Matt Hancock has revealed the UK is taking a “no regrets” approach to Covid-19 vaccination, after confirming an order of another 40 million doses.
Speaking at a 10 Downing Street press conference, the Health Secretary said the country now has over 400m doses of coronavirus vaccine on order.
And as of Sunday evening (January 31), nine in 10 over 80s and more than half of all people in their 70s had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Hancock said: “We’ve invested early and at risk, before we know for sure it will come good.
“Because from the start, we have taken a no regrets attitude to backing vaccines.”
Asked about supplies of vaccines following disputes with the EU, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have a high degree of confidence in the supplies that we have contracted from Pfizer and AstraZeneca and we’re working with our European partners to make sure those supply chains can remain open.
“And in the same way that there are some of the supplies made on the continent, so too a huge amount of it is made onshore here in the UK.”
Mr Hancock said “constructive progress” had been made with the EU over the weekend, adding: “Following those decisions by the EU, I’m confident that we will be able to deliver supplies to everyone who needs it for their second dose.
“This is obviously something we keep a very close eye on.”
Government data up to January 31 shows of the 9,790,576 jabs given in the UK so far, 9,296,367 were first doses – a rise of 319,038 on the previous day’s figures.
Some 494,209 were second doses, an increase of 3,156 on figures released the previous day.
The UK Government has today (Monday 1 February) signed a deal for a further 40 million doses of Valneva’s promising vaccine candidate.
The latest deal will bolster long-term vaccine production in Scotland and brings the total UK vaccine portfolio to 407 million doses over the next two years.
- BioNTech/Pfizer – 40 million (APPROVED AND ROLLING OUT)
- Oxford/Astra Zeneca – 100 million (APPROVED AND ROLLING OUT)
- Moderna – 17 million (APPROVED BUT NOT YET IN UK)
- Novavax – Phase 3 – 60 million
- Janssen – Phase 3 – 30 million
- GSK/Sanofi – Phase 1/2 – 60 million
- Valneva – Phase 1/2 – 100 million
Earlier today (February 1), it was revealed experts are seeking to urgently test 80,000 people in England for Covid-19, after it emerged the South African strain of the virus may have spread in some regions.
Health officials said 11 people had been identified over the last five or six days who have tested positive for the variant, but who have no links to travel.
This suggests there may pockets of spread in local communities of the new variant, with the possibility of further cases.
Experts from Public Health England (PHE), who have been sequencing around 5% to 10% of all positive cases looking for variants, are now hoping to break any chains of transmission. All but two areas involved single cases of the variant.
Mobile testing units and some home testing kits are being sent into eight postcode areas of London, the West Midlands, East of England, South East and the North West.
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.
People will be urged to agree to testing, whether they have symptoms or not.
The South African variant is thought to be as transmissible as the variant that was first identified in Kent but there is no evidence as yet that it causes more severe disease.
It is not yet known whether the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine will be effective against the variant, although other vaccines have shown promising results.
Experts advising the Government said they did not think the current vaccines would need to be tweaked to deal with any spread of the South African variant.
To date, 105 cases of the South African variant have been identified in the UK since December 22 but 94 of those had links to travel, PHE said.
Experts believe the 11 new cases may also have second or third generation links to travel but detailed investigations have not identified any such links.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk