Government to open 10 new vaccination hubs as Matt Hancock claims Britain is ‘in the home straight’

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The 10 new coronavirus vaccine centres opening from Monday 

  • Bournemouth International Centre, Dorset
  • Taunton Racecourse, Somerset
  • Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire
  • Salt Hill Activity Centre, Berkshire
  • Norwich Food Court, Norfolk
  • The Lodge in Wickford, Essex
  • Princess Royal Sports Arena, Lincolnshire
  • St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside
  • The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York
  • Olympic Office Centre in Wembley, north London

Ten new vaccine centres are set to open across England on Monday with more than a million over-80s invited to receive their coronavirus jab.

The Government is increasingly bullish about the speed of Britain’s vaccination drive and has privately set an ambitious target of giving every adult the jab by the end of June, it was claimed last night. 

Whitehall sources are confident of accelerating the pace of the rollout to a point where four to five million people are receiving their shots each week. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK is ‘nearly on the home straight’ as 324,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered in the space of 24 hours.

More than 3.5 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he hailed those helping the ‘fantastic national effort’.

The vaccination bid will be further supported by the new centres opening tomorrow, which NHS England says will offer ‘thousands’ of jabs every week.  

The ten new centres include a rugby ground, racecourse, food court and a cathedral and will ensure there is at least one hub in each English region.

They will join seven hubs previously opened to support the mass-immunisation programme, as well as 1,000 GP-led surgeries and more than 250 hospitals. 

People over 80 who live a 45 minute drive from one of the centres are being offered a vaccination. Around 641,000 invitations were sent out to last week and another 380,000 will arrive at people’s homes this weekend before another 500,000 letters go out this week.

Anyone who cannot travel can wait to be contacted by their GP-led service or hospital. 

The hubs, as well as the suggestion that all over-18s could be vaccinated by mid-summer, will come as welcome news to ministers who have long hailed mass immunisation through jabs as the path to lifting lockdown. 

Writing in the Sunday Express, the Health Secretary added: ‘We can see the way out of this pandemic. We are nearly on the home straight. After months of detailed preparations, rigorous scientific scrutiny and an extraordinary amount of patience, we are rolling out two highly effective vaccines, with a third coming in spring and others progressing through clinical trials.

‘We’re rolling it out to as many vulnerable people as possible and we expect tens of millions of people to be vaccinated by the spring.’

Ministers are urging the public to ‘play their part’ in supporting the vaccination programme, such as by helping the elderly attend their appointments. 

The UK’s virus-fighting power was dealt another boost yesterday after the boss of a new state-of-the-art vaccine production factory said it was on standby to tackle any future variants and produce jabs at breakneck speed.  

And in a triple lift for vaccination efforts, the Mail on Sunday can reveal French drugs firm Valneva is just ‘days away’ from kick-starting manufacture of its jab on British soil – with the UK set to receive 60million doses. 

In a confident forecast that will bring hope to millions, a senior Government source also told the Telegraph: ‘All over-18s by June – yes.’  

The injection of vaccine optimism came as:

  • The UK recorded another 1,295 coronavirus deaths and 41,346 new cases on Saturday – as fatalities continue to rise by more than 1,000 for the fifth day in a row; 
  • GPs are throwing away leftover vaccines rather than give patients second doses or use them on staff because of local NHS leaders’ strict instructions; 
  • Laurence Fox sparked a row after posting a photo of himself on social media wearing a coronavirus mask ‘exemption badge’ that he ordered from Amazon; 
  • Britons in their 70s could start getting Covid jabs as early as next week as the vaccination programme continued at pace amid fears both Brazilian variants of the virus are ‘likely’ already in the UK; 
  • Police fined three people from different households for breaking coronavirus lockdown after their VW Golf was spotted travelling at 90mph in the snow on the M62; 
  • Rishi Sunak has rejected a proposal for an emergency wealth tax to recover the staggering £280billion the Government has spent so far on the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Britain has secured supply of 60 million doses at a cost of €470 million (£418 million) – enough to vaccinate 30 million people.

