We are making a “course correction”. That’s the message from professor Jonathan Van-Tam, after the UK regulator decided that blood clots should be listed as a “very rare side effect” to the AstraZeneca jab yesterday afternoon. “The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and saving thousands of lives,” Keir Starmer tweeted shortly after a press conference on the vaccine. “Trust in our doctors and scientists. When it is your turn to get the jab, do so. My first dose was AstraZeneca and I look forward to getting my second dose when it is offered.”
Ministers have been out trying to bolster confidence in the jab. Matt Hancock said this morning that all three vaccines in use in the UK are “safe at all ages”, adding that there is a “preference for the under 30s, if they want to have the Pfizer or Moderna jabs instead, then they can”. The Health Secretary also said that “the speed of the vaccine programme is not affected” by the AstraZeneca decision. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has insisted that the vaccines are safe and said they have “saved many thousands of lives”.
Officials from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority explained at a press conference on Wednesday that the side effect had been identified after rolling out the jab on such a mass scale, but that “more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt” that the vaccine had caused the blood clots. The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has advised that those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine should still be offered their second dose, and that those aged 18 to 29 without underlying health conditions should be offered an alternative jab when one becomes available.
Results for Momentum’s ‘policy primary’ are in. The left-wing group balloted its members last month to decide which motions it will back at the Labour Party conference this year. The organisation is set to push for a £15 minimum wage, a change in the Westminster voting system to proportional representation and a four-day working week among other policies. Labour is due to hold its conference in Brighton this year, from September 25th to 29th, and it will be the first since Starmer became leader as the last one was cancelled amid the pandemic. It remains to be seen how the new leadership will approach the policy-making functions of the annual gathering – a question we will get to explore after the elections in May.
Luke Akehurst has written a helpful primer on the upcoming contests for LabourList this morning, explaining why Labour will be fighting a “primarily defensive battle on difficult electoral terrain” when it comes to the council elections. He sets out the different ways of assessing the results – national vote share, raw number of councillors, councillors gained and lost and control of councils – and reminds readers of just how many elections there are and where they are taking place. We have the benchmarks. Now let’s see how the Labour leader does in the first electoral test of his leadership on May 6th.
Welsh Labour is today launching its manifesto for the Senedd election in May with six pledges focused on the Covid recovery and the environment, creating jobs, supporting young people, boosting police and community support officer numbers and giving care workers the real living wage. A YouGov poll released at the start of March projected the worst ever result for Labour with the party on course to lose seven seats. But despite the research, insiders are optimistic. MS Mick Antoniw described the survey to LabourList as a “rogue” poll and predicted “not a great deal of change in terms of the number of Labour seats”.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.