One million Britons receive first dose of Covid vaccine as NHS chief warns UK is in ‘very difficult new year’

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Less than a million Britons have now received their first coronavirus vaccination, but the UK is in a ‘very difficult new year’, health chiefs have warned.

Professor Whitty and his counterparts in all decentralized countries said difficulties in procuring supplies would make it difficult to get more people vaccinated, as he advocated a shift to prioritizing first doses.

In a joint statement, he and the CMOs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the public would “understand” and “thank” them for a plan to prioritize first injections, delaying follow-up vaccination for others.

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Meanwhile, NHS Providers Deputy Managing Director Saffron Cordery said the pressure on hospitals “is mounting” and warned: “We are in a very difficult New Year.”

Responding to criticism from general practitioner leaders about the plan change, the joint statement said that while it was “difficult” to reschedule second injections, it was better to offer more people the “substantial protection” offered by the drug. first dose within two to three weeks. , as the UK waits for more vaccine stocks to become available.

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It comes as GPs are offered £ 10 for every nursing home resident they vaccinate on an NHS England walk to reach the majority of those deemed priority by the end of January.

A total of 44 million people, or 78% of England’s population, are now living under the most severe Level 4 measures and it emerged on Thursday that scientists briefing the government said in a meeting on the 22nd December that these were “highly unlikely” measures. comparable to the November cutout lockout would bring the R rate back below 1.

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Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) blamed the new, more virulent strain of the virus, adding: “R would be lower with schools closed, with the closure of high schools likely to have a greater effect than the closure of primary schools. “

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London Tier 4

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Universities are urged to reduce the number of students returning to campus from the start of the new term, while those returning should be offered two rapid coronavirus tests.

Figures released on New Years Eve show just under a third of acute trusts have more Covid-19 patients than at any time since the start of the pandemic, with union leaders warning of exhaustion of staff, skyrocketing disease rates and “intolerable” pressures.

The situation is dire in Northern Ireland, where the bed occupancy rate in the health service is now 100% and ambulance teams are bracing for long delays.

Only six beds were empty in Northern Ireland on Wednesday evening, according to official figures.

Intensive care in Wales was in a “precarious” position, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said.

All of mainland Scotland and Skye remained below the highest limits in early 2021.

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Police forces and public health officials across the UK have pleaded with people to celebrate the New Year with their own households.

Professor Hugh Montgomery, an intensive care doctor at Whittington Hospital, said people who mixed unnecessarily would have “blood on their hands”.

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He told BBC Radio Five Live: “They won’t know they killed people, but they did.”

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