A medical worker administers an injection of the coronavirus vaccine inside a former nightclub that has been turned into a NHS vaccine centre, in Batchwood Hall, in St Albans

The hall would normally be an ice skating rink at this time of year. Staff hard at work transforming the Purbeck Hall of the Bournemouth International Centre into the largest Covid 19 vaccination centre in Dorset which is due to open on Monday

The hall would normally be an ice skating rink at this time of year. Staff hard at work transforming the Purbeck Hall of the Bournemouth International Centre into the largest Covid 19 vaccination centre in Dorset which is due to open on Monday

The hall would normally be an ice skating rink at this time of year. Staff hard at work transforming the Purbeck Hall of the Bournemouth International Centre into the largest Covid 19 vaccination centre in Dorset which is due to open on Monday

Covid-19 vaccines will be administered at the Salt Hill Activity Centre in Slough, one of 10 new vaccine hubs set to open Monday

Covid-19 vaccines will be administered at the Salt Hill Activity Centre in Slough, one of 10 new vaccine hubs set to open Monday

Covid-19 vaccines will be administered at the Salt Hill Activity Centre in Slough, one of 10 new vaccine hubs set to open Monday

The St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside, is another one of the ten mass vaccination hubs that are set to open and treat patients from tomorrow

The St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside, is another one of the ten mass vaccination hubs that are set to open and treat patients from tomorrow

The St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside, is another one of the ten mass vaccination hubs that are set to open and treat patients from tomorrow

Another vaccine hub, the Olympic Office Centre in Wembley. The country is currently pressing ahead with the biggest vaccine rollout in its history and by Saturday over 3.5million people had received their first doses

Another vaccine hub, the Olympic Office Centre in Wembley. The country is currently pressing ahead with the biggest vaccine rollout in its history and by Saturday over 3.5million people had received their first doses

Another vaccine hub, the Olympic Office Centre in Wembley. The country is currently pressing ahead with the biggest vaccine rollout in its history and by Saturday over 3.5million people had received their first doses

The Princess Royal Sports Arena Lincolnshire will open its doors to the public from Monday to offer coronavirus vaccine jabs

The Princess Royal Sports Arena Lincolnshire will open its doors to the public from Monday to offer coronavirus vaccine jabs

The Princess Royal Sports Arena Lincolnshire will open its doors to the public from Monday to offer coronavirus vaccine jabs

However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We do not recognise the ‘internal target’ referenced. Our aim is to offer priority groups 1-4 their first jab by the 15th of February.

‘Through the U.K. vaccines delivery plan we are making fantastic progress rolling out jabs as quickly as possible to the most vulnerable.’ 

The country is currently pressing ahead with the biggest vaccine rollout in its history and by Saturday over 3.5million people had received their first doses.

Care home residents, the over-80s, extremely vulnerable people and frontline health staff are the first in line and have been receiving shots of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

Boris Johnson has said the Government was hoping to vaccinate the 15million most at-risk people by mid-February, with the hope of having injected ‘tens of millions’ by April, but no longer term targets. 

A record 324,233 people were vaccinated in the UK on Friday.

That more than 3.5million have had the jab was hailed an ‘important milestone’ by Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi last night.

In its now routine update, the Department for Health announced that 447,261 people have received their crucial second dose – which provides near-certain immunity to Covid-19 about three weeks after.

The UK has ordered 40million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100million of the Oxford vaccine – enough for the whole population. 

