Matt Hancock unveils Covid vaccine plan to turbocharge roll-out and have a ‘great British summer’

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MATT Hancock last night unveiled the Government’s plan to turbocharge the vaccination roll-out so that the country can enjoy “a great British summer”.

He said the UK had already dished out 2.6 million doses to 2.3 million people.

Matt Hancock said it was his aim to give everyone a great British summer
All the vaccination centres which will be open across the nation within days

And ministers have published a blueprint to massively scale up the national effort so that lockdown can be eased.

The plan, revealed this afternoon, explains how millions of Brits will get the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

Mr Hancock said today: “Vaccines are important and I care about them because I want our country to get back to normal as fast as possible.

“I want us to have that great British summer – my team and I are working fast to deliver this as soon as possible.”

He’s already booked his holiday to Cornwall, and hopes the rest of the country can be on a path back to normality by then, even though not everyone will get the vaccine until the autumn, he said.

He hailed the thousands of Brits who have signed up to be vaccination volunteers and help with the roll out through HOAR’s Jabs Army campaign.

Mr Hancock said: “Come and join, the jabs army is marching.”

Everyone will live within 10 miles of a vaccine centre by the end of the month, it was promised today.

‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’

And it came as he also confirmed Britain could jab people through the night too – promising to do “whatever it takes” to ensure people get the vaccine.

The Health secretary explained: “If both the person doing the vaccination and doing the vaccinating would prefer that to happen in the middle of the day rather than the night we will do it if that’s what’s necessary.

“Our attitude is whatever it takes.”

And he warned people across the nation to reduce all their social contact they could and to “act as if you have the virus” to slash case numbers.

It comes as:

  • Mr Hancock also ruled out scrapping support bubbles during the third lockdown
  • Boris Johnson warned today tougher rules might be needed – just a week after the third lockdown was announced
  • Wales said people should wear masks in all public places – including outside
  • A tweak to test and trace means millions more people will get told to stay at home completely
  • Rishi Sunak warned the economy would get worse before it gets better
  • NHS boss Steven Powis warned tonight that 13,000 more people are in hospital since Christmas – and the full effect is still yet to be seen

Daily data on vaccinations will also be released from today – and weekly in more detail from Thursday.

Matt Hancock said today that 2.6million jabs had been given to more than 2.3million people across the country so far.

Two out of five care home residents have got their first dose.

Almost a quarter of older care home residents have got it – with every care home resident to get it this month.

Boris Johnson said the nation is in a race to get millions immunised before hospitals fill up.

But No10 faced fresh controversy after the PM’s press secretary dismissed calls for 24/7 vaccinations, saying there is “not a clamour for jabs after 8pm”.

‘GOT TO FOCUS’

Speaking on a visit to a vaccination centre in Bristol yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “It’s a race against time because we can all see the threat that our NHS faces, the pressure it’s under, the demand in intensive care units, the pressure on ventilated beds, even a shortage of oxygen in some places.

“We’ve got to focus on what we all need to do together to bear down on the disease.”

The PM has vowed to deliver the “ambitious” target of vaccinating all of the 13.5 million Brits most likely to die from Covid by February 15.

This means everyone aged over 70 and frontline NHS and social care workers would be offered the jab by the end of Valentine’s Day.

And all 32 million Brits in the top nine “at risk” groups — everyone aged 50 and over and people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions — should get a first dose of the vaccine by spring.

Health chiefs say this will protect 99 per cent of people who currently die from Covid.

Every single Brit will be able to get vaccinated by the autumn.

Setting out how the biggest national effort outside of wartime will be achieved, the 47-page document says Britain will attack the bug on four fronts.

The plan includes:

2million vaccines per week by end of January

The PM said last week the vaccine programme would be hugely boosted this week.

And it’s hoped that 200k vaccines a day can be delivered by Friday.

That will be ramped up to 2million a week by the end of January.

All care home residents offered vaccine by the end of January

The PM has made it clear that care home staff are a priority – along with residents.

They are in the first four vulnerable groups which are being offered the vaccine in the first phase, which will eliminate a huge chunk of the deaths from Covid.

All 13.5million ‘at risk’ offered jab by Feb 15

Boris has vowed that all the top four more at-risk groups will be offered a slot by February 15.

  • all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  • all those 75 years of age and over
  • all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable
    individuals

All 32 million over 50s and at risk groups get it this spring

After the first four groups, the attention will focus to older Brits and those with underlying health conditions who may be more vulnerable.

It may be that teachers are prioritised in this phase – but ministers haven’t yet made a decision on that yet.

It’s thought that after this rollout is complete, 99 per cent of deaths can be avoided.

