People in their 70s could start receiving Covid vaccines as early as next week in an expansion opening the jab up to five million more Brits, it is claimed.
Government insiders claim that with 90 per cent of over-80s in some areas having been given their first jab, the number of people getting inoculated will be widened in the coming days.
According to The Daily Telegraph, ministers are now set to allow the over-70s to start getting the lifesaving jabs, making 5.5 million more people eligible.
So far 3.2 million people have been given at least one dose of a vaccine, with two – one manufactured by Pfizer, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca – approved in the UK.
Letters are set to be sent out this week, and it is possible some may be vaccinated by Friday, insiders claim.
One told The Telegraph: “Some GPs have already done most of the over-80s and we can’t afford to wait around.
“It’s taking some time to reach all of the people in the first category so it makes sense to move to the next JCVI cohorts.
“And we have the supplies to make it work.”
The government has pledged to be carrying out two million jabs a week by the end of this month.
Boris Johnson, addressing the public from Downing Street on Friday, said: “With almost 45 per cent of our over-80s now vaccinated and almost 40 per cent of care home residents, we are steadily protecting those most at risk.”
He said that in Cockermouth, in Cumbria, Yateley and Cheltenham, around 90 per cent of those over 80 had been vaccinated.
GPs have already been told that they can invite patients above the age of 75 to be given unused Covid vaccines.
Covid deaths look set to keep rising for at least a week, Prof Chris Whitty indicated in a bleak warning.
He said he believed the peak of deaths is “in the future” after the UK recorded 1,280 new deaths today.
The Chief Medical Officer said there were signs the UK has already reached the peak of new cases amid the national lockdown.
But he said while some parts of England are reaching the peak of new hospital cases round about now, “most places” will only do so in 7 to 10 days.