Boris Johnson to lead Covid briefing after reaching 15m vaccine target

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 15, 2021

With the mid-February target reached, Mr Johnson, his Cabinet, and advisers will start a review of England's Covid-19 restrictions, with a roadmap out of lockdown due to be set out on February 22.

The Prime Minister welcomed an "unprecedented national achievement" of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the United Kingdom ahead of the target deadline on Monday. "So that's why we want to drive it right down, keep it right down".

Boris Johnson wants England's current lockdown "to be the last" but warned he could offer no guarantees on a reopening of society that will have to be "cautious".

He said that although he was "increasingly optimistic" he could not give "an absolute cast iron guarantee that we won't face further difficulties".

Professor Stephen Reicher, a scientist advising the Government's Covid-19 response, warned that giving dates for lifting restrictions could be damaging if they are not met.

"The risk is that if you have a large, as it were, volume of circulation, if you've got loads of people, even young people getting the disease, then a couple of things happen: first of all, you have a higher risk of variants and mutations within the population, where the disease is circulating", he said.

"You begin to have a sense of "look, there's nothing we can do" and that sense of helplessness is very damaging psychologically".

However, the success of the vaccine rollout has led to calls from some of Johnson's own MPs for a guarantee that all coronavirus restrictions be lifted by May.

But Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast there is "some way to go" before lockdown is eased, stressing that the Government is awaiting key data on how successfully vaccines reduce transmission. The government aims for all over 50s to have been offered a first dose by May.

Over the weekend, more than 60 CRG members signed a letter calling for the Prime Minister to commit to a firm timetable ending with the lifting of all legal controls by the end of April.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said the Government favours encouraging care home staff to come forward and accept jabs rather than employers making them mandatory, echoing vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, who said such a move would be "discriminatory".

- A further 230 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the official United Kingdom total to 117,396.

NHS England has already sent out 1.2 million invitations to the over-65s to book an appointment, with a similar number expected to go out this week.

The government hopes it can vaccinate all nine of the priority groups by the end of April.

"This has been an unbelievable effort to deliver the vaccine target".

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