Matt Hancock to lead Downing Street press conference today

·4-min read
Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London. Picture date: Monday January 18, 2021.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street last week. (PA)

Matt Hancock will lead a Downing Street press conference outlining the latest coronavirus updates on Monday, Number 10 has said.

The health secretary will address the nation at 5pm and is likely to discuss vaccination progress across the country.

On Sunday, Hancock said 75% of people aged 80 and over have now had their first coronavirus jab.

He tweeted: “Yesterday, 491,970 vaccines were administered across the UK, taking the total number of first doses to 6,353,321.

“As we accelerate the vaccine roll-out, it’s vital we all stay at home to suppress this virus.

“We will get through this, together.”

Watch: Boris Johnson hints at lockdown easing as he faces pressure to reopen schools

Earlier on Monday, Boris Johnson said he planned to look at whether lockdown rules could be relaxed in England in mid-February – but could not give a firm date for schools reopening.

Speaking at a vaccination site in north London, Johnson said the government will be "looking at the potential of relaxing some measures" ahead of mid-February.

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“We're looking at the data as it comes in, we're looking at the rates of infection, as you know the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) groups 1 to 4 will be vaccinated by February 15.

“Before then we'll be looking at the potential of relaxing some measures.

“But don't forget this country has made huge progress in reducing infection, I don't think people want to see another big surge in infection."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets staff and patients at Barnet FC's ground, The Hive, north London, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre. Picture date: Monday January 25, 2021.
Boris Johnson meets staff and patients at Barnet FC's ground, The Hive, north London, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre. (PA)

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

Downing Street later sought to clarify the PM’s remarks, telling reporters: “We continue to keep the latest scientific evidence and data under review, and it remains the case that we want to ease restrictions when it is safe to do so.

“The prime minister was just making clear that, as I just said, we continue to look at the latest evidence in terms of the transmission of the virus, the number of people hospitalised, and the number of people who sadly go on to die.

On Sunday, Hancock said we are still a “long, long, long way” before cases are low enough for lockdown to be lifted.

The health secretary, who has now left self-isolation after he was alerted by the UK's NHS COVID-19 app last week, also defended the government’s decision to delay the time between vaccine doses from three weeks to 12, saying it was “essential” to save more lives.

 'Act Like You've Got It', the Coronavirus warning poster seen on the almost empty Bishopsgate street during the third national lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there was evidence that the new variant of the coronavirus is more deadly. (Photo by Thomas Krych / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A coronavirus warning poster in Bishopsgate, London. (PA)

The government has decided to waive vaccine manufacturer recommendations and have a wait of around 12 weeks between jabs to use the limited supply on as broad a section of the population as possible.

The British Medical Association has written to the chief medical officer for England urging a rethink, saying that in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a maximum gap of six weeks had been mandated by the World Heath Organization.

“We do know this policy is going to save lives,” Hancock said.

Read more:
Where are England's COVID mass vaccination hubs? New locations revealed
'Second COVID jabs in March' for most people who have had first dose of vaccine

“So long as there is decent efficacy after the first dose, and we have a high degree of confidence that that’s the case, then in a situation where there is a limited supply... you want to get as many people to have as much protection as possible as quickly as possible.

“If you have grandparents who are both in their 70s or 80s you obviously would want each of them to have one dose when you know that one dose is effective, rather than one to have the full two doses and one to have no protection at all.

“That is why we have made this decision and it is essentially to save the most lives fastest and you can totally understand why we’ve done this.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown

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