ore than seven million Covid-19 jabs have been administered in London as Britain races to get people vaccinated to protect them against the threat from variants of the virus.In a triple dose of good news, an NHS chief also said the vaccines had “broken the link” between coronavirus cases and deaths — and a Cabinet minister struck the most upbeat note yet that all restrictions will end on June 21.
Official figures show that 6,989,702 inoculations had been given in the capital as of May 31 and the figure has since risen above the seven million mark.
Hailing the “significant milestone”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Standard: “At every step of the way over the past six months our amazing NHS staff have worked day and night, hand in hand with volunteers and our armed forces. Everyone in London has pulled together through this pandemic — we haven’t beaten this virus yet so when you get the call, get the jab.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has had both doses, said: “It’s fantastic news that seven million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been received by Londoners. Once again, I urge all Londoners to have the vaccine as soon as it is offered — it is safe and it will save lives.”
However, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said Britain’s world-leading vaccine roll-out had “broken the link” between Covid-19 infections and fatalities. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s all down to vaccines and it’s a fantastic success story. Talking to chief executives… in hospitals, they are really clear that they are seeing much lower numbers of patients coming into hospital than they have seen in the previous waves.”
Very few people hospitalised had been double vaccinated and coronavirus patients were much younger than in previous waves and were mainly being treated on general and acute wards.
“They are people who need critical care less and you are seeing low levels of death rates,” he said.
Hopes rose this morning that restrictions will be finally lifted on June 21 after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hailed “amazing and promising progress” in the battle against Covid-19.
He heaped praise on the public in the UK for taking up the jab, unlike some other countries such as France where there is widespread hesitancy. “The fact that the British people have gone out there with verve and gusto and actually got vaccinated when so many other nations have not had that same level of take-up is a real credit,” he told LBC Radio. In other developments:
Confirmed coronavirus cases rose in 28 boroughs in London, according to the latest figures. The seven-day rate for the capital was 27.2 per 100,000 in the week to May 27, up 27.7 per cent on the previous week.
A total of 153,229 deaths have now been recorded in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.
Several leading scientists have urged the Government to consider delaying the final easing of restrictions on June 21, which would see the end of social distancing, warning of the risks from the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.
However ministers, also wary of the impact of retaining restrictions particularly on the hospitality and tourism sectors over the summer, have sounded more upbeat that the roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead as planned. A decision is expected by June 14.
More than 65 million jabs have been administered in the UK. London continues to lag behind the national average for the roll-out of first and second doses, although part of the reason will be the capital’s younger population —meaning not as many will have been eligible to receive the vaccine.
Across the capital, 52 per cent of adults have had a first jab, compared with 74.9 per cent for the UK. On second jabs, the figures are 30.7 per cent in London and 48.9 per cent across the UK. On first jabs, the 13 areas with the lowest vaccination rates in England are all London boroughs, with Tower Hamlets in last place on 40.3 per cent. On second jabs, the bottom 14 places are taken by London boroughs.