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Matt Hancock kept Boris Johnson in the dark about Covid vaccine success

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But the PHE data, which wasn’t made public until Monday night after Mr Johnson announced the delay, was based on an analysis of 14,019 delta variant cases as recent as June 4, looking at hospitalizations in emergency in England.

It has been described by PHE as “extremely important results” which “confirm that vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalization of the delta variant”.

Real-world data showed that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was 94 percent effective against the hospital admission of the variant after one dose, rising to 96 percent after two injections. The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be 71% effective against hospitalization after one dose, increasing to 92% after two injections.

The data showed that both vaccines are more effective at preventing hospitalization against the variant than they were against the previous types.

Meanwhile, a separate analysis from The Telegraph shows that hospital admissions in areas with the highest delta variant outbreaks are increasing at a third of the rate last September, while a third of hospitals in England have no Covid patients.

Mr Hancock also told MPs this week that people who catch the virus now spend 20% less time in hospital beds, with the average length of stay reduced from 10 to eight days.

A government source said: “The reason we need more time is because of the increased transmissibility of the delta variant, not because of the vaccine’s escape.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said any suggestion that Mr Hancock “bounced off” Mr Johnson was “categorically false”. He added: “The information provided by PHE was shared between the government ahead of the meeting. Analysis and work on the scientific paper continued over the weekend before it was released as soon as it was ready on Monday.”

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