Boris Johnson confident restrictions will be eased on July 19 thanks to vaccines

Vaccine: Expert discusses getting second jab before 12 weeks

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The Prime Minister said he was confident restrictions will be eased on July 19 thanks to the high levels of immunity provided by jabs. He said: “What you can see from the ­pattern of the pandemic at the moment is that the vaccines have played a pretty ­decisive role in breaking the link between infection and serious disease. “The level of vaccination in this country is now very high. “That’s why we are confident that we will be able to proceed with Step Four on July 19 as I have set out.”

More than 45 million people have now received a first vaccine dose in the UK, and 33 million ­a second.

During a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Johnson was also asked if he was concerned about people forgetting to maintain social distancing when enjoying events like Euro 2020.

The PM said he agreed with experts who have urged the public to take extra care amid rising cases of the Delta variant.

All adults are on track to have been offered a first vaccine dose by the planned Freedom Day.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a phenomenal achievement with 45 million adults now receiving their first dose.

“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we know they are breaking the link between cases and hospitalisations, with more than 27,000 lives saved and 7.2 million infections prevented in England alone so far.

“It is hugely encouraging to see millions of young people coming forward so quickly for their jabs and it’s absolutely crucial ­everybody comes forward for their first and second doses as soon as possible so we can put this pandemic behind us.”

The latest upbeat assessment came despite an Office for National Statistics infection survey suggesting Covid-19 ­infections have leapt by 72 percent in a week. Experts estimated that 211,100 people in England had the virus during the week to June 26, up from 122,500 the previous week.

This suggests around one in 260 people are now infected, the highest level since the week to February 27. Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said the data did not make ­comfortable reading.

But he said he was “not hugely concerned about the UK position at present”.

He added: “We know that vaccines have not entirely removed the link between infections and hospitalisations or deaths, but they have certainly weakened it a great deal.

“If infections were rising at the current rate and we hadn’t had all the vaccinations that we’ve had, I’d be seriously alarmed.”

There were 27,125 new cases of Covid-19 reported across the UK yesterday and ­27 deaths.

Separate data from Public Health England showed 50,824 cases of the Delta variant had been detected in the past week, increasing the total by 46 percent to 161,981.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Cases across the UK continue to rise and it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful.

“Although cases are rising, we are not seeing a proportional rise in the number of people who are being admitted to hospital.

“The data suggests this is testament to the success of the vaccination programme so far and clearly demonstrates the importance of getting both doses of the vaccine.”

Meanwhile, Government scientists have announced that the R infection rate for England had fallen slightly to 1.1 to 1.3.

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