, where he repeated his claims that widespread fraud cost him the presidential election. He urged the thousands of supporters to take action. Several hundred then marched to the Capitol Hill, entering the building and then the Senate chamber.

Law enforcement shot at least one rioter inside the Capitol Building. The woman later died. At least one improvised explosive device was found in the Capitol, according to reports. It’s unclear if police arrested any of the rioters.

Vice President Mike Pence and Congress were evacuated, temporarily halting the Electoral College certification vote process.

President Trump, who forcefully denounced Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, initially issued a mild tweet urging Capitol rioters to “remain peaceful.” In a late afternoon video posted on social media, he urged people to “go home now,” even as he continued to repeat his claim that the presidential election was “fraudulent.”

Trump later returned to Twitter in a more defiant tone: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

Twitter soon removed the post. For the first time, it suspended President Trump’s Twitter account, demanding that he remove tweets excusing violence. Facebook suspended Trump for 24 hours.

Washington, D.C., imposed a 6 p.m. ET curfew as a result of the Capitol Hill riot. Virginia’s governor imposed curfews on the nearby cities of Arlington and Alexandria.

Georgia Runoff Election Swings Senate

Democrats won one Senate seat in Tuesday’s Georgia runoff elections and seem poised to pick up another.

The Senate appears on track for a 50-50 split, with Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaker when she becomes vice president on Jan. 20. With unified control of Washington, Democrats would likely push for a larger stimulus deal. Infrastructure spending could be a bipartisan measure, perhaps with a somewhat green energy tilt. Cannabis reforms are more likely, but probably not full legalization. Democrats could push tax hikes, but perhaps not until later this year.

Caterpillar stock leapt 5.6%, with Vulcan Materials (VMC) up 8.9% and U.S. Steel 17%. Canopy Growth shot up 12%. All four are extended from various buying opportunities. HCA stock and JPMorgan, already extended, added 3.4% and 4.7% on Wednesday.

Tesla stock jumped 2.8% to 755.98 helped by a new Street-high price target and green energy hopes. The electric vehicle leader is greatly extended from any plausible buy point.

Dow Jones Futures Today

Dow Jones futures rose 0.5% vs. fair value. S&P 500 futures climbed 0.6%. Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.75%.

Remember that overnight action in Dow futures and elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate into actual trading in the next regular stock market session.

That’s been true in the past few days, with Dow Jones futures signaling gains or losses only for blue chips to go the other direction by the close.


Join IBD experts as they analyze actionable stocks in the stock market rally on IBD Live.


Coronavirus News

Coronavirus cases worldwide reached 87.63 million. Covid-19 deaths topped 1.89 million.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have hit 21.85 million, with deaths above 369,000. Amid all the other news, U.S. coronavirus cases hit a new daily record of more than 260,000. Covid deaths topped 4,000 for the first time.

Stock Market Rally

U.S. Stock Market Today Overview

IndexSymbolPriceGain/Loss% Change
Dow Jones(0DJIA)30829.40+437.80+1.44
S&P 500(0S&P5)3748.14+21.28+0.57
Nasdaq(0NDQC )12740.79-78.17-0.61
Russell 2000 (IWM)204.59+8.10+4.12
IBD 50 (FFTY)41.17-0.34-0.82
Last Update: 4:14 PM ET 1/6/2021

The stock market rally had a wild session, reflecting big changes on Capitol Hill … and big changes on Capitol Hill. The major indexes initially fell following the Georgia Senate runoffs, but the Dow Jones quickly rebounded, with the S&P 500 index and later the Nasdaq following suit. But as protestors stormed the Capitol Building, taking over the Senate chamber, stocks turned mixed again.

Also weighing on the market, or at least Chinese stocks, was a report that the U.S. government is mulling new stock trading bans on Chinese internet giants Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY). Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com (JD) sold off, while Chinese EV maker Nio (NIO) reversed lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4% in Wednesday’s stock market trading. The S&P 500 index rose 0.6%. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.6%.

Apple Stock, Big Techs Slump

Apple stock formed a high-ish handle this week on its cup base, but on Wednesday undercut its 21-day exponential moving average, falling 3.4%. Microsoft lost 2.6%, Amazon stock 2.5% and Nvidia 5.9%, all sinking or tumbling below their 50-day lines.

