BRITAIN is on course to vaccinate all adults by the summer — giving hope for much-needed sunny hols.
In a huge boost to the nation’s spirits, NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens said he is hopeful the country can “go faster” with its Covid jabs than the autumn target.
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People on the sea front in Brighton enjoy their daily exerciseCredit: PA:Press Association
Royal Navy medics delivering Covid-19 vaccines to members of the public at Ashton Gate in BristolCredit: PA:Press Association
Sir Simon said 140 people are being vaccinated every minute — and that number is set to soar.
Millions of over-70s and the clinically vulnerable will get letters this week inviting them for a jab.
And ministers believe all 54million Brits over 18 will have been immunised by the end of June.
A source said yesterday that the drive to speed up doses was about “delivery, delivery, delivery”.
Meanwhile, new coronavirus cases have dropped by more than 20 per cent in a week.
Sir Simon warned that Brits cannot ease up on lockdown. He said the NHS is in the grip of the worst crisis in its 72-year history — as another 671 Covid deaths were recorded yesterday.
But he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show that medics will vaccinate “as fast as we possibly can” to hit the target of immunising all adults by autumn.
He added: “I suspect we will be able to have more vaccine supplies such that we may be able to do faster than that.”
New 24/7 vaccination projects will be launched at some hospitals over the next ten days.
RESTRICTIONS EASED OVER SPRING
Sir Simon said Brits can look forward to lockdown restrictions being eased gradually over the spring and summer time.
He added: “It is not going to be the case that with one bound we are free. But equally I don’t think we will be having to wait until autumn. I think somewhere between those two.”
Tory MP Sir Graham Brady said: “It is great news the vaccination programme is going so well.
“There should be a clear schedule set out for unlocking as more and more people are protected. And hopefully people will be able to get away for their summer holidays.”
Tory MP Mark Harper said all restrictions should be lifted when the top nine priority groups — including the over-50s, clinically at risk and NHS and social care staff — are jabbed by the end of spring.
He said: “That, and the better weather, should allow us all to have a normal summer.”
More than 3.8million Brits have been vaccinated, including more than half of the country’s over-80s.
The world-leading roll-out means doctors and hospitals have had the nod to start inviting the over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable to get immunised.
In Newcastle crowds of people walk along the riverfrontCredit: North News and Pictures
Brits enjoyed a walk in London’s Hyde ParkCredit: London News Pictures
Dominic Raab warned people not to book their sunshine breaks just yetCredit: Alamy Live News
“We are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort. We have a long way to go and there will doubtless be challenges ahead — but by working together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain is “nearly on the home straight” in beating the pandemic.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned people not to book their sunshine breaks just yet.
He told LBC radio: “I think at the moment it’s too early, I think you have to follow the guidance that we’re putting out.”
‘WARDS STILL OVERRUN’
Sir Simon warned there is a lag between people catching Covid and ending up in hospital or dying — so while new infection rates are falling many wards are still overrun. The worst-hit hospitals are having to transfer patients to other parts of the country to cope.
Sir Simon said: “Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the inpatients in hospitals across England.
“That’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients — and, staggeringly, every 30 seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.”
French drugs firm Valneva said it is “days away” from starting to manufacture its Covid vaccine. Britain has pre-ordered 60million doses.
Westminster insiders said if it is approved, they expect to use it to revaccinate the population — which is expected to happen annually.
A Navy medic has spoken of her pride at taking part in the vaccine drive.
Lt Lauren Hodges, senior nursing officer from Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, is one of six personnel deployed to work alongside health staff at a vaccination hub at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium.
Lt Hodges said: “This is probably my proudest moment — being part of a national effort to hopefully get ahead of Covid and get the country back to some form of normality.”
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