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Under-50s to be offered jab as vaccine programme hits target to inoculate most vulnerable

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The Government had promised to offer a first jab to all over 50s and those with underlying health conditions by Thursday. Latest figures show more than 32.1 million first doses have been delivered and over 7.65 million people had received a second dose. Invitations could start going out to healthy people in their 40s today, asking them to book an appointment. Boris Johnson said: “We have now passed another hugely significant milestone in our vaccine programme by offering jabs to everyone in the nine highest risk groups.

“That means more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid-19.”

The Prime Minister added: “We will now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The tide of this pandemic is turning in every part of the UK, as every day more and more people are being given the safety of a Covid-19 vaccine.”

He added: “I urge everybody eligible to come forward for their vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

And Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “Vaccinating 19 out of 20 people aged 50 and over is an incredible milestone.

“Thanks to our NHS nurses, doctors, pharmacists, operational managers and thousands of other staff and volunteers, the NHS Covid vaccination programme is without a doubt the most successful in our history.

“It’s one of our tickets out of this pandemic and offers real hope for the future.”

However, Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, warned any steps to reopen society could lead to a higher risk of infection.

He told Times Radio: “This is exactly why this roadmap has got five weeks in between the next couple of relaxations.

“It gives us enough time to monitor what happens if we do start to see a concerning rise in cases and, more importantly, if we see a concerning rise in hospital admissions and people sadly dying from the disease.

“We might expect it could have a resurgence, but it’s really, really important therefore that people follow the rules that are in place with this relaxation.”

Dr Tildesley admitted the signs were looking “pretty good at the moment”.

He said: “Cases have been going down for many weeks now, we’re seeing hospital admissions and deaths go down to very low numbers, and we really hope that continues.

“It is great news that people can get out and go to non-essential shops and go to pubs and restaurants and so forth. But, of course, follow the guidelines that are still in place.”

Meanwhile, Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, raised concerns about a third wave of infections in Chile.

Asked about the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, he told Sky News: “From the point of view of the population itself, we’re all dying to get out of lockdown. From the point of view of the epidemic, I think it’s all a little bit more worrying.” 

He added: “Chile is a country where the rate of vaccination amongst the population was third highest in the world – they were ahead of us in terms of the number of people who have had the vaccine – and they’re suddenly now into a third wave.”

The UK recorded a further 13 Covid-19 deaths yesterday, down by half from 26 the previous Monday.

However, there was a slight jump in cases with 3,568 reported – a 29 percent increase from 2,762 on the same day last week.



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