tv BBC News Special BBC News December 30, 2020 4:50pm-6:01pm GMT
welcome to this bbc news special with me, george alagiah. we'll have coverage of the latest downing street briefing shortly. our headlines... millions more people in england have been placed under tougher tier three and tier four coronavirus restrictions as case numbers continue to rise. i know that tier 3 and tier 4 measures place a significant burden on people, especially on businesses, but i am afraid it is absolutely necessary because of the number of cases that we have seen. the move comes as a sharp rise in the number of covid—related deaths is reported in the uk, rising to 981, with more than 50,000 cases recorded. the start of school term is to be delayed in parts of england, with some secondary schools
and colleges not opening to all pupils injanuary. the coronavirus vaccine developed by astrazeneca and oxford university becomes the second vaccine in the uk to receive regulatory approval. boris johnson signs the post—brexit trade deal with the european union after britain's parliament approved it. he says it's not the end of their relationship with europe. we will be able to have a wonderful partnership with the eu in which we are able to do our own thing, and we will be able to be supportive, friendly, and i think that actually it is a great deal also for our european friends.
good afternoon and welcome to this bbc news special. millions more people across england willjoin the toughest tier of covid restrictions from thursday. the midlands, north east, parts of the north west and parts of the south west are among those escalated to tier four. it means that three quarters of the population of england will be under the highest level of restrictions, where people are asked to stay at home. in the past half—hour, the education secretary, gavin williamson has said the reopening of secondary schools in england will be delayed untiljanuary 18th. it comes as the uk medicines regulator approves the use of the oxford vaccine, marking a landmark battle in the fight against coronavirus. and the prime minister will lead a briefing on coronavirus from downing street at 5pm. we'll bring you that live. but let's return to the tier
announcement for england. the health secretary, matt hancock, made the announcement in the house of commons. u nfortu nately, unfortunately, this new variant is now spreading across most of england and cases are doubling fast. it is therefore necessary to apply tier 4 measures to a wider area, including the remaining parts of the south east, as well as large parts of the midlands, the north west, the north east and the south west. and i have laid a comprehensive list in the library of the house and published on yougov uk. even in most areas not moving into tier 4, cases are also rising and it is therefore necessary to apply tier 3 measures bore broadly, including in liverpool and north yorkshire. the rest of yorkshire remains in tier 3. these changes will take effect from one minute past midnight tomorrow morning. in the past half hour the education secretary, gavin williamson, has told mps that
he's revised his plans for schools in england returning after the christmas break. the majority of primary schools will open as planned on monday, but this was the new detail for secondary schools. all pupils in exam years are to return during the week beginning the 11th of january with all secondary school and college students returning full—time returning full—time on the 18th of january. during the first week of term, on or after the 4th ofjanuary, secondary schools and colleges will prepare to test as many staff and students as possible and will only be open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers. the 1,500 military personnel committed to supporting schools and colleges will remain on task, providing virtual training and advice on establishing the testing process, with teams on standby to provide in—person support if required by schools.
the uk medicines regulator has approved the oxford—astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for millions more people to be immunised in the new year. drjune raine is the chief executive of the mhra. the safety of the public always comes first. the mhra's approval has been reached following a thorough and scientifically rigorous review of all the evidence, of safety, of quality and effectiveness of the covid—i9 vaccine astrazeneca. these are difficult times for so many of us but vaccines such as this one will have the potential to save many lives and will see us come through. having an effective vaccine is the best way to protect us and may save tens of thousands of lives.
the latest government figures show that in the uk there were 50,023 new infections recorded in the latest 2a hours. there have also been 981 deaths reported, that's people who died within 28 days of a positive covid—19 test. it takes the total number of deaths so far across the uk to 72,548. 0ur health editor, hugh pym, is here. let's just reflect on that, 981 deaths, over 50,000 cases, just put that into context for us? yes, at face value, that is a terrible figure, 931 deaths. we should say that this is partly the result of
reporting delays over christmas, and it is including some instances going back a few days. the figures up until now have been round about 500 so it looks as if it has gone up a little bit, but still very tragic for many, many families. and the number of cases, above 50,000 again, the latest daily reported number, a tiny bit down on the previous day but well up on where we were a couple of weeks ago, with this big rise in infections, particularly in the south east of england, with this new variant, which is more transmissible. we may come back to you ina transmissible. we may come back to you in a minute, but in the past our... in the past hour, the education secretary, gavin williamson, has announced changes to the reopening of schools in england. let's get more from our correspondent damian grammaticas. i wonder if we could start by saying what has actually changed? so, these changes will affect millions. the tricky thing is that they are quite complicated. the biggest change is for secondary schools which in england should have been going back from monday next week, the 11th of january. there will be a delay. it
110w january. there will be a delay. it now appears on the 11th of january it is only going to be vulnerable children and children of key workers. that means schools have an extra week next week to get in place a testing regime and try and have it up a testing regime and try and have it up and running for the following week, but that will only be for those in exam years, year 11 and year 13, particularly. the idea is to try to get those exam pupils in in that second week, and all other pupils, from the following week. so in effect it is a two—week delay for many students. there might be some homeschooling in place for some of them but that is not entirely clear. for university students, also a significant delay. they are meant to be returning in phases from the beginning of january to be returning in phases from the beginning ofjanuary to the beginning ofjanuary to the beginning ofjanuary to the beginning of february. what mr william said was that the first to return will only now be those who have to be back in university to attend classes, which they have to be there, for practical lessons, to
