Matt Hancock to lead Monday’s Downing Street press conference

Matt Hancock will lead a Downing Street Press conference this afternoon (Monday).

The Health Secretary will provide a Covid-19 update as ministers in the UK have moved to reassure the public over the effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca  vaccine.

Experts have warned it was “very possible” the South African variant is already quite widespread in the UK.

The press conference will air at 5pm this evening from No 10 Downing Street.

But what is he likely to say?

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca study

The Health Secretary will almost certainly address the news that South Africa has suspended its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to healthcare staff.

The decision follows results from a study which suggested that it was not effective against mild illness caused by the South African variant of Covid-19.

The country had received its first one million doses of the vaccine at the end of January, with plans to roll it out to frontline health workers from the middle of February.

These plans have now been suspended as preliminary research suggested that the vaccine offers only minimal protection against mild to moderate disease from the variant.

A study of around 2,000 people has shown the jab only offers minimal protection against mild disease of the South Africa variant and, due to the young age of participants, could not conclude whether the jab worked against severe disease.

Isle of Wight County Press: (PA)(PA)

Matt Hancock is expected to follow other UK ministers in expressing his confidence in the vaccine as the country continues its nationwide rollout.

Health minister Edward Argar said on Monday that Oxford researchers remained confident their vaccine could prevent severe disease for those affected by the variant and that booster jabs to tackle new strains are already in the pipeline.

Mr Argar said Professor Sarah Gilbert, from Oxford, who designed the Covid vaccine, had said “there wasn’t anything she could point to that caused her to be concerned that it would not be effective against severe forms of the illness, hospitalisation and death from the virus”.

  • Vaccine rollout update

Mr Hancock is expected to provide an update on the vaccination rollout and its progress as lockdown continues.

The latest government figures reveal 12,014,288 people have now had their first dose of a vaccine, while 511,447 have had both a first and second dose, as of Saturday.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the UK was administering doses at a rate of nearly 1,000 per minute at one point on Saturday.

Over the weekend the World Health Organisation praised the UK over its “brave” decision to offer vaccine doses three months apart.

Dr David Nabarro told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that it was a “great lesson” for the rest of the world.

  • Coronavirus cases update

It is believed the Health Secretary will provide an update on the spread of the virus across the UK following new analysis that shows Covid-19 case rates have dropped to Pre-Christmas levels for all four UK nations.

While a handful of local areas across the UK have recorded a week-on-week rise in the latest figures, most of the increases are small.

The figures, which have been calculated by the PA news agency from health agency data, suggests lockdown restrictions currently in place across the UK are having an impact in driving down the number of new reported cases of coronavirus.

 

Isle of Wight County Press: Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in UK. (PA)Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in UK. (PA)

  • Storm Darcy

Matt Hancock may be questioned on how Storm Darcy could affect the vaccine rollout after some mainland Covid-19 vaccination centres were shut due to heavy snow overnight.

 

Isle of Wight County Press | News