Hopes of ‘normal’ Christmas following record week of Covid booster jabs

Almost 1.5 million third doses were administered in England last week after the Government was rapped over a “stalling” vaccine drive

Booster jabs mean a ‘normal’ Christmas is within reach

Hopes have been raised for a “normal” Christmas following a record week of booster jabs.

Almost 1.5 million third doses were administered in England last week after the Government was rapped over a “stalling” vaccine drive.

Modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also reportedly indicates Covid cases will soon peak before plunging in winter, even without Plan B curbs.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed the data suggests there is no need for measures such as mask wearing and working from home.

Asked about the festive season, he raised concerns about making long-term predictions due to the risk of deadlier new variants.

But added: “For all those people like me that are hoping and planning for a normal Christmas, I think we’ll have a normal Christmas – if we want, let’s just keep playing our part.”

More than 1.5 million third doses were administered in England last week


Dinendra Haria/LNP)

Some experts said jabs alone will not be enough to stem the Covid tide and the NHS could be at risk without measures such as virus passports.

NHS England said 710,000 boosters were received from Friday to Sunday.

Last week, nearly 900,000 people used the National Booking Service to get a third dose, a 42% leap.

Yesterday’s figures showed 6.1 million top-up jabs have now been administered across the UK.

Despite the surge, half of eligible over-50s are still to get their booster.

Some 5,235,928 doses had been delivered in England as of October 24, along with 511,807 in Scotland and 51,053 in Northern Ireland.

Sajid Javid said now is not the time to move to ‘Plan B’


Getty Images)

In Wales, 322,591 were issued as of October 21, the latest figure available. It means at least one in eight double-jabbed people in the UK are likely to have also received a booster.

More than 800,000 people over three days last week had a third dose in England as vaccinations hit a high of 325,140 jabs on Saturday

This dropped to 138,088 on Sunday but experts hope the drive for top-ups has been given fresh impetus that will continue this week.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS deputy vaccination programme lead, said: “It’s fantastic to see such enthusiasm for the booster campaign as record numbers have come forward and booked or received vital vaccinations.

“It is really important you come forward as soon as you become eligible, at least six months from your second jab, giving you and your loved ones extra protection over winter.”

A further two million invites are being sent out by the NHS this week.

Yesterday, UK daily cases dropped to 36,567, a day after dipping below 40,000 for the first time in 12 days.

The figures did not include Wales due to a technical issue. England recorded 33,221 cases, a 16% fall from last Monday when there were 39,473.

The UK reported 38 deaths – less than half the 111 fatalities on the previous Monday and the lowest daily total since July.

Half-term begins for many schools today that should reduce infections.

Experts believe immunity among children infected in recent weeks could slow down the epidemic in pupils fuelling the latest outbreak.

Sage warned current modelling comes with uncertainty as it is unclear how quickly immunity will wane and how the public will act.

Prof John Edmunds, of LSHTM and a member of Sage, said: “Our model was projecting cases would start to decline in the autumn.

“However, the model also suggests cases may start to climb again in the spring due to waning immunity and increased contacts.”

Mr Javid rejected Labour’s call to bring in curbs, adding: “The facts right now are we don’t think the data requires us to move to Plan B.”

The Tory said he is “leaning towards” making jabs compulsory for health staff in England, with 100,000 NHS workers not fully vaccinated.

Unions have warned this will worsen already chronic staffing shortages going into winter.

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