Boris Johnson has announced that the benefits of the UK’s mass vaccination program should be “visible” by mid-February.
Speaking at a press conference on 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister said he would begin work on a “plan to repeal the country” in the week of February 22nd.
However, he stressed that the government must ensure that the vaccination program saves lives before classrooms are opened across the UK.
Johnson announced today that lockdown measures will remain in place until at least March 8th – and set that date to begin reopening English schools.
He confirmed that students’ hopes of returning to class after mid-term in February had been given up as the fight against the coronavirus remained “dangerous”.
The March date is based on progress in vaccination of the most vulnerable groups in society through mid-February and subsequent effects.
Sir Patrick Vallance confirmed claims that vaccines currently being rolled out are likely to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
The Chief Scientific Advisor told the press conference on Wednesday, “I think this is spot on – there will be some portability implications.
“They don’t have vaccines that are as effective as they are without an effect, but we can’t put a number on them right now.
“I think it’s really important that we monitor and understand these as we roll out globally. Israel has started and is starting to bring out some data.
“They said they weren’t going to have firm dates for a few weeks and we’d be in the same position.”
“But these are important questions because, as Jonathan (Van-Tam) says, it will also determine the extent to which these vaccines can be used across society to reduce overall transmission.”
So far, 6,996,247 people in the UK have received an initial dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines, despite Mr Johnson acknowledging a “sense of frustration” with the patchy nature of the rollout.
The Prime Minister also set stricter measures to prevent the arrival of new coronavirus strains in the UK and confirmed plans for a 10-day quarantine in hotels for travelers from high-risk countries.
In a Commons statement after the UK death toll exceeded 100,000, he said he would set out the government’s strategy for “gradual and gradual” relaxation of the lockdown in the week starting February 22nd.
With the reopening of the schools, which is not due to begin until March 8, the “economic and social restrictions” could only be relaxed “then or afterwards”.
Schools in England are currently closed to all but vulnerable students and children of key workers.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “The first sign of a return to normal should be the students returning to their classrooms.”
However, the UK remains in a “dangerous situation with more than 37,000 patients currently hospitalized with Covid – almost twice as many as in the first wave”.
Mr Johnson admitted the delay in reopening schools was “deeply frustrating” and “disappointing”.
The arrangements for providing free school meals to eligible students would be extended and an additional £ 300 million tuition will be available to help children catch up on missed classes.