MATT Hancock tonight warned the fight against Coronavirus “isn’t over yet” but announced a third of Brits have now received a vaccine.
Speaking at a Downing St press conference the Health Secretary cases have risen in a fifth of local council areas over the past week.
The Health Secretary will speak this afternoon to confirm ministers will back the scientistsCredit: Sky News
Many vulnerable Brits have already received their Covid-19 vaccineCredit: Alamy Live News
He said: “The data show we are moving in the right direction. The number of cases is now down to one in every 145 people and the rate of decline is continuing.
“The link from cases to hospitalisations and deaths, which has had a grim inevitability throughout 2020, is now breaking thanks to the vaccination programme.”
But he also warned: “The number of cases is now falling by only 15% a week. In some areas of the country that has flattened entirely and one in five local authority areas has seen a rise in cases in the last week.
“This stark picture shows that this isn’t over yet. The stay at home rules are still in place for a reason.
“Every action you take every time you put your mask on every time you stay at home you are playing your part. This is on all of us to keep this under control.”
Mr Hancock announced that 19 million people have now had at least one jab, which is 35% of adults across the UK.
Britain is currently on target to give all Brits over-50s at least one dose of the vaccine by April 15.
People aged between 40 and 49 will be next in line for the jab, followed by the 30-39s age group and then all those 18 to 29, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced this morning.
There had been calls for professions such as police officers and teachers to be given the Covid vaccine jab next.
But the JCVI said continuing to prioritise by age would “provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time”.
And it said that prioritising certain professions would have been more complex to deliver and could slow down the vaccine rollout,
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for the JCVI, said: “The current strategy is to prioritise those who are more likely to have severe outcomes and die from Covid-19.
“The evidence is clear that the risk of hospitalisation and death increases with age.”
So far, more than 18.6 million Brits have received their first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
And 700,718 people in the UK have had their second dose as well.
On Monday, Boris Johnson pledged that all the UK’s 54 million adults would be offered a jab by July 31.
The Queen has urged Brits to think of others before themselves and make sure they get a Covid jab
At a press conference, the PM insisted the “extraordinary success” of the vaccines program would throw a “shield” round the entire population.
Boris vowed: “There is light ahead, leading us to a spring and the summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all and from which we will not go back.”
The number of Brits jabbed is 28 per cent of the population, the third highest in the world behind Israel and the UAE.
Yesterday, the numbers who have had at least one dose rose by 448,962 after a slump for several days this week.
Last week, the vaccine roll out moved onto the next phase, with over-65s and younger people with underlying health conditions in England being offered the jab.
The success of Britain’s vaccine rollout helped drive the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with all restrictions set to end on June 21.
Boris told the nation he didn’t want to go back into lockdown and we were now on the road to freedomCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Data has suggested that the vaccine rollout is moving at such pace, all over 50s could have their first dose by the end of March.
David Salisbury, former Director of Immunisation for the government, told the BBC today that prioritising Brits in order of age was the fastest way to vaccinate the country.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’d hate to think vaccine gets wasted because there are not people to match every dose.
“The logical prioritisation is to use age which is so much more demonstrable than saying ‘my job is this or my job is that.
“So whilst I do have a view that some occupations may justify some prioritisation, logistically the straightforward way to do it is through an age-based approach.”
The list above shows who is at the top of the list for the coronavirus vaccine
Before the new deadline of April 15 there are nine priority groups that will need to be vaccinated, including clinically extremely vulnerable people.
A BMI of 40 or above and severe asthma now makes patients eligible for a vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had already said people with severe and profound learning disabilities are part of group six – all adults aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions.
It meant adults with less severe learning disabilities are not currently prioritised.
NHS England said on February 21 that over two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 have now had their first dose.
Invitations are now being sent to those aged 64 years old.
At least ten areas of England are speeding ahead to vaccinate all over 50s by March 7, figures suggest.
One in three adults have now received their first jabCredit: PA:Press Association
The UK’s vaccine rollout is two months ahead of schedule, figures suggestCredit: AFP or licensors