UK Covid deaths have fallen with three deaths reported today – almost half the grim number a week ago.
But new cases have risen 17 per cent since last Monday, with 2,439 new infections in the last 24 hours.
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The Indian variant has created hotspots of outbreaks around the country, with numbers rising swiftly in the past few weeks.
But the vaccine rollout is continuing at pace to tackle the rise of the variant.
Jabs are stopping people getting seriously ill or dying – with Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines proven to be effective against it with two doses.
It comes as Brits under 30 could be offered their Covid vaccine by the end of the week – as hopes for June 21’s unlocking rise.
It comes after worries the Indian variant could delay “Freedom Day”, but as the speedy jabs rollout continues experts say the signs are now “looking good”.
Last week the age eligability for vaccines was lowered three times – with those aged 32 and 33 now able to book in.
It is expected to be lowered further within days, with under 30s offered their slots at the end of the week.
It brings fresh hope for the full unlocking next month, after the variant’s emergence cast doubt on the roadmap.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described yesterday as a “huge day” for the vaccine effort as the total number of jabs given out hit 60,587,098.
He tweeted: “This is a fantastic milestone in our fight against this virus.
“Thank you to everyone involved in our national effort. When you get the call, get the jab.”
Yesterday Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, confirmed it’s “looking good” for the final stage.
Both vaccines were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, compared with about 50 per cent against the Kent strain.
Thank you to everyone involved in our national effort. When you get the call, get the jab.
Professor Susan Hopkins, PHE’s Covid-19 strategic response director, said the data trend was “quite clear” and heading in the “right direction”.
This is a positive sign for the UK – with hopes we are on track for the day of freedom on June 21 when all restrictions are expected to be dropped.
Dr Harries was backed by Home Secretary Priti Patel who said: “The data is positive in terms of where we are – look at the vaccine information that has been published today about the level of protection against specific variants.”
But the Home Secretary warned some mask-wearing would continue.
They are likely to be binned in shops, pubs and workplaces — but will continue on trains and buses.
Ministers hope to unveil within days an end to 1.5 metre social- distancing rules from next month.
Ms Patel cautioned that there would not be a “green light all the way” to unlocking restrictions.