gaina be there, for practical lessons, to gain a qualification. everybody else is going to be pushed back a bit again and will need to be tested, or offered at least two tests, when they return to university, to avoid a return to the problems that were seenin a return to the problems that were seen in september. in primary schools, the least disrupted sector, most should go back from monday next week. but in some tier 4 areas with high levels of transmission of the virus, that won't happen. in those areas, it will only be vulnerable children and children of key workers. so it will have to rely on pa rents to workers. so it will have to rely on parents to try to work out where they are and what their local circumstances are, or what their child at university's circumstances are, to get down to the detail. thank you very much for summing that up thank you very much for summing that upfor thank you very much for summing that up for us. vicki young is at westminster. no doubt the prime minister will want to talk about the
vaccine but it is a big day. we have been hearing about schools and the new tier structure as well. that's right. we know that borisjohnson likes to focus on the positive and i'io likes to focus on the positive and no question it is incredibly good news that the oxford astrazeneca vaccine is ready. and they will be asked a lot i think about the logistics of rolling that out and getting people vaccinated and whether all the plans are in place to do that as quickly as possible. but it really does feel today as if in england we are going back to almost where we were in march, with that more widespread lockdown. there are 110 that more widespread lockdown. there are [10 areas that more widespread lockdown. there are no areas of england that are going to be in tier 2 come midnight, just one in tier 1, the isles of scilly, everywhere else in tier 3 and tier4, with scilly, everywhere else in tier 3 and tier 4, with huge restrictions oi'i and tier 4, with huge restrictions on way of life, on businesses, many things being shut. and we have also heard about secondary schools, the opening being delayed, and maybe some primary schools as well. so you
can really see how serious the situation is. but i think the strong message from the prime minister will be, there is only a couple months maybe get through before we can start lifting some of these restrictions, because of that vaccine. we have heard it many times before but light at the of the tunnel and i before but light at the of the tunneland i am before but light at the of the tunnel and i am sure we will hear that from him at least once. tunnel and i am sure we will hear that from him at least oncelj tunnel and i am sure we will hear that from him at least once. i read somewhere that three quarters of the population will now be in the top two tiers. that is going to open up the accusation that yet again, the prime minister has acted too late? yes, and for some parts of the country they have gone very swiftly from tieri to tier 3, and i think thatis from tieri to tier 3, and i think that is recognition of the fact that as we have seen, hospitals are under real pressure. winter is a much more difficult time of the year anyway, and then the new variant of this coronavirus seems to be causing huge problems, notjust coronavirus seems to be causing huge problems, not just in coronavirus seems to be causing huge problems, notjust in the south east
and london, but they think now spreading around the country, so they want to act to try to resolve all of that. but we have seen all of these changes happening very quickly. the fact that plans for christmas were changed rather suddenly, they are very fearful, ministers, of this virus being out of control and of the nhs not being able to cope and the knock—on consequences of able to cope and the knock—on consequences of that, not just for treating those who are suffering from covid but of course all those other illnesses that hospitals are having to deal with. so, this is, they say, to protect the nhs. and i think they are hoping that these measures will not have to be in place for months and months on end, because if they can get this vaccine out there, they can start...|j because if they can get this vaccine out there, they can start... i am going to have to stop you there, let's go over to downing street, for the press briefing. good afternoon. we begin with the good news, the approval of the oxford astrazeneca vaccine, which is a fantastic achievement for british science, and
which will allow us to vaccinate more people and also vaccinate them more people and also vaccinate them more quickly. and there is one important development that is helping us to accelerate our vaccination programme across the whole of the uk. we have had new advice from the joint whole of the uk. we have had new advice from thejoint committe on vaccination and immunisation that the first dose can protect people against the worst effects of this virus, because the benefits kick in after two or three weeks. and so, from now on, we will give a first dose to as many vulnerable people as possible, with the second dose to follow 12 weeks later. and what that means is, we can vaccinate and protect many more people in the coming weeks. i know that everyone watching this will want to know when you can get your vaccine, and all i wa nt to you can get your vaccine, and all i want to say is that we are working as hard and as fast as we can to get
the supplies to you, and as soon we have the supplies, we will be getting them into people's arms. we have to face the fact that we have two big things happening at once in ourfight against two big things happening at once in our fight against covid, one is working for us and one is working against us. on the plus side, we've got two valid vaccines, and we are racing as i say to get them out. on the downside, there is a new strain of the virus, which is spreading much faster and surging across the country. and we've seen a 40% increase in cases in england in the last week alone, almost 15% more patients in hospital, more than at the peak of the first wave. and yesterday, sadly, we recorded almost 1000 deaths across uk for the first time since april. so, at this critical moment, with the prospect
of freedom within reach, we've got to redouble our efforts to contain the virus. and that is why the health secretary has announced that more areas of england will be moving into tier 4from more areas of england will be moving into tier 4 from tomorrow. and i say again, no one regrets these measures more bitterly than i do. but we must ta ke more bitterly than i do. but we must take firm action now. and that is why we have to think very hard about schools, because today, of course, it remains the case that keeping children in education is a national priority. it remains the case that schools are safe. but we must face the reality that the sheer pace of this bread of this new variant requires us now to take even tougher action in some areas. and that does affect schools, let me set out for you what this means. in most of
england primary schools will still reassemble next week as planned for the new term but in the areas we have just published today on the government website, i'm afraid the start of the new term will be delayed until at least january the 18th when the latest data on those infection rates will be reviewed. and that is because the rate of transmission in these areas is so high, and there isjust such pressure on the local nhs that extraction is required to control the spread of the virus. the children of key workers or those considered to be vulnerable will still go back to primary schools from next week, wherever they live in england. they are not affected by today's announcement. in secondary schools, all vulnerable children and the children of critical workers
