EVERYONE over the age of 50 will be offered a coronavirus jab by “late spring”, the boss of the NHS is set to reveal today.
The chief executive of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens will make the announcement ahead of the expected approval of the latest Covid jab from the Oxford/AstraZeneca team.
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It comes after Sir Simon said Covid vaccines are “the biggest chink of hope for the year ahead”.
The Oxford announcement is due this week and Sir Simon will say that if supplies of the vaccine continue to “come on stream” then the NHS will be able to give the jab to “all vulnerable people” across the country before the start of summer, The Times reported.
Hundreds of thousands of Brits have already had their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford roll out will mean many more could be protected.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously set out the vaccine priority list.
Under its guidance around 25 million people are covered by vulnerable categories.
The first supplies of the vaccine have been sent to care home residents and workers, as well as those over the age of 80 and NHS frontline workers.
This accounts for around six million people.
After this group, the priority is those between the ages of 50 and 80 as well as those who have been shielding during the pandemic – who fall under the extremely clinically vulnerable category.
This could be people with terminal illnesses, as well as the elderly – this group is made up of people who are at risk of death or serious complications from the virus.
A hundred million doses of the Oxford vaccine have been ordered by the UK.
BIGGEST BREAKTHROUGH OF ALL
Sir Simon described the vaccine programme, which started earlier this month with the Pfizer jab, as the “biggest breakthrough of all”.
Addressing the nation from a vaccination centre he said that NHS workers were “back in the eye of the storm” as the second wave of the virus sweeps across the UK and Europe.
He said: “We think by late spring, with vaccine supplies continuing to come on stream, we will have been able to offer all vulnerable people across this country Covid vaccination.
“That perhaps provides the biggest chink of hope for the year ahead.”
The vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is expected to be approved as early as Wednesday.
It could be made available for use from Monday, with 10,000 medics and volunteers ready to assist.
Health chiefs want to jab one million a week — including at mass vaccination centres in stadiums, racecourses and village halls.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, echoed Sir Simon’s remarks, saying: “There is hope on the horizon.”
But she cautioned: “The very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions.
“We have all made huge sacrifices this year but we must all continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus which is still replicating fast.”
The comments come after research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) predicts the current government target for jabs needs to be doubled.
THIRD WAVE WORRIES
The recommendation was made in a paper shared with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
It is understood to be circulating among MPs, the Telegraph reports.
A source told the paper that volunteers will be administering at least one million vaccinations a week by the middle of January.
However, according to LSHTM modelling, this is not enough to stop a third wave of the virus.
The LSHTM paper said: “The most stringent intervention scenario with Tier 4 England-wide and schools closed during January and two million individuals vaccinated per week is the only scenario we considered which reduces peak ICU burden below the levels seen during the first wave.”
Yesterday, the Government said it has set a target of two million people to be jabbed by the middle of January — and hopes 15million will be immune by March.
Calum Semple, a member of Sage, said herd immunity from vaccination won’t be affective until 70 to 80 per cent of the population get the jab.
The professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool told BBC Breakfast: “To get the wider community herd immunity from vaccination rather than through natural infection will take probably 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the population to be vaccinated, and that, I’m afraid, is going to take us right into the summer I expect.”
He described the Oxford vaccine as a “game changer” if it is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.