Fury over move to vaccinate 1.5m 16 and 17-year-olds against Covid

Britain’s daily Covid cases RISE for first time in nearly a fortnight: UK records 29,312 cases in 6% jump on last week as deaths jump by a third to 119 – but hospitalisations fall again

  • Health chiefs posted 29,312 infections today, an increase of six per cent on last Wednesday’s figure of 27,734 
  • Hospital admissions dropped 19.1 per cent to 668 on Saturday — the latest data figures are available for 
  • Another 119 Covid deaths were also recorded, increasing 30.8 per cent on the 91 victims recorded last week 

Britain’s daily Covid cases have increased for the first time in a fortnight, official data has shown as hospitalisations continue to fall. 

Health chiefs posted 29,312 new infections today, an increase of six per cent on last Wednesday’s figure of 27,734. It is the first time the cases have risen week-on-week since July 27, when they were 44,104.

The jump comes amid experts’ concerns the recent fall in people testing positive for the virus was beginning to flatline.

Another 119 Covid deaths were also recorded today, increasing 30.8 per cent on the 91 victims recorded last week.

But the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus is continuing to fall. Admissions dropped 19.1 per cent to 668 on Saturday — the latest data figures are available for.

It is the fifth day in a row hospitalisations fell week-on-week in a glimmer of hope Britain may be turning a corner in the amount of severe disease caused by the third wave.

The fall in admission can be explained in part by the effect of Britain’s successful vaccine drive. Some 29,508 first doses were given out yesterday, taking the total amount of adults to have had a jab up to 46.9million — 88.7 per cent of the population.

Meanwhile another 143,002 second doses were put in people’s arms, meaning 38.7million (73.2 per cent of adults) are now fully protected against the virus. 

It comes as the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the Government on the vaccine rollout, announced 16- to 17-year-olds will now be offered a first jab. 

Health chiefs are now set to recommend all 16 and 17 year olds get jabs, marking a dramatic U-turn.

Just two weeks ago the same expert panel — the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — advised against doing so.

As plans to vaccinate children in the are due to be unveiled by No10’s scientists, MailOnline answers your questions about the roll-out to youngsters.

When will children be vaccinated? 

The Government has not yet given a timeline on when 16 and 17-year-olds can start coming forward for jabs.

But even if the roll-out out to older teenagers begin straight away, there will only be time to give them one dose by the time the school year begins on September 6.

Britain’s health chiefs say jabs should be dished out eight weeks apart, in order to give the immune system the biggest boost. 

Will jabs be dished out in schools?

Jabs could be administered in schools, like how the HPV vaccine is rolled out for 12 and 13 year old boys and girls.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to push for them to continue to be given at GP surgeries and NHS hubs. 

One public health official claimed they could be done either in schools, or in existing vaccination centres at certain times. 

What vaccine will youngsters get?

The UK has so far only approved Pfizer’s coronavirus jab for use in children over 12.

Moderna’s vaccine — which works in a similar way — has not been given the green light for youngsters.

AstraZeneca’s injection has been linked to rare blood clots, and health chiefs have already restricted its use to over 40s. Therefore, the British-made vaccine is unlikely to be offered to children.

Over-16s are expected to receive two injections eight weeks apart, mirroring how Pfizer’s is given to adults. 

Scientists are currently testing nasal spray forms of the Covid vaccine — a method already used to give out children’s flu jabs. But none of the candidates being studied have yet to make it out of trials. 

Which countries have already began vaccinating children? 

Britain is currently the ‘outlier’, with European countries and the US already giving vaccines to children. 

A quarter of children aged 12 to 15 in the US have received two doses, while a third have received one dose.

France, and Spain, Hungary have already starting giving the jab to over-12s, while 10 per cent of children are already vaccinated in Germany. 

Meanwhile, Canada, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, Switzerland, are expected to start giving youngsters jabs soon.

Israel approved the jabs for over-12s in May and subsequently approved it for 5 to 11-year-olds.  

What jabs are they using?

Pfizer has been the go-to jab for vaccinating children around the world.

