In a huge boost for the nation, vaccines for over-30s are set to start within a fortnight while 40-year-olds will be invited for their jabs from today as the numbers falling ill with Covid drop to the lowest level since the pandemic began.
From today, anyone aged 40 and over in England can book a vaccination. This is set to be extended on May 10, when people aged 35 to 39 are likely to be called up for their first jabs.
In total, 48 million jabs have been given across the UK, including 14 million second doses.
In more good news, Boris Johnson will be told that social distancing can be scrapped at big outdoor events from June 21, paving the way for the return of big crowds.
Scientists monitoring the impact of letting fans back into the FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup final and the snooker World Championships have noted no spike in cases among attendees.
This means they will advise the PM next week that crowds can return safely without social distancing in June – as long as measures such as staggering entries and good ventilation are put in place.
It is more good news as the fight against the virus continues, with the latest data revealing that there are only 757 symptomatic cases a day in England and the chance of getting infected is as low as one in 150,000 for those who have had both jabs.
Meanwhile a Public Health England report revealed infections in the over-80s have fallen to the lowest level on record. And in a further , hospitalisations and cases continue to plummet in all regions of the country.
In other developments:
- British holidaymakers will be able to visit France from June 9 if they are vaccinated or have a negative Covid test;
- A study found that much of Europe could safely be put on the travel ‘green list’ this summer thanks to the successful vaccination programme;
- Nearly three quarters of a million appointments were made on Monday and Tuesday this week as the NHS began inviting over-45s to be vaccinated;
- Ministers faced renewed calls to scrap rules which ‘falsely imprison’ care home residents.
There are only 757 symptomatic cases a day in England and the chance of getting infected is as low as one in 150,000 for those who have had both jabs
MPs called for the lifting of restrictions to be sped up, while pressure grew for a rethink of rules governing funerals and care homes. But Downing Street is resisting calls to go faster, saying everything is on track for a resumption of near-normal life from June 21.
NHS England said that text messages will be sent out from Friday to 40 and 41-year-olds allowing them to arrange their vaccination appointments.
Chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking service opened to people aged 42 to 44.
‘With second doses also proceeding apace, we’re now ready to invite all those aged 40 and over to join the most successful vaccination drive in health service history.’
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens yesterday called the vaccination drive the ‘most successful in health service history’.
The latest data shows that it has been extraordinarily effective in slashing infections and hospitalisations.
Researchers at King’s College London said the chance of becoming infected if you have not been vaccinated is just one in 45,000. Among those who have received one dose, they put the risk at one in 100,000, while it is just one in 150,000 for those who have had both doses.
The study, based on data gathered from more than a million users of the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, suggested that infections are now even lower than they were in the summer when lockdown had been lifted. The scientists said that just 1,046 people are getting symptomatic Covid-19 across the whole of the UK each day, including just 757 in England.
The number testing positive each day is averaging 2,258, according to latest Department of Health figures.
But that includes those who do not have symptoms. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the study, said: ‘It’s a great position to be in. It’s very reassuring that low rates continue despite reopening gyms and outdoor areas in pubs and restaurants, and bodes well for further relaxation of restrictions in line with the Government roadmap out of lockdown.’
Meanwhile, Public Health England’s weekly report into coronavirus revealed that fewer over-80s than ever are catching the virus. There were only 6.3 cases per 100,000 people aged over 80 in the week ending on Sunday, the lowest since the report began in June.
The vaccine rollout has slashed hospital admissions. There are 1,553 patients in hospital with Covid-19, the lowest figure for seven months and down from a peak of 39,000 in January.
Despite the positive data yesterday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said Britons needed to be ‘careful’ and that it was too soon to hug or mix indoors.
Don’t hold your hopes up for summer festivals yet, vaccine minister warns
Summer festivals could still be banned this year despite a successful vaccine rollout and tumbling coronavirus cases, the vaccines minister warns.
Nadhim Zahawi said today Britons should avoid signing up for the mass events, even though the UK remains on course to lift all restrictions this summer.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If you are now booking, then you do carry some risk, clearly because we have to follow the data.’
There was a suggestion that all restrictions on large events and performances could be relaxed by June 21 , when social distancing is due to be legally scrapped.
But the Government has refused to commit to specifics about which rules will and won’t stay beyond that date, claiming it will be led by ‘data, not dates’.
Many popular festivals including the world famous Glastonbury and Winchester-based Boomtown have already shelved plans to take place this year.
But others such as the Reading and Leeds festival say they are still intending to go ahead in August.
Organisers say festivals are being cancelled because of problems getting Covid insurance, and have called for a Government-backed scheme.
Mass gatherings have been restricted throughout the pandemic because scientists fear packing people close together could spark an outbreak of the virus.
Studies suggest Covid spreads quickly at mass events, and one infected individual could pass it on to more than 100 others.
But organisers are looking to reduce the threat by asking attendees to take a Covid test before they enter, to slash the risk of the virus arriving at the event.
Scientists found no sign of infection after they ran a test concert in Spain last month, where revellers were asked to wear masks but didn’t have to socially distance.
Around 5,000 music fans came to the event after getting a negative test result, and two weeks later only six people had tested positive.
