Boris Johnson vaccine announcement LIVE – 'Vulnerable' aged 17 to 70 are new jab priority as UK hits huge 15m target

BORIS Johnson has called Britain's vaccine rollout "unbelievable" as he made a major vaccine announcement this evening.

The Prime Minister formally confirmed Britain has reached it mid-February target of vaccinating the 15 million most vulnerable citizens.

At a press conference alongside NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens and Prof Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical officer, he revealed that all those aged between 65 and 70 will now be offered the vaccine.

He also said that all those aged between 16 and 70 with serious underlying health conditions will now get the jab and revealed a new target of vaccinating everybody over the age of 50 by April.

The PM is also expected to be asked about the UK's lockdown roadmap and whether and when rules may be eased to allow children back into schools and two friends to meet one another outdoors.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest UK politics news

  • Joseph Gamp

    WATCH: PM SAYS HE WANTS CURRENT LOCKDOWN TO BE THE LAST

    Boris Johnson says he wants this lockdown to be the last as he hails first Covid jab target as huge step

  • Joseph Gamp

    MASS VACCINATIONS AND TESTING IN PLACE OF DOMESTIC VACCINE PASSPORTS

    On vaccine passports, Boris Johnson says that some countries will insist on them, and once again draws a comparison with existing measures against yellow fever.

    Mr Johnson said: "I think for this country, and the purposes of doing things in the domestic economy, we'll look at everything."

    "But what we're thinking of is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination, plus lateral flow testing for the toughest nuts to crack as it were, for nightclubs, theatres, and those parts of the economy we couldn't get open."

  • Joseph Gamp

    JOHNSON PLEDGES 'IRREVERSIBLE' APPROACH TO EASING LOCKDOWN

    Boris Johnson has pledged a "cautious but irreversible" approach to easing the lockdown and said no decisions have been made on whether all pupils can return to school at the same time.

    The Prime Minister stressed the need to be "very prudent" as ministers begin reviewing coronavirus restrictions in England, while lockdown-sceptical Tory MPs press for a swift reopening.

    Mr Johnson is preparing to set out his "road map" for relaxing measures on February 22, with March 8 earmarked for schools to start reopening to all pupils.

    He signalled a cautious approach by warning there is an increased chance of new and concerning variants emerging if infections remain high.

    "When you have a large level of circulation, when you've got a lot of disease, invariably the vulnerable suffer, so that's why we want to drive it right down, keep it right down," he said during a visit to Orpington Health and Wellbeing Centre in south-east London.

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM: WE HOPE THERE 'ISN'T THAT MUCH LONGER TO GO NOW' WITH TOUGH LOCKDOWN MEASURES

    Boris Johnson said he hopes there "isn't that much longer to go now" with severe lockdown measures.

    A member of the public called Hannah, from Glasgow, asked whether the next press conference could feature a mental health specialist.

    In response, Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: "Hannah, I think you're making a very valid point and we will try and find the right person to say something about how to do this and how to encourage everybody to really look after our mental wellbeing and try and keep going through this pandemic.

    "Because I hope that there isn't that much longer to go now but clearly people have been under a lot of pressure and we've got to address that."

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM: NOT ENOUGH DATA ABOUT VACCINE EFFECT ON COVID-19 SPREAD

    There is not yet enough data about how vaccines are affecting the spread of COVID-19, Boris Johnson has just said.

    "Although the vaccination programme is going well, we still don't have enough data about the exact effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing the spread of infection," he told the Downing Street press conference.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON: NO GUARANTEE THAT FURTHER LOCKDOWNS WON'T BE NEEDED

    Boris Johnson admitted he could not guarantee there would be no further lockdowns although he stressed that "science is now unquestionably in the ascendancy over the disease".

    The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference: "I can't give that guarantee, of course not, because we are battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing.

    "I'm increasingly confident, I'm increasingly optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations.

    "I will be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd and I'm very hopeful that we will be able to go ahead and open things up."

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM: DECISIONS ON SCHOOL REOPENINGS HAVE NOT BEEN TAKEN YET

    Boris Johnson says that decisions are "not yet taken" on school reopenings.

