TEN million Brits have now been vaccinated against Covid – as the UK officially passed the peak of the second wave.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday hailed the “hugely significant milestone”, saying: “Every jab makes us all a bit safer. I want to thank everyone playing their part.”
One in five adult Brits have now been vaccinated against CovidCredit: PA:Press Association
One in five adults have now had their first dose of a Covid vaccine.
And it comes as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the UK had passed the peak of the second wave for cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
He quoted Captain Tom Moore’s “Tomorrow will be a good day” catchphrase.
The NHS is now well on course to vaccinate 15million of the highest-risk Brits by mid-February.
The PM also hailed new research that shows the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine appears to reduce transmission of the coronavirus — and offers 76 per cent protection even after three months.
Every jab makes us all a bit safer. I want to thank everyone playing their part.
Just one dose of the Pfizer/ BioNTech jab is also highly protective — giving 90 per cent Covid protection after 21 days.
Ministers are ecstatic that their gamble to delay giving the elderly a second jab for three months — so more people get their first — appears to have paid off.
The NHS doled out 374,756 first doses on Tuesday, taking the national total to 10,021,471.
Chief medical officer Professor Whitty declared that we are “past the peak” of the second wave as deaths and case numbers continue to fall.
“I think that most of my colleagues think we are past the peak,” Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference.
“Now that doesn’t mean you could never have another peak. But, at this point in time, provided people continue to follow the guidelines, we’re on the downward slope of cases, of hospitalisations and of deaths, in all four of the nations of the United Kingdom.
“So I think, we do think, at this point, this peak at least, we are past.”
Matt Hancock hailed the ‘hugely significant milestone’Credit: PA:Press Association
Boris Johnson led the nation in clapping for the NHS and Captain Tom last nightCredit: Rex Features
Captain Tom, 100, died of coronavirus on TuesdayCredit: Reuters
And jabs that protect against the new mutant strains will be ready by autumn.
But the PM warned of lifting lockdown too soon. Speaking at No10, he said: “If we stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives, then in the words of Captain Tom, ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’.”
Mr Johnson also stuck to his February 22 date to set out a “route map” out of lockdown.
And despite mounting pressure from MPs to go faster, he insisted that March 8 is a “prudent” date to begin lifting any measures — starting with schools.
But he said, thanks to vaccines, the country would be in a “very different situation” to last summer — where disease levels had been reduced but there was no defence.
If we stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives, then in the words of Captain Tom, ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’.
Nearly nine in ten over-75s have now had their first jab.
A further 39 mass vaccination hubs and 65 more pharmacies will open this week.
Nearly nine in ten over-75s have now had their first jabCredit: PA:Press Association
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The programme is in full swing and almost one in five adults are already protected from serious illness.”
Professor Lawrence Young, at Warwick University, said: “We should soon see its impact on reducing levels of hospitalisation and mortality. An effect on transmission will also be evident. It is vital we continue at this pace.”
Epidemiology expert Professor Keith Neal, at Nottingham University, added: “We now know that a single dose provides significant protection and very likely will reduce transmission.
“To produce a brand new vaccine in bulk this quickly is a major achievement.”
Around 90 fire crew will help dish out jabs at Basingstoke station — one of the new hubs. Other sites include Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park, the Royal Cornwall Showground and Chelmsford Racecourse, Essex.
It means over-70s can now get their jab at more than 1,500 NHS-run sites in England.
National medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “These new sites will mean even more people live nearby to a large-scale centre or community pharmacy.
“Along with the incredible work of our local GPs, pharmacists and their healthcare teams, this will allow us to rapidly vaccinate the most vulnerable in our society.”
Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said work on updated jabs against three worrying variants detected in the UK has begun.
The PM insisted March 8 is a ‘prudent’ date to begin lifting any measuresCredit: Rex Features
All have the E484K mutation, which scientists fear reduces the protection provided by current jabs.
Prof Pollard explained: “Work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick. It’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein for the updated variants.
“Then there’s manufacturing and a small-scale study. All that can be completed in a short time.”
AstraZeneca’s Sir Mene Pangalos added: “Our ambition is to be ready for the next round of immunisations that may be necessary for next winter. We’re very much aiming to have something ready by the autumn.”
Yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed her parents Sushil and Anjana, in their 70s, had the vaccine last week.
Ms Patel, at Neasden Temple, North West London, told The Sun: “I say to everybody from every ethnic background; when you get the call, text or GP’s letter, come down to your vaccination site and get the jab. It’ll save your life.”
Meanwhile, a £7million government-funded study to test the body’s response to different jabs starts recruiting volunteers today.
If successful, it could allow people to gain better anti-body protection and make vaccine rollouts faster and more flexible.
Oxford University scientists will give 820 people, aged over 50, either a combination of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech jab, or the same for both doses.
Priti Patel revealed her parents had their vaccines last weekCredit: Dan Charity – The Sun
The Home Secretary visited the Neasden Temple vaccination clinicCredit: @Neasden Temple
Some volunteers will get second doses four weeks apart, and others three months on.
The results are expected in June and are likely to influence vaccine delivery globally.
Associate professor Matthew Snape, chief investigator on the trial, said: “‘If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule, this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery — and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new strains.”
The Sun Says
TEN million jabs. A magnificent milestone. A triumph for Britain.
How is the EU responding? With further attempts to undermine our Oxford vaccine with falsehoods about its safety.
But its panicking leaders look more reckless and self-serving by the day. Early evidence indicates the AstraZeneca jab slashes transmission of Covid as well as the numbers hospitalised or dying.
That is vital for a rapid end to our lockdown and the return of more normal life. It will mean the virus finding fewer and fewer people to infect.
If our rollout continues at its current stellar pace, the daily death toll is soon likely to begin falling. Cases and hospitalisations should drop like a stone once those below 70 start getting jabs.
The Oxford vaccine may prove the key to our economy reopening fully before many of those abroad. Behind its bluster and disinformation, Brussels is ashamed it has secured so few doses.
Rightly so. Because the consequences of its folly look increasingly dire.
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