UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson defends AstraZeneca Covid vaccine as scientists warn of summer third wave

During a visit to AstraZeneca’s manufacturing plant in Macclesfield the Prime Minister told reporters: “On the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator – that’s why we have them, that’s why they are independent. “Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.”

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Spain to ‘fully vaccinate 53 per cent of population by late July’

Spain will fully vaccinate 25 million people by late July, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said, also confirming the target to inoculate 70 per cent of all Spaniards by the end of August. “The pace of vaccination will accelerate in April and then each month we will improve the vaccination pace from the previous month,” Sanchez told a news conference.

He attributed a slow start of the campaign to delivery delays by vaccine maker AstraZeneca across the European Union. The July target covers 53 per cent of Spain’s 47 million population.


No reason to deviate from lockdown road map, says PM

“I just think it’s important we take each step on the road map as it comes and continue to roll out the vaccine, build up our defences, build up the natural resistance of our whole population in the way that we are and then continue to look at the data in the intervals that we’ve set out,” he told reporters. “So we are going to see exactly what happens from the April 12 to May 17 openings and thereafter through to June 21.”

“At the moment, as I look at all the data, I can’t see any reason for us to deviate from the road map that we have set out, we are sticking to it.”


Boris Johnson suggests rapid lateral flow Covid tests could be used for travellers returning to UK

The Prime Minister said easyJet boss Johan Lundgren was right to ask if lateral flow tests, which do not need a laboratory, could be used for people returning to the UK from “green list” countries.


Getting the population vaccinated is “the key thing” – Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister told reporters at AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield plant it was “very important to stress that the best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that’s the key thing and that’s what I would advocate, number one”. On the prospect of Covid status certification, Mr Johnson said several other countries were also looking at “the role of vaccination passports for overseas travel”, which was “going to be a fact of life, probably”. “I think we are also going to look at the role of a number of signals that you can give that you are not contagious,” he said, listing immunity as a result of having had Covid-19, vaccination status and testing as factors.

From Friday, free lateral flow tests will be available on the NHS, he said. “I think that will also be very, very valuable in giving people confidence to open up.”


Schools in Scotland will reopen fully after the Easter break

Nicola Sturgeon said: “Having assessed the data with the input of our clinical advisers, when the Easter holidays end virtually all pupils will return to school full time, so secondary schools after Easter will go back to in-person, full-time learning. “The one exception to this is children that are on the shielding list, we are continuing to recommend that they stay at home until April 26 and that’s in line with the advice already received from the chief medical officer.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “This, I know, will be a huge relief to many children and young people and of course to many parents and carers and as I said a moment ago, by the end of April we want to see children on the shielding list get back to school in person as well.”


Boris Johnson defends the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Regulators in the UK and Europe are examining potential links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and rare blood clots. The Prime Minister said during a visit to AstraZeneca’s manufacturing plant in Macclesfield: “On the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator – that’s why we have them, that’s why they are independent. “Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.”


Every person in Scotland will be able to get tested for Covid-19 twice a week – Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister announced the programme, mirroring a similar initiative in England, at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.

She said: “This testing will be in addition to and will supplement the additional testing routes that are in place in priority areas.” She added: “This more universal approach to asymptomatic testing will allow us to assess the impact that might have on further suppressing transmission.” The system will use lateral flow tests and more detail will be provided by the Scottish Government later this week, Ms Sturgeon said.


Scenes on the Meadows in Edinburgh over the weekend are of “considerable concern”, says Nicola Sturgeon

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said police officers should not have to disperse crowds, after a video surfaced of a major fight between young people at the park.

The First Minister said: “I know the restrictions remain really tough and I know why people want to meet up in larger groups, I think we all have a desperate desire to see more of our friends and family. “But the fact remains, the best way for all of us to be able to do that, in the hopefully near future is to keep those case numbers as low as possible as the vaccination programme continues to gather pace. “The best way to do that for all of us is to try to take the sensible precautions and abide by all of the advice that is in place.”


Coronavirus is down but not out in Scotland, says Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister warned Scots that there is still a risk of Covid-19 spikes as are being seen in other countries, despite relatively low numbers north of the border.

She told the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh: “In total, cases have now fallen by 80% since early January when of course they were at a particularly high level, the number of deaths has fallen even more sharply than that and as you can see from the numbers I reported earlier the number of people in hospital and intensive care is reducing.” But she added: “Covid is down in Scotland, you can see that from the figures, but as we can still see here and more starkly in more parts of the world, Covid is not out. “It is a virus that is very much still with us.

“Here in Scotland we are still seeing hundreds of people every day testing positive for it and almost all of the new cases that we are seeing reported now in Scotland are of the new variant that emerged just before Christmas and as we know that variant is more infectious than the variants we were dealing with earlier this year.”


First batch of newly approved Moderna vaccines arrived in Scotland on Monday

Scotland is due to receive more than one million of the 17 million doses ordered by the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon said the doses have already been factored into forward planning for the vaccination programme, and will be delivered over the coming months.

Addressing the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, she said: “The fact that we now have three vaccines in use is clearly very welcome and it does give us greater security of supply which is welcome.”