Vaccine delivered to most of population by September but distancing to stay in place

Nadhim Zahawi reveals aim to vaccinate all adults by September

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Nadhim Zahawi explained that while parts of the economy will begin to reopen in the coming months, measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing are likely to remain for a long time. Mr Zahawi explained there was a “tsunami of misinformation” surrounding the vaccine and that he was now tackling “two pandemics” as some have shown hesitancy in taking their coronavirus vaccine dose. Mr Zahawi also explained there was a general hesitancy among BAME communities and has been introducing vaccine hubs near or in faith centres to bridge the gaps.  

Speaking to Niall Peterson on Sky News, the Vaccines Minister said: “We are all pro-social animals, it’s in our DNA that we want to socially interact we want to hug our children, our grandchildren, our friends.

“I would say this, we have to be data-driven, rather than just date driven, we have to follow the evidence from SAGE, from the scientists, to make sure that if we are able to control this virus better.

“Obviously our main way out of this pandemic is our vaccination programme which we are making sure that we deliver as quickly as possible.

“Protecting the most vulnerable and then moving to the whole of the adult population, in order to be able to, by September, have offered the vaccine to the whole of the adult population.

“But with that level of vaccination, which hopefully we’ll see the data on infection rates coming down transmission, there’s some good data from Oxford but we’re peer-reviewing that and we wait for our own data from the Public Health England surveys that are conducted.

“But with that, surge testing tracing and isolation, and any other measures, whether it’s mask-wearing or social distancing, I think we have to be driven by the data, rather than just dates.”

Mr Zahawi continued: “That’s my message to your viewers, if we look at the evidence and share the evidence, people are able then to make those decisions for themselves.

“I think that’s the right way to do that, the Prime Minister will be saying more of this on February 22 in terms of the roadmap to hopefully on March 8 then gradually reopening our economy.

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“But it has to be data-driven, evidence-driven, rather than just relying on what we all want to see because we’re all anxious to want to get our lives back and the economy back on its feet as quickly as possible.”

Phase two of the vaccination programme has been launched with four new priority groups now being targeted. 

The new phase aims to give around 17 million people their first does by the end of April. 

However, some forecasters who have looked at the speed at which phase one was conducted believe the Government may hit that target sooner. 

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed in a BBC interview earlier this week that over a million invites have already been sent to the next priority groups. 

Mr Hancock urged those who have already received their first jab to go for their second as over 500,000 people have received theirs. 

The second dose rollout will pick up speed later this month as people return. 

Discussions about vaccine passports to reopen travel and parts of the UK are also being discussed within the political sphere as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was against using them for the hospitality industry but did not rule out other applications in other sectors. 

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