Britons in their 30s are set to be invited for Covid vaccines within days with officials close to securing tens of millions of Pfizer jabs.
The new order of 40million roughly doubles the UK’s original order and will arrive in time for a third booster dose to be given to elderly people in the autumn.
If the negotiations are finalised, the extra stock could also be used for people in their twenties who will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, figures show. NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day
By the end of this week, people in their thirties will start to be invited for their vaccine appointments, according to The Sunday Times.
It had previously been projected that the age group would have to wait until the second half of May but the rollout is running ahead of schedule.
More than half of the population in the UK have now received their first dose, of which 12million people have received their second.
Nearly half of people in their forties have also been inoculated with their first dose.
A total of 38,792,402 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and April 24, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 602,866 on the previous day.
Britons in their 30s are set to be invited for Covid vaccines within days with officials close to securing tens of millions of Pfizer jabs
NHS England said 28,227,710 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 124,858 on the previous day, while 10,564,692 were a second dose, an increase of 478,008.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Imminsation (JCVI) is still discussing whether people in their thirties will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine or an alternative.
The jab has been linked to rare cases of blood clots in young people and those under 30 will receive a different jab.
Officials believe the AstraZeneca vaccine will still be used for people in their thirties to keep up the pace of the rollout but members are divided over the announcement which will come this week.
A source said: ‘It’s important to realise the JCVI is a very big group and there are lots of different voices.’
The UK was the first country to place Pfizer orders last summer and was later the first to grant approval and start the rollout.
Half of the original 40million order has been delivered so far but officials are looking to boost stocks due to blood clot fears over the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs.
Last month, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said a booster programme would likely start in September.
It will be administered to 10.3million over-70s and care home residents as well as the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Care and health workers may also be included in the programme aimed to give long-lasting immunity.
More than half of the population in the UK have now received their first dose, of which 12million people have received their second
In other coronavirus news:
- The government announced Britain is to send more than 600 pieces of medical equipment to India following a huge surge in coronavirus cases in the country;
- A total of 38,792,402 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and April 24, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 602,866 on the previous day;
- Britons in their 30s are set to be invited for Covid vaccines within days with officials close to securing tens of millions of Pfizer jabs;
- Microsoft founder Bill Gates expressed confidence that the world will be ‘completely back to normal’ by the end of 2022;
- Home Secretary Priti Patel has blasted the ‘senseless thugs’ who pelted police with missiles and bottles leaving eight officers injured during an anti-Covid passport march in London;
- Travel experts have warned summer holidays could be under threat if the Foreign Office advises against travel to green list countries.
The Government said there had been a further 1,712 lab-confirmed cases in the UK – a drop of 9 per cent compared to last week’s figure of 1,882.
Today 11 new deaths from the disease were recorded – a ten per cent increase on last Sunday’s figure of 10.
Data released today shows the number of Covid cases total 4,404,882 whilst the total number of Covid deaths within 28 days of a positive test has reached the tragic total of 127,428.
As of Friday April 23 the latest NHS data recorded 243 Covid patients who are currently on ventilation in hospital. As of Thursday April 22 there were 1,781 Covid patients being treated in hospital.
The latest figures come as the government announced Britain is to send more than 600 pieces of medical equipment to India following a huge surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
Crowds of Londoners relax in the sunshine at Tower Bridge as temperatures reach 57F in parts of England and Wales today
MANCHESTER: Following a day of sunshine, crowds of people fill Cutting Room Square on Friday night in Ancoats, in the north of Manchester City Centre
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the assistance package would include ventilators and oxygen concentrators from surplus stocks.
It said the first of nine planeloads of kit would arrive in New Delhi early on Tuesday.
In a statement, Boris Johnson said: ‘We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against Covid-19.
‘Vital medical equipment, including hundreds of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, is now on its way from the UK to India to support efforts to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus.
‘We will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time and I’m determined to make sure that the UK does everything it can to support the international community in the global fight against (this) pandemic.’
Earlier today shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on Boris Johnson’s Government to ‘step forward and show real leadership’, as they said the ‘rapid spread of infections has placed India’s health system under unprecedented strain’.
India’s surging Covid second wave has so overwhelmed crematoriums that grieving families are being forced to burn victims in their own gardens. Pictured: a crematorium in Delhi
In Delhi, 348 deaths were recorded on Friday, one every four minutes, and in the southern state of Karnataka, the government has been forced to allow families to cremate or bury victims in their own farms, land or gardens
The home ceremonies have to comply with health guidelines but it is hoped the move will ease the pressure on crematoriums and grave diggers
In a letter to their counterparts, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the two Labour frontbenchers said the images coming from India were ‘truly haunting’.
They said the ‘tragedy of this situation will be felt particularly acutely here in the UK among the Indian diaspora, who will understandably be deeply concerned about family and friends’.
They said: ‘Given our deep links with India, the UK cannot remain on the sidelines.
‘This pandemic has been a stark reminder of the interconnected nature of our world and the impact events on the other side of the globe can have here in the UK.
‘Nowhere is safe until everywhere safe. The virus and its variants cannot be defeated by the individual efforts of nations alone.’
