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UK Covid live: minister plays down concerns about English schools returning at same time

Data on coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland finds fall among people who have had first jab compared with those who had notJohnson unveils Covi

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Data on coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland finds fall among people who have had first jab compared with those who had not

As mentioned earlier, Nadhim Zahawi, who was out for No 10 this morning rolling the pitch ahead of the publication of the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England, played down concerns about pupils returning to school all at once. (See 9.04am.) Here are some of the other lines from his broadcast round.

I think because the way this new variant actually took hold, which has become the dominant variant, the Kent variant, in the United Kingdom, infection rates around the country pretty much rose to similar, very high, unsustainable levels.

So the view is very much that this is about a gradual reopening of the whole of England, not regional.

The simple way to look at this is that outdoor is safer and therefore we prioritise versus indoor. Outdoor sports – tennis, golf, outdoor organised team sports, grassroots football – will go back on March 29.

Here are some comments on the new research about the impact of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines on hospital admissions. (See 9.24am.)

From Prof Aziz Sheikh, lead researcher of the Scotland vaccine study and director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute

These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future. We now have national evidence – across an entire country – that vaccination provides protection against Covid-19 hospitalisations.

These results are important as we move from expectation to firm evidence of benefit from vaccines.

Across the Scottish population the results show a substantial effect on reducing the risk of admission to hospital from a single dose of vaccine.

These early national results give a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic.

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