The health secretary says there is “no rest for the wicked” and the UK is now moving on to its next vaccine target after vaccinating 15 million
15 million people in the UK have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, with everyone in the top four of the UK’s priority groups having been offered a vaccine for COVID-19, the nation’s health secretary has now confirmed.
Speaking to Sky News, Matt Hancock said the government had met its target for offering a COVID-19 jab to all over 70s and vaccinating 15 million people by Monday’s deadline.
Uptake has been “much higher than we expected”, he said, with more than 90% of over 70s accepting the offer of a vaccine.
In a later interview, the health secretary said the figure among health care staff was “a little bit lower than 90%”, with “around two-thirds” of social care staff and “four-fifths” of NHS staff taking up the offer.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hancock said that the milestone was a “little step towards freedom for us all”, but said that there was “no rest for the wicked”.
Letters are now being sent out to those in the nations who are aged over 65, as well as the clinically vulnerable to invite them to receive the first dose of a vaccine.
The government is aiming to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to the 17 million in groups five to nine by the end of this April, something that will be done alongside administering the second vaccine doses for many in the first four groups.
This comes after AstraZeneca has said that it is on course to roll out a vaccine for COVID-19 that is effective against new variants of the coronavirus by autumn of this year. The company, which had produced a COVID-19 vaccine alongside the University of Oxford, said that clinical trials for the next generation of vaccine would be commencing in the spring.
“There is a huge programme under way rolling out to invite the next group of people to be vaccinated and, at the same time, from next month we have the second jabs of all the people who have come since January to make sure they happen on time, because they have to be within a specific 12-week time period,” the health secretary said.
“So there is still a huge amount of work to do but we have managed to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable.”
The priority list for the COVID-19 vaccines is as follows:
- 1 – Residents within care homes for older adults and their carers
- 2 – All those who are aged 80 and over. Frontline health and social care workers
- 3 – All those who are aged 75 and over
- 4 – All those who are aged 70 and over, as well as Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- 5 – All those who are aged 65 and over
- 6 – All individuals who are aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- 7 – All those who are aged 60 and over
- 8 – All those who are aged 55 and over
- 9 – All those who are aged 50 and over
Kate Green, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said to Sky News that it was important that the UK government “redoubles” its efforts to reach those who have yet to receive a vaccination for the coronavirus.
“We have to have a really big push now to reach out to people who are doubtful, who need some more reassurance,” she told Sky News.
“Until we get [everyone] in these four priority groups, other vulnerable people and eventually everyone else jabbed, we can’t be fully safe.”
Cold chills, loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches could be newly discovered symptoms of COVID-19 infection, according to a new study from Imperial College London, of over one million people, those with these symptoms were more likely to end up testing positive for the coronavirus.
Speaking about his plans for easing the nationwide lockdown at the weekend, Boris Johnson said that he was “optimistic”, but stressed: “We have to be cautious”.
The PM added: “Our children’s education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.
“I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease. We don’t want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.”