United Kingdom

Another 511 die with coronavirus while 20,525 test positive

Another 511 people have died of coronavirus

Another 511 people have died of coronavirus, while 20,525 have tested positive.

The latest figures, from the Department of Health, mean the death toll from the disease across the country now stands at 54,286 – one of the highest in the world.

It comes amid hopeful news that a coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out in the UK next month if it passes safety tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government has formally asked UK medical regulators to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

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The UK has ordered 40 million doses of that vaccine, which phase three trials have shown to be 95% effective.

If the jab is approved, the NHS will be ready to administer it straight away.

The Health Secretary said groups at the highest risk of catching coronavirus, such as the over 80s and healthcare workers, will be the first to get the vaccine, with the bulk of vaccinations starting early next year.

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He said the NHS is in the process of establishing vaccination centres, which would be in hospitals and locations within local communities.

He said the roll-out would be ‘a massive logistical challenge’ but that he was confident the NHS could do it.

Mr Hancock was speaking at a Friday evening Downing Street press briefing, where he appeared alongside deputy chief medical officer professor Jonathan Van-Tam.

Van-Tam said he believed the country was on the ‘glide path’ towards rolling out a vaccination programme.

More than 20,000 people have tested positive in the last 24 hours

But he was less optimistic when it came to questions about what rules will be in place over Christmas.

There have been reports restrictions could be relaxed between December 24 and 28 to allow households to mix. Scientists have said this could result in nearly a month long lockdown being needed and people ‘burying their family’ in January and February.

The Government is under pressure to reveal what rules will be in place over the festive period, amid concerns people will ignore restrictions anyway and mix indoors with other households.

Van Tam warned infection rates will pick up again if the public ignore any guidelines put in place around Christmas.

‘If people don’t (follow the guidelines) then the first scientific principle is things will go back up again. There is dual responsibility here. There is no magic number about how many days it is going to cost us’ he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the second peak of coronavirus is ‘flattening’ but the public must ‘keep our resolve’ for the rest of the lockdown to prevent it rebounding.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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