Researchers concluded four of these people had caught the virus elsewhere, and said they could not establish whether the other two were infected at the event.
But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said that the string of good news showed ‘we need to get on with it’ and accelerate the roadmap. A No10 source insisted there was still a need for ‘caution’.
Every English region also saw falls in cases in the past week — despite millions more tests being deployed — with the lowest rates recorded in the South West (14.2), South East (17.2) and the East of England (20.5).
Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s daily update revealed there were 2,445 cases in the past 24 hours and 22 deaths, with infections down 10 per cent from a week ago and deaths up slightly on the 18 last Thursday.
Latest figures show another 462,000 second and 134,000 first vaccine doses were dished out on Tuesday. It means more than 34million Britons have had at least one dose and 14m have been fully vaccinated.
Experts said the UK was moving out of the Covid pandemic and into a situation that was much more manageable after separate figures showed the number of people falling ill across Britain is also at a record low.
But despite a plethora of evidence showing the virus is firmly in retreat, England faces at least seven more weeks of restrictions. June 21 has been earmarked as the earliest possible date that most curbs can be lifted.
The country’s largest symptom tracking study estimated just 757 people are getting sick with Covid every day in England. Across the whole of the UK, it is believed to be 1,046. Infections have never been lower, even compared to last summer when lockdown rules had been lifted and the virus was in retreat, according to the study which launched in May last year.
Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the study, praised the ‘consistent low levels’ of Covid and said: ‘It’s a great position to be in.’ He claimed the findings ‘signal that we’re moving from a Covid pandemic to Covid becoming endemic in the UK’.
Professor Karol Sikora, a medical expert at the University of Buckingham, told MailOnline the pandemic would be declared over now if the Government hadn’t been ‘frightened by messages from the Government’.
Meanwhile, Test and Trace figures show infections fell by nine per cent in the week up to April 21, despite 600,000 more swabs being carried out. Out of 5.1million tests, just 16,776 were positive — the lowest weekly total since last September.
The positive data add to the continuing huge success of the vaccine rollout, which scientists have found is cutting transmission of the virus and keeping people out of hospital. Almost 70 per cent of England has Covid antibodies, separate figures revealed yesterday.
According to the King’s study, the current risk of getting infected with Covid in Britain is one in 45,000 — and just one in 100,000 in vaccinated people.
It came as Matt Hancock received his first coronavirus jab yesterday morning after the vaccine programme opened to people aged 42 this week. The 42-year-old Health Secretary was given the jab by England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at the Science Museum in London.
Over 40? Time for a jab: As Hancock is given his shot by Van-Tam, 2.5million more Britons get their vaccine call this week
By Kate Pickles for The Daily Mail
Anyone aged 40 and over in England can book their Covid jab from today as the rollout continues at pace.
Text messages are being sent to 40 and 41-year-olds to arrange vaccination appointments for first doses.
Nearly three-quarters-of-a-million appointments were made on Monday and Tuesday this week as the NHS began inviting over-45s to be vaccinated.
Yesterday, Matt Hancock said it was a ‘privilege’ to receive his first dose of the Oxford jab at the hands of Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam.
The 42-year-old Health Secretary described the process in the vaccination hub at London’s Science Museum as painless.
Text messages are being sent to 40 and 41-year-olds to arrange vaccination appointments for first doses
Alongside a picture on Twitter of himself receiving the injection from a masked Professor Van-Tam, he wrote: ‘Brilliant! Got the jab. In & out in 8 minutes. Didn’t hurt at all. Massive thanks to JVT & the @sciencemuseum team. When you get the call, get the jab!’
NHS England said 2.5million more people have been invited for their jab this week alone.
It comes as the latest NHS England figures revealed more than 28.5million in England had received their first jab by April 28, nearly two thirds of the adult population.
The data, published yesterday, also showed that nearly 12 million people had received their second doses, making them fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Government figures show 48,138,009 vaccinations have now been given across the UK, including 14,043,961 second doses.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking service opened to people aged 42 to 44. With second doses also proceeding apace, we’re now ready to invite all those aged 40 and over to join the most successful vaccination drive in health service history.’
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for the NHS in England, urged those who receive a text to book their jab.
He said: ‘The rapid rollout of the NHS vaccination programme, the swiftest in Europe, is down to months of careful planning and sheer hard work by nurses, doctors and countless other staff supported by our volunteers.
‘If you receive a text inviting you for your jab, please follow the instructions provided and book – it is simple, effective and provides vital protection against the virus.’
NHS England said that when invited, people will be able to book in at a vaccination centre or pharmacy site through the national booking service.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
Those who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
Meanwhile, regulators have said that the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine particularly affects younger adults.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency released a more detailed breakdown of figures as government scientists continued to debate whether everyone under 40 should be offered an alternative vaccine. The latest number of cases in the UK was 209, including 41 deaths, up to April 21 – up from 168 cases and 32 deaths a week earlier. The estimated number of first doses administered in the UK by then was 22million, giving an overall case incidence of around one per every 108,000 doses.
‘The data suggest there is a higher incidence reported in the younger adult age groups’, said the regulator. ‘This evolving evidence should be taken into account when considering the use of the vaccine.’