Volunteers are needed for a national trial that will investigate the use of an inhaled steroid as a treatment for coronavirus.
The call for participants comes as the chief medical officer warned family members not to hug elderly relatives this Christmas.
Budesonide will form part of the UK’s priority platform trial for Covid-19 treatments that can be taken at home.
Led by the University of Oxford, the Principle (Platform Randomised trial of INterventions against Covid-19 In older peoPLE) trial is evaluating treatments that can help people aged over 50 recover more quickly from coronavirus and prevent the need for hospital admission.
Inhaled corticosteroid budesonide is commonly prescribed as part of the long-term management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with no serious side-effects associated with short-term use.
Professor Chris Butler at the University of Oxford, who led the Principle trial, said: “We need many more volunteers to join the trial so we can get the answers we really need to keep people with Covid-19 out of hospital.”
Trial participants will be randomly assigned to receive an inhaler in the post and the usual care from their clinician.
They will be asked to inhale two puffs twice a day for 14 days with each puff providing a 400 microgram dose of budesonide.
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Donald Trump admitted it was a “very hard thing to concede” electoral defeat but committed to leaving the White House if the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, the Democrat president-elect as he attended a Thanksgiving event on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” Mr Trump said, refusing to say whether he would attend Mr Biden’s inauguration in January.
In the nearest he has come to a concession, Mr Trump said he would leave the White House if Mr Biden is certified the election winner by the Electoral College – the process by which presidents are elected – on December 14.
However, Mr Trump appeared to suggest he still held hopes of retaining the presidency. Asked about his plans for his last Thanksgiving in the White House, the president told reporters that the occasion might be the “first one of a second term”.
The president added there were “a lot of things happening between now and January 20th [inauguration day]” and the election results have a “long way” to go.
“I know one thing Joe Biden did not get 80 million votes,” he said. “The only way he got 80 million votes is through massive fraud.”
During his annual Thanksgiving call with US troops overseas, Mr Trump also claimed the US will begin delivering Covid-19 vaccines “next week and the week after” as he insisted the country had “rounded the curve” on the pandemic.
“We are rounding the curve [on the virus]. The vaccines are being delivered – literally it will start next week and the week after,” he said during his address.
Mr Trump suggested that medical workers, other frontline staff and elderly people would be the first to receive the vaccinations.
It is unclear which vaccine Mr Trump was referencing, or whether he was referring to a specific federal government policy for a vaccine distribution.
Two US companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have so far announced that their vaccines are effective at protecting people against coronavirus.
Earlier this week US government officials said the administration planned to distribute around 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to Americans as soon as the jab received emergency approval from the federal government, expected to be around mid-December.
Officials say that by the end of the year they expect to have enough doses of vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate around 20 million people.
However, it is likely to be April before the vaccines are distributed to the wider American public.
In his address on Thursday, Mr Trump praised the speed with which a vaccination had been created, saying “two companies already announced [successful vaccines]” adding that several others were “coming up soon”.
“Some people have called it a medical miracle,” the president said adding that the hunt for a vaccination “could have taken four or five years”.
Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law is considering a run for the US Senate in a move that could start a new American political dynasty.
Lara Trump, 38, who became a prominent campaigner for her father-in-law, said it would be “incredible” to stand in her home state of North Carolina.
If successful, she would be the first member of the next generation of the Trump family to be elected to national office.
Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, and his daughter Ivanka, have both also been touted as possible future political candidates.
Mrs Trump, a former television producer and personal trainer, is married to Eric Trump, 36, the president’s second eldest son.
She told Fox News: “It would be an incredible thing. It’s my home state, a state I love so much. And look, I think we need some strong Republicans in Washington DC.
“We had a great run with the Senate and the House this go-round, but you know, let’s see what happens. Let’s get through this one and then we’ll talk about the next one.”
Donald Trump is expected to issue a wave of pardons, including some related to the Russia investigation, in his final weeks in office.
It raised the possibility that the US president may also attempt to pre-emptively pardon himself to avoid any potential future legal entanglements.
On Wednesday night Mr Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian ambassador.
After doing so Mr Trump posted on Twitter comments from a close ally, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz.
Mr Gaetz said: “President Trump should pardon Flynn, the Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone from himself, to his administration.”
The question of whether a president can self-pardon has never been constitutionally tested and, if Mr Trump attempts to do so, it could end up in the Supreme Court.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was national security adviser for two weeks at the start of Mr Trump’s administration. He had yet to be sentenced.
In a statement his family said he was the victim of a partisan prosecution and “hideous wrong”.
They said: “Tyranny will not topple us. Masks will not silence us. Threats will not stop us. Evil will not triumph. May God Bless President Trump.”
Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “Have a great life General Flynn!”
The president is keen to undo, as much as possible, the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between his 2016 campaign and Russia, which he always maintained was a “witch hunt” by Democrats.
Others who could now be pardoned include Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who was jailed for fraud, his former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who served 12 days for lying to the FBI, and former senior aide Rick Gates, who was sentenced to 45 days for conspiracy.