Among the best ETFs, the Innovator IBD 50 ETF (FFTY) sank 0.7%, while the Innovator IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (BOUT) off 0.4%.  The iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF (IGV) tumbled 2.4%, with Microsoft stock a major component. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) dipped 0.3%, as Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) and several other chip names offset laggards such as AMD (AMD) and Nvidia stock.


Why This IBD Tool Simplifies The Search For Top Stocks


Target Stock

Target stock rose 4.7% to 188.92, clearing a flat base with a 181.27 buy point, according to MarketSmith analysis. The flat base is arguably part of a base-on-base formation, or a base-on-base-on-base pattern. In recent weeks, TGT stock found support at its 21-day line on a daily chart and the 10-week line on a weekly chart. The relative strength line for Target stock is at a record high. The RS line, the blue line in the charts provided, tracks a stock vs. the S&P 500 index.

GM Stock

GM stock climbed 3.2% to 42.98, extending a rebound from its 50-day and 10-week lines. Wednesday’s move pushed General Motors above its 21-day line, offering an opportunity to start a position. GM stock has a flat base with a 46.81 buy point.

Medifast Stock

Medifast stock leapt 9.5% to 218.13, clearing a 208.67 buy point from a flat base as part of a base-on-base formation. Volume was heavy in the breakout. The RS line for Medifast stock is at a new high.

Medifast stock was Wednesday’s IBD Stock Of The Day.

XPO Logistics Stock

XPO Logistics stock rose 4.5% to 123.33, setting a closing high and clearing a five-weeks-tight, a long version of the three-weeks-tight. XPO stock closed just below the official 123.69 entry, but investors could start buying it here, above the bulk of the tight pattern.

Qorvo Stock

Qorvo stock climbed 1.6% to 172, peeking out above a 171 buy point from an ascending base. The RS line for QRVO stock is also at a record high. As a 5G and Apple iPhone chipmaker, Qorvo is well-placed to benefit from the 5G wireless boom and the first-ever 5G iPhone.

Stock Market Rally Parting Thoughts

The stock market rally appears to be in a transition. Cyclical stocks have been coming on for several months, but they may be ready to take clear market leadership. Tech giants, perhaps even Apple stock, may need to take a breather, along with many big software winners.

Of course, the stock market rally has had several short-lived rotations, only to swing back to growth. That could still be possible. It’s likely that some tech leaders will continue to do well, as the Qorvo stock breakout suggests.

Still, investors should at least keep many cyclical stocks on their radar, and perhaps include at least some in their portfolios. Many cyclical stocks have lousy results in recent quarters due to the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns. When running screens, focus more on relative strength and earnings estimates.

While Wednesday’s market action was generally encouraging, there’s also no guarantee that the current stock market rally will move steadily higher.

Stay engaged, keep an open mind and follow your buy and sell rules.

Read The Big Picture every day to stay in sync with the market direction and leading stocks and sectors.

Please follow Ed Carson on Twitter at @IBD_ECarson for stock market updates and more.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

Best Growth Stocks To Buy And Watch

IBD Digital: Unlock IBD’s Premium Stock Lists, Tools And Analysis Today



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Coronavirus latest: Vaccine rollout minister says UK has set ‘very stretching’ target


Peter Wells in New York

Hospitalisations in the US topped 130,000 for the first time as several Sunbelt states experienced their highest levels of coronavirus patients since the pandemic began.

The number of people currently in US hospitals with coronavirus rose to 131,195 from 128,210 on Monday, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

California and Texas, which rank first and second by population, made the biggest contributions to that total as their own tallies hit records of 22,485 and 13,308, respectively.

Hospitalisations also hit records in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Virginia, classified as a southern state by the Census Bureau but with weather perhaps not favourable enough to put it in the Sunbelt, was the only other US state where hospitalisations reached a new peak.

Masked travellers walk through National Airport in Arlington, Virginia

States reported a further 214,378 cases, up from 177,752 on Monday, according to the CTP.

Tuesday’s figure was slightly below the average over the past week of 215,632 a day, which is a record rate and means more than 1.5m people in the US have tested positive over the past seven days.

A further 3,478 deaths were attributed to coronavirus by states, up from 1,545 on Monday.

