Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

One vaccine to divide them all

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner
24 March 2021

Good morning,

Yesterday marked one year since the first coronavirus lockdown was announced in the UK. Although few of us could have anticipated the first anniversary of the restrictions taking place in such similar conditions to those of one year ago, the circumstances are certainly different now.
 
For one, the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Britain is well underway. More than 30 million doses have been administered in total, while the UK government continues to insist its pledge to offer all adults a jab by the end of July will be met.
 
This target notwithstanding, last week we learnt that the UK is expected to experience a reduction in the supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in April, partly due to a delay in a delivery from India of five million doses.
 
But India is hardly at the centre of the scientific and political storm surrounding the AstraZeneca jab.
 
In an escalation of the vaccine row between the UK and the European Union, where some member states have raced to lift suspensions on the Oxford vaccine after a coordinated halt on its use last week, the European Commission is threatening to limit vaccine exports to Britain with a revision of its export authorisation scheme.
 
The move, which is due to be announced today and discussed in a virtual summit of EU leaders tomorrow, is expected to widen the criteria for export requests to take into consideration the level of vaccination coverage in a country and its record in facilitating exports to the bloc.
 
These two criteria aren’t good news for the UK, where a European blockade could pose an immediate challenge to the delivery of second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
 
However, Boris Johnson appears determined to calm tensions rather than engage in further threat escalation, not least because of the huge public pressure to continue the successful vaccine rollout at home. The prime minister has been in touch with EU leaders ahead of their summit, and opened the door to negotiating shares of the AstraZeneca supply on the basis of “reciprocity”.
 
To Johnson’s satisfaction, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has expressed a similar sentiment, as she urged the EU on Tuesday “to be very careful now about imposing general export bans”, given the “huge range of international interdependencies” in vaccine supply chains.
 
Meanwhile, in the US, the AstraZeneca vaccine received yet another blow after the country’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, said yesterday that, although the jab was probably “very good”, the efficacy data released by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical had been “somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit”.
 
In response to Fauci’s statement, AstraZeneca said the published results were based on a “pre-specified interim analysis” of data up to 17 February, and that it intended to issue results of the primary analysis within 48 hours.
 
Worryingly, amid the chaos of the rollout suspensions, export ban tensions, and outdated assessments, the threat of increased vaccine hesitancy should be a matter of growing concern; one to which vaccine nationalism will undoubtedly fail to be the answer.

News

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is projected to fall short of a majority in the country’s fourth snap election in two years. According to exit polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party and its allies are set to win 52 to 53 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, whereas parties opposed to the prime minister are projected to win 60. The counting of all the votes is not expected before Wednesday afternoon due to Covid-related restrictions. 
 
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has survived a vote of no confidence tabled by the Scottish Conservatives over her government’s handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. MSPs voted by 65 to 31 to reject the motion at the Scottish parliament, with the Greens backing the SNP and Labour and Lib Dems abstaining. Sturgeon insisted that she “acted appropriately and made the right judgements overall”. 
 
England’s chief medical officer has warned there will “definitely” be another surge in infections, variants are likely to cause problems, and there will be vaccine supply problems as the country attempts to recover from the pandemic. Professor Chris Whitty also emphasised that the “lifelong” problems caused by Covid-19 such as increased deprivation and non-coronavirus health issues will be a “very big job of work” to tackle.

Business and economy

The United Arab Emirates plans to invest billions of pounds in British health, tech, green energy, and infrastructure as part of a post-Brexit deal struck between Abu Dhabi and London. The partnership agreement includes a £800m investment from one of the UAE’s most active state funds, Mubadala, in the life sciences sector over five years. It is thought investments in the other three sectors will be of a similar scale.
  
UK unemployment data has improved for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country a year ago. The jobless rate has fallen back slightly to five per cent in the three months to January, representing 1.7 million people, down from 5.1% in the three months to December, according to the Office for National Statistics. The new figures come as the government’s furlough scheme continues to support the jobs market, with millions of people still on the emergency wage scheme.
 
The EU’s trade commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, has warned that the recently negotiated comprehensive agreement on investment between the bloc and China is in peril after Beijing’s decision to escalate a sanctions row with Brussels. The bulk of the market-access deal is aimed at opening up investment opportunities for EU businesses operating on the Chinese market, as well as preventing EU firms from operating in China at a disadvantage compared with US rivals. (£)

Columns of note

David Gardner writes in the Financial Times that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent policy missteps, such as firing the central bank governor and withdrawing from a treaty to prevent violence against women, risk destroying the country’s already damaged reputation as a democracy. He concludes that Erdogan’s ever more autocratic moves not only are a demonstration of power, but also a sign of vulnerability. (£)
 
In the Guardian, Dani Garavelli argues that the strategy of opposition parties in Scotland to make the next Holyrood election in May a referendum on the first minister’s leadership has failed, after the Hamilton report cleared Nicola Sturgeon of all alleged breaches over her dealings with Alex Salmond. Although the report from a separate parliamentary inquiry emphasises serious mistakes in the Scottish government’s handling of the harassment allegations, Garavelli opines that “the prospect of the country’s first female leader resigning over events that flowed from allegations against her male predecessor would have been galling when set in the context of the #MeToo movement.”

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks finished weaker on Tuesday as news of the foreign travel ban being extended until July led to a slump in travel and leisure shares. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.4% at 6,699.19, while sterling was weaker both against the dollar by 0.66% at $1.3773 and versus the euro by 0.06% at €1.1611.
 
Across the pond, Wall Street’s S&P 500 index lost 0.8% while the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1% as the country’s top economic policymakers sat before Congress to detail their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
In company news:
 
Cineworld lost 5.71% after the cinema group said its US Regal theatres chain would reopen in April for the first time in six months, with a UK restart slated for May, and announced a screening deal with Warner Bros.
 
AstraZeneca fell 1.76% after the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases questioned the pharmaceutical company’s efficacy data on its Covid-19 vaccine.
 
Crest Nicholson rallied 6.4% after the housebuilder lifted its full-year profit expectations as it hailed a “resilient” UK housing market.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Anglo Pacific
Burford Capital
Circassia
Cppgroup
Ecsc Group
Kenmare Resources
Keywords Studio
Mhp Reg S
Pendragon
Sopheon
Strix Group
Tclarke
Telit

Interims
Applied Graph.
Bellway
Softcat

AGMs
Arden Partners
Throgmorton Trust
Hyundai Mtr.gdr
Lg Elec Gds S
Mitchells & Butlers
N4 Pharma Plc
Oxford Biodyn
Pantheon Res
Rights &Iss.
Shanta Gold

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index
(07:00) Retail Price Index
(07:00) Producer Price Index

Int. economic announcements
(11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The first native English speaker to teach English in Japan was named Ranald McDonald. (source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Women and Equalities (including Topical Questions)
 
Prime Minister’s Question Time
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale)
 
Backbench Business
Online Anonymity and Anonymous Abuse
 
Support for the Hospitality Industry throughout the Covid-19 pandemic
 
Adjournment
Waste incinerators

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Reducing food waste
 
Statements by Professor David Miller about Jewish students and government discussions with the University of Bristol and the police regarding the safety of such students
 
Assistance to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in preparation for the end of her sentence in March
 
Legislation
Domestic Abuse Bill – third reading
 
Financial Services Bill – report stage

Scottish Parliament 

First Minister’s Questions
 
Portfolio Questions
Education and Skills
Health and Sport
Communities and Local Government
 
Stage 3 Proceedings
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
 
Motion of Thanks

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