Half a million Brits have received Covid vaccine – but Boris Johnson rules out prioritising Tier 4 south

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MORE than 500,000 people in the UK have now received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson marked the milestone at today’s Downing Street Press Conference.

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PA:Press Association

A person receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination centre in York[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Over 500,000 people in the UK have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine[/caption]

The PM addressed the nation after a mutant strain of coronavirus saw over 16 million people placed into harsh Tier 4 restrictions, and over 40 countries close their borders to the UK.

Mr Johnson announced the half-a-million achievement, telling audiences: “I can today announce that over half a million people, more than 500,000 people in the UK, have now received their first dose.”

Asked whether the vaccine would be made more readily available, Boris Johson said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is currently sticking to its priority list for those most at risk of contracting and dying from the list.

The Prime Minister went on to say: “We want to work with our colleagues, with our friends around the world, as we have from the beginning, to develop new treatments, to develop new vaccines, as we have.”

The Prime Minister said the “vast bulk of the doses at the moment” are going to the over-80s and clinically vulnerable, and highlighted that the UK has been the first country to distribute a vaccine.

AFP or licensors

Boris Johnson spoke at a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street[/caption]

AFP or licensors

Boris Johnson spoke alongson Grant Shapps and Sir Patrick Vallance[/caption]

He added: “I find that a reason for hope and for confidence.”

Mr Johnson also made efforts to reassure the public that there was “no reason” to think the new variant of Covid-19 is any more dangerous than the existing strain.

Vast swathes of southeast England have been placed in tightened measures due to the high presence of the new VUI-2020/01 strain, which is feared to spread more quickly than the original virus.

Despite the Prime Minister’s reassurances, the public were also warned that more areas were likely to be placed into stricter restrictions as the new variant of coronavirus continued to spread.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, speaking alongside Mr Johnson, said: “it is likely this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country.”

“And I think it’s likely, therefore, measures will need to be increased in some places in due course and not reduced.”

“I think it is the case this will spread more.”

Boris Johnson also addressed the border closures which have seen France ban freight hauliers crossing the English Channel over fears of the new virus strain.

The PM claimed the “vast majority” of food and medical supplies are unaffected by the move.

He said: “It is vital first to stress that these delays – which are only occurring at Dover – only affect human-handled freight, and that is only 20% of the total arriving from or departing to the European continent.”

The Prime Minister said that while he understood the anxieties the new variant strain of coronavirus had prompted across the globe, he was making efforts to find a solution quickly.

He also confirmed he’d had a “very good call” with the French president Emmanuel Macron and both sides are working to “unblock the flow of trade as fast as possible”.

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