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February 2021

 1 February

COVID-19 in the UK: The government orders an extra 40 million doses of VLA2001, a vaccine from French biotech company Valneva SE, for availability later in the year and into 2022.

COVID-19 in the UK: Door-to-door testing is launched, in an attempt to contain the spread of a new South African variant of the virus, after cases are found in Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Walsall, Sefton and three London boroughs.

Online retailer ASOS acquires the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands for £330m, but does not retain any of the brands' 70 stores, putting 2,500 jobs at risk.

2 February

COVID-19 in the UK: Public Health England (PHE) says that the UK variant of COVID-19 has mutated again and that they are investigating "worrying" new changes. Tests show cases of the new strain have a mutation called E484K that is present in the South African variant.

COVID-19 in the UK: A study by the University of Oxford suggests that a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could lead to a "substantial" fall in the transmission of COVID-19, and protection is 76% effective during the three months after the first dose is given, rising to 82% after a second dose.

COVID-19 in the UK: Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised over £32m for NHS Charities Together, dies at the age of 100 after contracting COVID-19.

3 February – COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people receiving a vaccine dose in the UK exceeds 10 million.

4 February – Three people are killed, including an alleged assailant in a road crash, after an attack at the University Hospital Crosshouse and a related stabbing nearby in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland. Police Scotland say the incidents are thought to be connected but not terror-related.

5 February

COVID-19 in the UK: Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirms the government's "ambition" to offer all adults over the age of 50 a first COVID-19 vaccination by the end of May. 

One man is killed and ten people are injured after five stabbing incidents take place in the space of two hours in the London Borough of Croydon. Metropolitan Police describe the stabbings as "needless and abhorrent" and say extra police officers will be deployed across south London.



7 February

COVID-19 in the UK: A not yet peer reviewed study by the University of Oxford suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine offers minimal protection against mild disease from the South African variant of the virus but does protect against severe disease. Oxford lead vaccine developer, Professor Sarah Gilbert, says a modified version of the vaccine capable of tackling the South African variant should be ready by the autumn, and that "efforts are underway to develop a new generation of vaccines that will allow protection to be redirected to emerging variants as booster jabs".

COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people receiving a vaccine dose in the UK exceeds 12 million.

8–10 February – Snow and ice causes travel disruption across much of the country. A temperature of -17.1°C is recorded in Altnaharra, Scotland, the lowest reading in the UK since December 2010.

9 February

COVID-19 in the UK: The government announces tough new measures for travellers. UK and Irish residents returning from 33 red list countries will be charged £1,750 to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days, with fines of up to £10,000 for those who fail to do so. A prison sentence of up to 10 years is to be introduced for those who lie on their passenger locator forms about visiting a red list country.

Cumbria County Council suspends plans for Woodhouse Colliery, the UK's first deep coal mine since 1987, following strong criticism over its environmental damage and carbon emissions.

10 February – David Wilson is sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for 96 sex offences against 51 boys, which he committed between May 2016 and April 2020.

11 February

COVID-19 in the UK: A study finds that the arthritis drug tocilizumab can reduce deaths from COVID-19, enough to save the lives of one in 25 patients admitted to hospital, and can reduce the need for a mechanical ventilator.

COVID-19 in the UK: 14 million people have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Met Office reports an overnight temperature of -22.9°C in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, the coldest weather in the UK since 1995.

12 February

COVID-19 in the UK: The UK's R rate falls to between 0.7 and 0.9, its lowest level since July 2020.

COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people who have been infected by the virus since the start of the pandemic exceeds four million.

The ONS reports that the UK economy shrank by 9.9% during 2020, its largest annual contraction since the Great Frost of 1709.

The Supreme Court rules that oil-polluted Nigerian communities can sue Shell in English courts.

14 February – COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people receiving a vaccine dose in the UK exceeds 15 million.

15 February – COVID-19 in the UK: Boris Johnson hails the vaccine rollout as an "unprecedented national achievement" and urges the public to remain "optimistic but patient" over the relaxation of restrictions, adding that an approach to exiting lockdown should be "cautious but irreversible".


18 February – COVID-19 in the UK: Figures from Imperial College London's React study suggests that COVID-19 infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began in January, with an 80% fall in London.

19 February

COVID-19 pandemic: Boris Johnson pledges to donate most of the UK's surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirm they will not return as working members of the Royal Family.

The Supreme Court rules that Uber drivers must be treated as workers, rather than self-employed, and should therefore be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.

The High Court rules that Matt Hancock "acted unlawfully by failing to comply with the Transparency Policy" and "breached his legal obligation to publish Contract Award Notices within 30 days" when awarding contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.[82] Hancock explained the delay in publishing the contracts as being on average "just after a fortnight late", and reasoned it was "because my team were working seven days a week, often 18 hours a day, to get hold of the equipment that was saving lives".

20 February – COVID-19 in the UK: As the number of people receiving their first vaccine dose exceeds 17 million, Boris Johnson announces he wants the programme to "go further and faster" by offering every adult in the UK their first jab by 31 July.



22 February – COVID-19 in the UK: Boris Johnson unveils a four-step plan for ending lockdown restrictions in England by 21 June. Subject to four tests on vaccines, hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates and new variants being met, the plan's first step will see the reopening of schools and colleges from 8 March.

24 February – COVID-19 in the UK: Nicola Sturgeon unveils the Scottish Government's "cautious" approach to ending lockdown restrictions in Scotland, which includes a phased return for primary and secondary school pupils from 15 March.

25 February – COVID-19 in the UK: The Joint Biosecurity Centre advises that the COVID-19 Alert Level is downgraded from 5 to 4, indicating that the threat of the NHS being overwhelmed is receding.

26 February – The Supreme Court unanimously rules that Shamima Begum, who left the UK for Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group, should be stripped of her British citizenship and will not be allowed to return and fight her case.

28 February – COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people receiving a vaccine dose in the UK exceeds 20 million.


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