Coronavirus UK news – Covid vaccine latest as William Shakespeare, 81, among 1st Brits to get Pfizer jab – LIVE UPDATES

THE UK has taken a "huge step forward" in its fight against Covid-19 as ourvaccination programme got under way, Boris Johnson has said.

Margaret Keenan, 90, was applauded by staff this morning after becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking from University Hospital, Coventry, Margaret said: "I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it — if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!"

And shortly after Margaret, William Shakespeare, 81 – who goes by Bill – was given the covid vaccine at University Hospital Coventry, telling reporters "I need to say, the staff at this hospital are wonderful."

Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs across the country this morning – dubbed "V-Day" by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans…

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NOT O-KAY

    SKY News host Kay Burley was dropped from her show today after breaking Tier 2 Covid rules while celebrating her 60th birthday.

    The broadcaster was at the centre of a star-studded group of ten colleagues who reportedly partied into the early hours, with four group members allegedly ending up at her London home.

    Burley, who now faces an internal inquiry at Sky News, is believed to have spent Saturday evening at swanky private members' club Century Club in Soho.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WATERSHED MOMENT'

    In a statement, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: "Today is a watershed moment in the fight against Covid-19 as the first vaccinations are administered.

    "It is testament to the efforts of all the scientists, researchers, manufacturers and the thousands of volunteers who took part in clinical trials who made this moment possible.

    "While we are the first to start our vaccination programme here in the UK, tackling this pandemic is a truly global scientific endeavour.

    "Whilst we start the first steps on the path to getting back to normality in due course, we need to remain vigilant not let our guard down as the vaccine is rolled out, but this is still a tremendous day of celebration."

    Sir Patrick Vallance pictured during a previous coronavirus media briefingCredit: PA:Press Association
  • Britta Zeltmann

    DEVASTATING TOLL

    At least 205 frontline health and care workers have been identified after dying with coronavirus.

    The PA news agency has confirmed the long list of health workers who have died from the bug since March 11, following tributes from loved ones and sources such as local NHS trusts.

    The figure is likely to be still lower than the true number of workers who have died, as the names of some victims will not yet be in the public domain.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    SCOTLAND: 'SCIENCE HAS GIVEN US HOPE'

    Welcoming the first Covid-19 vaccinations in Scotland, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said today: "This is obviously a very welcome milestone in our collective fight against the pandemic and I am very grateful to all those who have worked so hard to ensure Scotland is ready to deliver these first Covid-19 vaccinations.

    "Science has given us hope and we are starting on a journey which will eventually allow us to return to the lives we want to lead.

    "Following clinical advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) we will begin with those groups which have been prioritised to address 99 per cent of preventable deaths associated with Covid-19.

    "These include elderly care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care workers and a number of other groups who are at risk of serious harm and death from this virus."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    EXCESS DEATHS PASS 35,000

    The number of excess deaths that have occurred in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has now passed 35,000.

    Excess deaths are the number of deaths that are above the average for the corresponding period in the previous five years.

    There were 35,631 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales registered between March 7 and November 27, according to the Office for National Statistics. Of this total, 3,205 – 9% – were deaths involving Covid-19.

    Any death involving Covid-19 is counted as an excess death because Covid-19 did not exist before this year.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    VACCINE PATIENT: 'IT WAS FINE'

    Desmond Sequeira said he felt fine after receiving the coronavirus vaccination at Guy's Hospital in London, this morning.

    He said: "It was fine, it's just like anything else, nothing special."

    Mr Sequeira said he was not nervous about it because its safety had been explored pretty well.

    He added: "I don't worry about what might happen, the safety of it has been explored pretty well."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    UK DEATHS INVOLVING COVID-19 PASS 77,500

    More than 77,500 deaths involving Covid-19 have now occurred in the UK, new figures show.

    A total of 75,092 deaths have so far been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from the UK's statistics agencies.

    This includes 68,048 deaths in England and Wales up to November 27 (and registered up to December 5), which were confirmed by the ONS on Tuesday.

    Since these statistics were compiled, a further 2,338 deaths are known to have occurred in England, plus 77 in Scotland, 124 in Wales and 76 in Northern Ireland, according to additional data published on the Government's coronavirus dashboard.