Blackburn Cathedral is one of the ten new sites that will offer the coronavirus vaccine to people living nearby from Monday

Blackburn Cathedral is one of the ten new sites that will offer the coronavirus vaccine to people living nearby from Monday

Blackburn Cathedral is one of the ten new sites that will offer the coronavirus vaccine to people living nearby from Monday

The Lodge in Wickford, Essex will also offer vaccines, firstly to the over-80s, as it opens to the public from tomorrow

The Lodge in Wickford, Essex will also offer vaccines, firstly to the over-80s, as it opens to the public from tomorrow

The Lodge in Wickford, Essex will also offer vaccines, firstly to the over-80s, as it opens to the public from tomorrow

The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York, will also offer vaccines from tomorrow. Every region in England now has a hub, NHS England revealed

The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York, will also offer vaccines from tomorrow. Every region in England now has a hub, NHS England revealed

The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York, will also offer vaccines from tomorrow. Every region in England now has a hub, NHS England revealed

Norfolk's first mass Covid-19 vaccination centre will be based in the food court at Norwich's Castle Quarter shopping centre

Norfolk's first mass Covid-19 vaccination centre will be based in the food court at Norwich's Castle Quarter shopping centre

Norfolk’s first mass Covid-19 vaccination centre will be based in the food court at Norwich’s Castle Quarter shopping centre

Taunton Racecourse is also set to open from tomorrow as a vaccine hub for people who live nearby as the vaccination drive continues

Taunton Racecourse is also set to open from tomorrow as a vaccine hub for people who live nearby as the vaccination drive continues

Taunton Racecourse is also set to open from tomorrow as a vaccine hub for people who live nearby as the vaccination drive continues

SAGE expert warns lifting lockdown restrictions in February would be a ‘disaster’ 

Removing coronavirus restrictions at the end of next month would be a ‘disaster’ and put ‘enormous pressure’ on the NHS, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Professor John Edmunds, who works on the Government’s coronavirus response as part of the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there would be significant consequences to lifting current rules, even despite the success of the Covid vaccine programme so far.

A mass rollout for Britons in their 70s could begin as early as next week, after some 3.5 million jabs have already been administered across the country.

However, Professor Edmunds remains concerned, and said: ‘I think it would be a disaster if we removed restrictions in, say, the end of February when we have gone through this first wave of the vaccination.

‘First of all vaccines aren’t ever 100% protective, and so even those that have been vaccinated would be still at some risk.

‘Secondly, it is only a small fraction of the population who would have been vaccinated and if you look at the hospitalisations at the moment, about half of them are in the under 70s, and they are not in the first wave to be vaccinated.

‘If we relaxed our restrictions we would immediately put the NHS under enormous pressure again.’

Some 17million doses of the Moderna vaccine – which has been approved by the British regulator – has also been secured but will likely not be rolled out until spring.

Valneva will soon furnish Britain with 60million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine – our second largest supply after the Oxford-AstraZeneca injection – but is yet to strike a deal with the EU or its native France.  

In a major boost for the UK’s vaccination drive, the company’s boss said he hopes Valneva’s Covid jab will be approved and ready to be administered into British arms by the summer or early autumn.

Chief executive Thomas Lingelbach said Valneva’s vaccine, which has been produced with financial aid from the UK Government, is about to go into mass production at its plant in Livingston, Scotland. 

Valneva’s jab is administered in two doses 21 days apart – like Pfizer-BioNTech’s – although it does not require ultra-cold storage. 

Early trials are taking place on 150 volunteers at four sites across England. The UK has the option to order up to 130 million further doses between 2022 and 2025, which would bring the cost to nearly €900million (£800million).

The French-headquartered firm’s jab is the second-largest Covid vaccine ordered by Government, after the 100 million dose Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. 

By contrast, the European Commission last week said a period of ‘exploratory talks’ with Valneva had concluded ‘with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against Covid-19’. The EU is likely to order 30million doses, with the option to buy a further 30million.

However, the UK will be the ‘priority’ for Valneva, its boss said, leaving France, Germany and other countries in the bloc likely to receive their deliveries of the vaccine later. 

Valneva has previously said that its jab, which entered clinical trials in December, would not be available for use in the UK population until the last three months of the year.