    He has declined to comment further on recent reports that they may reopen from March 8.

    He continued: "I would humbly advise anyone reading accounts of what we're going to do in the course of the next few months with a pinch of salt, folks, because this is still speculation.

    "When I explain on the 22nd what we're going to do, you'll be hearing it from me."

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM: NO GUARANTEE OF FURTHER DIFFICULTIES IN FUTURE

    Boris Johnson is asked whether we are looking at a very gradual easing of restrictions, and if we should "rule out get-togethers and getaways at Easter". Mr Johnson says he cannot give any guarantees.

    "We're battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing," he says.

    "I am increasingly confident [and] optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations.

    "I'll be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd. I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to go ahead and open things up."

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON: 'VERY IMPORTANT' PEOPLE MAKE USE OF NHS SERVICES

    Boris Johnson is asked about the likely need for Covid autumn booster, and how the NHS will cope with the ongoing pressure of near-constant vaccinations.

    "My instinctive answer is that the NHS already runs massive vaccination programmes for flu," Mr Johnson says. Prof Chris Whitty adds that there are multiple reasons booster vaccines should be used.

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM: PEOPLE WITH SIGNIFICANT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES TO BE INVITED FOR VACCINE FROM MARCH

    Significant mental health issues, such as severe significant bi polar and schizophrenia, next on the list during phase 2 of the rollout

  • Joseph Gamp

    PRIME MINISTER SAYS HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS RUNNING AT 1,600 PER DAY

    Boris Johnson said there were still more hospital patients with Covid-19 than at the peak of the first wave and admissions were running at 1,600 a day across the UK.

    He told a Downing Street press conference: "We have to keep our foot to the floor."

    The next million invitation letters were offering appointments for a vaccine to the over-65s and those aged 16-64 with underlying conditions, as well as adult carers.

    "If we can keep this pace up and if we can keep supply steady – and I hope and believe we can – then we hope to offer a vaccination to everyone in the first nine priority groups, including everyone over 50, by the end of April."

  • Joseph Gamp

    PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN OFFERED VACCINE AND DECLINED CAN STILL TAKE UP OFFER

    From early to mid-March, the NHS is reserving the vaccines that will be needed to administer second doses to patients who have already received their first vaccine.

    "For people aged 65 to 69, you will be getting letters today, tomorrow, this week, inviting you to book in for your vaccination," Sir Simon says. "In the first instance we are inviting you to do so at one of the larger vaccination centres, but if that's not convenient, you can hold on and you will be contacted by your local GP."

    He says the NHS wants GPs to focus on those with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk.

  • Joseph Gamp

    SIMON STEVENS: NOT MISSION ACCOMPLISHED YET

    NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens says that the vaccination roll-out has been "an extraordinary national team effort".

    He said during the conference: "You've been able to see for yourselves the speed and precision with which the vaccination programme has been undertaken.

    "Our GPs, our nurses, our pharmacists, the entire staff of the health service, but also our partners – the volunteers, the local authorities, the local businesses, the Armed Forces, and many others who have rallied round to get us to the position where we are today.

    "But today is not 'mission accomplished'. I've described the vaccination campaign as two sprints and a marathon – we've just come through the finish line of the first sprint."

  • Joseph Gamp

    SIR SIMON STEVENS: KEY POINTS FOR PHASE 2 OF VACCINATION ROLLOUT

    • Wait for NHS to get in touch
    • Invites will be sent out to one million people
    • More people that before to get vaccinated in the next 11 weeks
    • Twice as many vaccinations could given out in this phase, than in the first sprint, to give those who have already received one jab their second dose.

    PM: WE WANT CURRENT LOCKDOWN TO BE THE LAST

    Boris Johnson says that today marks a "huge step forward" which shows what Britain can do.

    "We must be both optimistic, but also patient, and next week I'll be setting out a road map saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality," he says.

    "Because we want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious, but also irreversible.

    "So please continue to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."

