Boris Johnson: ‘Quarter of adults in England have now had a coronavirus jab’

Boris Johnson discusses when vaccine impact will be visible

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Hailing the latest milestone in the drive against the pandemic, the Prime Minister announced that 13 million people have been vaccinated against the disease. Official data showed Covid infections plummeting by nearly 28 percent in the last week, to 13,013 cases of positive tests confirmed yesterday. Mr Johnson appealed to the final two million people in the top priority groups still waiting for a jab to come ­forward before next week’s target date for finishing the first phase of the rollout.  

That group includes the over-70s, health and care staff and the ­clinically extremely vulnerable.

The Prime Minister said: “With less than a week to go until the target date of Monday the 15th, there’s no doubt we’ve made great strides, with just over 13 million ­people now vaccinated.

“They include one in four adults in England, over 90 percent of ­everyone over 75 and over 90 percent of eligible residents of care homes for the elderly.

“But that still leaves nearly two million people, a population roughly twice the size of Birmingham, that we still hope to reach. Now is the moment to do it.”

He added: “Let me appeal particularly to the fantastic social care workers we all rely on to look after our relatives, our ­parents, our grandparents. If you haven’t received a letter, please ­contact your employer and fix it up.”

Mr Johnson made his appeal so the country can end the lockdown curbs.

He said: “The reason I make this appeal for people to come forward in those groups is not to hit some numerical target but to save lives, prevent serious illness and so the whole ­country can take another step on the long and hard road back to normality.”

Mr Johnson said the data showing a reduction in Covid-19 cases were not ­necessarily “attributable” to the vaccine.

He also welcomed the World Health Organisation’s support for the UK’s strategy of delivering the Oxford/AstraZeneca immunisation in two shots 12 weeks apart. He added: “Indeed they say the longer interval provides greater protection.”

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said Covid case numbers were showing a “good decrease” but warned: “Numbers remain high.”

He added: “This peak we have had in January is now coming down to much lower numbers.

“Things are definitely heading in the right direction and that is ­trending in hospital admissions, which are coming down.”

Sir Patrick urged everyone to come forward for a dose even if they have had Covid and recovered.

He said: “If you’ve had coronavirus, we know that most people get antibodies and get some protection from it. It’s really important to get the vaccine as well.

“The vaccine will give another boost on top of that. It’s highly likely you’ll get a very good immune response overall in that situation and so it’s not a reason to avoid vaccination. I’d encourage everybody to come forward for a vaccination.”

Sir Patrick also warned that ­lockdown measures needed to be lifted with caution.

He said: “There will be a significant number of people in high-risk groups who haven’t yet been vaccinated.

“Those people remain at risk, and so it’s important we go cautiously in opening up to be able to measure the effects. One of the things that is really crucial in this is to get enough information to know the ­trajectory we are on and to not jump ahead of it.

“Because we are at very high levels and that can take off very quickly.

“The virus isn’t going to be ­particularly interested in dates.”

Sir Patrick said that a new coronavirus variant found in Bristol was being monitored.

He added: “It has got one of the changes that the South African ­variant has got as well. It is not ­surprising that it has happened and it will happen elsewhere as well.

“In getting that variant it does make it slightly more likely to look different to the immune system so we need to watch out for it.

“We need to keep on top and need to keep testing the vaccine effects in this situation.”

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