The latest on . . .
Hopes of avoiding fourth UK lockdown grow as PHE boss welcomes ‘very good signs’ that jabs may halt outbreaks
Early data on the UK’s Covid vaccine rollout suggests that people who have been immunised “are not getting infected at all”, according to Public Health England’s head of immunisation.
Dr Mary Ramsay told Radio 4’s Today programme that “there’s really very good signs that this is going to at least reduce infection rates across the population, and hopefully… prevent people passing it on almost completely if they’ve been vaccinated fully”.
The findings have boosted hopes that the UK can avoid a fourth lockdown – with the optimism further fuelled by Office for National Statistics data showing that more than half of over-80s in England outside care homes have antibodies against Covid-19.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons yesterday that the recent fall in Covid-related deaths is “accelerating” as a result of the jabs rollout.
Hancock “told MPs that hospital admissions were halving every 15 days for the over-85s, compared with 18 days for other ages, and deaths were halving every ten days among the oldest, compared with every 12 days among younger people”, The Times reports.
As the paper points out, “the more effective the vaccines are at blocking transmission, the easier it will be to keep cases low once restrictions are lifted”.
However, PHE boss Ramsay has caveated that “we may need to tweak the vaccine to make sure that it provides good protection” against new strains of the coronavirus.
The vaccine data findings come after an analysis by The Telegraph found that “more than seven million people in the UK are living in areas where cases of Covid-19 have almost disappeared”.
“Hundreds of neighbourhoods across the country” reported fewer than three new Covid cases last week, according to the paper, including spots in Cornwall, Devon and Wiltshire.
Some areas of London have begun recording a dramatic drop in cases too, including Notting Hill West, Pimlico in Westminster, Balham in Wandsworth and Hampstead Town in Camden.
Greater Manchester neighbourhoods including Trafford and Oldham, and in Liverpool City Region areas including Wirral and St Helens, have also recorded almost zero new infections.