Cases and deaths are falling across the country
Another 343 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, bringing the total number to 123,296.
A teenager, 17, with no underlying health conditions, was one of 279 people who died in England within the past 24 hours.
An additional 6,391 new cases were also recorded across the UK, with this map showing where infection rates are still rising in England.
More than one in ten (11%) areas in have seen an increase in cases, but they are generally tumbling across the country.
Deaths are also falling, with numbers reaching their lowest level since October on Monday.
The Department of Health figures come as scientists hail ‘stunning’ vaccine data which found that protection against symptomatic Covid-19 in the over-70s was around 60% for both Oxford and Pfizer after a single dose.
The study also found that among the over-80s the vaccines offered more than 80% protection against hospital admission.
Another 343 deaths were recorded in the UK in the past 24 hours
6,391 cases were also recorded
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the findings were ‘stunning’, and this was for two reasons.
‘First of all, because these data come from the hardest group to protect – those who are the frailest, the oldest adults in our population – and we’re seeing an 80% reduction in hospitalisation in that group, which is stunning,’ he said.
‘Second… both of the vaccines performed exactly the same, there was no daylight between them. ‘We’ve had all this difficulty with communication, particularly around Europe, with uncertainty about the evidence, whereas in the UK we’ve been rolling out both vaccines in the confidence that they would both give high levels of protection.
‘And that’s absolutely what we’ve seen now in this real-world evidence – that whether you’ve had a Pfizer vaccine or the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, you have very high levels of protection.’
Another 203, 186 people received a first dose on March 1st, bringing the total figure to 20,478,619.
Meanwhile, the number of people who have had both doses has reached 844,098.
But there are fears the UK ‘may go backwards’ over a missing case of a ‘concerning’ Brazil strain.
Six cases of the variant that emerged in the Amazonian city of Manaus have been identified in the UK, but officials have been unable to locate one carrier who has gone under the radar because the person did not complete their test and trace registration card.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that the search has been narrowed down to 379 households in the south east.
Research published today found the Manaus variant, known as the P1, could cause reinfection in up to 61% of people who have already had Covid.
The study found the strain is also 1.4 to 2.2 times more transmissible than the original.
Scientists stressed the results are based on the impact of the variant in Manaus and may not indicate its potential to spread in the UK.
The Brazil Manaus variant could reinfect up to 61% of people who have already had the virus
Boris Johnson has played down the threat of the variant amid criticism of the Government’s border measures.
He moved to reassure the public yesterday, saying his roadmap out of lockdown would still be ‘irreversible’ and there was no reason to believe vaccines wouldn’t be effective against the P1 strain.
It came after a Government scientific adviser warned there is always a risk the country ‘might have to go backwards’ after the national lockdown is eased.
Pressed on how worried he was regarding the detection of the Brazil variant, Professor Graheme Medley told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well I think it is a variant of concern and that we are going to be faced with these in the next six months.
‘As we move towards relaxing measures then there are going to be challenges on the way. There is always a risk we might have to go backwards and that’s what no-one wants to do, is actually open up and have to close down again.’
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