London protests: Unite for Freedom protesters march through city
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The Health Secretary yesterday told MPs that Britain’s vaccine programme was “breaking the link” between virus infections and serious cases. NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens also declared it was “a watershed moment” as from today those aged 25-30 would be called to get the jab. He praised the world-beating NHS programme “as it enters the home straight of our race to offer everyone their first dose”.
But Mr Hancock warned it was “too early to say” whether the final easing of rules scheduled in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead on June 21.
Ministers will closely study data this week before making a final decision by next Monday about whether to postpone so-called “Freedom Day”.
It follows surges in parts of the UK of the Delta variant from India.
Britain saw another 5,683 positive coronavirus tests yesterday in a 68 percent spike on last Monday’s count. Separate data showed the Indian variant has now taken over in two-thirds of areas in England.
Hospital admissions have also crept up by 16 percent with 154 infected people admitted on June 1. One more death was added to the toll, the same amount as last Monday.
In the Commons, the Health Secretary insisted scientific evidence showed the Covid vaccines were working.
He said: “Despite the rise in cases, hospitalisations have been broadly flat. The majority of people in hospital with Covid appear to be those who haven’t had the vaccine at all.
“As of June 3 our data show that of the 12,383 cases of the Delta variant, 464 went on to present at emergency care and 126 people were admitted to hospital.
“Of these 126 people, 83 were unvaccinated, 28 had received one dose and just three had received both doses of the vaccine.” He added: “The jabs are working, we have to keep coming forward to get them and that includes vitally that second jab which we know gives better protection against the Delta variant.
“It is too early to make decisions on Step Four. The roadmap has always been guided by the data, and, as before, we need four weeks between steps to see the latest data and a further week to give notice of our decision.
“So we’ll assess the data and announce the outcome a week today on June 14.
“I know that these restrictions have not been easy and with our vaccine programme moving at such pace, I’m confident that one day soon freedom will return.”
Mr Hancock added: “Tomorrow we mark six months since the world began vaccinating against Covid-19 in Coventry Hospital.
“And in that time we have vaccinated over 40 million people here in the UK and two billion doses have been delivered across the globe.
“As of today, 76 percent of UK adults have been vaccinated at least once and 52 percent of adults have had two jabs.”
Earlier, Downing Street officials had said that data emerging this week will be “crucial” in deciding whether England’s legal coronavirus restrictions can finally end on June 21.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “There is nothing in the data currently to suggest Step Four can’t go ahead at the earliest date.”
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