Vaccines ‘cut infections by two thirds’ as lockdown lifting set to speed up

Covid-19 vaccines are appearing to be working as new data suggests the jabs cut infections by two thirds.

The first "real world data" has been released which will be key in finalising the roadmap to easing lockdown.

Figures show a dose of the Oxford or Pfizer vaccine has an effect on age groups and over 16 million people have been vaccinated so far in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce key dates for easing lockdown on February 22.

The easing of restrictions will be determined by findings regarding the impact of jabs on transmissions, infections, hospitalisations and deaths, reports The Telegraph.

So far findings are "very encouraging" according to Whitehall sources.

The UK's vaccine strategy placed the population into priority groups.

Those over the age of 80 were one of the first to be vaccinated, and cases among that group have fallen by 38% in seven days.

Mr Johnson's announcement will include the reopening of schools from March 8.

Tory backbenchers are said to be pushing for lockdown to lift earlier according to the progress made by jabs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also pushing for an earlier time table, he said vaccines represent "our way out of freedom," according to The Telegraph.

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However, the early lift has been criticised by some, with the British Medical Association asking for Covid cases to be nearly eliminated before restrictions ease.

On Thursday an NHS chief claimed the lockdown can only end when cases drop by another 93%.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to "resist pressure to loosen restrictions" before it is safe to do so.

He said cases need to fall below 50,000 before lockdown can be eased at all.

Earlier this week Mr Johnson sounded a note of caution as he set out the hope that this lockdown will be the last, but admitted he cannot offer "an absolute cast iron guarantee".

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