Everyone in the UK to get a jab by the autumn

After everyone who is more vulnerable gets a vaccine, then it will be rolled out to everyone else over the age of 18 across the nation.

The Government hopes to do this before the autumn.

Matt Hancock has said in future people may have to have another dose – possibly alongside their flu jab.

Network of vaccination centres expanded

It will include 50 hubs, 206 hospitals and 1,200 GPs.

Seven hubs will open this week.

Pharmacies and mobile units, and sports grounds will also be used in the rollout.

No more than 10miles from a vaccine appointment

Everybody in Britain will live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre, or mobile vaccination unit, by the end of January.

Currently, 96% of the population in England is within 10 miles of a
vaccine service – which will be scaled up.

Jabs Army

An 80,000-strong army of workers and volunteers have been signed up to help deliver the jab into millions of arms across the country.

Thousands of those have signed up through HOAR’s campaign.

The national vaccination effort has also been boosted by
many former clinicians, care staff, and students.

There are many other people in the UK who have vital experience and skills that can provide support like airline cabin crew, too.

Over 200,000 people have expressed their interest in playing their part in some way.

But as cases surge, England is heading into a strict March-style shutdown

UK orders 367million doses

The UK has pre-ordered a staggering 367 million doses of vaccine to give the country the best chance of exiting the crisis as quickly as possible.

Three of these vaccines have been authorised for approval, and a further four are still in trials or going through safety checks.

The UK was the first country in the world to buy the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, ordering 40 million doses – enough for a third of the
UK population – the first to authorise it and the first to begin vaccinating people with it.

The UK was also the first country in the world to buy, authorise and provide
the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the plan says.

Scale-up of home-grown vaccine manufacturing

Ministers have scaled up Britain’s home-grown vaccine manufacturing ability by funding new sites to produce the life-saving drug.

Delaying dose 2 of jab

Britain is delaying giving the second dose of the Covid vaccine until 12 weeks after the first jab, so millions more Brits can be inoculated quicker.

After studying all the available data, the JCVI concluded that the first dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides substantial protection within 2-3 weeks of vaccination from severe COVID-19 disease, the plan explained.

Hundreds of thousands of letters to over 80s are expected to go out this week – telling them to book a slot at one of at least seven max vaccination centres which are opening across the country this week.

The latest statistics on how many people have been vaccinated are also expected to be revealed at tonight’s press conference.

It came as Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said earlier that he expected there to be a huge increase in the numbers.

And he said the NHS would jab people “24/7” if they had to.

Unveiling the mammoth plan, Mr Hancock said it was “ambitious” but he was “confident” the targets will be hit.

But ministers are facing a fresh storm of criticism after downplaying calls for vaccination sites to run 24/7 to get the jab out.

In shocking scenes, some elderly Brits have queued for more than half an hour in the freezing cold to get their jab.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi hinted the decision to have centres running only from 8am until 8pm was because the UK has “limited vaccine volume”.

He also said he hopes to slash the time it takes for Brits to pass through a Covid vaccine centre from under an hour to just four minutes — like in Israel.

He said: “One of the things we have learned is the speed at which they can vaccinate people through the mass vaccination centres.”

The PM’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said 24-hour jabs would be “something the NHS would consider” if requested, but there was no demand for it.

She said: “My understanding is there is not a clamour for appointments late into the night or early in the morning.

“But if that was the case, it is something the NHS would consider as they are doing their utmost to get the jabs into arms.”

Hitting back at accusations Britain could be going faster, Mr Hancock insisted the NHS would switch to offer jabs round the clock “if necessary”.

NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens told MPs the vaccine programme would involve two “sprints” and a “marathon”.

He told the Commons Public Accounts Committee: “This is a sprint to mid-February (to vaccinate the highest risk Brits).

“And then it will be a sprint from mid-February through to the end of April to extend the vaccination to the rest of the higher risk groups.”

Heaping pressure on the PM, Tory MPs in the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group said restrictions must start being eased by March 8 if the vaccination rollout goes to plan.

Covid cases yesterday jumped by more than 50,000 for the 13th day in a row as deaths rose by 563 – pushing the total number of victims to more than 81,000.

There are now 3,072,349 people infected with the disease in the UK after 54,950 tested positive.

Deaths have continued to rise with the latest toll pushing the total number to 81,431.

Yesterday’s figure is the third-highest Sunday rise in deaths and there is a usually a lag in reporting at the weekend.

People out and about in a busy Greenwich Park, London, this afternoon

People out and about in a busy Greenwich Park, London, yesterday

Ambulances outside London’s Nightingale Hospital

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