COVID vaccinations are already reducing hospital admissions, deaths and infection rates, according to early jab data.
Boris Johnson said there were ‘grounds for confidence’ that the vaccine was beginning to reduce the spread of infection, according to official studies.
Early data has suggested the Covid jab is starting to tackle high infection and death rates
Boris Johnson hailed the UK’s major progress in rolling out vaccinesCredit: Universal News & Sport (Scotland)
It comes after the PM announced today that he wanted Britain’s current lockdown to be the last as he prepares his roadmap to ease Covid measures on Monday.
Appearing at a Downing St press conference the PM said he’s “increasingly confident” the mass jabs programme will offer a permanent way of easing curbs on daily life.
According to The Times, ministers have already been given early data that revealed vaccinations are cutting illness by around two-thirds.
Preliminary figures comparing elderly people who have received the jab with those who have not are starting to show that it is cutting hospital admissions and deaths.
A separate study that tested thousands of healthcare workers for signs of asymptomatic infection is also beginning to show lower rates in those who have been vaccinated, a key sign that the jabs are reducing transmission.
The number of Covid patients in hospital has now plummeted since the New Year — but is still higher than last year’s April peak.
Although the data looks promising, the PM warned that Government was waiting for ‘hard facts’ and that no ‘cast-iron guarantee’ could be made that that strict Covid measures wouldn’t be enforced again if needed.
He asked the public to be ‘optimistic but patient’ as Government sources cautioned that the data is very preliminary and based largely on early Pfizer jabs.
The UK has seen a recent decline in Covid cases with today’s figure of 9,765 being the lowest in four months, while the death toll dropped to 230 in the last 24 hours.
It comes after Mr Johnson hailed Britain’s “unprecedented national achievement” as the target for jabbing the 15 million most vulnerable people was smashed with a day to spare.
But the Prime Minister has no plans to slow down any time soon with Covid jabs due to double to a million per day in order to vaccinate all over-50’s by the end of April.
Reports also revealed that there are plans to scrap the ‘stay at home’ message in the coming weeks to get Brits back outdoors again.
Brits are expected to be encouraged to take part in more small outdoor gatherings and sports
A woman wears a mask while walking through Bexleyheath, South East London today
The PM said: “We’re battling with nature, with a disease which is capable of mutating and changing.
“I’m increasingly confident, increasingly optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations.
“I’ll be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd and I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to go ahead and open things up.
“People should be very, very much encouraged by what’s going on at the moment, but we want to set out a timetable that is realistic and that means one that is obviously cautious and takes account of the real state of the pandemic.”
But the PM said the number of people in hospital means “we have to keep our foot to the floor” on vaccinations.
He said: “It’s no moment to relax, and in fact it’s the moment to accelerate because the threat from this virus remains very real.
“If we can keep their pace up and we can keep supply steady we hope to offer a vaccination to everyone in the first nine priority groups by the end of April.
“This moment is a huge step forward but it’s only a first step, and while it shows what the country can do we must be both optimistic but also patient.”
The PM said he will set out “as much as we possibly can about the route to normality” when he unveils his roadmap out of lockdown next week.
But he warned: “Some things are very uncertain, because we want this lockdown to be the last and we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.”
Pressed on his plans, Boris said he “cant give that guarantee” that this lockdown will definitely be the last.
But he also revealed ministers see easy mass testing, rather than vaccine passports, as the way to reopen large venues like nightclubs and theatres.
He said: “We’ll look at everything, but what we’re thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination plus rapid testing for the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs or theatres, those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year.
“I think that will be the route that we go down and that businesses will go down.”