will go back next week across england as originally planned. but we will ask exam year pupils in secondary schools to learn remotely during the first week of term and return to the classroom from the 11th of january. the return to the classroom from the 11th ofjanuary. the remaining secondary school pupils, ie non—exam groups, will go back a week later. that is from the 18th of january. but i want to stress that depending on the spread of the disease, it may be necessary to take further action in those cases as well, as i say, in the worst affected areas. to minimise disruption in schools and to fight the disease, we are massively expanding our testing operation, ensuring that every secondary school pupil is tested as they return and regularly
thereafter. again, iwant they return and regularly thereafter. again, i want to thank teachers, pupils, parents who have worked so hard to keep schools safe and keep them open. we are also asking universities to reduce the number of students who return to campus in january, prioritising medical courses and others requiring face—to—face teaching. and in all cases, students should be offered two rapid tests when they return. all of these measures are in the end designed to save lives and to protect the nhs. and for that very reason, i must ask you to follow the rules where you live tomorrow night and to see in the new year safely at home. that means not meeting up with friends orfamily home. that means not meeting up with friends or family indoors unless they are in the same household or support bubble, and avoiding large gatherings of any kind. we are still
in the tunnel of this pandemic. the light, however, is not merely visible, thanks to an extraordinary feat of british engineering, if you like, the tunnel has been shortened and we are moving faster through it. and that gives me great confidence about the future. for now, let's redouble our efforts, let's follow the rules, protect our nhs and together make 2021 a year which we leave this tunnel behind us. i will now hand over tojonathan van—tam to go through the slides. thank you, prime minister. i'm going to now deliver the data briefing to you. i would first of all say that always remember please that infections happen and then they are reflected
in the statistics several days later when people come forward for testing. they are always out of date bya testing. they are always out of date by a few days, in other words. on top of that, christmas is always a difficult time to assemble stable statistics so please bear both of those points in mind. first slide, please. you can see here two pictures of the uk, one based on the 10th of december and one based on the 24th of december and you can see that the average case rate per hundred thousand through testing is 190 per 100,000 on the left, rising to 318 per 100,000 as a uk average by christmas eve. the heat maps, on the geographic representation, the darkest areas are the hottest areas and you can see overall there has beena and you can see overall there has been a considerable growth across the national footprint in that time and particularly scented on london,
the south—east and the home counties and also south wales —— particularly centred. this is now being reflected in the numberof centred. this is now being reflected in the number of people going into hospital with covid—19 across the uk. on the extreme left you can see scotland, northern ireland and wales and then you can see the english regions on the right of the slide andl regions on the right of the slide and i really want to draw your i to the three in the bottom right—hand corner, the south—east, london and the east of england where you can see very sharp rises that have really ta ken see very sharp rises that have really ta ke n off see very sharp rises that have really taken off since early december. but particularly so in london in the last few days. with regard to the midlands, the north—west and north—east yorkshire, you can see that things are not running quite as hot as they were in early november. they have come down a bit but they have not really...
they have stabilised at a high rate, they have not dropped low so that is equally a problem that we face now. next slide, please. data from the office for national statistics, we can show you here from the surveys, the estimated number of people testing positive in england over time, from typically at the start of the autumn, one in 900 people testing positive, to a pointjust before christmas where, nationally in england, one in 70 people were testing positive. and you can see the effect of the national restrictions, bringing the curve down in the period between the 6th of novemberand down in the period between the 6th of november and the 5th of december but unfortunately, you can see the sharp take—off but unfortunately, you can see the sharp ta ke—off after that but unfortunately, you can see the sharp take—off after that that is all too familiar to all of us now. a
little word on this slide on the new variant of coronavirus which has been reported widely in the media. testing that is compatible with identification of the new variant are the dark blue lines and the other variants, or the old or pre—existing variants if you like, are the brown lines, and what you can see is that in the bottom right—hand corner again, where i drew your attention to those very sharp rises in hospital admissions, you can see that in terms of the percentage testing positive for the virus, the percentage testing positive with the new variant is increasing at merely a very substantial rate indeed. in the other areas, or most of them, i unfortunately have to say to you that i think to the right hand side of each chart, with not much more
than the eye of faith, you can see those optics of the new variant beginning to occur and that obviously is of enormous concern that the new variant, with its increased transmissibility, is beginning to spread to other areas of the uk. final slide. this geographically summarises where we are in terms of the tear restrictions being announced today. a very large proportion of the uk, 78% of the population, are, as of tomorrow, being placed into tier 4, with a small minority remaining in tier3and with a small minority remaining in tier 3 and almost nowhere now left in tier2and tier 3 and almost nowhere now left in tier 2 and tier 1. you can see, unfortunately, it is a pretty grim
and depressing picture at the moment. the situation in the uk is precarious in many parts already, particularly the south—east and london. and it is almost certainly true that the nhs has not yet seen the impact of the infections that will have occurred during mixing on christmas day. and unfortunately, thatis christmas day. and unfortunately, that is also rather sobering. given that is also rather sobering. given that picture, ijust want to say, look, i know new year is coming up, i know it is normally a time of great festivity and enjoyment. but you have just got to play your part i'iow. you have just got to play your part now. in bringing us back from this very dangerous situation that we find ourselves in. i will stop there, prime minister. thank you,
jonathan, that is very helpful. stephen, anything to add from the perspective of the nhs? as the prime minister has said and jonathan showed you in the slides, high infection rates from covid are causing significant pressure on the nhs and that is particularly the case in those parts of a country where the new variant has risen, and that has led to a rapid rise in infection rates and again, as jonathan has shown you, high number of hospital admissions and that is particularly london, the south east and the east of england. i would like to start tonight by paying a huge tribute to all of our nhs staff throughout the country. they have worked incredibly hard over this year, managing patients from this pandemic, and over the festive period they have had to work even harder. particularly in those areas which are seeing high infection rates with
