UK records 648 more coronavirus deaths as hopes raised by Pfizer vaccine rollout

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
Scientists believe the findings will lead to more frequent screening for women, who are currently screened once every three years on the NHS (PA Wire/PA Images)
Scientists believe the findings will lead to more frequent screening for women, who are currently screened once every three years on the NHS (PA Wire/PA Images)

The UK has recorded a further 648 coronavirus deaths, with 16,170 new confirmed cases of the disease .

It brings the official death toll to 59,699. But separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies suggest there have now been 75,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen to 1,659,256.

The latest Department of Health figures represent an increase on Tuesday, when 603 deaths and 13,430 new cases were reported.

It comes after the UK’s medicine regulator announced it had approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, paving the way for inoculations of care home residents and staff to begin next week.

It is still unclear who will be the very first to receive the new jab, despite the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises ministers, saying care home residents and staff should be prioritised.

The vaccine has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.

The JCVI said the elderly are most at risk and should come first, followed by those aged 80 and above and frontline health workers, then younger age groups and the clinically vulnerable.

However, the jabs are being delivered to NHS hospital hubs with reports suggesting NHS staff could get them first.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that delivery of the vaccine would be according to “clinical prioritisation and operational necessity because of the need to hold the vaccine at -70C, it makes this vaccine particularly challenging to deploy.”

Asked if care home residents would start to get the vaccine next week, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Yes, you have seen the prioritisation list with care home residents being right at the top of that list.”

Senior NHS officials claim the jab can only be transported once more after it arrives at a central hub, and has to be moved in batches of 1,000 – meaning vaccine will be wasted if it is sent to smaller care homes.

But Pfizer and BioNTech have said the jab can be sent to care homes, as long as the vaccine travels for no more than six hours after it leaves cold storage and is then put in a normal fridge at 2C to 8C.

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