Vaccines to over-50s by end of MARCH – huge boost for lockdown end as jab supply doubles

Nadhim Zahawi discusses ‘gradual’ roadmap

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The bold announcement puts the UK on track to hit its target of inoculating all over-50s by April 15 as much as three weeks ahead of schedule. At the current rate of vaccinations, analysis suggests the UK is due to have given a first jab to all-over 50s by March 31.

If the number of vaccines was to double, it would mean Britain could step up the pace of rolling out first jabs, while at the same time beginning to give second injections.

Mr Zahawi said this morning that March will be a “very big month” for vaccinations.

“We’ll probably going to be twice the rate over the next 10 weeks as we have done over the past 10 or 11 weeks,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“We have already been for now over 10 days reserving second doses.

“You have seen the numbers tick up of second doses – yesterday I think we were at 800,000 second doses.

“And in March you will see that number increase even more, because obviously those who had the first dose in January will be getting their second dose.

“The NHS has got all the protocols in place to deliver that, as well as of course continuing to do the first dose.”

He added new suppliers of Covid vaccines would also start delivering soon, with Moderna due to start shipping doses to the UK in “spring”.

“I see the vaccine supply numbers coming in – I’m very confident that we’ve got the supplies of Pfizer and AstraZeneca and soon of course to come other vaccines like Moderna as well,” he added.

Some estimates suggest the increase in daily vaccines means the UK could have given an injection to all over-50s in just three weeks time.

It could also mean the UK it set to hit its target of giving a first jab to all adults by the end of July hit earlier than expected.

In England, nine in 10 people aged 65 and over have now had their first Covid jab, with the inoculation programme now inviting those over 60 to book an appointment for an injection.

Nearly two million people over-60 in England have been sent letters inviting them to book a coronavirus jab.

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Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS England’s national medical director, said: “In just a few months, the NHS has made extraordinary progress in vaccinating more than 17 million people across the country and it is incredible that more than nine out of 10 people aged 65 and over have already received potentially life-saving protection.

“It is down to the hard work of NHS staff, volunteers and all the others supporting the vaccination programme, that we can now invite everyone aged 60 to 63 years old to arrange an appointment to get jabbed as soon as possible.

“It is never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward and protect yourself and others.”

After all over-50s have built up immunity, thought to be three weeks after injection, coronavirus deaths are expected to drop by as much as 99 percent.

The latest data suggests the inoculation programme is already starting to have a significant impact on infections, hospitalisations and fatalities.

In the past week, 2,270 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test, a 33.5 percent drop on the week before.

The number of infections has dropped 21.2 percent over the past seven days with 61,045 new cases recorded.

Hospital admissions are also dropping at a similar rate, with 61,045 new inpatients over the past week, a fall of 22.1 percent compared to the week before.

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