But Moderna is seeking permission for its jab to be used for over-12s in the EU, US and Canada.

Last week, Italy approved Modern’s jab for use in over-12s.

It comes as: 

  • Official figures suggested almost 80 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds already have Covid-fighting antibodies;
  • Experts were divided over the hugely controversial topic of vaccinating children, given their tiny risk of dying or falling seriously ill;
  • A fit and healthy 42-year-old father with a love of rock climbing and bodybuilding died of Covid after refusing the vaccine, according to his twin sister has said; 
  • Ministers get set to axe the controversial ‘amber-plus’ list, meaning holidays to Spain are back on for thousands of British sunseekers; 
  • Boris Johnson snubbed Nicola Sturgeon’s offer to meet her when he visits Scotland this week; 
  • The Scottish government offers to pay people £50,000 to set up homes, families and businesses on its most remote and beautiful islands; 
  • Study finds Covid survivors who were hooked up to a ventilator in hospital lost up to seven IQ points.

Despite the slight increase in cases today the seven-day average for infections is continuing to fall, dropping 13.6 per cent today.

The measure — which provides a more well-rounded picture of where cases are compared to just daily figures — suggests the overall trajectory of the third wave continues to be downward.

It comes after the JCVI today recommended that the 1.4million people in the age groups should be offered the Pfizer jabs ‘as soon as possible’.

Ministers have accepted this advice and the NHS is now drawing up plans to offer first doses to them in the coming weeks. There are currently no concrete plans to offer the age groups second doses, with scientists set to review more safety data before pressing ahead.

Officials close to the programme said a child would be able to give consent for the jab if they were able to understand the risks and benefits of any medical treatment.

Boris Johnson today called on families to listen to the advice from No10’s top scientists, saying that the committee was ‘among the best in the world’ and that the country should ‘take our lead from them’.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said they had accepted the advice from the scientists and were aiming to start rolling out jabs for younger age groups ‘as soon as possible’.

Many experts welcomed the move to protect people in younger age groups, but several have slammed it for being ‘too little, too late’ because young people now cannot be jabbed before the Autumn term. The return of schools in September is likely to spark another rise in cases.

Some scientists have, however, said it was ‘pointless’ to vaccinate the age groups because most of them already have immunity from past infection. Office of National Statistics figures suggest up to 60 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds already have antibodies against Covid to fight off the virus.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said there was ‘no time to waste’ in starting the extension of the vaccination programme to 16 and 17-year-olds.

He told a Downing Street press conference: ‘Children are going to start going back to colleges and sixths forms from September, and in Scotland that will be slightly earlier, so there is no time to waste in getting on with this.

‘The NHS has been kept informed of what is being deliberated for JCVI, it has been preparing for multiple options for very many weeks now and I would expect this programme will start in a very short number of weeks.’

He added there was ‘plentiful’ supply of the vaccines to meet the top scientists recommendation that 16 and 17-year-olds should be vaccinated. He said: ‘We have the supply and I’m expecting this to start in a very short number of weeks indeed.’ 

Many experts welcomed the move to protect people in younger age groups, but Independent SAGE members slammed it for being ‘too little, too late’ because young people now cannot be double-jabbed before the Autumn term. Scientists say the return of schools in September is likely to spark another rise in cases.

Some scientists have, however, called the plans into question saying it was ‘pointless’ to vaccinate the age group because they are at such low risk from the virus and most already have immunity from previous infection. Office of National Statistics figures suggest up to 60 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds already have antibodies against Covid to fight off the virus.

The JCVI, which advises No10, last month ruled only over-12s with serious underlying health conditions or who live with a vulnerable adult should get jabs. 

The panel, made up of the country’s top experts, warned the ‘minimal health benefits’ did not outweigh the risks to justify vaccinating all children. It adopted a ‘precautionary approach’ because of a rare link between the jab and a cases of heart conditions called myocarditis and pericarditis.

Officials are keen to push the immunisation drive on to more youngsters in order to prevent an autumn surge in infections when they return to schools in September.

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