By Rachael Grealish
Over 50s will now be invited to get their COVID-19 vaccine and the Health Secretary has stressed the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab in the Coronavirus update.
Speaking from Downing Street today, Wednesday March 17, Matt Hancock celebrated the number of people having revived their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine reaching 25 million – almost half of all adults in the UK.
During his briefing he said: “It’s been such a national mission. It’s been the biggest logistical operation since the war. And a huge team effort.”
The Secretary of State went on to say the focus will be on getting first doses to all those in priority groups one to nine – over 50s and those with underlying conditions between 16 and 64 – by April 15.
“It’s absolutely critical that we reach out and loop back and invite all those yet again who haven’t yet been vaccinated in those vulnerable groups,” he says.
Hancock went on to say this means those under 50 will have to wait.
“I’m 42 and I’m as eager as anyone to get the jab, but before we forge ahead we need to protect those who need it most,” he said.
Of course, the Health Secretary stressed the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the controversy caused by European countries, such as France, Germany and Italy, decided to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine after some reports of blood clots.
However, both the WHO and MHRA have both said there is no evidence to suggest the blood clots are caused by the vaccine.
Hancock insisted: “We know the vaccine is safe and makes you safe.”
“Now is not the time to waver, we are on the way to recover, we are on the way out, we are on track,” he continued, “When you get the call, get the jab.”
Professor Johnathan Van Tam was also present during the briefing and turned to the concerns of the UK-developed vaccine.
JVT also said there is no evidence to say the vaccine gives blood clots as he said: “There’s a lot of evidence emerging now that there is no increased risk.”
He said he expects the UK and EU regulators to come to the same conclusion.
“Vaccines do not save lives when they are in fridges,” he added.
JVT went on to explain all medicines have benefits and risks and did so by reading out a list showing some of the side effects of paracetamol.
He continued saying people know this, but they understand the benefits of the medication.
Along with safety of the vaccines Hancock shared slides showing the the number of anti-bodies people have after their vaccine is high.
The slide data showed after a single dose of the vaccine protection against getting COVID-19 is about 60 percent, protection against hospitalisation is about 80 percent and protection against death is about 85 percent.
He said the data also shows if you live with someone who has been vaccinated you have a 30 percent lower risk of catching COVID-19.
This is the first data on reducing transmission and it shows the vaccines are saving lives.