Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday that the upcoming announcement on the route out of lockdown shows the vaccine programme is “beginning to really bear fruit”.
He said the Prime Minister would unveil data on the effect of coronavirus jabs on hospital admissions and deaths when announcing the roadmap in the House of Commons on Monday at 3.30pm and during a subsequent press conference at 7pm.
His comments come after Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that data shows the vaccine is leading to a drop in transmission as just over 17.5 million people have received their first jab.
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“Suffice to say the evidence looks good,” Mr Zahawi told Sky News on Monday.
“The Oxford team demonstrated their own evidence of cutting transmission by two thirds.
“We wouldn’t be in this place this morning to be able to say that we’re going to reopen schools on 8 March, and of course, as the school holidays begin on 29 March, we will look at the Rule of Six and two families being (able) to see each other outdoors, if we’re not confident that actually the vaccine programme is beginning to really bear fruit.”
He added that the focus of easing lockdown restrictions is “steady as she goes” as he said there would be an easing of restrictions on outdoor socialising.
Asked if travelling distances to see family would be permitted from 29 March, he said: “As long as it’s outdoors, and it is two families, or the Rule of Six, then that is what will be permitted if the four tests continue to be delivered upon.
“That will be the national lockdown, of course Scotland, as you mentioned, Northern Ireland and Wales will be setting out their own roadmap towards reopening their economies as well.
“So at the moment, the focus is very much on the steady as she goes. Outdoor versus indoor, priority being children in schools, second priority is obviously allowing two people on 8 March to meet outside for a coffee to address some of the issues around loneliness and of course mental health as well.
“And then the 29th is two families or Rule of Six coming together and outdoor sporting activities as well.”
Experts have also said the Covid-19 vaccination programme has been linked to a substantial reduction in hospital admissions
Researchers examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them with those who had not yet received a dose of the vaccine.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland examined data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by experts at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.
By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively, they found.
Additional reporting by Press Association
— to inews.co.uk