US Supreme Court votes to block New York Governor Cuomo’s capacity caps at Catholic churches and synagogues
The US Supreme Court late on Wednesday backed Christian and Jewish houses of worship challenging New York state’s latest restrictions in novel coronavirus hot spots.
The court on a 5-4 vote granted requests made by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish congregations.
The order marked one of the first consequential actions on the court of President Donald Trump’s new appointee, conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast a deciding vote in favor of the religious groups. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts dissented along with the court’s three liberals.
An October 6 decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down non-essential businesses in targeted areas where infections have spiked, including some Brooklyn neighborhoods. It limited gatherings at religious institutions to 10 people in some areas and 25 in others.
The houses of worship say that the limits violated religious freedoms protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment, and that their facilities were singled out for more stringent restrictions than essential businesses, such as food stores.
The Orthodox congregations Agudath Israel of Kew Garden Hills and Agudath Israel of Madison, as well as nationwide Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America.
A federal judge in Brooklyn rejected separate requests made by the religious groups on October 9. The New York-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals declined emergency requests filed by both sets of challengers on November 9.
In two previous cases this year, the court on 5-4 votes turned away similar requests by churches in Nevada and California.
Those votes occurred before the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and saw her and her three liberal colleagues joined by Mr Roberts in the majority.
Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways ahead of Thanksgiving at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household.
Those who are flying witnessed a distinctly 2020 landscape at the nation’s airports: plexiglass barriers in front of the ID stations, rapid virus testing sites inside terminals, masks in check-in areas and on board planes, and paperwork asking passengers to quarantine on arrival at their destination.
While the number of Americans travelling by air over the past several days was down dramatically from the same time last year, many pressed ahead with their holiday plans amid skyrocketing deaths, hospitalisations and confirmed infections across the US.
Some were tired of more than eight months of social distancing and determined to spend time with loved ones.
The US has recorded more than 12.7 million coronavirus infections and over 262,000 deaths. The country is still missing about eight infections for every one counted, according to a new government report on Wednesday. Many people don’t get tests, especially if they don’t have symptoms.
Donald Trump has issued a controversial pardon to his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The retired Army lieutenant general had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
It was the second time the president has used his power in relation to an associate convicted in the Russia investigation.
He previously commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison.
The development made clear Mr Trump will used the final days of his administration to take aim at the Russia investigation, which he has long maintained was motivated by political bias.
The investigation cast a shadow over his administration from the start and led to criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
Mr Trump’s supporters had championed the Flynn case and claimed he was the victim of an unfair, politically motivated prosecution.
A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite charged with finding girls in the 1990s for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, said Tuesday that her client is awakened every 15 minutes in jail while she sleeps to ensure she’s breathing.
Attorney Bobbi Sternheim told a Manhattan judge that Maxwell faces more restrictive conditions than inmates convicted of terrorism or murder. Maxwell has no history of mental health issues or suicidal ideation and no criminal history, either, she said.
She asked a judge to intervene on her client’s behalf to improve her conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. In her request, Ms Sternheim made no direct reference to Epstein taking his life in August 2019 in his cell at another federal lockup, in Manhattan.
US District Judge Alison J. Nathan instructed defense lawyers and prosecutors to confer over the next week over Ms Sternheim’s request that the Brooklyn facility’s warden directly address the concerns.
A spokesperson for prosecutors declined comment. A message for comment was sent to the Federal Bureau of Prisons spokespeople.
Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured three girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s. She has been held without bail while she prepares for a July trial.
Joe Biden wasted no time putting the boot into Britain.
During his campaign Mr Biden promised a return to diplomatic niceties, and to be a supportive friend to US allies.
Instead, the day after he formally became president-elect, and nearly two months before he enters the Oval Office, he decided to take a swipe at one of America’s closest partners.
Britain can expect this to be an opening salvo from a newly engaged, but somewhat hectoring, ally across the Atlantic.
With global re-engagement will come a tendency to interfere, and to wield a diplomatic stick. There is an argument that public utterances like this from Mr Biden are for domestic consumption in the US. He has a strong Irish-American lobby in Congress to satisfy, as does Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker.
The Good Friday Agreement holds a special place in Democrat hearts due to the work of Bill Clinton.
But it seems more likely to be a signal of a re-emerging US willingness to put its oar into allies’ affairs.
Officials in capitals around the world welcomed the end of Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
But they will now have to deal with a US that, as it re-engages, will want something back, and won’t shy away from using its diplomatic megaphone
A guilt-stricken American tourist who stole a chunk of ancient marble from Rome three years ago has sent it back, asking forgiveness “for being such an American asshole.”
The young woman, identified only as Jess, pilfered the piece of marble while on holiday in Rome in 2017.
She thought it would make a good present for her boyfriend, and scrawled “To Sam, love Jess, Rome” on it with a marker pen.
But on reflection she realised she should not have taken the object, which is believed to have come from the Roman Forum, once the heart of the Roman Empire.
She packed the marble in scrunched-up paper, placed it in a cardboard box and sent it from Atlanta, Georgia, to the Museo Nazionale Romano, a museum located a few paces from the imposing remains of huge public baths built by the Emperor Diocletian.
“I would like to return this rock to its rightful place,” she wrote in an attached letter.