Good morning. And it actually does seem to be a good morning, because about two hours ago we learnt that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (the one on which the UK government has bet most heavily – it has pre-ordered 100m doses, far more than its orders for other vaccines) seems to work well. It has an efficacy rate of 70.4%, or up to 90% if a lower dose is used, according to the interim results.
The news comes a few hours before Boris Johnson’s announcement this afternoon of the framework restrictions for England that will come into force when the lockdown ends next week. In some areas the new rules will be tougher than what was in place before the lockdown started in early November. On the Today programme this morning Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was asked if he thought the “light at the end of the tunnel” provided by the vaccine rules meant that it would be safe to start easing restrictions now. No, said Hancock. He went on:
That … argument is actually quite worrying. And the reason it is is that we know this virus can accelerate very fast if there are not measures in place. And we’ve seen that happen a few times now, and in individual places as well. So it’s so important that the measures that are in place continue until the vaccine can make us safe …
I am very glad to see in the data that the number of cases across the UK is clearly starting to fall. That is good news.
Therefore, in England, when the lockdown measures come to an end on 2 December we can be confident that they can be replaced with a tiered system, but the top tier is going to have to be tougher than the previous top tier because before it managed to flatten the curve but not have it fall.
I’ll post more from Hancock’s morning interview round shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9am: Boris Johnson speaks at the online award of the Grotius Prize to the Australian PM Scott Morrison “in recognition of his work in support of the international rules-based order”.
12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is holding a coronavirus briefing.
12.15pm: The Welsh government is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.
1pm: Sir Keir Starmer hold an online ‘Call Keir’ meeting for people in Basildon.
1.30pm: Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee.
2pm: Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, gives a speech ahead of Wednesday’s spending review.
3.30pm: Boris Johnson makes a statement to MPs about the new restrictions for England after the lockdown ends next week.
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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