House of Commons
The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 13 April
An expensive juggling act
Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate
Edited by Tom Gillingham, partner
1 April 2021
Pfizer confirmed yesterday that its trials of Covid vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 show 100% efficacy. The company also confirmed the human trials are ongoing in children under 12, and the aim is to widen the tests to include babies over six months old.
Children are hardly super-spreaders of the virus and experience lower death and hospitalisation rates than any other age group. Science reporter for the New York Times, Aporva Mandavilli, found out that elementary-school aged children transmit the virus “about half as efficiently as adults do, or maybe even less”. Although it is still unknown why this is the case with children, they have widely been excluded from the vaccination rhetoric, until now.
I suspect the prospect of a vaccination for children, amidst the rigmarole of home testing that has accompanied the sometimes sporadic reopening of schools, will allow parents to collectively breathe a sigh of relief. According to the Financial Times, parents bore the brunt of the cost of school closures during the pandemic, often having to choose between “their own livelihood and their children’s wellbeing”. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recorded that during the first national lockdown, adults with children were twice as likely to be furloughed than those without.
With pressures to home-school while simultaneously work from home, parents, especially mothers, were forced to cut their workable hours. A survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress revealed that 7% of respondents were taking unpaid leave from work and receiving no income. Mothers, especially low-income ones, has been more likely to stop working for pay than fathers since February 2020, according to data collected by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Working mothers are at risk of dropping out of the workforce and not being able to return.
The reopening of schools and getting the jab, have both been described as a “moral duty” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a number of occasions. The subject is still contentious as the economic costs for parents and to the education industry as a whole, as well as the costs to children wellbeing, underwrite the urgency of schools reopening. The cost estimated thus far exceeds £4 billion, with the average family paying an extra £36 a week in childcare, forfeiting £250 million pounds a week in potential earnings.
But with news of the successful vaccination of children, there is hope that this expensive juggling act will exit stage left.
The landmark race review report commissioned to the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has been met with anger and branded “culturally deaf”. From claims that it aimed to rewrite the history of slavery, to contested reviews of the term “white privilege”, the 258-page report was rebuked within hours of publication as a whitewash of history. (£)
Fewer than 25% of people with Covid symptoms are requesting tests, while less than 50% self-isolated, according to the Corsair study, conducted jointly by researchers from King’s College London, Public Health England and University College London. It found that compliance to safety guidelines is far from universal.
Ahead of today’s highly-anticipated framework for reopening Britain’s overseas travel sector, details have been released that the Prime Minister will back a “traffic light” approach. This approach takes into consideration infection rates and the viral variants in overseas destinations, with May 17 the earliest likely date for foreign travel. Ministers are also considering a Covid-19 certification plan to allow individuals to enter business premises and for foreign travel. (£)
Business and economy
Deliveroo has become the “worst IPO in London’s history”, according to one of its traders, closing on Wednesday 26% down and wiping out almost £2 billion from its initial market capitalisation. The dual-class share structure was ill received by investors, prompting at least three hedge funds to short the stock at opening. This failure will do little to reassure ongoing fears of the London Stock Exchange’s ability to compete with Amsterdam. (£)
PwC’s 22,000 UK-based employees will be reportedly allowed to choose start and finish times and work from home two to three days a week after the pandemic. The move is in line with many companies considering how work will be divided between the office and the home. Kevin Ellis, UK chairman of PwC, commented on the move, underscoring that, “the future of work is changing at such a pace we have to evolve continually how we do things to meet the needs of our people and clients”. (£)
Volkswagen, who recently announced plans to rebrand as “Voltswagen” in America to promote a new electric car, has backtracked, saying it was a marketing stunt ahead of April’s Fools’ day on 1 April. This has landed the carmaker into hot waters, as Wall Street analysts were preparing for the effects of a name change. This could lead to scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission or even litigation by misled investors.
Columns of note
News of Deliveroo’s shares crashing by 30% within the first 20 minutes of listing surprised some who had expected the delivery service giant to overperform on the London Stock Exchange. Jonathan Nunn, in The Guardian, takes a more scrupulous look at Deliveroo, underlining that the share underperformance should have been expected. Not only is the company one step away from tighter regulation, it is also being exposed as a careless employer in pursuit of customer convenience.
Matthew Pennycook’s piece in The Times poses that in order to produce meaningful change for the environment at COP26, global leaders at the event must focus on the short-term, near-future targets that will help achieve net-zero emissions decades from now. It is just not enough to keep talking about it, it seems. Now is the time to remind leaders that the clock is ticking, and every second counts.
What happened yesterday?
Details of President Biden’s $2tn stimulus plan released earlier on Wednesday sent positive shock waves across Wall Street. The plan aims to increase funding in scientific research and broadband and technology stocks powered the S&P 500 Index closure up 0.4%. Investor confidence in the tech sector prompted the Nasdaq Composite to close 1.5% higher, in stark contrast to a quarter hit by rising bond yields.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index closed in negative territory, down 0.2% but remained steady on the positive pre-pandemic high. The UK’s FTSE 100 similarly closed 0.9% down, while the sterling gained 0.3% to purchase the dollar at $1.38.
In company news:
DNA sequencing group Oxford Nanopore has picked London for an initial public offering later this year, making it likely to be one of the largest floats in the UK this year, with analysts valuing it at between £4bn to £7bn.
Uber Boat has been chosen by Transport for London to run a Thames ferry service alongside the closed Hammersmith Bridge. Come summer, the boat service is expected to take up to 800 cyclists and pedestrians across the river between 6am and 10pm daily.
Red Cat, the pubs business run by ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, is set to buy 42 pubs from Stonegate. The deal follows demands from the Competition and Markets Authority that Stonegate offload some venues after its £1.3bn purchase of rival Ei last year.
What’s happening today?
Final dividend payment date
Barclarys Throgmorton Trust
Rsa Ins. 7Tepf
Interim ex-dividend date
Henderson High Income Trust
RIT Capital Partners
Schroder Income Growth
Interim dividend payment date
Tritax Big Box
Quarterly ex-dividend payment date
BMO UK High Income Trust
Quarterly payment date
Special ex-dividend date
BMO UK High Income Trust B
Invesco Inc Gth
UK economic announcements
(09:30) PMI Manufacturing
Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(08:55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) Construction Spending (US)
(21:30) Auto Sales (US)
House of Commons
The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 13 April
House of Lords
The House of Lords is in recess and will next sit on 12 April
The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May
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