Almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 and everyone in care homes should receive a jab by the end of January, Boris Johnson says.
But GPs are warning of problems in some areas getting supplies as surgeries began rolling out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, beginning the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS.
A further 1,162 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, the second-highest daily increase since the start of the outbreak. And coronavirus cases in England rose by almost a quarter over Christmas according to the latest Test and Trace data.
NHS hospitals across the country have been told to start vaccinating frontline health and care workers immediately, and seven mass vaccination centres will open next week, in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.
But an official briefing has warned hospitals in London are on the verge of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases even under the “best case” scenario, leaving the capital short of nearly 2,000 general and acute and intensive care beds by 19 January.
Meanwhile critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units across the UK will be able to receive new drugs that can "significantly" reduce the risk of death as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.
NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab - which are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis - under updated guidance due to be issued tomorrow by the Government and the NHS to Trusts across the UK.
New NHS vaccine staff not guaranteed inoculation before job begins
New vaccine workers are not guaranteed to receive the jab themselves before starting work, Bethany Dawson reports.
While people taking on new roles will be prioritised for the vaccine by virtue of becoming a frontline healthcare worker, they are not guaranteed to receive it before they start.
‘I’m more exposed and it worries me a little, even though I have no underlying conditions,’ one new worker says
Hospitals told to immediately start vaccinating all frontline staff
All NHS hospitals across England have been told to start vaccinating frontline health and care workers immediately in the face of growing coronavirus pressures on the health service, health correspondent Shaun Lintern reports:
Instruction comes as rising worker sickness leaving wards understaffed
High street pharmacies to offer Oxford Covid vaccine next week
High street pharmacies, including Boots, will begin offering the coronavirus vaccine next week to help in the push to immunise more than 13 million of the UK’s most vulnerable people by mid-February.
The Independent understands that around 200 pharmacies are being lined up by NHS England to deliver to Oxford jab as part of the mass vaccine rollout plan.
My colleague Adam Forrest reports:
Around 200 pharmacies lined up for delivery – but experts say more branches are ‘willing and able’ to assist
104-year-old care home residents becomes one of the oldest to receive Covid vaccine
A care home resident aged 104 years old has become one of the oldest people to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Hertfordshire.
Joyce Birrell, who lives at Foxholes Care Home near the town of Hitchin, was vaccinated alongside 70 other residents and the manager of the home, Usha Gandecha.
Ms Gandecha said Mrs Birrell was “thrilled to be one of the first to receive the jab, and described the vaccine as a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
“I put myself forward to be vaccinated first as a show of solidarity and unity with staff and residents alike, hoping to east a few of the nerves some may have had and providing reassurance that, if I’m willing to have it, then it can’t be too bad,” she added.
Ms Gandecha said she was “incredibly proud” of her staff and the home is “even more determine to beat this virus and welcome back our residents’ loved ones and friends for visits in the near future”.
Birmingham leaders demand ‘clarity’ from Matt Hancock over vaccine stocks
Birmingham city leaders have written an open letter to the health secretary to seek “urgent clarity and reassurance” over vaccine stocks, after learning the city “has not yet been supplied with any” doses of the Oxford vaccine.
Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, warned that current stocks of the Pfizer jabs are “scheduled to run out on Friday”.
The letter to Matt Hancock said: “With the new national lockdown now in force and Covid rates continuing to climb, vaccination offers our only realistic hope of a return to normal life.
“If is therefore not surprising that many of those we represent are contacting us directly for updates and answers on the progress being made with vaccine penetration.
“It is clear that we are expected and will be expected to know the answer to a rolling series of questions, and we are clear that this is information that we should have, and which must be collected.”
Plane, coach and train services slashed due to lockdown
Transport operators are cancelling services wholesale rather than lose millions by running them with few passengers as the third lockdown takes effect in the UK.
From Ryanair to National Express to Grand Central, our Travel Correspondent Simon Calder has the details:
National Express coaches and Grand Central trains will not restart until March
Ban on evictions in Scotland extended till 31 March
The ban on evictions in Scotland will be extended until at least 31 March, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The regulation, which prevents most evictions from the private and social rented sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic, will continue beyond the current end date of 22 January.
Evictions would only go ahead in limited cases, such as anti-social behaviour.
Ms Sturgeon said at the daily coronavirus briefing that the new strain of the virus meant there was an even greater public health need to keep people in their homes.
“For that reason the regulations to prevent the enforcement of eviction notices will be extended until 31 March in all Level 3 and Level 4 areas, which of course right now if the entirety of Scotland.
“And if necessary the regulations can be extended further after that date,” she added.
Alcohol sales fall in 2020 as pubs and restaurants faced closures
Alcohol sales dropped in 2020 in the UK despite a rise in home drinking, as lockdown and other coronavirus restrictions forced pubs and restaurants to close repeatedly.
Beer sales fell 10 per cent, while wine dropped five per cent, according to an annual market report by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which is due to be published in the next few weeks.
My colleague Alessio Perrone reports:
Increase in home drinking only partly makes up for drop in sales
NHS executive blasts false social media claims
The chief executive of St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has refuted claims being shared on social media that the hospital is "not unusually busy".
Jac Totterdell tweeted: "We have 115 [critical care] beds now opposed to the normal 66. So we are doubled capacity.
"Half of those 115 beds have Covid +ve patients, the rest are trauma, medical, cancer patients.
"Shame on this individual for propagating untruths."
Women turned to alcohol ‘more often than men’ in the first lockdown
Women turned to alcohol more often than men in the first lockdown - raising fears they could suffer chronic diseases in years to come, a new study has found, women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim reports.
Experts warned women are using alcohol to cope with stress triggered by bearing the brunt of homeschooling pressures and household income plummeting during the pandemic.
‘It could reflect that men and women respond to stress differently,’ says expert
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