That is the second-biggest one-day increase in fatalities since the start of the pandemic, trailing the 3,903 reported on December 30, according to CTP data.

California, Texas, Missouri and Arizona each reported at least 250 deaths apiece on Tuesday, with the last two revealing records of 263 and 253, respectively.

The US has averaged 2,666 deaths a day over the past week, just shy of a record rate of 2,680 on December 22.

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Dozens arrested as NT Police target domestic violence offenders in Darwin over holidays


Police have arrested 58 people over the holidays in the Darwin region alone, during a crackdown on domestic violence following a 17 per cent spike in order breaches in the Northern Territory during 2020.

Operation Sherman was run by NT Police from December 14 until January 3 and resulted in 48 new domestic violence orders (DVOs) being served and 118 victim support assessments.

Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Warren Scott led the operation and said police targeted “repeat and high-risk domestic violence offenders”.

“We need to try and educate these offenders on the responsibilities in regards to DVOs,” he said.

During the operation, one 25-year-old man received 11 charges following two domestic violence incidents — including threat to kill, aggravated assault and going armed in public.

Staff at the Dawn House shelter in Darwin have seen the severity of injuries from domestic violence victims worsen.(ABC)

Charges were also laid against a 53-year-old man on New Year’s Eve after a woman was stabbed in an attack that left her with a punctured her lung and significant blood loss.

Senior Sergeant Scott said the operation used police data to identify repeat domestic violence offenders and victims so they could visit them at their homes.

He said they had conducted 226 patrols of known “hotspots”, which included residential addresses and public areas.

“With going to the residential addresses, it’s not just purely for DVO compliance. We are also there to try and provide education, check on people’s welfare and try to encompass quite a few things in the one visit,” he said.

“There are arrest targets for serious DV-related offending, [and for] people with outstanding domestic violence warrants and the service of domestic violence orders.”

Local shelter ‘absolutely at capacity’

Senior Sergeant Scott said Aboriginal community police officers were also providing local organisations education and training on how to provide support and refer people on to the correct services.

A picture of the Darwin CBD police station.
The operation was run for three weeks in the Darwin region.

It is something that is sorely needed, according to the team at the local women and children’s shelter.

Dawn House Women and Children’s Shelter team leader Nicky Fearn said they had been stretched trying to cope with demand over the past few months.

“We have noticed there has been a spike in demand for accommodation, domestic violence order legal issues, medical issues. Everything thing has become more intense.”

Severity of injuries worsening

A woman stands in shadows as someone else threatens her with a knife.
NT Police data also shows that domestic violence related assaults went up 19.59 per cent during 2020, compared to 2019.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Ms Fearn said shelter staff were also concerned by the worsening severity of injuries.

“We’ve been getting a higher number of referrals from Royal Darwin Hospital where the injuries have been really significant and also from remote communities where the degree of injury has been very high,” she said.

Ms Fearn said police action to ensure compliance with DVO’s was necessary and that victims needed the orders put in place quickly and efficiently.

“The police need to follow up all breaches swiftly, otherwise there is no point,” she said.

“The rate of homicides really needs to be reduced so any initiatives or education is of benefit.”

Victoria Police generic image.
Senior Sergeant Warren Scott said police nationwide had seen a rise in domestic violence reports during 2020, following COVID lockdowns.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

Senior Sergeant Scott said the police were out in force over the holiday period.

“This time of year is renowned for people having a drink, and having quite a few drinks, but the evidence shows that excessive alcohol consumption is a driver and contributing factor for domestic violence,” he said.

“You can call police on 131 444, call triple-0 in an emergency. You can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or 1800 RESPECT.”

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Rural crime spike in regional South Australia as thieves target farms over holidays


A spike in crime on rural properties in regional South Australia has police concerned that thieving criminals are targeting isolated and vulnerable locations during the holiday season.

Stock, tools and diesel are some of the goods reported stolen from farming properties across the state’s Lower South East in the past week.

Limestone Coast Police operations manager Inspector Campbell Hill said reduced farming activity over the holiday season made properties a prime target for criminals.

Inspector Campbell Hill says farming properties are even more isolated during the holidays.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

“There’s obviously a lot of work that shuts down across industries in different areas, but that doesn’t mean that the crooks are going to stop,” Inspector Hill said.

