Sajid Javid urges public to get their booster vaccinations
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
The booster rollout vaccinated fewer people over the weekend than it did before ministers promised to put it “on steroids”, figures showed on Monday. The number of third jabs administered in England was lower last weekend than it was the previous one, when the Prime Minister called for the programme to be accelerated, in order to build defences against the omicron variant.
A blame game began in Whitehall over the speed of the rollout, with sources pointing the finger at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), run by Dr Jenny Harries, saying it was responsible for delays.
It came as Sajid Javid said it was “highly likely that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England,” with 336 cases confirmed across the UK.
The Health Secretary also raised fears that the new variant may spread more quickly than its predecessors, saying it could “knock us off our road to recovery”.
The slow booster rollout, combined with Mr Javid’s warnings, has led to concerns that the current restrictions, which saw face masks and travel curbs reintroduced last month, are increasingly unlikely to be eased when reviewed by the Government next week.
On Monday, Boris Johnson refused to rule out further restrictions, saying: “We’re still waiting to see exactly how dangerous it is, what sort of effect it has in terms of deaths and hospitalisations.”
In a Commons address on Monday, Mr Javid promised that the Government was “leaving nothing to chance” in a strategy to “buy ourselves time and strengthen our defences”, and highlighted the role of the booster rollout.
However, the latest NHS statistics showed just 221,674 boosters were given on Sunday, down from 223,189 the week before.
The figure of 412,755 was given on Saturday compared with 419,657 on the same day the previous week.
While the weekly figure for England has risen slightly, from 2.16 million to 2.24 million, and the UK figure from 2.56 million to 2.64 million, they are some way off the government target, which pledged to deliver 3.5 million jabs a week.
Just 10 days ago, the Prime Minister asked scientific advisers if they would back an expansion in the rollout of jabs to all adults, shortening the gap between doses, to speed up the rollout.
While such advice emerged more than a week ago, recommending that all over-18s should be offered a booster, as little as three months after their second jab, the programme has yet to be altered.
NHS chiefs only issued guidance to the health service last Friday night, after days of wrangling with doctors’ unions about which services GPs would stop providing to take part in the rollout.
This said the accelerated rollout, starting with the over-40s, may not begin until December 13.
Brexit Britain leading the way! Andrew Neil hails UK £75bn win [REPORT]
Major UK road to be closed for hours after lorry smashes into bridge [REVEAL]
‘Passive’ evil killer father to release body for funeral [INSIGHT]
Mr Javid said that some of the cases were not linked to international travel, meaning that people were likely to have caught the omicron variant while in the UK.
The Health Secretary said: “It is highly likely that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England.”
He told the Commons: “We are learning more about this new variant all the time.”
Mr Javid added: “Recent analysis from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the omicron variant than for the delta variant.”
He continued: “But we don’t yet have a complete picture of whether omicron causes more severe disease or, indeed, how it interacts with the vaccines.”
Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said: “We want the Government to succeed, but the truth is they’ve been stuck in first gear on the booster rollout.”
Next week, the Government will review whether new Covid restrictions such as face mask mandates on public transport and self-isolation for new arrivals should continue.
Mr Javid said: “I can assure the House [of Commons] that we won’t keep these measures in place for a day longer than we have to.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Our COVID-19 vaccination programme has been a huge success.”
He ended by saying: “The UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, with more than 85 per cent of adults double jabbed so far and more than 20 million people receiving a third dose or booster.”
Source: Read Full Article