Good morning. Following the publication of new data about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines on older people, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said last night that he hoped people would study the data “around the world”. He seemed to be thinking of Europe, where regulators in some countries have not approved the use of the AstraZeneca jab for older people. And in France at least they have taken Hancock’s advice. As my colleague Jon Henley reports on our global coronavirus live blog, the French government has now eased some restrictions on giving it to people over the age of 65.
This morning Public Health England came out with a further reason to welcome the findings. The data published yesterday only covered the impact of the vaccines on people above the age of 70. In an interview on the Today programme this morning, Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, was asked if the vaccines would be as effective on a younger cohort. She replied:
Yes. If anything, we’d expect it to be to be stronger, a stronger protection from the vaccine.
The only difference obviously is that lower down in the age ranges people’s chances of being hospitalised and dying are much lower, because obviously this is a disease that has caused most of its morbidity in older people. So, we wouldn’t be able maybe to see the effect as markedly as we’ve been able to in this group that were vaccinated first.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its latest weekly death figures for England and Wales, as well as its latest figures on antibody levels in England.
9.30am: Healthcare organisations and thinktanks give evidence to the Commons health committee about the health reform white paper.
10am: Sir Kevan Collins, the education recovery commissioner, gives evidence to the Commons education committee.
10am: James Wolffe QC, Scotland’s lord advocate, gives evidence to the Scottish parliament’s committee investigating the Scottish government’s handling of the Alex Salmond harassment complaints.
12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.
After 1pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, makes a statement to MPs about Covid.
2pm: Gordon Lyons, agriculture minister in the Northern Ireland executive, takes questions from MLAs about his decision to halt the construction of border post checkpoints.
After 2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, makes a statement to MSPs about Covid.
At some point today the Northern Ireland executive is also due to publish its lockdown exit plan.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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