Boris Johnson has urged the public to be “realistic” about the prospect of the UK being hit with another wave of coronavirus infections in the future.
The Prime Minister told broadcasters that while lockdowns meant the virus was now “under control”, he warned that “there probably will be another wave of the disease”.
But Mr Johnson said that coronavirus jabs would provide “pretty robust fortifications” should there be another spike in infections going forward, as he hailed the UK’s vaccination programme.
He urged the public to take up the vaccine when offered it, with a Government campaign calling on people aged 50 and under to get their jab so the UK can “continue on the path back to normality”.
It comes as the Prime Minister denied saying he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” rather than order another lockdown, amid a bitter briefing war that has hit Downing Street.
During a visit to Wrexham, when asked if he had made the comments attributed to him, Mr Johnson said: “No, but I think the important thing I think people want us to get on and do as a Government is to make sure that the lockdowns work.
“They have, and I really pay tribute to the people of this country, this whole country of ours, that have really pulled together and, working with the vaccination programme, we have got the disease under control.
“The numbers of deaths, the number of hospitalisations, are currently very low. That doesn’t mean that we have got it totally licked, it doesn’t mean that Covid is over.
“We have got to be realistic about that, unfortunately there probably will be another wave of the disease, but I think that the vaccination programme has now been so massive – 33.6 million people vaccinated.
“We have built up what I think are some pretty robust fortifications against the next wave, we will have to see how strong they really are in due course.”
A Government campaign – called “every vaccination gives us hope” – includes a TV advert which will showcase the health workers and volunteers involved in the vaccination rollout across the UK.
The campaign will predominantly be aimed at people under the age of 50 who will be offered their first dose, as well as the over-50s who are booked in for their second dose, to encourage vaccine uptake.
In England, people aged 44 are now being invited to book their jab, with NHS England saying around half-a-million 44-year-olds would receive a text inviting them to get their jab through the national booking service.
The push for people to take up jab offers comes as restrictions ease in Wales and Scotland and after figures over the weekend confirmed more than half of the UK’s total population had received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the first UK medical supplies have arrived in India and they “will be deployed where they are needed most”.
He added: “No-one is safe until we are all safe. International collaboration is key to fighting this global threat.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that nine plane-loads of life-saving kit – including ventilators and oxygen concentrators – have been sent to New Delhi.
The move follows discussions with India’s government following a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases which has overwhelmed the country’s health services.
Further consignments are due to be dispatched later this week, while part of the shipment of emergency medical supplies is 100 non-invasive breathing aids from University College London (UCL).
UCL said that its continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device had been used extensively throughout the pandemic and could prevent a significant proportion of people from needing mechanical ventilation.
In Wales, pubs, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses were allowed to offer outdoor service again from Monday, with organised outdoor activities also permitted for up to 30 people.
In Scotland, cafes, restaurants and beer gardens reopened again on Monday, along with non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.
People would be able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise indoors in a public place.
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe