People who have received their first Covid-19 jab must stay at home for three weeks after their injection because it can take that long for immunity to ‘kick in’, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned last night.
He said that while getting vaccinated was ‘something to celebrate’, recipients of the jab needed to ‘stay patient’.
The caution of England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer comes amid concern from Ministers that vaccinated people might start mixing with others or relax their social distancing too soon.
That could be deadly for elderly recipients of the vaccine, who make up the bulk of those who have had it so far, and risk spreading the virus more widely among the population at large.
Prof Van-Tam said: ‘Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don’t yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission.’
The medic added that it was vital that people continue sticking to the lockdown rules even after they have had the vaccine because they can still spread the virus.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London
‘So even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid to someone else and the chains of transmission will then continue,’ he wrote.
‘If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.’
The warning from Prof Van Tam came as Britain’s daily Covid case total plunged by 18 per cent in a week after experts played down the Government’s ‘scaremongering’ claims that a UK variant of coronavirus is more deadly than the original strain.
A further 33,552 people tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday – a nearly 10,000 drop on the 41,346 recorded last Saturday. It brings the total number of cases in the UK since the start of the pandemic to 3,617,459.
Official figures also revealed 1,348 more people have died within 24 hours of testing positive for the virus – a rise of 4.1 per cent on last Saturday’s 1,295.
But, in a positive sign Britain’s third wave of Covid fatalities could be slowing, last Saturday brought a 25 per cent week-on-week rise in daily cases, significantly higher than the increase seen today.
Boris Johnson yesterday revealed that the Kent coronavirus strain – responsible for the soaring Covid cases recorded in the last month – could be 30 per cent more deadly than older versions of the virus.
However the PM has been accused of ‘scaremongering’ after failing to present any evidence to back up the terrifying development.
And the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – the body of scientists which has advised the Government throughout the pandemic – are only 50 per cent sure the new variant could be more fatal.
Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) – the subcommittee of Sage which discussed the deadliness of the new strain on Thursday – said the claim that the variant is 30 per cent more lethal is on a ‘very fragile’ base of evidence and accused the Government of ‘exploiting public fear’ over the virus.
Chief Scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said during the press conference that evidence the strain is indeed more deadly is still ‘weak’.
Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle today revealed it is not ‘absolutely clear’ if a mutation of the virus first found in Kent is more dangerous.
Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it is an ‘open question’ but not a ‘game changer’ in terms of dealing with the pandemic.
And Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of Sage subgroup the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, said it was still too early to be drawing ‘strong conclusions’ about the suggested increased mortality rate.
PHE’s Dr Doyle said it is still not ‘absolutely clear’ the new variant coronavirus which emerged in the UK is more deadly than the original strain. She said more work was needed to determine whether it was true.
She told the Today programme: ‘There are several investigations going on at the moment. It is not absolutely clear that that will be the case. It is too early to say.
‘There is some evidence, but it is very early evidence. It is small numbers of cases and it is far too early to say this will actually happen.’
Figures released today showed there were a further 1,079 cases of coronavirus in Wales and another 27 deaths.
Meanwhile, a further 76 people have died from coronavirus in Scotland, while 1,307 more positive cases have been confirmed.
There have been 12 more deaths due to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, while a further 670 positive cases of the virus were also confirmed there on Saturday.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 113,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The Government also said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 33,552 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
The Sage paper cited three studies of the Kent strain: A London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study (left) based on 2,583 deaths that said the hazard of death within 28 days of test for the mutant strain compared with non-mutant strains was 35% times higher An Imperial College London study (centre) of the Case Fatality Rate of the new mutant strain that found the risk of death was 36% times higher A University of Exeter study (right) that suggested the risk of death could be 91% higher. Both the Exeter and the Imperial studies were based on just 8% of deaths during the study period
Boris Johnson (pictured) yesterday revealed that the Kent coronavirus strain – called B.1.1.7 – could be 30 per cent more deadly than older versions of the virus
Government data up to January 22 shows of the 6,329,968 jabs given in the UK so far, 5,861,351 were first doses – a rise of 478,248 on the previous day’s figures.
Some 468,617 were second doses, an increase of 1,821 on figures released the previous day.
The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 328,882.
Based on the latest figures, an average of 397,333 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the Government’s target of 15 million first doses by February 15.
It comes after Sage’s warning revealing scientists are only 50 per cent sure the variant could be more fatal was handed to ministers just hours before the official address to the public from Downing Street last night.