However, Mr Lingelbach said conversations were under way with regulators to discuss the possibility of releasing the treatment at some point between July and September.

He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We are days away from starting the commercial manufacturing… We cannot release it without regulatory approval so we’re in a little bit of a Catch-22 situation and there are certainly scenarios that we are currently discussing with the regulators… But we have already signed up to give priority to the UK and this is something we’re currently working on.’ 

The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) will add significant firepower to Britain's immunisation infrastructure when it launches later this year

The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) will add significant firepower to Britain's immunisation infrastructure when it launches later this year

The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) will add significant firepower to Britain’s immunisation infrastructure when it launches later this year

Construction of the £158million project was fast-tracked by the Government when Covid-19 hit British shores early last year (Boris Johnson visiting in September)

Construction of the £158million project was fast-tracked by the Government when Covid-19 hit British shores early last year (Boris Johnson visiting in September)

Construction of the £158million project was fast-tracked by the Government when Covid-19 hit British shores early last year (Boris Johnson visiting in September) 

The Government is increasingly bullish about the speed of Britain's vaccination drive and has privately set an ambitious target of giving every adult the jab by the end of June, it was claimed last night (vaccines in Salisbury Cathedral)

The Government is increasingly bullish about the speed of Britain's vaccination drive and has privately set an ambitious target of giving every adult the jab by the end of June, it was claimed last night (vaccines in Salisbury Cathedral)

The Government is increasingly bullish about the speed of Britain’s vaccination drive and has privately set an ambitious target of giving every adult the jab by the end of June, it was claimed last night (vaccines in Salisbury Cathedral)

French drugs firm Valneva is just ‘days away’ from kick-starting manufacture of its jab on British soil, The Mail on Sunday can reveal

French drugs firm Valneva is just ‘days away’ from kick-starting manufacture of its jab on British soil, The Mail on Sunday can reveal

French drugs firm Valneva is just ‘days away’ from kick-starting manufacture of its jab on British soil, The Mail on Sunday can reveal

Resident Kate Stewart receives an injection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Dr Jess Harvey at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Wenlock, Shropshire

Resident Kate Stewart receives an injection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Dr Jess Harvey at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Wenlock, Shropshire

Resident Kate Stewart receives an injection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Dr Jess Harvey at the Lady Forester Community nursing home in Wenlock, Shropshire

Record 324,233 people received their Covid jab on Friday in vaccination milestone 

By Anna Mikhailova and Stephen Adams for the Mail on Sunday

A record 324,233 more people received their Covid-19 jab last Friday, further boosting hopes that Britain will hit its target of 15 million vaccinated by mid-February.

As the total number of injections soared to 3.56 million – meaning more people in the UK have received the first dose of the jab than have had Covid – Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is another important milestone, every jab is another vulnerable person protected or a brilliant hero on the frontline protected.’

The daily rate of jabs more than doubled between Monday and Friday. To reach the 15 million target, an average of 369,000 a day will need to be given a jab until February 15.

With more Brits now having had at least one vaccination than have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, some towns have already given all those aged over 80 their first injection.

The NHS sent out 641,000 invitations for jabs to people over 80 last week and another 380,000 this weekend. 

A further 500,000 will go out this week along with, Ministers hope, the first invites for those in their 70s. Letters are being sent in special blue envelopes to reduce the risk of them being mistaken for junk mail. 

The Government faced criticism last year for being under-prepared to deal with a mass viral outbreak across the country.

Mr Lingelbach said the investment in its Scottish plant had helped Britain bolster its defences against potential future pandemics. Crucially, he said he was confident that the injection would defend against mutant strains of Covid.

‘You can apply the identical manufacturing process for different virus mutations but also for other viruses that you need to be prepared for in the future,’ he said. 

Scientists behind the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines are confident their shots will be effective against the more transmissible strains detected in the UK and South Africa.