the new variant. they have absolutely gone the extra mile and in fact they have gone many, many extra miles over the course of the year and extra miles over the course of the yearand as extra miles over the course of the year and asjvt extra miles over the course of the year and as jvt has extra miles over the course of the year and asjvt has said, it will continue to be tough over the next few weeks. but of course everybody is able to help the nhs and assist our incredible staff and play their owi'i our incredible staff and play their own parts. as both the prime ministerand own parts. as both the prime minister and jonathan have said, we know it is the end of the year, a time where people traditionally want to celebrate, but it is absolutely vital that this year everybody continues to follow the guidance by staying at home and not mixing. my colleagues, as i've said, up and down the country, continue to work ha rd down the country, continue to work hard with record numbers of patients with covid and of course keeping vital services such as cancer treatment and accident and emergency departments open at the same time for people who don't have covid. so we can all play our part in fighting this terrible virus, stay at home,
mark the new year with just nearest and dearest within the rules, this will reduce infections, relieve pressure 011 will reduce infections, relieve pressure on hospitals and that is how everybody can help to save lives. covid loves a crowd so please leave the parties for later in the year. thank you very much and i'm sure everybody will echo what you have just said about our wonderful nhs care workers and everybody keeping people safe this winter. let's go to questions from the public and, sorry, of course, jvt, something about the vaccine? yes, it is not all bad news from my corner of the room, it is actually also a very good news day with the authorisation of the oxford astrazeneca vaccine. and i want to really thank the scientists who have worked night and day for the last year getting this vaccine together. and also thank the doctors and
nurses of the national institute for health research, the nihr, without whom this whole trials programme could not have come together in the way it has. we have mhra conditions for the new vaccine authorised, very standard conditions, quite what you would expect for any new vaccine. the w would expect for any new vaccine. the jcvi has made an announcement that the vaccine should be pressed into service immediately, alongside the pfizer vaccine. at the jcvi's view is that these are two good back seat with no major distinctions between them. —— good vaccines. i wa nt between them. —— good vaccines. i want to caution everybody, particularly the media about over a forensic examination of percentage vaccine effectiveness. it is really important to remember that the definition of illness in the pfizer
and astrazeneca programmes were different, so they were slightly different, so they were slightly different end points, so you can't really compare them. but what really matters to us is not an end point that measures illness, but how these vaccines will impact on severe disease, on hospitalisations and on desks. and i am confident and i think the jcvi are also confident that both of these vaccines will do that both of these vaccines will do that —— and en deaths. there is already some preliminary data from the astrazeneca programme, there have beenjust the astrazeneca programme, there have been just two the astrazeneca programme, there have beenjust two hospitalisations in the whole of the clinical trials programme in patients who receive the vaccine. one hospitalisation occurred two days after the vaccine was occurred two days after the vaccine was given so you occurred two days after the vaccine was given so you can occurred two days after the vaccine was given so you can easily work out that the infection occurred before the vaccine was actually administered. and the second occurred ten days after the vaccine
was occurred ten days after the vaccine was given and again, ten days is not long enough for a vaccine to work. optimistically, you would say 7—10 days you might get some effects but far more typically it is 14—21 days where the effect of apraxia is going to kick in. so they were not really vaccine preventable hospitalisations and this is encouraging orbit preliminary data —— the effect of a vaccine. the other big thing that jcvi has changed for us in the last 24 hours is this very clear advice to prioritise the first dose to as many people as possible. this makes enormous sense to me, as somebody who is public health trained, andl somebody who is public health trained, and i willtry somebody who is public health trained, and i will try and explain why. firstly, the jcvi are very confident that there are high levels of protection from both vaccines after the first dose. secondly, the
mhra has given the operational flexibility around the interval between the doses, so that operationally, there is room for manoeuvre now. the second dose of both vaccines is integral, it remains important for longer term protection. but the priority is the first dose. and so, what does that mean in terms of, how has this strategy been put together? i want to try and help people understand that. and basically, you take what you've got, you work out what you're going to get, you look at the aberdeen illogical situation in front of you, and then the scientists and the modellers from the jcvi put all that together and they say, how do we get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time? and that's the approach they've chosen. and it
has been strongly endorsed by all four chief medical officers of the united kingdom. thank you. thanks very much, jvt, let's go to questions from the public and from the media. first, in buckinghamshire. reports that tier 4 restrictions may be in place until the spring. with so many businesses on their knees, what reassurances can you give that this will not be the case and businesses can look to reopen in the new year? well, you will have heard about the measures that we are sadly having to put into place across many parts of the country. tier 4 or tier 3. we want to get those areas out as fast as we can but the data at the moment simply does not allow it, the spread of the new variant simply does not give us the scope to do that. i think there will obviously come a point when we have made so much progress with the vaccine, and also with the tiering, that there will be
different options. we hope that comes as fast as possible. i think that we've heard previously from chris whitty and others that april, the 5th of april, easter, we really are confident that things will be very, very much better, and we will try and bring that date forward as fast as we can, that is why the vaccine roll—out programme is so important, and what jv vaccine roll—out programme is so important, and whatjv t had to say just now about accelerating that roll—out programme with using the first dose on as possible is encouraging. is there anything either of you would like to add to that? thank you very much. let's goat to jonathan from south london. and jonathan asks... given the high rates of infection is... well, actually, as far as i know, i can
