Boris Johnson has today outlined the three keys factors which will put the country on the ‘route back to normality’.
The Prime Minister outlined his Covid winter plan to the Commons on Monday afternoon before addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference.
He announced plans for a tougher three-tier system when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
Alongside the tiers, developments in vaccines, testing and treatment should enable ‘life to begin to return closer to normal’, Mr Johnson said.
“By the spring, these advances should reduce the need for economic and social restrictions”, he said.
“We should be able to render obsolete the very notion of a COVID-19 lockdown.”
But he warned the months ahead ‘will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure’.
Here are the three key factors of the Prime Minister’s ‘route back to normality’ in his winter plan:
Positive results have now come from three different vaccine candidates.
The Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine, which is being developed with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has reported interim results from a phase 3 trial showing the jab can prevent the majority of people from developing the disease.
The government has secured 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is almost enough for most of the population.
Though Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said there may be more vaccines doses available than first thought.
If approved, the jab could start to be rolled out in the UK from December, with the bulk of vaccination in the new year.
At the start of November, Pfizer and BioNTech announced a major breakthrough with early phase three results suggesting the jab is 90 per cent effective.
Later that month, the companies confirmed a higher efficacy rate of 95 per cent.
The UK has secured 40 million doses in total of the vaccine, with 10 million due in the country by the end of the year provided the jab is approved.
The UK has agreed an ‘initial agreement’ for five million doses of the Moderna vaccine if it is approved.
However, the Prime Minister warned ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ despite the positive vaccine news.
“We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill but they are not here yet”, he said at the Downing Street press conference.
“Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.”
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Professor Chris Whitty added: “It is really critical we realise that the regulators have an absolutely critical next role.
“They independently will look at ‘are these vaccines safe?’ and only when they are satisfied… would it be possible for us to say for sure we can roll these out and then have a plan.”
There are a number of other vaccines in development across the world that are at different stages of trials including Novavax, Janssen and Valneva.
Mr Johnson said the NHS is in the process of ‘establishing mass vaccination centres’ across the country where vaccines can be stored.
Vaccinations hubs are also being established in hospitals in NHS staff and there will be a community rollout, the Prime Minister announced.
Effective treatments for Covid-19 are ‘vital’ in managing the virus especially for those can’t be vaccinated, Mr Johnson said in his winter plan.
The government is delivering a programme of clinical trials, including RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP, which are potential treatments in primary, acute and intensive care.
Result are expected in the coming months for a variety of treatments and drugs which could help people fight the disease and recover.
The Prime Minister also announced that there will be more community testing, like there has been in Liverpool.
“Do your best for the community. Get a test to squeeze the disease,” he said.
“Through mass community testing we hope to let people see more of their family and friends at Christmas.”
He announced the government is working to improve turnaround time for tests.
Downing Street also plan to expand testing capacity and introduce frequent testing as an alternative to the need for self-isolation.
In the future, people who have had close contact with someone who has Covid-19 will be offered regular tests as an alternative to isolation.