PM Boris Johnson held a national press briefing from Downing Street yesterday evening, March 18.
He delivered it at 5pm, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock appearing at the lectern, since his last address to the country from Number 10 around a week ago.
The PM was joined at the 5pm Downing Street press conference by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine, reports BirminghamLive.
Here are nine key announcements made from yesterday’s briefing.
Nine key announcements
Boris is getting the vaccine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is getting his vaccine and it will be the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
More than 25m people have had their first vaccine in the UK, he then added.
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is “safe and effective” – and its benefits outweigh any risks, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded.
However, the European regulator said it “cannot rule out definitively” a link between “a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious blood clotting disorders” and the vaccine, though investigations were ongoing.
Fewer vaccines in April
The PM confirmed there will be “slightly fewer” vaccines available in April than this month due to supply issues.
There will be enough to fulfil the 12 million second doses in April, he added.
The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid – that’s the message from Mr Johnson as he urged everyone to get the vaccine when offered.
Talking about supply issues he said that some interruption in supply is inevitable, in the short term ‘we are receiving fewer vaccines than we had planned’ but even with the supply decrease, the first dose will get offered to those over 50.
On the easing of lockdown restrictions, Mr Johnson added: “There is no change to the next steps of the roadmap.”
And on the rollout, he confirmed: “We will still offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July.”
Professor Chris Whitty said “all of medicine is about the potential risks of a treatment” and says the key question is “are the benefits big enough to justify that”.
With the vaccine, there is an “incredibly small potential risk” against “the really very substantial protections these vaccines give”.
Barry, from Burton-on-Trent asked how blocking vaccine exports by the EU may affect second doses.
Mr Johnson said people should be under “no anxiety” about their second jabs.
Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “Let me assure you that if you come forward after receiving your letter, we have the jabs for you.
“We’ve always said in a vaccination programme of this pace and scale some interruptions in supply are inevitable and it is true that in the short-term we’re receiving fewer vaccines than we had planned for a week ago.
“That is because of a delay in a shipment from the Serum Institute, who are doing a Herculean job in producing vaccines in such large quantities, and because of a batch that we currently have in the UK that needs to be retested as part of our vigorous safety programme.
“So, as a result, we will receive slightly fewer vaccines in April than in March, but that is still more than we received in February.”
On unease over the vaccine amid countries suspending its usage, Mr Johnson the vaccines are “pretty much identical in safety terms”.
He implored viewers to listen to the experts Dr Raine and Prof Whitty.
Prof Whitty then took the floor, saying the “overwhelming professional view” is that the jabs are “highly effective”.
Prof Whitty said they are “very safe relative to the risk of the infection”.
Dr June Raine spoke about reviewing data to look into blood clots as a result of vaccines and that there’s currently no further risk with a vaccine than without.
She said that the data will remain under review.
Mr Johnson was then asked by another member of the public whether a vaccine rollout speed bump would result in a delay of lifting lockdown.
The PM was quizzed as to whether the four tests would be failed as a result.
But the PM dismissed this, and said the country remains targeting the July goal date.
June 21 is still earmarked for the end of all restrictions, with March 29 bringing with it the rule of six, and April 12 seeing non-essential retail open, as well as pubs, for outdoor hospitality purposes.
The vaccination targets
The Prime Minister said: “The supply we do have will still enable us to hit the targets we have set.
“That means by April 15 we will be able to offer a first dose to all of you who are over 50 as well as those who are under 50 who are clinically vulnerable.
“We will have the second doses people need within the 12 week window, which means around 12 million people in April and will still offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July.
“So there is no change to the next steps of the road map.
“We have now vaccinated over 25 million people across our entire United Kingdom, more than the entire population of many countries.
“Our progress along the road to freedom continues unchecked – we remain on track to reclaim the things we love, to see our families and friends again, to return to our local pubs, our gyms and sports facilities and of course our shops.”
Prof Whitty says the NHS must “really prioritise the possibility that we don’t miss anybody, leave anyone behind because we’re racing down the ages”.
The “key priority at the moment is to find all the people who have not yet had the opportunity to be offered the vaccine in the highest-risk groups”,” Prof Whitty added, continuing: “We absolutely then want to go further down the ages.”
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