Inspector Hill said one incident in recent weeks involved the theft of a significant number of cattle from a property on Rocky Camp.

“This wasn’t a case of just a small number of cattle, this type of stock theft would have taken some pretty good planning to execute,” he said.

“That was over a period of weeks in the lead up to Christmas and we are still investigating that at the moment.”

In a separate incident, a shed was broken into at Senior and a number of tools and push bikes were stolen.

“Interestingly some of that property was recovered in Sherwood, so investigations are continuing into that incident also,” he said.

The latest incident involved the theft of diesel from a rural property at Thornley.

Inspector Hill said there was no indication that any of the incidents were linked.

“While there’s not any obvious link at the moment, we are certainly overlaying various levels of intelligence and other reports that we have got to build up a better picture,” he said.

Borders reopening trigger crime spike

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Limestone Coast Police noticed a drop in rural-related crime in the South East region.

“During the COVID lockdowns, and during the border restrictions, we … had a really increased rate of police in the Limestone Coast,” Inspector Hill said.

“I think that probably had a very natural crime-reduction impact.”

Lights flashing on a stopped police car as vehicles queue to cross Victorian-South Australian border
Inspector Hill believes the crime spike is partly due to the opening of the Victoria-South Australia border.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

However, with the border open to Victoria, Inspector Hill believed that might have attributed to the recent spike.

“We’re glad people are reporting them to us because it allows us to adequately plan for it.”

Prevention is the key

Inspector Hill encouraged land owners to think about how they could better protect their properties from criminals.

“If you have concerns, get in touch with the local police and we’re more than happy to come out to a property and go for a drive around to provide some of that crime prevention advice.”

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Target Time and superquiz, Monday, January 4


TARGET TIME

Find words of four letters or more. Every word must include the centre letter and each letter is used once only. Find at least one nine-letter word. No colloquial or foreign words, capitalised nouns, apostrophes or hyphens. No verbs or plural words ending in “s”. Solution list is not exhaustive.

Reference source: Macquarie Dictionary

Today’s Target: 30 words, average; 38 words, good; 46+ words, excellent.

Saturday’s Target: ahead, aped, dale, daphne, deal, dean, dhal, eland, hade, haled, hand, handle, head, held, lade, laden, land, lead, lend, paled, panda, PANHANDLE, paned, panned, pedal, pend, penda, planed, planned, plead, pled.

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Coronavirus live news: US misses vaccination target by millions; outcry over ‘illogical’ London school closures | World news


The new UK variant of the coronavirus, B117, is more transmissible than older variants, and appears to have a greater impact on those under 20 a new study has confirmed.

The research, led by scientists at Imperial College London and largely based on data relating to the second England lockdown, reveals the new variant has an R number 1.4-1.8 times larger than older variants. Put another way, the team says the R number for the new variant is between 0.4 and 0.7 higher than that of older variants.

The R number reflects the average number of people one infected person will go on to infect. If R is above 1, an epidemic can grow exponentially, whereas if R is below 1, the epidemic shrinks.

During the UK lockdown in the spring the R number fell to between 0.6 and 0.9 by the end of April. However, the new data suggests that such measures may not be enough to produce a similar effect for the new variant.


It would certainly be a close run thing,” Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, told the Guardian, adding that if R for the new variant is 1.5 times higher than for older variants, “lockdown 1 might have still achieved control (1.5 x 0.6=0.9), making perhaps optimistic assumptions.”

A key factor, he added, is that it is not clear what effect closing schools and universities has on transmission – a strategy applied in the first lockdown, but not the second.

“The next two weeks will be critical, especially in the highest risk areas. If we see case numbers start to plateau and decline while schools and colleges remain closed, we will at least know that control is possible, even if at a high cost,” he said. “We’re in a very difficult place right now.”

Research published this month from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that even if tier 4 restrictions were applied across England from 26 December until 31 January, the R value of the new variant in England would not fall below 1.

Prof Axel Gandy of Imperial College London, said: “Until a very high proportion of the population has been vaccinated, strong social distancing measures are needed to control this more transmissible variant of Covid-19. Everybody that can be vaccinated should be vaccinated.”



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