Every morning one of the first things I do is check the latest vaccine roll out figures. I find that this offers a bright start to the day, knowing that hundreds of thousands more vulnerable people have received the vaccine since the last time I checked the morning before.
I have written here previously about the vaccine rollout but given its critical importance not just to being able to lift some of the restrictions we are all enduring, but to saving lives in our community. I know it is a subject at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
This morning I will be visiting one of Lincolnshire’s 13 vaccination centres, in Grantham. It will give me an opportunity to thank all of the many volunteers and healthcare workers who are delivering the vaccinations here locally and to see first-hand the efficiency in which it is being operated – something I have heard a great deal about from constituents.
I am pleased to say that we are now averaging 2.5 million doses a week across the country, meaning we are on track to deliver 15 million doses by 15 February. Overall, the Government has now secured early access to 407 million doses of the vaccine for this year and next year.
Meanwhile, new research from the University of Oxford has shown strong protection from the AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks after a single dose and additional analysis shows there may be a substantial effect on transmission too.
One of the risks from hereon is the emergence of new strains of the virus and so I welcome the partnership announced last week with CureVac to rapidly develop new vaccines in direct response to new variants if needed. While the vaccines we are deploying today are safe and effective, this partnership will allow us to utilise the UK’s expertise on genomic and virus sequencing to quickly develop new varieties to keep the virus in check.
In the meantime, the prioritisation determined by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) continues apace with the focus on protecting life by targeting the most vulnerable people. As the risk of mortality increases with age, this means primarily prioritising based on age and I am delighted to see that the vast majority of over 70s are now vaccinated. If you are over 70 and have not yet had your vaccine, then you can now book one online.
Once the most vulnerable are protected we can ease the pressures on our hospitals, at that point we must look to vaccinate our teachers as soon as possible, as well as police and other frontline workers so we can start to get our children back to school, our businesses open and our lives back to a level of normality.