Over-65s could start receiving their Covid vaccine invite letters next week after nine million Brits jabbed
OVER-65s could start receiving their Covid vaccination invite letters next week as the UK's jab rollout powers on, it's reported.
Almost a million Brits were injected over the weekend, with more than 9.2 million overall now receiving at least one dose.
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Almost nine out of 10 of over-80s and half of over-70s have had their first jab, with the government on target to offer vaccines to all over-70s by February 15.
One in 60 Brits received a coronavirus vaccine over the weekend alone, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night hailing the "mammoth effort".
All older care home residents and staff have been offered a jab, with Mr Hancock praising Britain's "incredible" vaccine rollout.
Next in line are over-65s who will be invited to book appointments from next week, The Daily Telegraph reports.
It comes as it was revealed 105 cases of the South African strain of the virus have been found, with 11 infected Brits having no links to foreign travel.
Door-to-door testing is being rolled out for 350,000 Brits in affected areas, with fears known cases are the tip of the iceberg.
Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive for the virus fell to 18,607 on Monday, down 30 per cent in seven days.
Hospital admissions also dropped by 20 per cent week on week.
With cases across England falling to pre-New Year's figures, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is understood to have told the Prime Minister we passed the peak of infections last week, The Telegraph reports.
Another 40 million doses of the Valneva vaccine have now been secured, with the UK having now ordered 400 million jabs altogether, the Health Secretary confirmed.
If it gains approval, the Valneva vaccine will be manufactured in Livingston in Scotland.
But announcing 105 cases of the South African mutation of the virus had now been found in the UK Mr Hancock stressed it was "on all of us to contain this new variant" as he warned people in affected areas to stay at home.
Eleven are not linked to international travel, with Mr Hancock admitting there more may be more cases.
Mr Hancock said: "I am so proud of our team who have now vaccinated 9.2 million people across the UK.
"I know just how much these jabs mean to people.We have invested early, and at risk before we know for sure if it will come good.
"Because from the start we have taken a no regrets attitude to backing vaccines.
"We have tried to leave nothing on the table."
And he said Britain is building up a "large scale" vaccine manufacturing capability to battle the virus.
It comes after a furious row with the EU over vaccine supplies exploded last week, with Brussels threatening to block life-saving jabs coming to the UK.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said Britain is ready to send leftover vaccines to its “friends and neighbours” as soon as our population is protected.
The Oxford-Astrazenca jab was the only vaccine being supplied to the world at cost, Mr Hancock stressed.
Meanwhile, door-to-door mass testing for 350,000 people will be urgently rolled out in eight areas of England amid fears the South African variant of Covid has spread.
I know just how much these jabs mean to people.We have invested early, and at risk before we know for sure if it will come good
Mobile testing units are being sent into eight postcodes in n London, Surrey, Kent, Hertfordshire, the West Midlands and Merseyside,
Mr Hancock admitted "there may be further cases that we don't know about yet, and genomic sequencing is in place to try to try to spot them".
He said: "There’s currently no evidence to suggest this variant is any more severe but we need to come down on it hard.
"If you live in one of these postcodes where we’re sending in enhanced testing then it’s imperative that you stay at home and you get a test even if you don’t have symptoms.
"This is so important so we can break the chain of the transmission of this new variant and we’ve got to bring this virus to heel.
"This is a stark reminder the fight against this virus isn’t over yet."
The areas are Hanwell, west London; Tottenham, north London; Mitcham, south London; Walsall in the West Midlands; Broxbourne, Hertfordshire; Maidstone, Kent; Woking, Surrey; and Southport, Merseyside.
But Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins pointed to vaccine trials that showed 60 per cent effectiveness against the South African variant.
She added: "We expect all other vaccines to have a similar level of effectiveness, particularly in reducing hospitalisation and death."
The mutation that emerged from South Africa, named 501YV2, is feared to be 50 per cent more contagious than the original strain, but there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease.
Experts advising the Government said they do not believe the current vaccines would need to be tweaked to deal with any spread of the mutant strain.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said he is "optimistic" Britain can have a summer holiday this year – but ONLY if the vaccine rollout continues to go well.
The PM refused to make any promises but said he was hopeful people could go on a break – as he made a visit to Batley in West Yorkshire.
He replied: "The last time I was on holiday in Yorkshire I had a fantastic time…
"I don't want to give too much concrete by way of dates for our summer holidays. I am optimistic – I understand the reasons for being optimistic – but some things have got to go right for us.
"The vaccine programme has got to continue to be successful."
Regional lockdown rules could be ditched in favour of a nationwide approach where rules are lifted across the country at the same time, the PM also revealed.
The PM stressed that he said he had not taken a decision yet – but that the virus was behaving in a similar way across the entire nation, so a blanket approach might make sense.
The PM told reporters: "It may be that a national approach, going down the tiers in a national way, might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally."
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