Boris Johnson addressed the nation tonight to give the latest update on the country’s battle against the coronavirus.
The prime minister was delighted to announce during the daily briefing that the government’s immunization program had met its February 15 target.
But while delivering the good news, Mr Johnson has always called for caution and warned that now is not the time to relax.
NHS England Managing Director Sir Simon Stevens and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty provided an update on hospital admissions and the death rate.
Here’s what we learned from tonight’s briefing …
Vaccination target achieved, but “ no time to relax ”
The prime minister said the vaccination program continued to “ exceed ” targets set for it, but warned that now is not the time to relax efforts to tackle the virus.
He said: This is an unprecedented national achievement, but now is not the time to relax.
“In fact, now is the time to step up because the threat of this virus remains very real.”
Although more than 90% of those over 70 have been vaccinated, around 60% of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 were under that age.
Mr Johnson also said there were ‘reasons of confidence’ that the vaccines were helping to curb the spread of the coronavirus, not just protect those who received the vaccine.
“Although the vaccination program is going well, we still do not have enough data on the exact effectiveness of vaccinations in reducing the spread of infection.
“We have some interesting straws in the wind, we have reason to trust but the vaccinations have only been working for a few weeks.”
Roadmap for next week to define as much as possible the path to normalcy
Mr Johnson called on people to be ‘optimistic but also patient’ on the battle against Covid.
He told the press conference that next week’s “road map” would lay out as much as possible the path to normalcy, although some things are very uncertain.
He said: “We want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.”
Hospital admissions ‘down, but still high’
The Prime Minister said there were still more hospital patients with Covid-19 than at the peak of the first wave and admissions stood at 1,600 per day across the UK.
He said, “We have to keep our feet on the ground.”
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, added that the number of people hospitalized in the UK with coronavirus was dropping, but ‘rates are still very high’.
“They are roughly at the point, in fact slightly above the point, where they were at the peak of the epidemic in April of last year,” he said at the press conference.
“So these are still very high rates but they are certainly going in the right direction.”
Hope that all members of the first nine priority groups will be offered the vaccination by the end of April
The following million invitation letters offered vaccine appointments to over 65s and those aged 16 to 64 with underlying illnesses, as well as adult caregivers.
He added, “If we can keep that pace and if we can keep the supply stable and I hope and believe we can, then we hope to offer immunization to everyone in the first nine priority groups including all over 50, by the end of April. “
Death rates remain high, but are declining
Professor Whitty said death rates remain high but continue to fall.
He also stressed that protection against coronavirus vaccines is not immediate, but comes after two or three weeks.
He said: “Then people will have a second vaccine and that will boost the level of protection and make it more durable, so it’s absolutely essential that when people are asked to come back for their second vaccine, they do.”
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