It isn’t often that the UK Health Secretary gets to report good news. So, at his latest Downing Street press conference, he seized the opportunity like a child spotting a sweet whilst no adults were looking. You could hardly blame him. The numbers were astonishing.
“We have now vaccinated 9.2million people across the UK,” he announced. “That includes 931,204 vaccinations just this weekend. To put that into context: that’s one in every 60 adults in the whole UK - vaccinated in one single weekend…”
Nine in 10 people over 80, he went on, had now received at least one dose of vaccine - as had more than half of those in their 70s. And the good news didn’t stop there. The Government, he confirmed, had just placed an order for 40 million doses of the new Valneva vaccine. Provided it received approval from the regulators, the UK would then have a grand total of 400 million vaccine doses.
It was head-spinning stuff. What an amazing figure. Four hundred million!. And there are only 67 million UK citizens. That's almost 6 jabs for every person. At this rate, Brits would have vaccines coming out of their ears. There could even be spare vials of vaccine given away free with McDonald’s Happy Meals.
However, the Government has a more serious plan for any surplus doses. In short: the Government promised to help out other nations who weren’t doing quite so well. “I want to say this to our international partners,” said Hancock. “Of course I’m delighted about how well this is going at home. But I believe fundamentally that the vaccine roll-out is a global effort… So we will protect UK supply, and play our part to ensure the whole world can get the jab…”
On paper, perhaps those lines read like a sly dig at the EU. As if he were saying: “Keep your hair on, Ursula. I know you’ve made the most awful Horlicks of your vaccine programme. But don’t worry. Once we’ve completed ours, we’ll be only too delighted to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Such as you…”
One dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides sustained protection against Covid for at least three months and cuts transmission of the virus by two-thirds, according to research that appears to support the UK’s decision to delay booster shots, reports The Guardian.
Analysis of fresh data from three trials found that the first shot conferred on average 76 percent protection against symptomatic infections from three weeks until 90 days, and reduced transmission of the disease by 67 percent.
The findings are preliminary, and still under review at The Lancet, but if they stand up to scientific scrutiny would reassure public health officials that prioritising more vulnerable people for a first shot of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is a sound strategy.