THE UK is vaccinating at double the rate of any other country in Europe, Matt Hancock revealed tonight – as he warned the nation: “Don’t blow it now”.
It comes after the Health Secretary announced more than 50 per cent of over 80s have been given a jab – and half of those in care homes as jabs hit 4million today.
More than 4million vaccinations have been done so far – half of those over 80
Mr Hancock appeared alongside Susan Hopkins, the chief medical advisor for NHS Test and Trace, and Steve Powis, medical director of NHS England at tonight’s coronavirus press conference.
In a rallying cry to the nation he warned: “Don’t blow it now, we are on the way out.”
He said the UK was “vaccinating more than double the rate per person, per day than any other country in Europe”.
10 more mass vaccination centres opened to the nation this morning too.
Mr Powis added: “It is absolutely critical that we continue to stick to social distancing rules – don’t rely yet on vaccines coming to our rescue.”
Someone is now being admitted to hospital every 30 seconds, with more than 37,000 people now in care of doctors and nurses across the country.
It came as:
He revealed that four million jabs have been dished out so far – with half of over 80s and care home residents having had their first jab.
And some areas – including Slough – have done all of their care home residents.
He tried to calm fears of a postcode lottery as some over 70s will now start getting invites to attend their vaccination appointments.
And Wales said it would have to slow down their jabs to make sure that people weren’t standing around doing nothing.
Mr Hancock said today to anyone worried their invite might have been lost: “We will reach you, you will have your invitation to be vaccinated within the next four weeks.”
Mr Hancock also thanked The Sun and our Jabs Army – after we smashed out target to recruit 50,000 volunteers to help dish out the vaccine.
He said tonight The Sun had been “smashing the target in the battle against this disease.”
He added: “I want to thank each and everyone of you and the Sun news paper for leading this effort.”
OVER 70S NEXT
Five million over-70s and “extremely vulnerable” Brits were invited to get their Covid jab from today.
Letters will be sent to the next two priority groups as the UK jabs 140 people every minute and 10 new vaccination centres open this morning.
This group includes people who have immune conditions, cancer or have received organ transplants.
Mr Hancock said today: “More than half of all over-80s have had their #coronavirus jab, so I’m really pleased we can now offer jabs to the over 70s & the clinically extremely vulnerable.
“Total focus on getting all the most vulnerable groups jabbed by 15 February.”
And Boris Johnson said this lunchtime: “Today marks a significant milestone as we offer vaccinations to millions more people who are most at risk from COVID-19.
“We have a long way to go and there will be challenges ahead – but together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus.”
It comes as:
Mr Hancock has announced NHS England will also open 10 more mass vaccination centres.
And ministers have promised every adult will be given a vaccine by September – though this could come as soon as June.
Earlier today, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said lockdown could start to be “gradually eased” in early March, after the top four most vulnerable groups of Brits have been vaccinated.
Mr Zahawi told BBC Breakfast: “If we take the mid-February target, two weeks after that you get you your protection, pretty much, for the Pfizer/BionTech, three weeks for the Oxford AstraZeneca, you are protected.
“That’s 88 per cent of mortality that we can then make sure are people who are protected.”
Schools would be the first thing to reopen, and the tiered system will be used to relax restrictions across the UK, depending on how high infection rates are.
But the vaccine minister warned there were a “number of caveats” that stand “in the way of reopening” the country.
One game changer in Britain’s fight against coronavirus will be if the vaccine helps stop people spreading coronavirus – but it could be months until scientists can determine its impact on transmission.