Matt Hancock hopes for a ‘great British summer’ post-lockdown
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, told local BBC news that the majority of the UK population will be vaccinated within the next six months. He claimed that this would hopefully allow Britons to enjoy the summer without the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place throughout the country.
Matt Hancock said: “In six months we’ll be in the middle, I hope, of a happy and free Great British summer.”
“I have a high degree of confidence that by then the vast majority of adults will have been vaccinated,” he added.
Mr Hancock was speaking on BBC Politics East this morning.
“The more people who take up the vaccine, the more we will be protected as a society,” the Health Secretary said.
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He added: “That high take up is incredibly important.”
According to the latest Government figures, more than 8.4 million people in the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 480,432 have had their second dose.
However, on 30 January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged the UK to pause its vaccination programme to ensure the global rollout is fair.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Saturday, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said it is “the right thing to do” for the UK to help other countries.
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Ms Harris expects Britain to pause the vaccine rollout once its top nine priority groups have been vaccinated.
She said: “There have been a number of very interesting analyses showing that just vaccinating your own country and then sitting there and saying ‘we’re fine’ will not work economically.”
The UK has one of the highest levels of vaccine coverage, along with Israel and the UAE, but many poorer countries have not yet started immunisations.
Ms Harris said that countries should be aiming for “two billion doses” to be “fairly distributed” around the world by the end of 2021.
Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, has also said that Britain could share vaccine doses with its European neighbours and developing countries.
She told Sky News today that we will not see an end to the pandemic if the UK is to become a “vaccinated island” while other countries go without jabs.
“We have a target to get the most vulnerable vaccinated by mid-February,” Ms Truss said, before adding: “We certainly want to work with friends and neighbours, and we want to work with developing countries.
“Because we’re only going to solve this issue once everybody in the world is vaccinated.”
Despite the hopeful comments of both Ms Truss and Mr Hancock, Public Health England’s Covid strategy chief has expressed some concerns.
Dr Susan Hopkins told BBC’s Andrew Marr today that ending Britain’s current lockdown must happen “very slowly” and “very cautiously”.
She said: “The NHS is going to be under pressure until the end of March, as normal in winter, but even more so with the amount of inpatients they still have with Covid-19.
“It is better to be cautious, let’s get the population vaccinated,” she added.
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