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Matt Hancock brags that 940,000 Britons have now had a Covid jab

Matt Hancock today bragged almost 1million Britons have now had a Covid jab, despite repeated warnings that the roll-out needs to drastically speed up if the UK wants to escape the never-ending cycle of lockdowns by the spring. 

The Health Secretary praised the NHS — which is heading up Britain’s biggest vaccination drive in history — for ‘rising to the enormous task’ and said the figure should ‘rapidly increase in the months ahead’, with yesterday’s approval of Oxford’s jab bolstering the health service’s arsenal.

But his boast that 944,539 people have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine glosses over the fact that the programme has yet to gain pace, even though it has been three weeks since the health service started to offer the jab to the over-80s, care home workers and frontline NHS staff. 

Department of Health figures today revealed the speed at which jabs were given out actually slowed slightly over the Christmas break — dropping from a rate of around 320,000 jabs a week to 300,000 in the seven-day spell ending December 27.

It means the UK may not be able to vaccinate all 30million Brits listed on the priority list until December 2022, if the NHS is only able to continue at the current pace. And it would take twice as long to ensure they are given the necessary second dose.

Even if health chiefs manage to ramp up injections to a million a week, it could still take until August next year for No10 to complete ‘Phase One’ and give the most vulnerable members of society their first dose. Top experts say the figure needs to be closer to 2million.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday promised Britain would deliver the jabs as soon as it gets them, with the boss of AstraZeneca insisting they could deliver 2million doses a week by mid-January.

But supply issues could scupper the grand plans. No10’s vaccine taskforce originally promised 30million doses of the Oxford jab by the end of 2020 before scaling back to 4million, and they have since warned of ‘manufacturing challenges’. Mr Hancock yesterday revealed Britain will only have 500,000 doses ready to go from Monday.

The Health Secretary praised the NHS ¿ which is heading up Britain's biggest vaccination drive in history ¿ for 'rising to the enormous task' and said the figure should 'rapidly increase in the months ahead', with yesterday's approval of Oxford's jab bolstering the health service's arsenal

The Health Secretary praised the NHS — which is heading up Britain’s biggest vaccination drive in history — for ‘rising to the enormous task’ and said the figure should ‘rapidly increase in the months ahead’, with yesterday’s approval of Oxford’s jab bolstering the health service’s arsenal

Who will the Government sacrifice to get out of lockdown? Return to normal life depends on No10’s ‘risk appetite’

The number of vaccines Britain gives out before lockdown rules can start to be loosened will depend on the ‘risk appetite’ of the Government and how well they work in real life, scientists say.

There are around 31.7million people on the official waiting list for a jab, which includes everyone over the age of 50, people who are younger but seriously ill, and millions of NHS and social care workers.

Currently the UK is giving out 300,000 doses per week, a figure which is expected to speed up when clinics start using the game-changing Oxford University and AstraZeneca jab which was approved yesterday.

MPs and experts are calling for the vaccines to be given out at lightning speed in a desperate bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus variant, which new evidence suggests may be so infectious that lockdowns can barely contain it.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, today urged ministers to ‘move heaven and earth to roll out vaccination starting with two million jabs a week’. 

Even at this ambitious speed – almost six times the rate vaccinations are currently being given out – it would take until April to get one dose to everyone on the priority list.

But there is hope some restrictions could be lifted before the list is completed, with Matt Hancock saying No10 can lift restrictions ‘when enough people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 have been vaccinated then’. However, he has never committed to an actual figure.

It comes after top scientists today warned that the number of vaccines Britain gives out before lockdown rules can start to be loosened will depend on the ‘risk appetite’ of the Government and how well they work in real life.

There are around 31.7million people on the official waiting list for a jab, which includes everyone over the age of 50, people who are younger but seriously ill, and millions of NHS and social care workers.

MPs and experts are calling for the vaccines to be given out at lightning speed in a desperate bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus variant, which new evidence suggests may be so infectious that lockdowns can barely contain it.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, today urged ministers to ‘move heaven and earth to roll out vaccination starting with two million jabs a week’.

Even at this ambitious speed – almost six times the rate vaccinations are currently being given out – it would take until April to get one dose to everyone on the priority list.

But there is hope some restrictions could be lifted before the list is completed, with Matt Hancock saying No10 can lift restrictions ‘when enough people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 have been vaccinated then’. However, he has never committed to an actual figure.

One scientist, however, told MailOnline it was impossible to put a logical number on when this would happen, and it would depend on how much risk the Government is willing to take. If lockdowns are lifted too soon, there could be a surge in severe cases, hospital admissions and deaths in groups who are at moderate risk but not priority for a vaccine, such as the middle-aged.

The NHS says people over 70 and those with the most serious long-term health conditions are at ‘high risk’ from Covid-19. These, combined with health and care workers, make up a group of 14.3million people, who could be given a single dose each within seven weeks at the ambitious rate of 2m per week, so by mid-February.

But lifting lockdown rules by then would involve putting younger groups, such as those in their 60s, 50s and 40s, at risk from a then-uncontrollable virus, and it would mean the people already vaccinated wouldn’t have the full protection of two doses, which both vaccines require.