    • Joseph Gamp

      SIMON STEVENS: VACCINE ROLLOUT IS 'TWO SPRINTS AND A MARATHON'

      Sir Stevens says the vaccine rollout is two sprints and then a marathon.

    • Joseph Gamp

      PROFESSOR WHITTY SAYS 'SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS" IN BRINGING DOWN CASE RATES – BUT INFECTIONS STILL HIGH

      Chris Whitty says that there has been "significant progress" in reducing the case rate, but infections remain very high.

      Prof Whitty notes that the number of people in hospital is slightly above the point that it was at the peak of the epidemic during the first wave in April.

      "The most recent seven-day average was 657 deaths – still a very high number, but definitely heading in the right direction," Prof Whitty says. "This is now below the peak of the first wave that we had last year."

       

    • Joseph Gamp

      PM: PEOPLE BETWEEN 16 AND 64 WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS BEING CALLED FOR VACCINES

      "We're also contacting all those aged between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions, as well as adult carers," Mr Johnson said.

      "If we can keep this pace up and supply steady – which I hope and believe we can – then we hope to offer a vaccination to everyone in the first nine priority groups, including everyone over 50, by the end of April."

      Mr Johnson says that second doses will be given to everyone within the first 12 weeks of their first jab.

    • Joseph Gamp

      PM: NO MOMENT TO RELAX

      Boris Johnson pays tribute to the "astonishing efforts" of all involved in the UK reaching its target of more than 15 million vaccinations.

      "This is an unprecedented national moment, but it's no moment to relax, in fact it's the moment to accelerate because the threat from this virus remains very real," the Prime Minister says.

      "Don't forget that 60 per cent of hospital patients with Covid are under 70.

      "And although the vaccination programme is going well, we still don't have enough data about the exact effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing the spread of infection".

    • Joseph Gamp

      PM: VACCINE MILESTONE ONLY A FIRST STEP, WE MUST BE PATIENT

      Boris Johnson said the route to normality will be unveiled next week.

      Although some things remain uncertain.

      He also points out that another lockdown cannot happen – and that the new rules must be "cautious but irreversible".

    • Joseph Gamp

      PM: WE DON'T HAVE THE HARD STATS WE NEED FROM VACCINES

      Although the programme is going well, he says we don't have enough data on how the vaccinations prevent the spread of the disease.

      He said infections are still "incredibly high".

      The next one million letters are being sent to people aged over 65.

    • Joseph Gamp

      BORIS JOHNSON CONFERENCE BEGINS

      The prime minister starts by addressing the 15m target for Covid vaccinations being passed.

      He thanks GPS, nurses, volunteers, pharmacists and army helpers.

      He said this is no moment to relax.

    • Dan Keane

      TWO-ISLAND APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL IS WORTH EXPLORING, SAYS DUP

      The Democratic Unionist Party have said there is "value in exploring" a two-island approach by Ireland and the UK to international travel as part of the pandemic response.

      The party's leader in Westminster, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, said there was a lot of scope for cooperation in the Common Travel Area that operates between the two islands.

      Asked about an approach that would encompass the five jurisdictions of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic, Mr Donaldson said: "I think there is value in exploring that, yes."

    • Dan Keane

      'HOLES IN THE SYSTEM'

      Commons Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper has criticised the Government for allowing international passengers from high-risk nations to mix with other arrivals before quarantining.

      The Labour MP said: "The Government is at risk of undermining its own quarantine policy if passengers from high-risk countries are mixing with everyone else in the airport before most passengers and staff then travel home on public transport, and with no tests at the airport either.

      "The whole point of these measures is to prevent new variants from spreading – but that won't happen if there are still too many holes in the system."

    • Dan Keane

      FRANCE CLAIMS IT HAS VACCINATED MORE PEOPLE THAN BRITAIN

      France has tried to claim its vaccine rollout is going better than Britain's.

      Europe Minister Clement Beaune tore into the UK's jabs programme and said his country has "fully vaccinated" more people.

      The latest figures show Britain has delivered 15.6 million doses to almost a quarter of the population.

      In contrast France has managed a measly 2.9 million, reaching just 4.4% of its people.

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