Dominic Raab discusses UK's role in global vaccine distribution
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The UK’s top four priority groups, as outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), have now been offered their first vaccine dose. The Government is aiming to meet its new target of offering the top nine priority groups their first vaccine dose by the end of April. These groups include people aged 16 to 64 at a higher risk of coronavirus, along with people over the age of 50.
While vaccines are being rolled out, the Government is keeping lockdown measures in place across England to reduce transmission of the virus.
Boris Johnson has said the easing of lockdown will need to be done in stages to avoid the virus gaining momentum again.
The PM has also stressed the need to approach easing lockdown restrictions “cautiously”, with many experts warning it is still far too early to ease the country out of lockdown.
In the future, it is hoped vaccines will help to control the spread of COVID-19 and allow life to return to normality once again.
Are the vaccines working to reduce transmission of the virus?
Lockdown measures have been in place for several weeks now, and Covid cases are significantly lower now than at the start of the third lockdown.
On February 17, a further 12,718 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the UK.
Over the last seven days, the rate of new Covid cases has also dropped by 24.1 percent compared to the previous week.
The number of hospital admissions has dropped in the last seven days by 25.6 percent compared to the previous week, while the number of people who have died from COVID-19 has also dropped by 26 percent in the last seven days compared to the week before.
BBC News analysis, based on data from England, suggests the vaccine is starting to push the numbers down and that coronavirus deaths are falling faster for vaccinated than unvaccinated groups.
According to the BBC, on average deaths of over-80s fell by 53 percent between January 28 and February 11, compared with 44 percent for under-80s.
However, it is perhaps too early to say for definite how much of an influence the vaccines are having on the transmission of coronavirus in the UK.
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This week Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “The earliest indications would imply there is some effect. But I think it’s too early to put a number on that.”
Professor Martin Michaelis, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kent, told Express.co.uk “This is difficult to say with certainty, but the data, in particular the reduction in hospital submissions among those over 70, seem to suggest that the vaccine roll-out reduces virus transmission and reduces the pressure on the healthcare system.
“However, this only works in combination with the current restrictions.
“Without those measures, COVID-19 would quickly spread through the vast majority of unvaccinated (younger) individuals and result in another peak of severely ill patients.
“Although people under 70 are generally at a lower risk, the unhindered spread of COVID-19 would still result in a large number of severe cases and many deaths.
“Hence, if we opened everything up now, hospitals would soon be overrun again.”
Professor Michaelis said the vaccines will likely have a larger impact when more of the population has been vaccinated.
Professor Michaelis added: “A big impact on the number of COVID-19 cases would be expected when more than two-thirds of the population have been vaccinated and no new variant has emerged that can bypass the vaccine-induced protection.”
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