tell you, we are going to be making sure that the nightingale hospitals are available, they certainly are available, but they are there not to be used immediately, as long as the other provision is still there. steve, you have been working on this closely? yes, thank you, jonathan. so, the nightingale hospitals have obviously been there over the course of the year. they are our insurance policy, our last resort. and indeed, we asked all the nightingale hospitals a few weeks ago to be ready to take patients if that was required. and indeed, some of them are already doing that, in manchester, taking stepdown patients, in exeter, managing covid patients, in exeter, managing covid patients, and in other places, managing diagnostics, for instance. what we've learned over the year is that we can use the nightingales for
a variety of purposes, and we will be keeping those purposes under review. 0ur be keeping those purposes under review. our first steps be keeping those purposes under review. 0urfirst steps in managing the extra demands on the nhs are to expand capacity within existing hospitals, that is the best way to use our staff. and then, if needed, we can also put in place mutual aid between hospitals and healthcare organisations, which is execut what is happening in london, and the south east, as we speak. but as the prime minister has said, it is critical that those nightingale hospitals are there if they are needed. let's go to the media, fergus walsh, bbc. the prime minister, how many people really nhs immunise every week? because surely, it needs to be in the millions? thanks very much, fergus. i think the best answer i can give at the moment is that we will have millions
of doses, tens of millions of doses, by the end of march. we are working to get the programme going as fast as we can. i don't want to give you specific numbers at the moment, but ican specific numbers at the moment, but i can tell you that we are shifting heaven and earth to roll them out as fast as we can. i know that jv t, you have also been asked about this today, is there anything you want to add? i would add that actually it is probably not the best idea to look at december, and how the nhs vaccination programme has started, with the pfizer vaccine, and try and overlay that on kind of kitchen table mathematics, for how that is going to scale up through table mathematics, for how that is going to scale up throuthanuary, february and march. there is a real game changer here, in terms of the
thermo—stability of the oxford vaccine, being hung global at 2—8 centigrade, none of the ultralow temperature, none of the thawing, and long stability at 2—8, which is going to give us all sorts of reach and flexible to and scale up. in addition to that, there is an absolute ambition across the whole of the system that the only thing thatis of the system that the only thing that is going to slow us down is batches of vaccine becoming available. and many of you know already that it is notjust about vaccine manufacture, it's about feel and finish, which is a critically short resource across the globe, a lwa ys short resource across the globe, always has been, for vaccines. and then there is individual batch release, which is a safety and quality requirement that absolutely has to take place. but i suspect steve price can give you a bit more
detail about how the nhs plans to scale up and how the primary care networks are raring to come on board. yes, thanks, fergus. as you know, we have been preparing for many months in the nhs to start this massive vaccination programme, the largest the nhs has ever undertaken. and we started that in december with the pfizer vaccine roll—out, which we knew would be based on limited supplies as we go towards the end of the year. as you know, as of last sunday, over half a million people had been vaccinated in the first few weeks. we now have the good news that the astrazeneca vaccine has been approved, and our intention is to start rolling that out through hospital hubs and primary care networks, beginning on the 4th of january, in other words, networks, beginning on the 4th of january, in otherwords, next monday. and that will lead to a big
expansion in the number of people who are vaccinated. and of course, with the other news that we are now permitted to space the second dose, asa permitted to space the second dose, as a jvt has implied, has explained, that also means that we can get on and vaccinate more people. so, our aim is to get the jab into people's arms as quickly as the manufacturers can supply vaccine to us. we have been focusing, as you know, on the highest priority groups, set by jcvi, so, the over—805, residents in ca re jcvi, so, the over—805, residents in care homes, care home workers, and to avoid wastage, we have also been vaccinating nhs staff. but the increased supply that comes with the astrazeneca vaccine means that we have written out to healthcare organisations today to instruct them to immediately expand the vaccination programme to all front—line health and social care workers. as vaccine supplies increase over the next few months, then we will be working to deploy through the next set of priority groups thatjcvi through the next set of priority groups that jcvi have through the next set of priority
groups thatjcvi have identified. thanks, steve and fergus. let's go to sam coates from sky. prime minister, moments ago you quoted chris whitty saying that things will be much better by easter, possibly the 5th of april. can you just spell it out, what does much better actually mean? people back in offices, seeing friends in gardens and homes, holidays, or is that all overoptimistic and should we expect those things to take until the summer or later? and on schools, if you are a parent of a primary child ina tier4 you are a parent of a primary child in a tier 4 area, and your school is reopening next week, are you legally obliged to send them if you are worried about infection rates? professor va n worried about infection rates? professor van tam, a practical question, if somebody has the vaccine, can they see their grandchildren as soon as the second doseis grandchildren as soon as the second dose is effective? 0r grandchildren as soon as the second dose is effective? or are you still going to enforce the law banning them from travelling and meeting and going to one another‘s houses even though for that person it is safe to do so? and finally, stephen powis,
there are pictures of people and ambulances queueing outside hospitals, can you characterise how close the nhs is to capacity, does it feel overstretched in parts? and would you expect specifically the london nightingale, where things seem to be so bad, to be needed any time soon? thanks very much, sam. first of all, on schools, message for all parents, except in the school areas which have been specifically identified as being where the epidemic is really surging the most, and where we do, alas, wa nt to the most, and where we do, alas, want to postpone primary schools until the 18th, the message is, schools are safe. the problem is not the schools. teachers, school authorities, parents, they have done authorities, parents, they have done a fantastic effort to make schools safe places. the issue is what happens, the spread from the mixing of households, that naturally takes
place in schools, that is what we are trying to combat. in the very high infection rate areas. so my message would be, unless your area specifically is identified as being amongst those are very, very high infection rate areas, send your children, send your family, infection rate areas, send your children, send yourfamily, to school in the normal way, absolutely right to do. and on what is the world going to look like, how do we define success, in the spring? well, if we are right, if the vaccination programme does have the positive effect that we think it can have, andi effect that we think it can have, and i stress, these are ifs, then clearly, a lot of the non—pharmaceutical interventions, the closures of hospitality and so forth, all of those will recede into the past. and we will be able to do
