Home News 4.6m in UK given vaccine amid pressures for tougher lockdown

4.6m in UK given vaccine amid pressures for tougher lockdown

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• Inoculation doses rescued from severe floods

The United Kingdom (UK) has now given doses of the Coronavirus vaccine to 4.6 million people, the country’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said.

This came as Hancock is being put under pressure to consider tougher restrictions given concerns that cases of the virus may not be falling.

Answering an urgent question in the Commons, the health secretary said more than five million doses had been given with more than 400,000 second injections.

“This virus is a lethal threat to us all and, as we respond through this huge endeavour, let’s all take comfort in the fact we’re giving 200 vaccinations every minute,” said Hancock, who was appearing from home, as he is self-isolating after being alerted by the test-and-trace app this week.

Of older care home residents, 63% had now been vaccinated, he added.

But Hancock was pressed on possible new restrictions after an Imperial College London study based on swab tests from more than 142,000 people across England between 6 and 15 January suggested that while new infections may have fallen recently, they could be stable or even growing slightly.

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, who now chairs the Commons Health Select Committee, asked whether the UK should enforce new arrivals to the country to quarantine in hotels, end mixing outside households and bubbles, and follow Germany in mandating full protective filter masks in shops and on public transport.

But, the British emergency services worked through the early hours of yesterday morning to prevent severe flooding from damaging a store housing doses of the Astrazeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

Workers managed to save the vials of the vaccine, which were being stored in a warehouse in the Welsh town of Wrexham.

Council leader Mark Pritchard told the BBC that the floods had threatened an industrial estate, where the British-developed vaccine was being produced and stored.

Dozens of Wrexham residents were evacuated from their homes after flood warnings were issued as Wales was hit by storm Christoph overnight.

The severe weather system had battered parts of northern England and Scotland earlier in the week.

A statement from manufacturing partner Wockhardt UK said the flooding had not affected vaccine production.

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