Ministers have met their target of offering a first dose of the jab to the top nine priority groups by April 15.

Outdoor drinking and dining resumed on Monday for the first time since England’s lockdown began on January 5.

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Social distancing should still continue

Professor Adam Finn said that social distancing should still continue despite the success of the vaccine programme, as well as other precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

He said: “The vaccines are only one part of the solution to the problem. People do need to continue to be careful and to avoid infecting each other.

“You can have this infection without realising it and so there is a risk. There are now all these tests available that people can obtain to test themselves and people should use those.

“I’m going to wear a mask outside. I’m going to continue to use hand hygiene and I’m going to avoid close social contact.”

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Vaccines do have protection against other variants, says Prof Finn

Asked about surge testing in south London for variants of concern, Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told Sky News: “I think the evidence we’ve got so far suggests that these vaccines do have activity and protection against the other virus variants that have emerged around the world, but we are going to probably have to modify the vaccines to keep up with that viral evolution as time goes by.

“Nevertheless, the more people who receive vaccines for now, the better control we will have over the viruses that are circulating

“And will also be able to retard speed with which the virus can evolve and escape.

“So it’s really a bit of a race against the virus that the faster we can get more people immune, the less of a problem these variants will be.”

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Moderna vaccine ‘enormously important’ says Professor Finn

Professor Adam Finn said that the Moderna vaccine, which begins rollout in the UK today was “enormously important” and would enable the country to begin phase two of the vaccination programme.

“This is enormously important, these are large numbers of doses (and) it’s another tool in the toolbox,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“We’ve got two excellent vaccines already that work really, really effectively but the more vaccines we’ve got the more security over supply.

“I hope this is another step along the way and that we’ll actually see more vaccines come through over the coming months and we’ll have a really strong and secure supply.”

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‘We’re half way up the hill’ says JCVI member

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said that “we’re half way up the hill” after the news that the Government has met its target of offering a jab to all those at highest risk of Covid-19.

“I think it’s an enormously significant milestone because this really represents the culmination of phase one, which was really aimed at trying to rescue the NHS from the enormous surge of cases that we had at the beginning of the year,” he told Sky News.

“Of course the lockdown has contributed very significantly to that success as well.

“We’re half way up the hill if you like, we can look back and be pleased with what we’ve achieved, but we need to look forward to get to the summit, and really finish this off.”

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People can enjoy lockdown easing despite surge testing, says Lambeth council director

Ruth Hutt, director of public health for Lambeth Council, said local people can still enjoy the easing of lockdown despite surge testing across the borough following the discovery of cases of the South African variant of coronavirus.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today about whether people in the area should stay home rather than visit newly opened non-essential shops and beer gardens, Ms Hutt said: “No, we want everybody to follow the advice that still stands around ‘hands, face, space’.

“We want them to enjoy the easing of lockdown but to do that safely, and it is a really good opportunity now to mobilise all this testing just to check we don’t have any further cases of this variant in either Lambeth or Wandsworth.”

She added: “It is really important to know that these, a lot of these, cases were picked up through asymptomatic testing, so we have really good testing processes in place, particularly in care homes where one of these clusters was picked up, for people who have no symptoms – they routinely test all their staff and residents on a weekly and monthly basis.”

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India reports world’s highest daily tally again

India reported 161,736 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, hitting the world’s highest daily tally once again, for a total of 13.69 million cases, health ministry data showed.

Deaths rose by 879 to 171,058. Numbers typically fall on Tuesdays because of delayed results from tests done on weekends.

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India authorises Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

India has authorised Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, a leading local drugmaker said on Tuesday, in a boost for the nation’s inoculation drive as virus cases mount.

Russia’s Sputnik V is the third vaccine to be approved by India after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Covaxin, which was developed by Indian firm Bharat Biotech.

“We are very pleased to obtain the emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V in India,” Dr Reddy’s Laboratories co-chairman and managing director G.V. Prasad said in a statement. “With the rising cases in India, vaccination is the most effective tool in our battle against Covid-19.”

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Boris Johnson hails ‘significant milestone’ as all over 50s offered Covid-19 vaccine

Boris Johnson has hailed a “significant milestone” as the UK reached it’s goal to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to all over 50s and high priority groups.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “We have now passed another hugely significant milestone in our vaccine programme by offering jabs to everyone in the nine highest risk groups,” he said.

“That means more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid 19.

“I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout which has already saved many thousands of lives.

“We will now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.”

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Moderna jab rolled out in England

NHS patients in England are to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday, officials have confirmed.

Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said the move “marks another milestone” in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

It is the third vaccine to be added to the NHS “armoury”, alongside the Covid-19 vaccines from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

The Vaccines Taskforce has secured 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine for the UK.

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Revellers gather in Soho to celebrate pubs reopening

Revellers have tasted the first signs of freedom with a pint in London’s Soho, as crowds of people gathered in the heart of the West End – but some warned of “very little” social distancing.

Police officers patrolled busy areas in London on Monday night as hordes of people flocked to Old Compton Street and neighbouring areas to enjoy al-fresco dining and drinks after coronavirus restrictions eased in England.

Several West End streets were closed to traffic between 5pm-11pm to create outdoor seating areas as part of measures implemented by Westminster City Council to support hospitality businesses.

Pictures and videos being shared online show people packed onto tables laden with food and drinks, while several dozen more stood on the streets cheering the first night of pubs and bars reopening.

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