things very, very differently. that is the hope. i thinkjonathan and i have discussed previously on these occasions, there may be things that we wa nt occasions, there may be things that we want to carry on in order to protect ourselves, basic disciplines about washing hands and so on, i thinkjvt mentioned wearing masks, there may be things that we want to continue with to protect ourselves against the virus for a while to come. but the hope is basically that we will be able to move beyond non—pharmaceutical interventions if the vaccine roll—out programme is effective. indeed, there may be things that individuals decide, that they have formed habits that they are going to stick with. that is to be seen in the future. your question to me was rather more about vaccines
and behaviour, and if, after the second dose of your vaccine, it is 0k to second dose of your vaccine, it is ok to behave with wild abandon and go off to the bingo halls and whatever you like and so forth. the answer to that is in two parts, but the magic phrase is transmission. i think we can be confident, and we will know quite quickly, within a matter of a couple of months, the impact of these vaccines on reducing severe illness in the population. and when we know that, we will be able to say, when you're fully vaccinated, i hope we will be able to say, your chances of severe illness from covid are very markedly reduced. but right now, we can't say that that is synonymous with you not being able to pass the vaccine, the virus, onto others. in other words, we don't know if the vaccines will reduce transmission, yet.
we will definitely be looking at that, public health england have theirfingeron that, public health england have their finger on the pulse through this one through the assignment study in particular looking at health care workers who will be vaccinated and where they are being tested for symptomatic and asymptomatic illness on a regular basis —— the siren study. we will soon get a handle on whether these vaccines reduce transmission but until then, even if you are vaccinated, i cannot assure you... i can assure you it is very likely you will be protected from severe illness but i cannot give you the assurance you will not still pose a hazard to others through transmitting the virus. we have to just be patient on this point, give it another two or three months and then ask me that question again and i hope i will give you a much more reassuring answer. thank you very much. i'm sorry, steve. the question
on nhs pressures, as we have all commented, i think the nhs is under significant pressure at this christmas and new year period and thatis christmas and new year period and that is particularly so in those areas of the country such as london as you noted where we have seen rapid rises in infections, predominantly because of the new variant of covid. the nhs in london, as indeed around the country, has a tried and tested plan in place to manage surges in activity and of course those have been refined further through the year as we have learnt from the first wave of covid. those plans are being implemented as we speak, they involve firstly expanding capacity within existing hospitals, ensuring that mutual aid is in place between different health ca re is in place between different health care organisations, patients, staff, sometimes equipment can be moved around. and that is the right thing to do clinically because it's the best way to managing patients. the nightingale in london is being readied and if it is required, we
will use it. but the first step is capacity within existing hospitals. but i think it is really important for me to emphasise, as i have already said tonight, that the real key to reducing pressure on the nhs is if everybody complies with the social distancing measures that are in place. it is only by reducing infection rates that a couple of weeks later we will start to see a similar reduction in hospitalisations and the number of people in hospital so it is really critical that everybody does what we have all been doing throughout the year, no matter how tough it is, and stick with those restrictions. hospitals might seem a distance away if you are well actually it is your actions, in potentially not transmitting this to somebody else, that further down the line can save someone's life and that has been the case throughout this pandemic and it is really the case in this period at the end of the year when we are seeing infection rates at their
highest. thank you. thank you, prime minister pandit you stressed the need for speed in the roll—out of the vaccine so i have a bit of a ticklish question so could you a envisage a 24/7 roll—out of the vaccine which listeners have been asking about or something similar?” can tell you that people are working round the clock to get this done but i will hand over to steve and jvt to talk about the modality. as i said, we are working in the nhs to roll things out as quickly as possible. we need the supplies to come through from manufacturers and maybe jvt can say a little more about how that process works and the importance of batch releases. these are still unlicensed products, they have emergency authorisation so it is important that we do this properly and buy the book. but we are going
as quickly as we possibly can. thank you, vaccine delivery is very much an operational matter for the nhs, but my exhortation to the whole of the system is that we must go as fa st the system is that we must go as fast as the speed of supplies. in other words, as fast as the batches are landed and batch released, we should be using them, there should not be any stock held in a room somewhere or a fridge somewhere waiting to go out. it should go out as soon as it can. we have to have that ambition. shallot, your question is incredibly important and obviously we are looking at the whole thing —— charlotte. the rate limiting factor at the moment is supply and not distribution it would be fairto supply and not distribution it would be fair to say. that is being stepped up rapidly as well.
the extension of restrictions announced today will mean many more businesses have to close their doors. as a country, can we afford to keep borrowing to support those firms and their employees and should we expect any new measures from the chancellor given so many are effectively back into lockdown in all but name? thank you and obviously we deeply regret the necessity to impose these restrictions on ordinary life, on businesses. i know how tough it has been for people for so long and how tough it is in tier 4, in hospitality, for retail, and that is why of course rishi sunak, the chancellor, extended furlough right the way through until april. the end of april. and also why we have the many varieties of support loans, gra nts many varieties of support loans, grants that you will be familiar with. those will remain, the key
thing is, at everybody has said this to work together, to follow the guidance, get the virus down, but also to roll out that vaccine. i know, i thought the most interesting slides today with the ones that showed the difference between the new variant and the old variant. the sad thing is that you could see how the efforts of the british public we re the efforts of the british public were working in getting the old variant under control, and then you could see the way the new variant has started to spike. the way to beat that is with the vaccine and the roll—out, and obviously as several of your colleagues have rightly said this afternoon, we are going as fast as we can to do that.