But, should more dangerous variants emerge in the future, a cutting-edge factory in the UK has reassured it will have the capacity to react. 

The Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) will add significant firepower to Britain’s immunisation infrastructure when it launches later this year. 

Dr Matthew Duchars, who will oversee the VMIC Oxfordshire hub, told The Telegraph: ‘We’ll be able to make 70million doses within a four to five month period, enough for everyone in the country’.  

It could prove crucial to inoculating against possible dangerous mutations of the virus.  

Dr Duchars said: ‘New Covid variants are absolutely part of the thinking… You never know what’s coming next.’ 

Construction of the £158million project was fast-tracked by the Government when Covid-19 hit British shores early last year. 

The 7,400 sqm site at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus will allow the UK to be self-sufficient in vaccine production and not have to rely on overseas supplies.

The batches of Pfizer and Oxford doses are being shipped from Belgium and the Netherlands, meaning they are at risk to supply chain breakdown. 

Dr Duchars told the Telegraph the VMIC would give Britain ‘a sovereign capability’ to develop and manufacture vaccines.

He added the factory would also be able to adapt its production to other potential viruses, shoring up Britain’s long-term pandemic defences.   

John Meech receives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at a Superdrug pharmacy in Guildford

John Meech receives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at a Superdrug pharmacy in Guildford

John Meech receives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at a Superdrug pharmacy in Guildford

Stating its mission objective, the VMIC says it exists to ‘enhance UK preparedness and response capabilities for producing vaccines against emerging infectious diseases by allowing the UK government to use the facility and staff during an outbreak identified as a public health emergency of international concern.’

The UK recorded another 1,295 coronavirus deaths and 41,346 new cases on Saturday – as fatalities continued to rise by more than 1,000 for the fifth day in a row.

It’s a 25 percent increase on last Saturday’s deaths and takes Britain’s grim toll to 88,590.

But in a sign that the harsh lockdown measures are taking effect, cases declined by nearly a third on last week’s figure.

The Prime Minister on Friday released a video calling on the public to ‘think twice’ before leaving the house this weekend as he moved to cool rising optimism amid the drop in daily infections.

He urged everyone to behave as if they have coronavirus, warning that asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’ are unwittingly fuelling the crisis and the next person infected ‘could be you’.

Ministers are launching an advertising blitz to hammer home the importance of sticking to lockdown rules while the vaccine rollout charts the route through the pandemic.

There were some signs of fraying compliance yesterday as police arrested anti-lockdown protesters and shoppers were seen leaving supermarkets without masks.  

Vaccine bleus: More than 80 per cent of French people are unhappy with country’s rollout

More than four in five French people are unhappy about the sluggish roll-out of the country’s Covid vaccination campaign.

A survey by Le Figaro newspaper reveals widespread disquiet over President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the programme, with 81 per cent of the population dissatisfied with progress.

Latest figures reveal that France has given the jab to 388,730 people – just 0.58 per cent of the populace. 

Across the EU as a whole, only 1.25 people per 100 have received a vaccine, compared to 5.42 per 100 in the UK. 

The UK vaccinated as many people last Thursday alone as France had in total.

Germany’s roll-out has also lagged behind expectations with a shortage of doses. Only 1.15 Germans per 100 have received a dose. 

Some German regions have been forced to guess people’s ages from their first name because of local privacy laws. 

Authorities in Lower Saxony wanted to send letters to all residents aged over 80 to invite them to make vaccination appointments. 

But they have been blocked from using official records and have resorted to trying to guess people’s ages.

Officials have settled on sending out letters to people called Wolfgang or Waltraud because they are more common names among the older generation. 

Politicians in Germany have accused the EU Commission of bungling the procurement programme. 

European countries have been forced to play catch up after a slow initial roll-out of the vaccine.

Most countries are only able to rely on the Pfizer vaccine and a few tens of thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine that has just been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

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