    Together, these totals mean that so far 77,707 deaths involving Covid-19 have taken place in the UK.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    COVID DEATHS BY REGION

    Yorkshire and the Humber had 537 deaths involving Covid-19 registered in the week ending November 27 – the highest number for the region since the week ending May 1, according to the ONS.

    In the East Midlands, 361 Covid-19 deaths were registered in the week to November 27: again, the highest for the region since the week to May 1.

    In north-east England, 220 Covid-19 deaths were registered in the week to November 27: the highest since the week to May 15.

    Deaths increased week-on-week in every region of England except the north-west, where the weekly total fell from 629 to 546.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    DECEMBER GROCERY SALES TO 'SMASH LAST YEAR'S LEVELS'

    Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said grocery spending in December is set to smash last year's levels.

    "We expect spend to be close to £12 billion in the month ahead, around £1.5 billion more than last year," he said.

    The data revealed that overall UK grocery sales rose 11.3% to £30.8 billion over the 12 weeks to November 29 – the best performance since August.

    Mr McKevitt added: "Many people have begun the countdown to Christmas 2020 already, using more time at home to go big on festive revelry."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    LOCKDOWN SALES SOARED

    The UK grocery market saw its best ever month of sales in November as the second lockdown forced the closure of pubs and restaurants across England, new figures reveal.

    The latest data from Kantar showed Brits spent £10.9billion in store and online at grocery shops last month, with take-home sales up 13.9 per cent as eating and drinking out was restricted.

    Kantar said shopping visits to stores hit its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic in November in a sign of increasing confidence among consumers to go into shops.

    Internet shopping also reached another record high, with more than six million households buying their groceries online and digital platforms accounting for 13.7% of all sales.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    DEADLY TOLL

    A total of 3,040 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending November 27 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    This is the highest number of deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending May 15.

    It is also up from 2,697 deaths in the week to November 20 – a jump of 13%.

    Nearly a quarter (24.4%) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to November 27 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'LIFE IS A RISK, YOU CAN'T KEEP HIDING AWAY'

    Lyn Wheeler, 81, from Bromley, said it had been "lovely" to take part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

    "It's all a bit unreal at the moment but it's lovely to take part in what I feel is very valuable work," she said.

    "We have got to do something, we can't go on as we are. We can't continually go around being afraid to go to the shops or being afraid to sit on a bus."

    She added: "You have got to realise that life is a bit if a risk and you can't keep hiding away, you have to stand up and go for things.

    "I'm going for it because I feel there's no other way forward, we can't keep sitting in our houses."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'VACCINE SAFE & RIGHT THING TO DO'

    Boris Johnson said people should not be afraid of getting vaccinated, and that people objecting to having the jab are "totally wrong".

    Speaking at the vaccination centre at Guy's Hospital in London today, he said: "To all those who are scared (of getting vaccinated) – don't be. You have seen Lyn (Wheeler) take it, you have seen people take the vaccine this morning in large numbers.

    "There's nothing to be nervous about."

    He added: "What I would say is that there are those obviously who feel that a vaccine is something they object to politically or for ideological reasons.

    "I think they are totally wrong. It's safe, it's the right thing to do, it's good for you and it's good for the whole country."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WE ARE NOT THERE YET'

    Boris Johnson this morning warned that while the vaccination programme will make a "huge difference", it will take time to vaccinate everyone.

    The Prime Minister said: "It will gradually make a huge, huge difference, but I stress 'gradually' because we are not there yet, we have not defeated this virus yet.

    "We can't afford to relax now and so my message would be it's amazing to see the vaccine coming out."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'VERY EXCITING'

    Boris Johnson said it was "very, very exciting" to meet some of the first people to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

    Speaking at the vaccination centre at Guy's Hospital in London on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said it was moving to talk to Lyn Wheeler, who was the first to receive the vaccine there.

    "It was very, very exciting just to talk to Lyn about the vaccine that she has just taken," he said.

    "She is 81 and it is really very moving to hear her say she is doing it for Britain, which is exactly right – she is protecting herself but also helping to protect the entire country."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'YOU WILL BE CONTACTED'

    People have been asked not to turn up at hospitals expecting to be vaccinated after the first patients were given jabs.

