The most vulnerable people in the UK will all have been offered a coronavirus vaccination by mid-February, Boris Johnson has pledged.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, he insisted the Government would keep its pledge to vaccinate or offer a vaccination to 15 million people across the UK by February 15.
He said: “It is our plan that everyone should have a vaccination available within a radius of 10 miles.
“It follows from that that the limits will not be on our distributional power but on the supply of vaccines, and I have no doubt that we have enough supply to vaccinate these four groups by the February 15 deadline.”
The people classed as most vulnerable include:
- older care home residents and staff
- everyone aged 70 or over
- all frontline NHS and care staff
- everyone who is clinically vulnerable due to a pre-existing condition
EIght out of ten people who have died of Covid so far have been in one of these four groups. The Government can only promise to offer a vaccination because nobody is legally required to accept one.
Almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated in the UK – and the Government plans to give everyone in care homes a jab by the end of January, Mr Johnson said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the army was working “hand in glove with the NHS and local councils” to roll-out the vaccine, as he spoke at a Downing Street press conference.
He insisted: “We’ve now vaccinated 1.26 million people in England, 113,000 in Scotland, 49,000 in Wales and 46,000 in Northern Ireland.
“So, all together, nearly 1.5 million people across the UK have now received their first dose and within two to three weeks all of them will have a very considerable degree of immunity.
“It is thanks to the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at room temperature, that we can accelerate the pace of vaccination in care homes.
“We’re using that vaccine in care homes for the first time today and by the end of the month we hope to have offered every elderly care home resident a vaccine.”
GP led vaccine sites providing jabs will increase to over 1,000 by the end of next week, while the number of hospitals offering the jab will increase to 223.
There will also be a new national booking service for appointment, making it easier for eligible people to obtain vaccinations. More details will be revealed when the Government publishes a vaccine “deployment plan” on Monday.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told the press conference that there has been an increase of 10,000 hospitalised covid patients since Christmas day. And this is happening at what is already traditionally the busiest time of year for hospitals, he said.
He had harsh words for people who claim Covid is a hoax, saying: “When people say that, it is a lie”.
“It is an insult to the nurse coming home after 12 hours of critical care.”
And Boris Johnson said: “The type of people who stand outside hospitals and say Covid is a hoax, I do think they need to grow up.”
No stocks of the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine programme have so far arrived in Birmingham and the Black Country, health leaders said today.
But West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the vaccine would be arriving tomorrow (Friday January 8).
He said on Twitter: “I have personally spoken to the vaccinations minister Nadhim Zahawi who has reassured me that the new AstraZeneca vaccine will be arriving in the city tomorrow.”
Mr Street also said new supplies of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust (UHB), which runs hospitals including the Queen Elizabeth, tomorrow.
He said: “New Pfizer vaccination stock has been ordered, and is in sufficient supply. It has always been the plan that UHB Trust would order more as they reached the end of current supplies, and there is no threat of them running out tomorrow.”
Birmingham City Council and city MPs wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling on the Government to publish figures showing the number of citizens vaccinated so far in each parliamentary constituency.
The letter was signed by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) as well as Labour council leader Ian Ward and Labour MPs including Liam Byrne (Hodge Hill).
The letter also demanded “a realistic forecast” of how many vaccinations were expected to be administered in the following week, and assurances that supplies of vaccines will keep pace with demand.
The letter stated: “We acknowledge that the vaccination roll-out is in its early days, but we have also learned today that Birmingham has not yet been supplied with any AstraZeneca stock, while current Pfizer stocks are scheduled to run-out on Friday this week with currently no clarity on when further supplies will arrive.
“It remains unclear who is responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme in Birmingham and whom we should hold to account for progress and delivery.”
Covid-19 case rates are continuing to rise in all regions of England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.
In the West Midlands, cases shot up to 530 per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 3, compared to 293 per 100,000 people the week previously.
London’s rate of new cases stood at 904.8 per 100,000 people, up from 864.6 in the previous week.
Eastern England saw the second highest rate (737.8, up from 606.3) followed by south-east England (654.8, up from 511.2).
Yorkshire & the Humber had the lowest rate: 294.6, up from 198.1.
GPs in England are starting the mass rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as hospitals across the UK face rising numbers of seriously ill patients.
The jabs are being delivered to sites across the country as the Government commits to offering a vaccine to more than 13 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February.
As of January 4, there were 30,451 people in UK hospitals with coronavirus, much higher than the April 12 peak of 21,684.
Dr Richard Cree, from the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, urged people to follow the rules, writing on his blog: “I have spent a torrid few days desperately trying to keep people alive and failing.
“We have all seen far too many people die. Please, please stay at home.”