Williamson confirms ‘no UK lockdown needed’ in new year as Britons praised for hard work

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Gavin Williamson said he “can’t see” any reason for the UK to go under a new national lockdown next year if Britons continue to follow coronavirus safety rules. Mr Williamson issued his forecast as he praised the country for being “responsible” and for recognising the need for the UK to follow tight restrictions until a majority of people could get the vaccine. Asked whether a third lockdown is possible after the Christmas holidays, the Education Secretary told LBC radio: “I can’t see a place where we would be having another lockdown.

“The British people are very sensible, very responsible.

“We recognise that this is a virus we are still having to deal with and it’s great news that we see the vaccine heading our way.”

Despite his optimism about the coming months, Mr Williamson said the UK will still need for the COVID-19 vaccine to be widely rolled out before restrictions can be completely eased.

He continued: “But it is going to take a time to roll out, that’s why we’ve got the tiered restrictions, and if we continue to follow those rules, there will be no need to be going into another national lockdown.

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“Especially with a vaccine headed our way and more testing being available.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed on Wednesday they had green-lit the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for distribution across the UK. 

The jab is the first to receive an internationally-recognised authorisation since the pandemic was first declared in March.

Both China and Russia reported earlier in the year they had developed their own inoculation but the lack of readily-available scientific evidence about its safety left the scientific community doubtful about its efficacy.

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Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam said on Thursday the first batches of the vaccine would be delivered to the UK sooner than expected.

Speaking to the BBC, Prof Van-Tam said: “Now, there is a technical issue related to the Pfizer vaccine that we currently expect to receive very, very shortly in the UK, and I do mean hours, not days.”

The first round of inoculations is expected to take place from next week, with NHS staff, social carers and the elderly first in line to receive the jab.

Asked how many people will need to get vaccinated before the Government could consider lifting all restrictions on social life, Prof Van-Tam insisted the answer will depend on the speed at which the vaccination scheme is rolled out.

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He continued: “I can’t see a place where we would be having another lockdown.

“If we can get to the point where the NHS is managing in a much more normal way than at present, then that gives politicians the option to think about what can be done next to make life more normal for us

“It’s not my job to give you a magic number here or a magic calendar date because so much depends on how quickly the vaccine programme is rolled out, whether the people called forwards for the vaccine accept it.”

Prof Van-Tam, added: “If we can get to the point where we are confident that these vaccines not only take out the illness but take out the asymptomatic infections sufficiently to stop people spreading the virus when they don’t know they have got it, that becomes a big game-changer and a big win.

“If we can get to the science that shows this is happening, that shows we have got vaccines that are really punching above their weight and that makes it more likely we can bring restrictions down faster than in any other way.”

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