They called on the UK to show ‘leadership and forge agreements to remove barriers to vaccine distribution and supply’ and ‘extend the offer of British assistance to the Indian government’.
Ms Nandy and Mr Ashworth set out the critical areas in which British expertise, capacity and support could help, including:
- Supplies of liquid oxygen and canisters for people in hospital.
- Expertise in genome sequencing and epidemiology.
- Surplus therapeutic drugs and equipment.
- A commitment to share surplus doses of Covid-19 vaccine and support the Indian government in ramping up vaccine production and distribution to reach all parts of the country.
Bill Gates says he’s hopeful the world will be ‘completely back to normal’ by the end of next year as vaccine rollout frees up excess doses
Microsoft founder Bill Gates expressed confidence that the world will be ‘completely back to normal’ by the end of 2022.
The Microsoft founder said he expected Covid infection levels to be reduced to ‘very small numbers’ by the end of next year as vaccines became increasingly available around the world.
He said within ‘the next three or four months’ the US and other developed countries will start to have excess vaccines they can share with the developing world.
‘Over the balance of the year, the US, the UK and others will be able to make sure that the vaccines are now going to the developing countries,’ he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
‘Because many of the vaccines worked, although we are looking at some of the side effects now and making sure we can treat those and that they are very rare, that good news means we will be able to supply others.
He also urged the UK to restore its overseas aid budget as soon as possible, saying it is of ‘critical importance’ in getting vaccines to the developing world.
Gates added that British voters should be ‘very proud’ of the role their country had played in supporting Gavi – the international vaccine alliance.
However he said its impact would be diminished unless the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid – which has been cut temporarily due to economic effects of the pandemic – was restored.
‘The quicker the UK can get its aid level back up to the 0.7 per cent the better,’ he said.
‘It’s been the strongest proponent of getting behind vaccines and making sure we eradicate polio and with the cutbacks we won’t be able to do as much so I hope that gets restored because it is of critical importance.’
Gates added: ‘The other good news is that the actual death rate from this epidemic in the poorest countries has actually been quite low.
‘So the places where you want to get everyone over-60 vaccinated, like South Africa, Brazil, that will become a priority just in the next three or four months … when the US will move into that excess position.’
Gates said it was a ‘good thing’ that rich countries had been able to vaccinate their elderly populations as they had generally been harder hit than developing countries.
‘The fact that now we’re vaccinating 30-year-olds in the UK and the US and we don’t have all the 60-year-olds in Brazil and South Africa (vaccinated), that’s not fair, but within three or four months the vaccine allocation will be getting to all the countries that have the very severe epidemic.’
They said: ‘This virus does not respect national borders, and defeating it anywhere means defeating it everywhere.
‘We have already seen how quickly variants identified thousands of miles away have made it to British shores and limiting the spread of Covid-19 internationally is vital in safeguarding our own domestic security.
‘It is almost a year ago to the day that the Indian government, in response to the UK’s request for assistance, approved the export of almost three million packets of paracetamol to support our own fight against this virus.
‘Now is not the moment for the UK to shy away from our international obligations, but to step forward and show real leadership by assisting others in their time of need.’
The aid comes as India’s second coronavirus wave overwhelmed the country, forcing grieving families to burn their loved ones in their own gardens.
The country announced a record 349,661 infections and 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours and bodies are continuing to pile up, with experts predicting the surge to continue for weeks.
In Delhi, 348 deaths were recorded on Friday, one every four minutes, and in the southern state of Karnataka, the government has been forced to allow families to cremate or bury victims in their own farms, land or gardens.
The home ceremonies have to comply with health guidelines but it is hoped the move will ease the pressure on crematoriums and grave diggers.
Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa said the situation was ‘out of control’, adding: ‘It is prudent to swiftly and respectfully dispose the body in a decentralised manner keeping in view the grieving circumstance and to avoid crowding in crematoriums and burial grounds.’
A construction entrepreneur from Bangalore told The Straits Times his family had to dig up their lawn to bury his father this week.
Bangalore’s seven crematoriums have been working 24 hours a day as they try to manage four times their normal workload.
Bookings for wooden pyres in Ghaziabad have run out and bodies are having to be burnt in the spaces between the platforms.
One electric furnace even broke down and had to be repaired due to its excessive use, while a chimney in another furnace cracked from the constant heat.
There are fears the situation could become even worse in the coming days, with senior virologists warning the second wave still has two weeks to run before it reaches the peak of 500,000 infections a day.
Shahid Jameel, director of biosciences at Ashoka University, said virus models suggest case numbers will continue to rise despite vaccination efforts.
The news follows a message from Home Secretary Priti Patel who blasted the ‘senseless thugs’ who pelted police with missiles and bottles leaving eight officers injured during an anti-Covid passport march in London.
She has said she plans to double the sentence for assaulting emergency workers after pictures showed bloodied police officers confront protestors in Hyde Park yesterday afternoon.
Expressing her frustration on Twitter, Priti Patel wrote: ‘Our brave police are the best of us and should not be the target of senseless violence by a criminal minority for just doing their job.
