Good morning. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has been touring the broadcast interviews this morning giving interviews on the back of yesterday’s announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be 90% effective in early trials.
Although he stressed that the full safety data for the vaccine was not yet available, he said that he had ordered the NHS to be ready to start distributing the vaccine from December. It would be a “colossal exercise”, he said. The government was providing GPs with £150m to fund the programme.
Hancock also said this would be a seven-days-a-week programme, involving the vaccine being distributed through care homes, GPs and pharmacists as well as “go-to” vaccination centres set up in venues such as sports halls. Vaccination would go on during the day and “into the evenings”, he said.
We will be working across the NHS with the support of the armed forces seven days a week, over weekends, over bank holidays, to get this rolled out into people’s arms as quickly as possible.
But Hancock also expressed a note of caution. Yesterday, in a notable exchange on the BBC’s World at One, Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, told the presenter, Sarah Montague, that the vaccine news meant he was now confident life should be returning to normal by spring.
Hancock was more equivocal. Asked if he agreed with Bell, he replied:
We want to get life back to normal as quickly as possible. I am not going to put a date on it because there are so many steps we need to go through.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
9.30am: The ONS publishes it weekly death figures for England and Wales.
9.30am: Fiona Hill, Theresa May’s former co-chief of staff, is among various former No 10 aides giving evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee on the role of the PM’s office.
10am: Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, gives evidence to the Commons education committee.
10.30am: Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, gives evidence to the Commons health and science committees, who are holding a joint ‘coronavirus – lessons learnt’ inquiry. Other witnesses include Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, at 9.45am.
12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its lobby briefing.
12.30pm: A defence minister responds to a Commons urgent question about the use of the military in the roll-out of mass testing.
Around 1pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, makes a statement to MPs about coronavirus.
2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, makes a statement to the Scottish parliament about coronavirus.
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, like Brexit, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.