Ministers were only informed about the development yesterday morning after members of Nervtag discussed the issue on Thursday.
The group found there was a ‘realistic possibility’ the variant resulted in an increased risk of death when compared with the original strain.
Freedom day beckons: How Britain has achieved Europe’s best vaccine rollout as it aims to give jabs to the 15million most vulnerable people by February 15
Britain’s vaccine rollout has been a huge success – with a record number of first doses (478,248) administered in a day, on Friday. This means the cumulative total across the UK is 5,861,351 (8.8 per cent of the total population). The achievement, the best in Europe, is due to a combination of the NHS’s well-established system for giving jabs such as against flu or MMR, and the Government’s foresight in placing advance orders for 357million doses from seven different manufacturers. Phase one of the strategy – inoculating the 15million most vulnerable – has a target completion for February 15. Experts believe this is when it may be safe to start to ease lockdown restrictions.
15 MILLION JABS BY FEBRUARY 15
ON TRACK TO SHIELD MOST VULNERABLE
Home-visit vaccinations are now being given to people unable to travel – in addition to all those arranged at 1,220 GP surgeries, hospitals and special centres. A nationwide team of 80,000 is giving the jabs with 200,000 volunteers offering to help out.
JABS DONE AT PEAKY BLINDERS FILM SET
Among 30 new vaccine centres opening tomorrow will be the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, where the BBC drama Peaky Blinders was filmed. Other new sites include a former Ikea superstore in Stratford, East London; Winter Gardens Blackpool; Bath Racecourse and Debenhams in Folkestone, Kent.
THE BIG FIGHTBACK BEGAN A MONTH AGO
A ray of light in the Covid darkness appeared on December 8 when the first doses of vaccine were distributed. The swift work of scientists – led in part by Britons – to find a way to defeat the virus had paid off. Undaunted by the immense task of inoculating 30million people twice, NHS staff began to put us on the path out of the series of lockdowns
VACCINE REFUSENIKS WHO COULD SABOTAGE WORLD PROGRAMME
Britons, according to surveys, are much more likely to agree to a jab than people in other countries. In France, anti-vaccine sentiment is one of the world’s highest – with a third of respondents not believing vaccines are safe. This has been compounded by the ineptness of officials, which meant that France had inoculated only 352 people by January 4 compared with more than a million in both the UK and Israel. A report by the Edelman Trust Barometer has suggested that 66 per cent of Britons are happy to be vaccinated. Other figures: Italy 65 per cent willing, Germany 62, United States 59, Spain 58, Japan 54, France 52 and Russia 40.
A further 32 coronavirus vaccine sites are set to open next week, including at a museum which was used as a set in hit TV show Peaky Blinders
By Harry Howard for MailOnline
A further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across the country this week, NHS England has said, including one at the museum made famous as the set of hit TV series Peaky Blinders.
A site has been set up at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which featured in the long-running TV show.
Other sites roped into the vaccination effort include a race course, a show ground, a football stadium and a former Ikea store.
A further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across the country this week, NHS England has said, including one at the museum made famous as the set of hit TV series Peaky Blinders
The new vaccination centres will be focusing on offering jabs to health and social care staff on Monday, before opening their doors to other priority patients on Tuesday.
Black Country Living Museum to open as vaccination centre
The Black Country Living Museum, made famous as a set for hit TV drama Peaky Blinders, is to open as a vaccination centre on Monday.
The Victorian-era heritage site, which has previously been used as a backdrop for the BBC show, will open its doors next week as one of the latest locations to help deliver the Government’s national Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
The opening, announced on Friday by NHS Black Country and West Birmingham clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), has been described as a ‘game-changer’ for Dudley and the surrounding area.
Latest figures from NHS England showed 97,310 jabs had been administered in the area by Thursday, since the national rollout began.
That places it second out of all Midlands areas in administering jabs, behind Birmingham and Solihull, where 98,536 total doses had been given.
The well-known landmark will be offering invite-only vaccines, with patients receiving letters to attend appointments, prioritising jabs for people most at risk of complications from Covid-19.
People are being urged not to call or contact the museum directly, but wait to be written to by the NHS.
The museum centre will complement existing GP-led vaccination services which are already up and running locally.
NHS England said hundreds of thousands of letters have already been sent out to people over the age of 80 in the vicinity of the new sites inviting them to book a jab.
In the North East, a site has been set up in Sunderland’s Nightingale Hospital, while in the North West one will open in Blackpool Winter Gardens and another in Lancaster Town Hall.
