09:40 GMT21 January 2021
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    Media reported earlier that blanket quarantine restrictions across the UK might end in the run-up to Christmas so that British families will be able to travel even to high-risk “red list” countries to see their relatives.

    Speaking to the Parliament on Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that the coronavirus-related restrictions will come to an end on 2 December, noting they could largely be reduced thanks to now-reported scientific advances, namely encouraging news about effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

    Promising to succeed in reining in the health crisis next year, the prime minister admitted that the country is "not there yet", adding that "COVID doesn't know it's Christmas".

    Emphasising the "most hopeful" news reports about the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca, Johnson stressed the government's intention to launch a " a major community testing programme" regarding the recently unveiled inoculation.

    Johnson welcomed the announcement by AstraZeneca that its COVID-19 vaccine could be on average 70 percent effective, saying vaccine advances were moving closer to "liberating" Britain from the virus.

    © AP Photo / Frank Augstein
    Elderly man at a care home with a nurse in full PPE

    "Clearly the most hopeful advance of all is how vaccines are now edging ever closer to liberating us from the virus, demonstrating emphatically that this is not a pandemic without end," Johnson said.

    "We can take great heart from today's news, which has the makings of a wonderful British scientific achievement."

    Johnson's statement to parliament on the government's winter plan was cut mid-sentence on Monday due to technical issues which interrupted the audio feed of his answers to MPs.

    The Telegraph reported earlier in the day that across-the-board quarantine restrictions might be halted in the country in time for Christmas so that families will be able to travel anywhere, including “red list” countries, to see their relatives in person. Restrictions will be cut from 14 days to five if holidaymakers test negative for the coronavirus five days after returning to the country.

    In the meantime, media reported preliminary results of clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine being jointly developed by the University of Oxford and the Swedish AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company claiming it has managed to develop a sustainable immune reaction to the coronavirus infection among elderly people.

    FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014.
    © REUTERS / Phil Noble/File Photo
    FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014.

    The vaccine was found to stop the average of 70 percent of people from developing COVID-19 symptoms, as per the combined analysis from two dosing regimens.


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