Boris Johnson has urged the public to get Covid booster jabs in order to avoid the re-introduction of Covid-19 restrictions – and refused to rule out a Christmas lockdown.
When asked if he could “categorically rule out” a Christmas lockdown, the Prime Minister said getting booster jabs was the “most important” thing people can do to prevent further non-pharmaceutical interventions from being taken.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference there was “nothing in the data” that suggests more restrictions will be needed – but he warned that there were “storm clouds” gathering over parts of Europe with a “new wave” of the virus sweeping through central Europe and now affecting western Europe.
“We don’t yet know the extent to which this new wave will sweep up on our shores but history shows that we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
“Those countries with lower vaccination rates have tended to see bigger surges in infection and in turn been forced to respond with harsher measures while those countries with higher vaccination rates have so far fared better.
“It shows us that if we want to control the epidemic here in the UK and if we want to avoid restrictions on our daily lives we must all get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible.”
The PM also urged people to get the Covid booster jab as soon as they are eligible.
“It would be an utter tragedy if, after everything we have been through, people who had done the right thing by getting double vaccinated ended up becoming seriously ill or even losing their lives because they allowed their immunity to wane,” he said.
Mr Johnson also said a record of receiving the booster jab would be added to Covid travel passes.
Answering a question from a member of the public called Michael at a press briefing, the Prime Minister said: “I think that we will be making plans to add the booster to the NHS Covid travel pass.
“But again, I think what the general lesson is, if anybody wants to travel, you can see that getting fully vaccinated with a booster is going to be something that will – on the whole – make your life easier in all kinds of ways including for foreign travel.
“So I would just say, you know, if you’re thinking about that, then this is yet another reason to get it done.”
When asked if he could “categorically rule out” a Christmas lockdown, Mr Johnson said there was nothing in the data to suggest the country needed to move to Plan B of Covid measures.
However, he told the press briefing: “Clearly we cannot rule anything out and the most important thing people can do to prevent further NPIs from being taken is to – non-pharmaceutical interventions that is, further restrictions – get the boosters.”
He said “GPs are hitting it out of the park again” delivering booster vaccines with numbers rising.
He added: “It’s starting to build a lot of momentum, but we need to see those 50-plus groups and the 60-plus groups – who can also wind up in hospital very, very easily – getting their booster as soon as you’re called forward to get it.
“That’s the best protection we can have.
“But to repeat, I see nothing in the data at the moment that makes me think we have to go to further measures.”
Professor Chris Whitty urged women who are pregnant or wishing to get pregnant to get their Covid-19 vaccination.
England’s chief medical officer told a Downing Street press conference: “I would … like to pull out in particular the issue of women who are pregnant or intending to get pregnant. And I would just like to give you some fairly stark facts about this because this is a major concern.
“Based on academic data from February 1 to September 30 … 1,714 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with Covid. Of those, 1,681, which is to say 98%, had not been vaccinated.
“And if you go to those who are very severely ill in intensive care, of 235 women admitted to ICU, 232 of them – over 98% – had not been vaccinated.
“These are preventable admissions to ICU and there have been deaths. All the medical opinion is really clear that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks in every area. This is a universal view among doctors and among the midwife advisory groups and among the scientific advisory groups.
“So can I please encourage all women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant to get their vaccination.”
Prof Whitty also said “we’re beginning to see a winter respiratory effect” of other viruses impacting on the coronavirus pandemic.
“There has already been a very significant increase in eastern Europe which is still ongoing, with significant numbers of people dying, in particular among the unvaccinated,” said Prof Whitty.
“That has now moved westward and, as you can see, is now increasing significantly, also in many western European countries.
“We all knew – everywhere in Europe we knew – that as we went into winter, into the typical respiratory virus/flu season, that the risks would be greater, and I think this is a demonstration of the fact that we’re beginning to see a winter respiratory effect.”
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