In recent weeks, ministers have faced repeated calls from teaching unions to prioritise teachers for vaccines before reopening schools. Police representatives have also called for officers to get jabs.

Prof Harnden, a professor of primary care at Oxford University, said: “Actually, when you look at the Office of National Statistics data, particularly that school survey of infection data, it doesn’t suggest that teachers are any more at risk of acquiring infections or coronavirus than any other member of the population.

“So in terms of infection, and in terms of disease, there isn’t a strong scientific argument to immunise teachers outside those aged 50 or those with underlying health conditions.”

Prof Harnden emphasised that any decision to prioritise particular groups of workers would be for politicians, and said the JCVI would be “steering our advice based on science”.

He added: “I would say that one of the key reasons that this programme has been so successful is because it has been simple, it’s been deliverable, it’s been rolled out very quickly and people understand it.

“If you start picking out certain groups, it will make it more complicated. The risk of doing that is slowing the programme down, and then it may be that some people will be exposed to virus and actually some harm that wouldn’t have been otherwise.”

As of Tuesday night, more than 18,242,873 first doses, plus 669,105 second doses, had been administered across the UK.



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