On Sunday, a record 22,961 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, a huge jump of more than 10,000 compared to the 12,872 infections on Saturday. But the Government said “an issue” had been identified overnight last Friday “in the automated process that transfers positive cases data to PHE”. This meant the number of coronavirus cases published between Saturday and Sunday included 15,841 additional infections from between September 25 and October 2.
The surge in coronavirus cases has ramped up pressure on health authorities in the UK to quickly make a vaccine available to the population that could curb the spread of the killer disease.
But the head of the Government’s vaccine task force has warned less than half the UK population can expect to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
Kate Bingham, Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said vaccinating everyone was “not going to happen”, adding: “We just need to vaccinate everyone at risk.”
She added the Government will try to vaccinate less than half of the 67 million population in the UK, provided a successful coronavirus vaccine can be found.
Ms Bingham told the Financial Times: “People keep talking about ‘time to vaccinate the whole population’, but that is misguided.
“There’s going to be no vaccination of people under 18. It’s an adult-only vaccine, for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable.”
But ITV’s Mr Peston has criticised those comments, warning “young people are the principle spreaders of the virus, which would still be in the community”.
He wrote on Twitter: “Re Kate Bingham’s interview with @FT, where she says that vaccinating the whole population is “not going to happen” and would be “misguided”, she is deferring the holy grail of herd immunity for months beyond next spring, and saying we will be living with the virus for years.
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Mr Peston pushed the case for the whole population to be vaccinated and cited comments from specialists who have told him a vaccine could be more effective in youngsters than older people.
He continued: “Obviously these decisions feel a bit premature, pending approval of a vaccine or vaccines, and we understand what kind of protection it provides.
“But in other countries, there is an active debate about the benefits of whole country vaccination.
“And vaccine specialists tell me that – paradoxically – the vaccine is more likely to be effective on young spreaders than on the old.
“So it is slightly odd perhaps that Kate Bingham wishes to close down that debate here.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday the next few months of the coronavirus pandemic could be “bumpy” but said the situation could look a lot different in the spring.
The country came out of a national lockdown over the summer but several areas, including major cities such as Manchester and Glasgow, are now currently subject to local restrictions.
Mr Johnson said he understood many people are frustrated over perceived inconsistencies and confusion surrounding the local measures, but insisted he is trying to strike a balance between public health and the wider needs of society and the economy.
He said: “In these areas, and I appreciate the fatigue that people are experiencing, but we have to work together, follow the guidance and get the virus down whilst keeping the economy moving, that’s the balance we’re trying to find.
“I know people are furious at me and they’re furious at the government, but I’ve got to tell you, in all candour, it’s going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond, but this is the only way to do it.”