United Kingdom under-30s invited to book Covid jab appointments from this week

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme that vaccines had "severed but not broken" the link between a rise in cases and an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the previous wave of infections in the United Kingdom, Britain's health minister has said.

"But crucially, after two doses of vaccine, we are confident that you get the same protection that you did with the old variant".

The continued success of the rollout is key to hopes that the final step of the government's lockdown roadmap for England can go ahead as planned on 21 June.

Public Health England said last month that research showed double vaccination was similarly effective against both the Alpha and Delta variants.

Dame Anne Johnson, the president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said next week will be "absolutely critical" in looking at data on infections.

"Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn't as effective on its own".

"This week we will be opening up vaccines to the under-30s and so we are getting a step closer to the point when we have been able to offer the vaccine to all adults in this country", he said. Independent SAGE, a group of British scientists focused on providing guidance to the government, issued an "emergency statement" last week said stalling the existing plans to lift the last restrictions could help "avoid another full lockdown".

"We just don't know the potential for that to be (a) vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to June 21", UK Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Three out of the four tests are now being met, with the risk assessment from the Delta VOC the only unknown factor ahead of June 14 when the government is expected to confirm whether the unlocking roadmap will stay on track for June 21.

"And separately we have a piece of work on what the social distancing rules should be after that".

So far hospitalisations are "broadly flat", with very few people hospitalised after receiving both vaccine doses, he added. The minister nevertheless stressed that those who have had two doses of vaccine should be protected against illness from the Delta variant.

A further four deaths have also been recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID test - that's down from 13 on Saturday and six last Sunday.



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