Boris Johnson said higher levels of coronavirus cases currently means that “in one way our position today is actually more challenging” than last September
Boris Johnson failed to rule out making vaccine passports mandatory in pubs as Brits were warned “winter is coming”.
The Prime Minister emphasised “Covid is still out there, the disease still remains a risk” as he urged Brits to take the vaccine.
Professor Chris Whitty said people should take vaccinations “really seriously” as we are entering the seasons in which all respiratory viruses thrive, including Covid and the flu.
Showing slides at the Downing Street press conference, England’s Chief Medical Officer stressed that death and hospitalisation rates are all far higher now than they were on this date in 2020.
The Prime Minister said higher levels of coronavirus cases mean that “in one way our position today is actually more challenging” than last September.
“We have higher levels of daily cases, thousands more, but in many other crucial respects the British people, all of us collectively and individually, are incomparably better-placed to fight the disease.”
Mr Johnson said we will “keep going” with the coronavirus strategy despite the risks, which focuses heavily on increasing the number of Brits who are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine passports are a part of the Government’s plan ‘B’ strategy, and will be rolled out if Covid worsens over the coming months.
But the PM stressed he could not “rule out completely” the possibility of making vaccine passports mandatory.
He said: “I’ve never been in favour of vaccine passports for pubs. I’ve been, I think, pretty clear about that throughout the pandemic.
“I do think that there are settings, as we put it – nightclubs, large music venues and so on, venues with big, closely-packed crowds – where they might be appropriate.
“As we all know, some events have been using them over the summer, very effectively, to get going. I think it would be sensible for a Government not to rule that out.”
Professor Whitty reiterated the fact that viruses thrive during colder periods, adding: “I don’t think you need a medical degree to know Autumn and Winter are when respiratory viruses are hugely advantaged.”
“We’re about to enter winter. Winter is coming and people really should take this seriously.”
It came as Mr Johnson unveiled a plan ‘A’ for tackling Covid which focuses on giving booster jabs to over-50s and a plan ‘B’ which includes making face masks and vaccine passports mandatory along with people being encouraged to work from home.
Over-50s are expected to start receiving Covid booster jabs within days as the Government unveiled plans for a massive vaccination campaign this winter.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised ministers to give millions of older people a third vaccine dose, to top up their immunity agains the virus.
Around 30 million Brits are expected to be eligible for a booster, which includes all over-50s, NHS and care workers, and the clinically vulnerable.
Professor Chris Whitty said Public Health England data shows in every age bracket there is a “very substantially smaller” risk of being admitted to hospital with Covid if someone is vaccinated compared to those who are not jabbed.
The PM refused to detail how bad a future wave of Covid would have to be for the Government to impose its “plan B” restrictions.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the best way to avoid future lockdowns is to persuade as many people as possible who are still unvaccinated to get a jab.
The chief scientific adviser said there are currently five million people who are eligible for a vaccine who have yet to take them.