60m more vaccine doses secured for booster programme

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COV

Matt Hancock led a Downing Street briefing on April 28 announcing 60m extra Covid doses. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

A further 60m Pfizer vaccines have been secured as part of the government's booster vaccine programme.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary made the announcement during a briefing on Wednesday evening. 

The UK has purchased 517m doses of eight different vaccines. 

Matt Hancock said: "Our vaccination programme is bringing back our freedom, but the biggest risk to that progress is the risk posed by a new variant.

“These further 60 million doses will be used, alongside others, as part of our booster programme from later this year, so we can protect the progress that we’ve all made."

The minister announced that he will be having his first coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, reiterating the message of the new government campaign "every vaccination brings us hope". 

Mr Hancock said the UK was on track for the easing measures due to come into effect on May 17, which will include allowing some indoor mixing between households, next month.

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He said: "The good news is that as far as the next step is concerned, which is in a few weeks' time - and we're going to keep monitoring the data - but as of today, we are on track for step three on May 17 and that is good news."

New data from Public Health England has found a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can cut transmission by up to half.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that during the peak in early 2021 not many people were vaccinated so the drop in cases, people in hospital and deaths was due to the efforts of the British public - with vaccines "undoubtedly" helping in later stages.

He added: "What is important about these vaccines and the vaccine rollout is it really is the way out of getting into trouble of the same size and magnitude ever again, and that's why it's important that this job must get finished."

Further details about the boost programme will be release in due course using advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and results of trials looking into the combinations of approved vaccines.

More than 47.5m people have had a vaccination, with a quarter of all adults having both doses.

Reviews are underway to assess two other vaccines with ongoing clinical trials for the Valneva, GSK and Sanofi and CureVac jabs.

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