Good morning. Boris Johnson faces a difficult PMQs later – as Aubrey Allegretti and Jessica Elgot report in their overnight story, pressure is growing for him to offer a proper account of the funding of his Downing Street flat – but there is also a fair amount of coronavirus news around today. The science committee is taking evidence this morning, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is giving a press conference this afternoon, and overnight Public Health England has published new research on the impact of vaccines on household transmission.
Here is an extract from the PHE news release.
This new research shows that those who do become infected 3 weeks after receiving one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine were between 38 and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to their household contacts than those who were unvaccinated.
Protection was seen from around 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels of protection regardless of age of cases or contacts.
This protection is on top of the reduced risk of a vaccinated person developing symptomatic infection in the first place, which is around 60 to 65% – 4 weeks after one dose of either vaccine.
A reduction of up to 50% might not sound impressive because vaccines are estimated to have a much higher impact on your chances of dying from Covid, or getting seriously ill from the virus.
But it is important to remember that, although the scientists were confident that the vaccines would have a big impact on the likelihood of people getting ill from coronavirus, they were much less sure about whether would also stop the virus being passed on. This is what Prof Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial College London, told the Today programme:
It’s very, very reassuring, and it is certainly better than many of us expected just a few months ago. Many of us thought that vaccines were going to be very good at preventing the more serious complications of infection, because they induce antibody, but we weren’t at all sure that it was going to actually stop the virus from transmitting by getting into the moist surfaces in your nose and your throat. And it does seem that these vaccines are remarkably effective, even after a first dose.
And Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said:
This is terrific news – we already know vaccines save lives and this study is the most comprehensive real-world data showing they also cut transmission of this deadly virus.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, gives evidence to the Commons science committee. At 10.15am Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, give evidence.
11am: Gavin Williamson the education secretary, gives a speech to the Confederation of School Trusts’ annual conference. At 12pm his Labour shadow, Kate Green, will give a speech.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs. It is the last PMQs of this session of parliament because tomorrow parliament will prorogue ahead of the Queen’s speech on 11 May.
2.30pm: Lord Macpherson, the former Treasury permanent secretary, and Lord Myners, a former Treasury minister, give evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about Greensill Capital.
3pm: Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, speaks at an event to mark the launch of the UCL Health of the Public research school.
4.30pm: João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the UK, speaks at an Institute for Government event.
5pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, holds a Downing Street press conference.
Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and often Politics Live has been largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus. But I will also be covering non-Covid politics, including latest developments in the Tory “sleaze” controversy which is likely to be the dominant story for some of the day. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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