‘I am getting tough on these thugs and will be doubling the sentence for assault of an emergency worker. I wish the officers a speedy recovery.’
Eight officers were injured as protesters bombarded police with missiles and bottles while thousands of anti-vaccine passport activists marched through London.
Demonstrators hurled bottles as officers attempted to disperse the crowds in Hyde Park on Saturday evening, the Metropolitan Police said.
A Met Police spokesman said two officers were taken to hospital after protesters turned violent last night. They added: ‘Eight officers were injured as they worked to disperse crowds in Hyde Park this evening.
‘Missiles including bottles were thrown in small pockets of disorder. Two officers were taken to hospital. Thankfully, they are not believed to be seriously injured.’
Priti Patel (pictured) announced plans to double the sentence for those convicted of assaulting an emergency worker
Five people were arrested for offences including assault on police and remain in custody.
Demonstrators made their way through the capital earlier yesterday as they waved banners and placards daubed with a range of slogans including ‘no new normal’ and ‘no health passport’.
The crowds did not appear to be adhering to social distancing guidelines and were not wearing face masks.
Two other arrests were made earlier in the day as a 38-year-old was taken into custody at 3.20pm near Embankment on suspicion of a public order offence.
At 4.40pm a 37-year-old man was arrested near Trafalgar Square on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and a public order offence.
The protest comes amid discussions over ‘Covid-status certificates’ being considered by ministers to help open up society, get people back into work or away on holiday despite concerns from Boris Johnson’s own MPs that they will be ‘intrusive, costly and unnecessary’.
Sharing pictures of bloodied police officers, Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned ‘senseless violence’ directed at officers
Thousands of activists marched through central London yesterday in a protest to demand a ban on vaccine passports
Demonstrators held banners with messages such as: ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Holocaust’, and: ‘No To Vaccine Passports.’
Another banner read: ‘You don’t need proof to know truth.’
Earlier this month, Britain’s equalities watchdog warned the Government that vaccine passports could be unlawful, create a ‘two-tier society’ and discriminate against migrants, ethnic minorities and the poor.
With restrictions set to be further relaxed next month, travel experts have warned summer holidays could be under threat if the Foreign Office advises against travel to green list countries.
The Government is preparing to lift the ban on international travel on May 17 and is finalising plans for a ‘traffic light’ system to determine which countries will be authorised destinations.
However, experts have warned of confusion because the Foreign Office is expected to publish its own advice which could differ from the traffic light system.
Holidaymakers face fresh confusion as travel experts have warned the Foreign Office could publish separate guidance from the traffic light system due to be finalised next month
This means if the Foreign Office advises against travel to a certain country, even if it is permitted by the traffic light system, holidaymakers could see their plans disrupted.
Most holiday companies will not operate services in countries the Foreign Office has advised against visiting and going to a country against government guidelines will also invalidate travel insurance.
According to the Times, even destinations on the green or amber list – where travel is permitted – could be off-limits if the Foreign Office advises against travelling to them.
Their advice is based on factors such as the risk of individuals getting stuck by Covid restrictions or the capacity and quality of the country’s health services.
Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade told The Times: ‘Green and amber countries should not be caught up in additional travel advisories.
‘We need to see alignment between the Foreign Office advice and traffic light system to provide clarity and transparency to consumers and operators.’
A Foreign Office source said: ‘Travel advice is an independent assessment of the risk [to] Brits travelling aboard. It’s independent, trusted advice and will remain so.’
The Government is expected to finalise its traffic light system in the coming weeks with green countries set for restriction-free travel while amber countries will mean people must self-isolate at home for ten days on their return.
Travellers from red list countries will be required to quarantine at a hotel. Most European countries are expected to be on the amber list.
Countries expected to be on the green list include Portugal, Dubai and Malta.
It comes after Turkey announced it has lifted all restrictions for Britons travelling to the country.
Visitors from the UK will not need to produce a Covid vaccine passport, but will need to show proof of a negative PCR test.
The country also promises to provide testing for tourists before they return to the UK, with tests at hotels or airports costing around £25. Until now PCR tests for a family of four can cost as much as £500.
Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, said it had seen a surge in bookings to popular Turkish coastal resorts even before the announcement on Friday.
Travel consultancy The PC Agency told MailOnline it had seen a spike in bookings for luxury villas in Greece, Portugal and Mallorca after the Greek Tourism Minister announced the plan to welcome British tourists from mid-May.
The agency revealed people are booking up for month-long trips and asking for WiFi and a desk and are taking the whole family so that they can get paid to work from home while on holiday.
The PC Agency also said it had seen double the amount of requests for Greek villas compared to previous years, with demand for fully serviced villas with a chef, butler and housekeeper so tourists can stay away from busy restaurants.
Popular islands Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Crete are already getting booked up, with most bookings from 2020 rolled over into this year.
Brits are also looking for properties on smaller islands including Hydra, Paxos and Syros, which are off the beaten track and away from the crowds, according to The PC Agency.
Popular islands Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Crete are already booking up fast, with most bookings from 2020 rolled over into this year.