politics

Sajid Javid plays down need to move to Plan B in wake of Covid surge in Europe


The Health Secretary insisted he was not ­complacent about numbers as experts claim the UK is unlikely to experience a surge similar to the rest of Europe but urged people to remain cautious in the run-up to Christmas

The Health Secretary played down needing to move to Plan B as cases surge in Europe

The Health Secretary has played down any need to move to Plan B to tackle Covid in the wake of the surge of cases in Europe.

Sajid Javid insisted it was not yet time for more restrictions to be introduced but he urged people to remain cautious in the run-up to Christmas.

He said: “If we needed to take further measures with Plan B then we would do so, but we’re not at that point.”

Mr Sajid insisted he was not ­complacent about numbers as experts claim the UK is unlikely to experience a surge similar to the rest of Europe.

Booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from Covid who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least 6 months ago.

From today, 40 to 49 year olds are able to book booster jabs as well 16 to 17-year-olds their second doses.








People gather to protest against mandatory Covid vaccines in Brussels
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Image:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)



Mr Javid suggested he would extend boosters to healthy under-40s if recommended by the JCVI watchdog, which is reviewing the issue.

Vaccines chiefs are also said to be considering dosing children aged between five and 11 next spring.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to rule out imposing his Plan B with mandatory masks and vaccine passports as a “blizzard” of cases hits Continental hotspots.

One of the creators of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine predicted Covid rates are “unlikely” to surge in the UK this winter as in Europe because we’re already suffering so badly.

Prof Sir Andrew Pollard said the UK is less likely to see the “very sharp rise” being recorded in other European countries.

UK cases of the Delta variant are already high and have been since summer, with more than 1,000 people dying per week.

Some experts fear vulnerable patients may have died because they did not get a third jab when the Government promised.

Sir Andrew warned Covid will be with us “for the decades ahead”, with cases in the UK up 10.7% in a week.








Professor Sir Andrew Pollard
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Image:

Steve Reigate Daily Express)



His comments about rates could ease fears of a lockdown in the UK after restrictions in Austria and the Netherlands led to protests.

Sir John Bell of the Vaccine Task Force said “my bet at the moment” is the UK would not see as powerful a surge as parts of Europe.

He said: “My advice is, order that turkey, because it’ll all be fine. sAnd if you’re planning a skiing holiday in Austria, things may not go so well.”

The expert added: “In many ways the pattern of our disease doesn’t match the pattern of the European disease.

“You’ll remember way back in the dark days of March, April, May 2020, everybody said, ‘Oh gosh, aren’t the Germans clever, they haven’t got any Covid and aren’t the Brits dumb because they’ve got lots of it’. I don’t think it has quite played out that way.”

Mr Javid did not rule out adding European hotspots to the travel red list, saying: “We keep our travel rules with respect to the virus under review all the time.”

But he said mandatory vaccination is not something the Government would “ever look at” bringing in – apart from NHS and social care staff.

Mr Javid admitted the Government is not on track to meet its promise of 6,000 more GPs because of the focus on the pandemic.

He said: “Let’s wait and see where we eventually get to.”


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