Vaccine: Expert shares ‘concerns’ about youth uptake
Hopes were raised yesterday that we have finally got Covid on the retreat with experts predicting that the rule of six for meeting people outside could return by May. More than 14 million people have now received a first dose in the UK, putting the Government on track to meet its target of offering the vaccine to 15m of the most vulnerable by Monday. NHS leaders issued a final appeal for people remaining to be jabbed in their 70s to come forward yesterday and almost 30 ministers will take part in a drive to boost uptake this weekend.
Invitations will start going out to over 65s from Monday as the programme moves down another step on the priority list.
The Government has also confirmed it will unveil a roadmap to get the country out of lockdown on February 22.
It has pledged to offer all over 50s a jab by May, and all adults by September.
The weekend vaccine drive comes after a batch of positive developments yesterday in Britain’s efforts to tame the pandemic.
* The R reproduction virus value, has now fallen below 1 for the first time since July and is now estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9 across UK.
The Government is on track to meet its target of offering the jab to 15 million vulnerable by Monday
* Key Government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson said “best estimates” suggest that by May restrictions akin to those in Tier 2 could be in place. That level of restrictions previously saw all schools and shops allowed to open and groups of up to six allowed to meet outdoors.
* The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England was 19,009 yesterday the lowest number since December 26 and down 45% from a peak of 34,336 on January 18.
NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Thanks to the tireless efforts of staff, the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in health service history, is off to a strong start with over 12 million people in England already taking up the offer of a vaccine at one of over 1,500 centres across the country.
“People in the priority groups have not missed their chance to get jabbed and if you are aged 70 and over and haven’t yet taken up the offer, please do come forward and make an appointment.
“The vaccine is safe, simple, and will offer you and those around you crucial protection against this virus.”
More than 14 million people have now received a first dose of the vaccine in the UK
Almost 30 Government ministers are taking part in visits and virtual meetings this weekend as part of a nationwide drive to boost vaccine uptake.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who visited a vaccination centre at the Stoke Mandeville stadium yesterday, said: “I am determined that we protect as many of our country’s most vulnerable people from this awful disease as soon as possible.
“It is so important that everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination comes forward this weekend and contacts the NHS to book in their jab.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and it is testament to the strength of our Union and the combined power of our United Kingdom that we’ve seen such incredible progress in the roll out of our vaccination programme.
“I want to thank all the NHS workers, volunteers, local partners and armed forces who have done such a tremendous job so far in protecting our families and our communities.”
Matt Hancock is urging everyone aged 70 or over to come forward and book their vaccination
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will speak to staff at Elland Road Vaccination Centre, home of Leeds United, and Home Secretary Priti Patel is volunteering at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple in Bedford.
Environment Secretary George Eustice will take a virtual tour of Stithians’ showground in Truro to thank local NHS workers, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will hear from military personnel helping at the Whitemoor Lakes site in Staffordshire.
Vaccinations are now being delivered at more than 1,500 locations in England, including over 250 hospitals and 1,000 GP-led sites.
Museums, mosques, cinemas and supermarkets have been transformed into large centres and almost 200 high street pharmacies have joined the national effort.
NHS England said 97 percent of the population now lives within ten miles of a service. Around 30,000 NHS staff are delivering jabs every day, alongside hundreds of volunteers.
The top four groups most at risk from the virus are people aged 70 and over, care home residents and staff, health and care staff and clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
The Government has confirmed it will unveil a roadmap to get the UK out of lockdown on February 22
They can arrange a jab through the national booking system at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens visited University Hospitals Coventry yesterday, where the first Covid-19 jab was given to gran Maggie Keenan on December 8.
He thanked those delivering “Europe’s fastest and largest Covid vaccination programme”, which has already seen more than nine in ten over 70s get a first dose.
Sir Simon said: “The whole of the NHS has mobilised to protect the most vulnerable, supported by communities coming together with volunteers, local authorities, the armed forces and local businesses.
“After a year of huge pandemic pressure, it has been a huge and unique team effort that gives us real hope for the future.”
The number of severely ill coronavirus patients in hospital had fallen by around a third over the last fortnight, Sir Simon said.
Around 21 vaccine doses have been administered for every 100 people in the UK
But he added: “It’s still a very high number. There are more sick coronavirus patients in hospital now than there were last April at the first peak of Covid.
“That’s why we’ve got to continue to do everything we can to get the infection rate down as well as continue this fantastic rollout of the vaccination programme.”
Around 21 vaccine doses have been administered for every 100 people in the UK, according to statistics compiled by the Oxford University-based research platform Our World in Data.
This compares to just five doses per 100 people in Spain, and around four in Germany and France. The figures may not equal the number of people vaccinated as some have received more than one dose.
Meanwhile, Government scientists hailed the fall in the R value.
Vaccinations are now being delivered at more than 1,500 locations in England
The reproduction number, R, represents how many people each infected person passes the virus to. If it is below one, the epidemic is in retreat.
It is now between 0.7-0.9 and experts believe the number of new infections is shrinking by between two and five percent daily.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said despite some variation, all regions of England also had estimates below 1.
Mr Hancock tweeted: “Thanks to the National effort, the R number has fallen below 1.
“We still have lots of work to do to defeat this virus, but we’re making great progress. We will get through this, together.”
Nadhim Zahawi reminded Britons ‘each shot in the arm brings us closer to beating the virus’
A further 15,144 coronavirus cases and 758 deaths were confirmed across the UK yesterday.
Figures from the latest Office for National Statistics infection survey also showed a significant drop in infections.
It estimated that 695,000 people in the community in England had the virus during the week to February 6, down from 847,000 the previous week. Around one in 80 people tested was infected, down from one in 65.
* The Government will today publish a plan to boost vaccine uptake and engage with communities where people are more hesitant.
It sets out how ministers and NHS leaders will work with directors of public health, charities and the faith sector to ensure equal access.
And it offers examples of successful measures such as a mobile vaccination service launched in Crawley to reach those who are housebound and a care worker who shared a video of herself being jabbed to encourage staff.
Uptake among the over 75s has so far reached 93 percent, higher than the expected rate of 75 percent.
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We have seen an incredible response so far from the public to the vaccination programme and are on track to offer everyone in the top priority groups a jab by 15 February.
“We recognise that some groups feel more hesitant about getting a jab, or have more barriers, both physical and mental, preventing them from accessing one when it’s offered.
“Each shot in the arm brings us closer to beating this terrible virus. That’s why we are setting out our plan to make sure everyone is protected equally, by working hand in hand with those who know their communities best to make sure as many people as possible take up the offer of a lifesaving vaccination.”