BORIS Johnson will hold a press conference today, as the UK ramps up its mass Covid vaccination programme.
The presser comes as it’s been revealed that one of two Brazilian coronavirus variants has already been detected in the UK – ahead of ministers banning the arrival of visitors from South America and Portugal.
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Boris Johnson makes his point at a recent Coronavirus press conference, LondonCredit: AP:Associated Press
What time is Boris Johnson’s speech today?
He will be addressing the nation and answering questions from the press alongside England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance.
What is the Prime Minister expected to say?
The PM is likely to speak about the continued roll-out of the mass Covid vaccination effort.
He hailed it as “superb news that we’ve administered over three million vaccine doses across the UK.”
Mr Johnson will no doubt also answer questions about the mutant coronavirus strain first found in Brazil.
Professor Wendy Barclay, who is advising the Government’s Covid-19 response, said the variant may have been “introduced some time ago“.
Brazil has seen Covid deaths double as its hospitals run out of oxygen while a new strain of the deadly virus has been detected in the Amazon.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was “not aware” of any cases of the strain that led him to impose travel restrictions in the UK, which also covers Portugal due to its strong links with Brazil.
The restrictions slapped on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force at 4am on Friday, January 15.
It’s in response to concerns of a mutant Brazilian variant which – like the new South African strain mutations – has resulted in large outbreaks of the disease.
Porton Down will research the Brazilian Covid variant.
Prof Barclay, head of the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, said: “There are two different types of Brazilian variants and one of them has been detected and one of them has not.
“In the databases, if you search the sequences, you will see that there is some evidence for variants from around the world, and I believe including the Brazilian one, which probably was introduced some time ago.
“That will be being traced very carefully.”
Downing Street said that Public Health England (PHE) leads on identifying new coronavirus variants in the nation.
The PM’s spokesman said: “You can expect an update from [PHE] on this later today.
Downing Street said the government had acted “as quickly as possible” to impose the ban on travellers from South America, as the Brazilian strain possibly poses a “significant risk to the UK”.
The PM’s presser comes amid protests about difficulties faced by the overwhelmed NHS during the pandemicCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The PM’s spokesman added: “Given that we know this could pose a significant risk to the UK, we acted as quickly as possible, which is why you’ve seen this travel ban from those countries enacted quickly.”
Downing Street has said evidence currently suggests the new Brazilian variant does not affect vaccines.
Scientists at the Government’s Porton Down research facility are investigating the new strain.
“As with some of the other variants we’ve seen, the Kent variant and the South Africa variant, evidence does suggest that it may be more transmissible,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman added.
“More research is required to confirm this and Porton Down will conduct that research.
“But current evidence does not suggest that the strain causes any higher mortality rate or that it affects the vaccines or treatments.”
Boris Johnson will give the latest info on the Covid jab situationCredit: AFP or licensors
How can I watch Boris Johnson’s announcement?
The speech will be broadcast on BBC Parliament, Sky News and other channels.
The session will also be broadcast online via The Sun’s YouTube channel.
Or, you can follow the action via The Sun’s coronavirus live blog.