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Matt Hancock welcomed news from Oxford University and its pattern AstraZeneca about the effectiveness of the coronavirus jab, which was found to have an overall 70 percent cover rate. The Health Secretary confirmed the Government is ready to begin vaccinations as early as December but insisted Britons might still be asked to sacrifice for months to ensure the infection rate does not spiral out of control. Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Hancock said: “If this all goes well in the next couple of weeks, then we are looking at the potential of starting the vaccination programme next month, for this Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine.
“But in all cases, the bulk of the roll-out will be in the new year and I know people are absolutely desperate to understand the timescale of this.
“Crucially, I think we’ve got to keep the virus suppressed using mass-testing and the sorts of measures and responsibilities we have for the next few months.
“But we are looking, with high confidence now, that from after Easter, things can really start to get back to normal.”
The Government confirmed 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had been bought but the Health Secretary said only jabs in the low millions will be immediately available for the roll-out programme.
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Mr Hancock also warned the tiers system expected to come into effect once the England-wide lockdown comes to an end on December 2 will”have to be stronger” than before.
He said: “The number of cases is now clearly starting to fall across the whole of the UK.
“In England, we come to the end of the lockdown as you know on December 2, and so we do think that we can replace the lockdown with a tiered system.
“But the tiered system, whilst lighter than lockdown, will have to be stronger than the previous tiers that were in place.”
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