Matt Hancock Reveals Plans To Deliver 2 Million Covid Jabs A Week By The End Of The Month
Matt Hancock has unveiled the details of a new vaccine rollout plan aimed at administering 2 million jabs a week by the end of January.
The Health Secretary said he hoped the new plans would see every care home resident in England offered the vaccine by the end of this month as he warned the country was at the "worst point in the pandemic".
Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock revealed death rates had hit an average of 926-a-day in the past week, with 32,294 people currently in hospital with the virus.
The cabinet minister said some 2.4 million coronavirus jabs had already been given across the country, adding the mass vaccination programme was the "way out" of the pandemic.
Unveiling the four point plan, Mr Hancock said he hoped all 13.5 million people in the "at risk" categories, which includes everyone over the age of 70 and others deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, would be offered the vaccine by February 15.
"We have significantly accelerated the care home vaccination rollout", he said.
"Almost a quarter of older care home residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine and we are committed to reach every care home resident this month."
It comes after seven new mass vaccination hubs were opened earlier today across the country, with plans to increase that to 50 hubs in England by the end of January.
Ministers said the new centres will be based in football stadiums, hotels, conference centres and other large venues, with an ambition to ensure everyone in the country is within 10 miles of a vaccination site by the end of the month.
A further 1,200 pharmacies in England are also expected to join the roll-out, with Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for England, adding: "We will then kick off another sprint up to April as we get the rest of the vulnerable groups protected and finally a marathon to the autumn as we deliver vaccination to everyone else.”
And Mr Hancock said he would not rule out a 24-hour vaccination scheme, but claimed that supplies of the jabs from manufacturers was currently the "rate limiting factor".
"If both the person doing the vaccination and doing the vaccinating would prefer that to happen in the middle of the day rather than the night we will do it if that's what's necessary," he added.
"Our attitude is whatever it takes."
Meanwhile, Mr Hancock welcomed greater enforcement of the lockdown rules by police as he refused to rule out further restrictions if case numbers don't drop, adding: "A flex to the rules can be fatal.
"If people push the boundaries of these rules or do not take them seriously, that can lead to more cases and that can lead to more deaths."
He added: "The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now - and that something is to follow the rules.
"I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference.
"Stay at home, and please reduce all social contact that is not absolutely strictly necessary. That’s what is needed: act like you have the virus."
But he dismissed suggestions that support bubbles could be cancelled in any further tightening, saying: "I know how important they are to people, and they are an important part of the system we have go to support people," he said.
"The bubbles are there for individual specific people...if there is someone in your bubble, you are essentially part of the same household."