hello there. quickly for the scientists and one for you, prime minister. how concerned are you about failed inoculations due to the rising infection covid rate? you said there was a gap between having the jab and developing immunity. do you expect the efficacy to drop? given what you said about schools, should we start inoculating school pupils? and prime minister, you said the brexit deal was a pass today and the brexit deal was a pass today and the new vaccine will be rolled out so on the new vaccine will be rolled out soona the new vaccine will be rolled out so on a personal level, what does this mean to you given the year you have had? why don't we do the science question about immunity? the vaccines have come to us with the most amazing speed, given that this isa most amazing speed, given that this
is a new organism that this time la st is a new organism that this time last year very few of us knew very much about at all. so it is an absolute triumph of science that they have come that fast. but vaccines are always best deployed before there is an epidemic or an outbreak. if you look at the mmr vaccine, for example, for children, the whole point of it is to stop their being measles outbreaks through high routine uptake but in this situation of a new, emerging disease, you don't have that luxury. you have to go with the vaccine as fa st you have to go with the vaccine as fast and as broad as you can as soon as you get it and that is literally the best you can do. there will always be, unfortunately, people who have been exposed to an infectious disease who are then vaccinated but are not vaccinated in time for the
vaccine to have had the required effect to give them immunity before the disease takes hold. that is always going to be the case and potentially there will be more of those patients in a situation where the disease levels are very high compared to where they are very low. but it isjust a biological fact that you cannot make a vaccine work faster and its design gives it the capability to do. and typically, antibodies didn't arise the 7—10 day mark but it's really 14—21 days before you see a kind of solid and sustained antibody response. but all vaccines vary and all human beings va ry vaccines vary and all human beings vary in terms of the profile of the antibody response at a personal level. thank you very much. just on
where we are and how i feel about it, richard, it is very frustrating obviously that we are in a situation where we have got a new strain of the virus surging in the uk, now in many parts of the uk, not all a bit but many parts of it, and that has necessitated these tough measures that we are taking, with the knock—on impact, alas, for schools in the areas most badly affected. and yet i am also filled with hope by the arrival of this new british made vaccine which really is potentially a real cause for optimism around the world. because this 0xford astrazeneca vaccine, because it can be delivered at room temperature, does not have the logistical challenges of other vaccines which need to be kept
refrigerated at —70. i think it can get to places that cannot currently be reached and it offers real hope across the world in fighting this pandemic. i suppose my emotions at the moment are a mixture of frustration plus optimism equals, you know, whatever, grim determination or something like that. but we will get through it, i have absolutely no doubt, but we have absolutely no doubt, but we have conflicting currents at the moment. and lastly charlie cooper. thank you for having me. it is tremendous news of course about the 0xford vaccine and the stringent new measures today are being introduced considering the concerning figures professor va n considering the concerning figures professor van tam showed us but given we are so close to a moment where vaccines change the situation we are in, what is the rationale behind sticking with the system
rather than going for what many scientists say we should do which is a full national lockdown until such time as there are enough vaccines to protect the vulnerable? and professor va n protect the vulnerable? and professor van tam, what is our latest understanding of whether the new variant, if the vaccine will be as effective against it? thank you andi as effective against it? thank you and i will not hide it from you, that obviously was an option that we considered intensively but on the whole we thought, given the uncertainties we still face of the impact of the tier 4, which is still a bit of an open question, it would be fairto a bit of an open question, it would be fair to say, and you saw the evidence of how tier 3 was working at least on the old variant, we thought it right to continue with
the tiering, particularly since you still have quite a regional differentiation in the way people are experiencing it. and given we went through that regional approach, that tiered approach throughout the autumn, that seems to be the fairest way to continue. but we will keep reviewing this, for all parts of the country. on the point about the strains and the vaccines, it's a good question. there is of course the uk strain and of course the south african strain, both of which have been in the news around the world. and both of those viruses, as i understand it, are either in or heading on their way to porton down to be assessed by the expert virologists to check that the
astrazeneca vaccine will still be effective and i understand from my colleagues at pfizer that they are also conducting very similar experiments to again check on both of those strains in relation to the pfizer vaccine. that is not unfortunately work that takes 12 hours in the lab, it takes more like 12-14 hours in the lab, it takes more like 12—14 days because you have to take the virus and grow it up live and then you have to run it against the sera so it will be a few more days, potentially a couple of weeks, before our scientists can give us a solid steer on that. but there are two pieces in the background that i think are very reassuring. the first is that there is work now under way by scientific groups around the world looking at a whole range of variant strains and they are showing that, by and large, the
neutralisation is quite cross—reactive, in other words the vaccines will cover quite a large range of variants. the other thing is about the vaccines themselves. they don'tjust produce is about the vaccines themselves. they don't just produce very single type of antibody, in other words one very precise, unique flavour, if you like. they actually create a kind of soup of antibodies, of multiple different flavours, and that means that if one fails, there are more behind it that are still going to bind to the virus. so you would need really very, very substantial mutations indeed to completely outwit these vaccines altogether. if we we re outwit these vaccines altogether. if we were into a situation where there was an we were into a situation where there was an effect, i would expect it to bea was an effect, i would expect it to be a marginal degradation rather thana kind be a marginal degradation rather than a kind of, you know, we have lost the lot kind of scenario. i
