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Good morning. At the weekend it emerged that some new research suggests that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the main one being used in the UK, provides only “minimal” protection against mild or moderate illness from the South African variant of coronavirus (known as B1351 or 501Y.v2). The findings come from a small survey which has not been subject to peer review, this does not mean the vaccine won’t stop people getting seriously ill or dying from the South African variant (evidence suggests it still will), and the South African variant has only been identified in a relatively small number of cases in the UK anyway.
Still, it’s a reminder that the vaccine alone does not provide a miracle solution.
Here is the press release from Oxford University about the research. And here is the Guardian’s story about it.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, has said people should still have confidence in the vaccine deployment programme. He says:
Our brilliant scientists and medical advisers are now working on the potential for new versions of existing vaccines to offer further protections against Covid variants. Last week we announced an agreement with the manufacture CureVac to allow new varieties of vaccines based on messenger RNA technology to be developed quickly and to procure 50 million doses of a new version of a vaccine, if it is required.
But we should bear in mind that recent studies show the vaccines being deployed right now across the UK appear to work well against the Covid-19 variants currently dominant in the UK. In terms of other variants, not in the UK, we need to be aware that even where a vaccine has reduced efficacy in preventing infection there may still be good efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. This is vitally important for protecting the healthcare system.
While it is right and necessary to prepare for the deployment of an updated vaccine, we can take confidence from the current roll out and the protection it will provide all of us against this terrible disease.
There will be more on this debate as the day goes on.
Here is the agenda for the day.
11am: Rachel Reeves, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, gives a speech on cronyism in government procurement. In a Guardian article setting out her argument, she says “cutting the cronyism and waste that comes with outsourcing, we can rebuild the foundations of our public services and strengthen the resilience of our communities and our country”.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.
12.15pm: Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, holds a coronavirus briefing.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.
2.30pm: Priti Patel, the home secretary, takes questions in the Commons.
2.45pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, gives evidence to the Commons European scrutiny committee about Brexit.
5pm: Downing Street may hold a press conference.
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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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK Covid live: minister urges confidence in Oxford vaccine despite South African variant concern | World news