    A Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust spokeswoman said a woman in her 90s had turned up at a hospital, having watched the news.

    She said people will be contacted when it is their turn to be vaccinated.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    SECOND VACCINE PATIENT IS WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

    The second patient in the world to receive the ground-breaking Covid-19 jab was a man named William Shakespeare.

    Mr Shakespeare, 81, of Warwickshire was pictured receiving the vaccine at University Hospital Coventry this morning.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'FACE MASKS COULD BE NEEDED LATE NEXT YEAR'

    Sir Patrick Vallance has said face masks could still be needed late into next year despite the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.

    "It's going to take quite a long time to make sure everybody in the at-risk groups and all of the groups that are difficult to reach get vaccinated as appropriate," he told Sky News today.

    The Government's chief scientific adviser added: "It may be that next winter, even with vaccination, we need measures like masks in place – we don't know yet how good all the vaccines are going to be at preventing the transmission of the virus."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    Matt Hancock said he has "great hopes" for next summer but also hopes that restrictions can be lifted from the spring.

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've said that we think that, from the spring, things can start getting back to normal, and, because we've been able to get this vaccination programme going sooner than anywhere else in the world, we'll be able to bring that date forward a bit.

    "I have great hopes for summer 2021 and I hope we can lift the restrictions from the spring."

    Mr Hancock said the vaccine rollout is an "incredibly important moment on the march out of this pandemic, but we've still got a long march to go this winter".

    He added: "People need to keep respecting the rules and try to live in a way that if you have the virus infects as few people as possible."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he feels "conflicted emotions" at the start of a coronavirus vaccination programme.

    He told BBC Breakfast he is "absolutely thrilled and delighted" to see Margaret Keenan become the first person to receive Pfizer's Covid-19 jab.

    But he added that he is "really determined" that the country continues to "stick by the rules".

    "We've still got a long way to go on this march, we've got to keep our resolve for the next few months," he said.

    "But we all can see that we have a route out and we can get back to normal by the spring, I hope, certainly by the summer, but we've still got to stick at it for now."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    VALLANCE: 'TREMENDOUS DAY'

    Sir Patrick Vallance said the news that the first person has received the newly approved Covid-19 jab is "not about vaccine nationalism".

    Speaking to Sky News, the Government's chief scientific adviser said: "It's a really tremendous day."

    But he added: "It's important to recognise that the vaccine effort has been a global one – there are countries and scientists everywhere trying to make vaccines and it looks like lots are going to be successful, which is the really good news about this."

    He added: "This isn't about vaccine nationalism."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WE'RE NOT OUT OF THIS YET'

    Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said it was important people continued following coronavirus-related rules despite the start of a Covid vaccination programme.

    Appearing on BBC Breakfast, he said: "We're not out of this yet. It's winter, it's cold. We've still got January, February, the rest of December ahead of us – tough times for the NHS.

    "It's really important that we keep socially distancing, we keep sticking by those rules that we've all been sticking with, because we need to get through the next few months to get to the point where sufficient people have been vaccinated that we can start to relax those rules."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR MAGGIE

    Margaret Keenan, 90, was applauded by staff this morning after becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine.

    Speaking from University Hospital, Coventry, Margaret said: "I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it — if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!"

    Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Britta Zeltmann

    'TRULY HISTORIC DAY'

    The gran who became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine made it a "truly historic day", the national medical director of NHS England has said.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Professor Stephen Powis said: "It was really, really emotional, I can't tell you just how much emotion there was in that vaccination centre.

    "This is a truly historic day, a turning point in this pandemic, another world-first for the NHS, the start of the largest vaccination programme in our history."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    HANCOCK ON LIFTING RESTRICTIONS

    Matt Hancock this morning urged people to continue to obey the coronavirus restrictions despite the rollout of a vaccine.

    He told Sky News: "It's great news that we are the first country in the world to have this clinically authorised and being able to roll out this programme.

    "And when enough people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 have been vaccinated then, of course, we can lift the restrictions … we think that will be in the spring."

    He added: "It is no good everybody relaxing now – we've got to hold firm until the vaccination programme has reached enough vulnerable people so that we don't have people dying from coronavirus in the number that we do today."

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