Boris Johnson: We are entering the last phase of the struggle
On Monday, the prime minister announced that England would be entering a third national lockdown due to rising COVID-19 cases. He also said officials are hoping for all those in the top four priority groups to be offered the coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks.
After Mr Johnson’s announcement on Monday, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that 13.9 million doses of the jab will be prepared for those most vulnerable by the middle of next month.
He added: “The NHS family will come together and we will do this.”
A source also told PA that people near the top of the priority list will be contacted by mid-February.
But they added that the final figure could be lower, closer to 13 million, due to crossover between groups including those over 80 who live in care homes.
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Those at the top of the vaccine priority list are people who live and work in care homes, followed by people over the age of 80 and also frontline health and social care workers.
Next on the priority list of people are those over the age of 75 and the fourth group are people aged over 70 and those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.
More than a million people in the UK have already been given a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine since the start of its rollout last month.
On Monday, during his message from Downing Street, Mr Johnson spoke about the NHS’s “realistic expectations” for the vaccination programme in the next few weeks.
He said: “By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”
If Mr Johnson’s vaccination aim is met, this means all people over 70 will be inoculated by the middle of next month.
The prime minister added: “If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.
“And of course that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we’ve endured for so long.”
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On Monday, the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine began with the first patients receiving the jab.
Mr Johnson described the coronavirus vaccines as “one huge difference” in fighting the virus this year.
He added: “We’re now rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history.”
Leaders in the hospitality sector have pledged to help with the vaccine rollout by offering spaces which are currently unused because of lockdown closures.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said businesses are “keen to repay the support shown to us”.
In a statement, Ms Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector can assist in the rapid roll out of the vaccine and we are keen to repay the support shown to us.
“Our sector is sitting on well-ventilated, COVID-secure spaces such as hotels, conference centres, pubs and restaurants which can be used and businesses are already coming forward to offer locations to expedite a mass vaccination programme.”
On Monday the UK recorded 58,784 new COVID-19 cases and 407 further deaths related to the coronavirus, according to Public Health England.
This brings the death toll to 74,326 and total number of cases to 2,713,563.
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