'Majority’ of adults could get Covid jab by end of May, leaked letter reveals

The ‘vast majority’ of adults in Britain could receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of May, a government adviser has suggested.

Samuel Kasumu, an aide to Boris Johnson, appeared to inadvertently reveal the target in a resignation letter which was leaked and later withdrawn.

Mr Kasumu, who advised the PM on ethnic minorities and worked on the vaccine roll out, outlined his ‘view to leaving at the end of May, a time when we would hope the vast majority of the country’s adults would have received the first jab.’

The government had earlier admitted the programme planned to reach all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group, by May – having previously said it aimed to do so ‘by the spring’.

The target was disclosed as the Cabinet Office announced that local elections in England and Wales would go ahead as planned on May 6.

According to the government’s vaccines delivery plan, some 32 million people across the UK are estimated to fall into the first nine groups. There are 52.7 million people aged 18 and over in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that ‘lots of things have got to go right’ to hit the goal, including supply, but he said he was ‘sure’ it was achievable.

It will be seen as indicative of lockdown restrictions easing in the spring.

The Prime Minister has faced sustained pressure from some Tory backbenchers to relax the measures as soon as possible.

Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, made up of lockdown-sceptic Conservative MPs, said it will be ‘almost impossible to justify having any restrictions in place at all’ by the time the top nine groups have been vaccinated.

There have been calls for hairdressers and the beauty industry to be included when non-essential shops re-open, hopefully within weeks of the planned return of schools from March 8.

Ministers are also understood to be preparing to allow pubs to serve takeaway pints in April before fully reopening in May.

Restrictions such as the 10pm curfew will be scrapped to ease confusion, according to The Sun.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph said the prospect of dry pubs was being discussed as an option to allow bars to open their doors in April.

On Friday, Boris Johnson reiterated his promise to announce a ‘steady programme for beginning to unlock’ on February 22, but warned it was ‘still early days’ and urged the public to continue following lockdown rules.

Scientists advising the Government have warned against opening society up too quickly.

Professor Graham Medley, chairman of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said ministers should ‘make decisions dependent on the circumstances, rather than being driven by a calendar of wanting to do things’.

In a sign that the current measures are working, the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK fell to between 0.7 and 1, according to the latest Government figures – down from between 0.7 and 1.1 last week.

And estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested about one in 65 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between January 24 and 30 – compared with one in 55 the previous week.

However, a further 1,014 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday and there were another 19,114 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

The Government’s coronavirus dashboard showed that 10.9 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine, with 505,993 having had their second.

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