London Covid vaccine total hits 1.1 million as lockdown to end ‘gradually’ from March

Published: 4 February 2021, 5:27 PM

Post Desk : Nearly 90 per cent of over-75s in the UK have now been vaccinated against coronavirus as vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi declared: “Our nation is getting safer every day”.

Mr Zahawi told the House of Commons this lunchtime that the Government was “on track” to meet its target of vaccinating the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February with “almost nine in 10 over-80s in the UK, almost nine in 10 over-75s, and over half of people in their 70s” having now received a jab. Meanwhile, more than 1.1 million Londoners have now been vaccinated, according to the latest NHS England data.

His comments followed the announcement of a new trial testing a “mix and match” approach to first and second doses. The Com Covid study of 800 volunteers – which are now being recruited – will initially look at combining the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech jabs to check whether, together, they boost immune response. The trial’s lead Dr Matthew Snape said his team is looking for participants aged 50 and over, and that people with underlying health conditions can also take part.

It comes after Boris Johnson pledged to publish detailed plans for easing lockdown on February 22 after the “milestone” of 10 million first-dose vaccinations was passed in the UK. Mr Zahawi told MPs this afternoon that the Government still aimed to reopen schools on March 8 followed by a “gradual reopening of the economy”.

One in five adults have now received the Covid vaccine in England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Figures published on Thursday show a further 469,016 people have been given the first dose of the vaccine in the UK.

It means 10,490,487 people have received the first dose of the vaccine in England.

Meanwhile, 2,995 people received the second dose. Some 501,957 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Mr Hancock said: “We are on track to deliver the commitment we have made of offering the jab to all of the top four priority groups by February 15 .”

7-year-old dies of Covid-19
A seven-year-old with known underlying health conditions is among the latest reported deaths of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in England.

The child is thought to be among the youngest to have died with the virus.

While the risk from the virus to children is low, people with underlying conditions are known to be at higher risk of serious disease.

NHS England said on Thursday that a further 630 people who tested positive for Covid-19 had died in hospital in England.

Patients were aged between seven and 102 years old and all except 30 – aged 40 to 99 – had known underlying health conditions.

The “new normal” will be here until 2022 says leading scientist
Professor Helen Rees, who is a member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee for Covid-19, said measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing will have to continue.

Her comments are the latest in a line of views shared by experts about when a sense of normality is likely to return.

Prof Rees, who is from South Africa but has family in Wales, told BBC Wales Live: “I’m afraid to say… I think we are going to be well into next year before we see a change – that change is likely to be caused by high coverage of the vaccines,” she said.

“I think this new normal we all talk about is with us for a very long time.

“The mask-wearing, the distancing – all of the measures that we have put in place – will have to continue.

“This virus is nasty and this virus knows how to change. If we want to get rid of it, my advice to the politicians is to continue what you are doing – to have these measures,” she said.