In the Yorkshire and Humber region, one centre is housed at Sheffield Arena and one at Spectrum Community Health’s premises in Wakefield.
As well as the Black Country Museum, in the West Midlands centres have been prepared at Stoneleigh Park Agricultural Centre in Warwickshire, the Artrix Centre in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and the Daniel Platts Business Park in Stoke-on-Trent.
Residents of the East Midlands will soon be able to get vaccinated at the Peepul Centre in Leicestershire, the Derby Arena, the Royal Pavilion at Moulton Park in Northamptonshire and at a former Wickes Store in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.
In the east of England, there is a site at the Peterborough City Care Centre, one at the Redgrave Children’s Centre in Luton and another Gainsborough Sports Centre, Ipswich.
To the west of England, a site is now located at the Telford International Centre in Shropshire.
In London and Greater London, there are sites at the Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre in Crouch End, one in an old Ikea unit at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, another in the Francis Crick Institute in central London and one at the Hawks Road Health Clinic in Kingston.
In the South East, a vaccination centre has opened at Harlow Leisurezone in Essex, another at Oxford Kassam Stadium and one at Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group’s offices.
A site has been stationed at the Bath and West Showground in Somerset, and elsewhere in the South West there are sites at Bath Racecourse and at Salisbury City Hall.
There is also a centre at Plymouth Argyle FC’s stadium Home Park, another at the Westpoint Exhibition Centre in Exeter and one at Devon Stithians Showground in Truro, Cornwall.
On the South Coast, a vaccination site has opened at the Brighton Centre and one at Debenhams, Folkestone.
The new centres will mean there is a network of 49 mass vaccination sites across England.
There are also 70 pharmacies offering the jab, as well as more than 1,000 GP surgeries and 250 hospitals
As of the end of the day on Friday, 5.9 million people had received their first dose of the vaccine across the UK.
A site has been set up at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which featured in the long-running TV show
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive said: ‘The whole of the NHS has mobilised to set about delivering this huge Covid-19 vaccination programme, and as more supply becomes available, we’re able to expand its reach and scale.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock appealed to the public to stick to social distancing measures as the vaccine roll out continues.
‘While the vaccine can prevent severe disease, we do not know if it stops you from passing on the virus to others, and it takes time to develop immunity after a jab,’ he said.
‘So for now everyone must continue to stay at home to help bring down infections and protect the NHS.’
Those eligible for a vaccine will receive a letter and should not contact the health service, NHS England said.
You cannot get a vaccine just by turning up, and those given a time slot are asked not to arrive early to prevent queues and overcrowding.
Thousands of rapid turnaround tests are being handed out to businesses to test workers who DON’T have symptoms
Thousands of rapid turnaround coronavirus tests are being handed out to businesses to test workers without symptoms.
The Government announced a rollout of rapid testing in industries including food, manufacturing, energy and retail sectors, as well as job centres, transport networks and the military.
Around 734,600 lateral flow tests, which can give results in less than 30 minutes, have been distributed across the public and private sector so far.
Organisations signed up to workplace testing include Royal Mail, sugar giant Tate & Lyle, energy supplier Octopus Energy and DVLA.
Last month, more than 350 cases of Covid-19 had been identified among workers at the DVLA offices in Swansea, but a spokesman said cases have since gone down to zero and workplace testing has been in place ‘for a couple of weeks’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘By offering rapid testing in the workplace, we are offering additional peace of mind to those who are unable to work from home during the current lockdown.
‘Lateral flow tests have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases we would not otherwise find and I encourage employers and workers to take this offer up to help protect essential services and businesses.’
Additionally, community-based testing is being rolled out to all local authorities in England, with councils being encouraged to target testing to people who are unable to work from home.
Some 156 local authorities have set up community testing programmes so far, with more than seven million tests delivered to participating areas.
The Government is also making millions of rapid test kits available to the NHS, care home staff, primary care such as GPs, schools, colleges and universities.
Around 17 million tests have been approved for use at GP surgeries, pharmacies, dental practices and opticians, of which 7.5 million have been distributed.
Meanwhile, more than 25 million tests have been provided to NHS staff so far for home testing twice a week.
Lateral flow tests have drawn criticisms from some experts who questioned their accuracy, with vocal critic Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, previously arguing people should not be told that lateral flow tests are ‘better than they are’.
However, in a study published this week, researchers at Oxford University said rapid tests could be effective in quickly detecting the most infectious cases in a relatively cheap way.