Life without masks ‘is closer’ as Covid jab milestone is passed

One in three adults have received both Covid jabs in a major milestone in the war against the pandemic.

Almost 15million in England now have ‘maximum protection’ against the virus and 29.6million have had at least one dose.

The NHS’s announcement of the milestone came after the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group predicted that Britons would soon be living without face masks and social distancing.

Professor Andrew Pollard, who is also the chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said that this ‘was getting closer to happening’, thanks to the ‘remarkable success’ of the UK’s immunisation programme.

Almost 15million in England have ‘maximum protection’ against Covid-19 and 29.6million have had at least one dose in a major milestone in the war against the pandemic (file photo)

The head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Professor Andrew Pollard, predicted Britons would soon be living without face masks thanks to the UK’s immunisation programme

He also said that ministers were right to start easing restrictions further, and that the country was in a ‘very fortunate position’ with both the vaccination uptake and suppression of cases from lockdown.

‘It is time, based on a very careful model, to start relaxing some of those restrictions,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Figures from NHS England yesterday showed 14.9million people aged 18 and over had been given both doses of the vaccine, nearly 34 per cent, while 29.6million – 67 per cent of the adult population – have received their first dose.

In a tweet Boris Johnson said that reaching the milestone was ‘a testament to the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff and volunteers’.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care at NHS England, said: ‘Reaching this milestone is no happy accident – it is down to months of hard work and everyone in the NHS who has played a role in this is helping to protect millions of people from serious illness and saving lives.’

Meanwhile, the UK recorded just two Covid-related deaths in the last 24 hours while figures showed there were 1,770 confirmed cases compared with 2,047 on Saturday.

Professor Pollard stressed that attention now needed to be diverted to other countries around the world – including India – facing ‘absolute calamity’.

He added: ‘Countries that have now vaccinated the vast majority of the vulnerable need to be rethinking priorities. We just can’t stand by and see that level of catastrophe happen.’

He also said there was no need for adults under 40 who had already received their first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca to be given an alternative vaccine for their second dose.

He explained that the existing data suggested the risk of blood-clotting syndrome in second doses was very low.

On Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended adults under 40 be given an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab if one was available, as a result of the – very low – chance of blood clots.

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