hope that helps and gives you some reassurance but the proper data is about two weeks away i think. i have nothing to add on that, the prime minister, but maybe i started by thanking nhs staff and perhaps i could finish by, on behalf of the nhs, thanking the public for the response they have all made to social distancing measures this year, because that has really helped the nhsa year, because that has really helped the nhs a few, it continues to help the nhs a few, it continues to help the nhs a few, it continues to help the nhs code, and i sure my collea g u es the nhs code, and i sure my colleagues throughout the nhs, and indeed should thank all key workers but across the nhs would want to join me in thanking everybody for complying with the measures and ensuring that we take the pressure off the nhs. thanks very much, and i totally agree with steve and with jay beatty, particularly what they have said about new year's eve celebrations tomorrow, please let's celebrate sensibly, so as not to spread the disease. thanks,
everybody. studio: all right, let mejust try to recap on some of the main points that we have just been hearing to recap on some of the main points that we havejust been hearing in that we havejust been hearing in that briefing. referring to the new tier changes announced by health secretary matt hancock earlier this afternoon, borisjohnson said... the prime minister also talked of a revised plan for vaccination roll—out when using the newly approved 0xford astrazeneca vaccine. doses will be given up to 12 weeks apart, allowing more people to be vaccinated as soon as possible. this is because of the high level of protection the oxford vaccine provides from just one dose. mr johnson also discussed a change in the return to schools. in most of england, primary schools will go back as planned next week, but there will be a delay in the opening of
secondary schools and colleges until the 18th of january, that is unless stu d e nts the 18th of january, that is unless students are in their exam years. and the prime minister also said that every child attending school would be tested regularly going forward. 0ur health correspondent nick triggle is here. i think the key question that everybody will wa nt key question that everybody will wantan key question that everybody will want an answer key question that everybody will wantan answerto, key question that everybody will want an answer to, and it was asked at the briefing, how quickly will the new vaccine be rolled out? and i think it was jonathan the new vaccine be rolled out? and i think it wasjonathan van tam who said, well, as quickly as the supply allows, what does that actually mean? the uk is facing a race against time to get the vaccine out, given the rising rates of coronavirus. the oxford vaccine is crucial because it is easier to store and distribute, we already have millions of doses in the country. so, coupled with the pfizer vaccine that has already been used, we could see a significant ramping up we could see a significant ramping up of vaccination rates. we've seen 600 these in —— 600,000 people
vaccinated already but gps tell me they could easily do 2 million people per week, if there is a good supply of the vaccines. and that is going to be crucial in the next few months, ensuring that the vaccine is sent out to these local vaccination centres, there are going to be about 1500 of them across the uk, to make sure that they can get the vaccine in people's arms and help return the country to some sort of normality. thank you very much. let's go now to our political editor, vicki young, at westminster. as we thought, vicki, the prime minister trying to balance what he called the plus side and the downside of this? yes, but giving the date of easter where he says that things will be very, very much back to normal, because he hopes that that vaccine will have been rolled out by then. but i think for lots of people here, just before new year's eve, many people of course a few months ago were hoping it would be a moment where they would be celebrating, but that is not going to be the case. real
warnings about people meeting up tomorrow night. and for large parts of england now, almost back to where we we re of england now, almost back to where we were in march, with the national lockdown. hardly any areas of england in tier 2. the vast majority in tier3and england in tier 2. the vast majority in tier 3 and tier 4. and at the beginning of january, those in tier 3 and tier 4. and at the beginning ofjanuary, those delays to secondary schools, disruption again for millions of pupils. and there will be lots of parents looking at the exams in the summer in england and wondering whether there is need to change as well. vicki, thank you very much. now it is time for a look at the weather. we have seen quite a bit of sunshine, but northern scotland has had a lot of snowfalls. there will be plenty of sleet and snow over the next few days, combined with overnight ice. in the short—term, we have still got this cold pool of air across the country. this front is
passing to the south of england and it should take any rain showers with it. then we focus in on this new front coming into northern scotland, bringing another round of rain, sleet and snow. some heavy snow in land, over the high ground. there will be further wintry showers around western coasts, central and eastern parts of england will have the best of the dry weather. tomorrow, for new year's eve, it is going to be dry for clever very cold and frosty start. but central and eastern areas will have some sunshine. mainly rain on the coasts, snow inland, in scotland. on thursday night, it stays very wintry across the north, further showers,
and a mixture of rain, sleet and snow pushes southwards into england and wales first thing on new year's day. further north, we will start to have some clear spells developing. another cold night and a risk of ice and frost. low pressure to the east of the country, higher pressure to the west, on new year's day. this weather front straddling parts of england and wales, bringing quite a bit of cloud for new year's day, with some bits of light rain. it will still be cold. scotland and northern ireland and later northern england should get the best of any brightness on new year's day. those temperatures, maybe not quite as cold as it has been. and then for the first weekend of january 2021, it remains cold with some sunshine and wintry showers.
today at six: the oxford/astrazeneca vaccine is approved for use in the uk. another tool in the fight against covid — 100 million doses are on order — it will be rolled out from next week. we have two valid vaccines and we are racing to get them out. on the downside, there is a new strain of the virus which is spreading much faster and surging across the country. it comes as the number of deaths reported in last 24 hours jumps to 981. also tonight: with covid infections surging millions more in england head into tier 4 from midnight — three quarters of the population now face the toughest rules.
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