Boris Johnson last night set a new target on jabs to help Britain return to normality amid dramatic evidence that the vaccines do beat the Indian strain.
In an effort to ensure that the country can lift all restrictions by his new ‘freedom day’ of July 19, the Prime Minister vowed that two-thirds of all adults would be fully vaccinated by then.
He also revealed that all over-18s would be offered a first dose by mid-July – two weeks ahead of schedule – with those aged 23 and 24 able to book their first dose from today.
Officials hope the four-week delay to lockdown easing will allow millions more to be fully vaccinated and gain maximum protection for themselves and the NHS against the Indian variant.
The Prime Minister vowed that two-thirds of all adults would be fully vaccinated by July 19. Pictured: Charlotte Meekings gets her jab in Haringey, north London, yesterday
The pledges came as a major study revealed that two doses of either vaccine reduce the chances of hospitalisation from the new strain by more than 90 per cent.
In a welcome piece of positive news, Public Health England (PHE) analysis found being fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or the Oxford jab cut the chances of needing hospital treatment by 96 and 92 per cent respectively.
Last night, Mr Johnson said that with ‘every day that goes by, we are better protected by the vaccines and we are better able to live with the disease.’
But he warned the vaccination programme has only ‘weakened the link’ between infection and hospitalisation, rather than sever it.
He insisted the delays were necessary as ‘there are still millions of younger adults who have not been vaccinated’ as well as the elderly and vulnerable, who could still be at risk after both jabs.
A major study revealed that two doses of either the Pfizer or the Oxford vaccine reduces the chances of hospitalisation from the new Delta/Indian strain by more than 90%
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, he vowed to speed up the delivery of vaccines for both first doses and getting more second jabs into arms.
‘By Monday July 19 we will aim to have double-jabbed around two-thirds of the adult population including everyone over 50, all the vulnerable, all the frontline health and care workers and everyone over 40 who received their first dose by mid-May,’ he said.
‘And to do this we will now accelerate the second jabs for those over 40 – just as we did for the vulnerable groups – so they get maximum protection as fast as possible.’
Mr Johnson said they had brought forward the target for first jabs to ‘reduce the risk of transmission among groups that mix the most.’ The NHS will be given ‘extra time’ to deliver the additional doses by holding off full lockdown easing for at least another fortnight, he said.
Ministers hope that the measures will ensure over 50s and the clinically extremely vulnerable have both had their second dose and sufficient time for it to take full effect. Research has already shown that two doses of a vaccine provide substantially better protection against symptomatic infection, at between 74 to 84 per cent compared to around just 30 per cent who had had one dose.
But the latest data by PHE showed the effect was far greater when it comes to reducing hospital admissions. Based on 14,019 cases of the Indian variant between April 12 and June 4, it found just 166 were hospitalised.
Even one dose of either jab was found to reduce the risk by between 71 and 94 per cent.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This evidence of the effectiveness of two doses against variants shows just how crucial it is to get your second jab.
‘If you have had your first dose but haven’t booked your second yet – please do so. It will help save lives and boost us on the road to recovery.’ Latest figures show 56.9 per cent of adults – some 29,973,779 people – have already been fully vaccinated.
The new target will mean around an additional five million adults will need second doses over the next five weeks.
Over-18s will be offered a first dose by mid-July – two weeks ahead of schedule. Pictured: Young adults await their jabs in Blackley, Manchester
The rollout will also be sped up for over-40s by reducing the dosing interval from 12 weeks to eight weeks, meaning anyone who had a first dose by mid-May will be offered a second dose by July 19.
Officials estimate some 14,000 lives have already been saved and 42,000 hospitalisations prevented by the vaccine programme – which has seen more than 60 million doses dished out in England.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: ‘These hugely important findings confirm that the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalisation from the Delta [Indian] variant. The vaccines are the most important tool we have against Covid-19.
‘Thousands of lives have already been saved because of them. It is absolutely vital to get both doses as soon as they are offered to you, to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.’
Dr Peter English, former chairman of the British Medical Association’s public health medicine committee, said it was ‘good quality evidence of real-world effectiveness’.
He said: ‘It is extremely reassuring to see that vaccines’ efficacy against hospitalisation with Delta [Indian] variant disease is so close to their efficacy against the Alpha and original variants, and over 90 per cent after two doses, for both vaccines.
‘This gives us more hope that the anticipated extension of the June 21 data for relaxing restrictions will not need to be delayed for too long.’
Post source: Daily mail
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