Herd immunity, in which so many people are vaccinated that the virus can’t spread any more, will be impossible with the current strategy, scientists warned, with US infectious diseases director Anthony Fauci saying he doesn’t expect the country to ‘approach normality’ until the end of 2021, even with 80 per cent of the population getting vaccinated.

Dozens of pensioners were left shivering outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Harlow, Essex, yesterday after turning up for their allocated appointment only to find a large queue outside

Dozens of pensioners were left shivering outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Harlow, Essex, yesterday after turning up for their allocated appointment only to find a large queue outside

Just 2,000 people on the Isles of Scilly are left in Tier 1 - with everyone else in England now under the highest Tier 3 and 4 lockdowns from midnight

Just 2,000 people on the Isles of Scilly are left in Tier 1 – with everyone else in England now under the highest Tier 3 and 4 lockdowns from midnight 

Retired doctors beg NHS to use 40,000-strong ‘Dad’s Army’ to dish out 2m jabs a week

Retired doctors desperate to roll their sleeves up and help Britain administer 2million Covid vaccines each week to end the continuous cycle of lockdowns by the spring have today hit out at the NHS ‘red tape’ that requires them to prove they aren’t terrorists before they’re allowed to chip in.

Ex-medics wanting to be deployed straight onto the frontlines to dish out the jabs have complained of the bizarre requirement to submit up to 21 documents in their application, including evidence that they have had any Prevent Radicalisation training.

Dr Melanie Jones, a former anaesthetist in South Wales, urged the NHS to ‘bend some rules’ so they can use their ‘Dad’s Army’ of up to 40,000 retired doctors and nurses who volunteered to help in the spring. Another retired medic claimed they ‘wouldn’t bother’ applying after hearing about Dr Jones’ ordeal on social media.

Despite their pleas, GPs tasked with delivering the vaccine say they urgently need more workers to help the UK drastically ramp-up the speed of the mammoth operation, which is considered the only hope Britain ever has of returning to normal life before the spring.

But the NHS has yet to call upon the Army to help turbo-charge the roll-out, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today insisting the military ‘stands ready’ to deliver as many as 100,000 doses a day, should it ever be called upon by the health service. Even Tesco has offered to hand over its network of refrigerated lorries and warehouses to turbo-charge the roll-out.

It is more likely that the UK’s restrictions will be phased out over a longer period to stop the virus spiralling among younger people, who still have a small risk of hospitalisation, death or long-term complications. 

Discussing the vaccination figures today, Mr Hancock said: ‘The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan and today’s figures show once again how our fantastic NHS has risen to this enormous task, providing 944,539 people across the UK with their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

‘Now that we have authorised a second vaccine, we can expect this number to rapidly increase in the months ahead.

‘With hundreds of vaccination sites now open across the country, I would like to thank the health and care staff who are working so hard to deliver this vaccination programme.’ 

It comes as retired doctors desperate to roll their sleeves up and help Britain administer 2million Covid vaccines each week to end the continuous cycle of lockdowns by the spring have today hit out at the NHS ‘red tape’ that requires them to prove they aren’t terrorists before they’re allowed to chip in.

Ex-medics wanting to be deployed straight onto the frontlines to dish out the jabs have complained of the bizarre requirement to submit up to 21 documents in their application, including evidence that they have had any Prevent Radicalisation training.

Dr Melanie Jones, a former anaesthetist in South Wales, urged the NHS to ‘bend some rules’ so they can use their ‘Dad’s Army’ of up to 40,000 retired doctors and nurses who volunteered to help in the spring. Another retired medic claimed they ‘wouldn’t bother’ applying after hearing about Dr Jones’ ordeal on social media.  

Despite their pleas, GPs tasked with delivering the vaccine say they urgently need more workers to help the UK drastically ramp-up the speed of the mammoth operation, which is considered the only hope Britain ever has of returning to normal life before the spring.

But the NHS has yet to call upon the Army to help turbo-charge the roll-out, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today insisting the military ‘stands ready’ to deliver as many as 100,000 doses a day, should it ever be called upon by the health service. 

Even Tesco has offered to hand over its network of refrigerated lorries and warehouses to turbo-charge the roll-out. 

In more chaotic scenes for No10’s grand roll-out, it was revealed today that GP surgeries have been forced to cancel jab appointments for vulnerable patients after the regulator yesterday extended the time period between getting two doses to 12 weeks in a desperate attempt to get millions more vaccinated quicker.

And dozens of pensioners were left shivering in the cold for more than an hour outside a surgery in Harlow, Essex, yesterday, after turning up for their Covid jab only to find a large queue outside.  

Some of the documents retired NHS workers have to fill out before they are allowed to give the Covid vaccine

The documents include proof they have completed 'Preventing Radicalisation' training

Ex-medics wanting to be deployed straight onto the frontlines to dish out the jabs have complained of the bizarre requirement to submit up to 21 documents in their application, including evidence that they have had any Prevent Radicalisation training


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