Hancock insists all UK adults will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July

13 April 2021, 14:16 | Updated: 13 April 2021, 14:21

Health Secretary Matt Hancock answering questions in the House of Commons
Health Secretary Matt Hancock answering questions in the House of Commons. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has said the UK remains "on track" to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to all adults by the end of July.

So far more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been delivered across the UK, of these 32 million are first doses.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said: "We've now delivered a first dose to over 32 million people and are on track to offer a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.

"This weekend we also saw a record number of second doses, so overall - as of midnight last night - we have now delivered more than 40 million doses of vaccines right across the UK. It's a remarkable achievement."

Mr Hancock also claimed the vaccination programme has "already saved over 10,000 lives, with more to come".

READ MORE: Next phase of UK Covid vaccinations to begin after all over-45s offered dose

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The Health Secretary confirmed the UK has met its target to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to everyone in the top nine priority groups ahead of the April 15 deadline.

The NHS booking website has updated to say that people aged 45 and over can now book a vaccine.

It signals the start of 'Phase 2' of the vaccination programme. This involves offering vaccines to adults under the age of 50.

Until now the NHS in England had been focusing on offering vaccines to those at highest risk including people over the age of 50 and people deemed to be "clinically extremely vulnerable".

Mr Hancock confirmed the age-based prioritisation for the rest of the vaccine rollout, with all people aged 45-49 receiving an invitation to secure a jab - with moves then taking place for everyone aged over 40 in line with supplies.

He added: "Following a successful start last week in Wales, the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out in England from today."

It becomes the third drug to be rolled out in England, following the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

READ MORE: What are the different vaccines for Covid-19? AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna jab comparison

Earlier, health minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government is working to support the vaccine programme over important religious observances, including Ramadan.

He said: "We are working closely with faith and community leaders to help spread information about vaccines through trusted, familiar voices and in a range of different languages and settings.

"This also means leveraging the influence of celebrity figures such as Sir Lenny Henry, (with his) very powerful and incredibly moving call to action letter and video to black and Afro-Caribbean communities, really important.

"We're also working to support the vaccine programme over important religious observances for example Ramadan which begins today.

"We are working with the Muslim community, reiterating the verdict of Islamic scholars and key Muslim figures within the NHS that the vaccine does not break the fast and is permissible, so come and get your vaccine."

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Mr Hancock also recognised there is a "very significant" treatment backlog in the NHS caused by the pandemic.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "We've seen a 23% increase in treatments being delayed or cancelled in the last year because of infrastructure failure, and the maintenance backlog went up by another 50% last year as well.

"We're not going to see those record waiting lists drop if operations are cancelled because basic repairs are not done, so can (Mr Hancock) tell us by what date will we see no more delays to treatment because of crumbling buildings?"

Mr Hancock, in his reply, said: "We have got a very significant backlog because of the pandemic and we're working incredibly hard to tackle it."