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A sombre Boris Johnson says he takes ‘full responsibility’ as UK Covid death toll tops 100,000 with 1,631 new fatalities but new cases drop by TWO THIRDS in three weeks to 20,089

UK coronavirus cases drop to a THIRD of figure three weeks ago
  • Department of Health statistics show 20,089 infections were registered today, below 45,533 two weeks ago
  • This was also a 40 per cent drop from last Tuesday when Health chiefs announced another 33,355 cases
  • But amid the glimmer of hope Britain’s death toll from the virus passed the grim death toll of 100,000
  • There were another 1,631 fatalities recorded today, bringing the total to as high as 100,162 

By Luke Andrews For Mailonline and Sam Blanchard Deputy Health Editor For Mailonline

Published: 16:50 GMT, 26 January 2021 | Updated: 19:59 GMT, 26 January 2021

A sombre Boris Johnson tonight appeared at Downing Street to say he was ‘deeply sorry’ as the UK’s Covid-19 death toll officially rose above 100,000 for the first time.

The Prime Minister appeared alongside Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens, to say it was ‘hard to compute the sorrow’ that Britain has been through in the past year. 

This Sunday will mark one year since the first two people were taken to a hospital in Newcastle after being found with coronavirus in York.

Since then, 375,000 people have been admitted to hospital with the Covid-19 and at least 100,162 have died. The Department of Health today announced the deaths of 1,631 more people. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a ‘national tragedy’.

Speaking at a sombre Downing Street press conference today, Mr Johnson said: ‘On this day, I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done. 

‘What I can tell you is that we truly did everything that we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that.’

But in a glimmer of hope on what Professor Whitty branded a ‘very sad day’, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has dropped again to just a third of the level it was at three weeks ago, with 20,089 more infections.  

The infection number was well below the 45,533 announced two weeks ago and a steep drop from 60,916 the Tuesday before that. 

Although the peak of infections now appears to have passed, the number of people in hospital is still ‘incredibly high’, Professor Whitty said as both he and the PM spoke to quash hopes that lockdown will be lifted soon. On loosening restrictions Mr Johnson said the infection rate was ‘still pretty forbiddingly high’.

Deaths lag about three weeks behind cases because it takes this long for someone who has caught the virus to suffer symptoms severe enough to be admitted to hospital and die from the disease, and Professor Whitty said the daily counts would remain high for weeks to come. 

It comes as it’s revealed Britain has missed its vaccination target for a second day running after 279,757 received a first dose which is more than 100,000 below the 400,000 the Government must get jabs to every day to hit its target of inoculating 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

The Prime Minister has promised to get jabs to those most at risk from the virus – the over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and the vulnerable – by this time. 

Boris Johnson tonight lamented the UK's huge Covid death toll and offered his 'deepest condolences' to everyone that had lost a relative to coronavirus

Boris Johnson tonight lamented the UK’s huge Covid death toll and offered his ‘deepest condolences’ to everyone that had lost a relative to coronavirus

UK RANKS AMONG TOP 5 WORST-HIT COUNTRIES FOR COVID DEATHS

The UK has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll per million people, damning data shows.

Britain’s current fatality rate is 1,454 per million and rising.

It is behind only Slovenia (1,625) and Belgium (1,795).

San Marino is technically number one in the world for Covid death rates, at 1,915 per million, but the country has a tiny population of just 34,000.

Rounding out the top five is the Czech Republic (1,442) and Italy (1,420).

Bosnia, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia and Bulgaria fill out the top 10.

The fact all 10 countries are in Europe highlights how the burden of the pandemic has fallen on the continent. 

Overall, Britain has the fifth highest death toll in the world.

Only the US (421,129), Brazil (217,664), India (153,587) and Mexico (150,273), which have far larger populations, have suffered higher numbers of victims.

On another day of grim coronavirus news:

  • Pfizer said it was developing booster shots amid fears its Covid-19 vaccine may be less effective against highly infectious strains;
  • German paper behind fake Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine story still prominently displays the article on its website despite claims being rubbished;
  • After German health ministry admits claims ‘Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is only eight per cent effective in over-65s’ was a lie;
  • Cabinet continues to argue over plans to ask all arrivals in the UK to quarantine in hotels for two weeks at their own expense;
  • London hospitals are giving Covid jabs to people who turn up without appointments to avoid wastage;
  • UK could miss out on 3.5million doses of the vaccine if the EU suspends deliveries across the channel;
  • Vaccine passports could pose data risks and create a ‘two-tier society’ based on who’s had jabs, warns MP;
  • Covid could become a ‘much more treatable disease’ in the next six months according to NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens as he warns half of patients in intensive care are under 65. 

Speaking at the conference today, the Prime Minister offered his ‘deepest condolences’ to everyone that had lost loved ones during the pandemic.

‘I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who have been taken,’ he said.

‘And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.

‘We will remember the courage of countless working people – not just our amazing NHS and care workers, but shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces emergency services and many others – who kept our country going during our biggest crisis since the Second World War.

‘We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid.

‘In that moment of commemoration, we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered the vaccines and the immense national effort – never seen before in our history – which is now underway to distribute them, one that has now seen us immunise over 6.8 million people across the United Kingdom.’

Virus cases in Europe have remained stubbornly high throughout winter despite tougher restrictions being introduced, with many countries now considering new national shutdowns - if they have not been imposed already

Virus cases in Europe have remained stubbornly high throughout winter despite tougher restrictions being introduced, with many countries now considering new national shutdowns – if they have not been imposed already

Although there were signs of optimism as infection rates are coming down across the UK, Professor Whitty said deaths would remain stubbornly high for the weeks to come.

BORIS JOHNSON’S SPEECH IN FULL

Speaking from a podium in Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight: ‘I am sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has surpassed 100,000, and it is hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic.

‘The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye.

‘I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who have been taken.

‘And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.

‘We will remember the courage of countless working people – not just our amazing NHS and care workers, but shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces emergency services and many others – who kept our country going during our biggest crisis since the Second World War.

‘We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid.

‘In that moment of commemoration, we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered the vaccines and the immense national effort – never seen before in our history – which is now underway to distribute them, one that has now seen us immunise over 6.8 million people across the United Kingdom.

‘And when those vaccines have finally freed us from this virus and put us on a path to recovery, we will make sure that we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare.

‘And, until that time, the best and most important thing we can all do to honour the memory of those who have died is to work together with ever greater resolve to defeat this disease.

‘And that is what we will do.’ 

He said there would be ‘a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt’ and that the number of positive tests was ‘still at a very high number, but it has been coming down’.

Professor Whitty also cautioned against relaxing restrictions ‘too early’ as he said Office for National Statistics data demonstrates a slower decrease. 

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘This is not a year that anybody is going to want to remember nor is it a year that across the health service any of us will ever forget.’

He also told the briefing that there will eventually be an end to the ‘incessant’ new Covid-19 admissions to hospitals.

‘What people probably want right now is three things – first of all to be able to look forward to some sort of respite from what has been an incredibly demanding and continuous year of pressure.

‘Secondly, to know that there are reinforcements on the way, that the staffing pressures in the health service will be taken seriously in the years to come.

‘And thirdly, to tackle the pressures in the here and now which fundamentally are about reducing the number of new patients who turn up in A&E severely ill with coronavirus day in day out.

‘So it’s that combination I think. The sense there will be some respite, the sense the health service will get resilient, staffing support it needs in the years to come, but right now we actually collectively turn off the incessant new admissions that are arriving with very severely ill coronavirus patients.’ 

Today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the figures a ‘national tragedy’. He said: ‘We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.

‘Every death is a loved one, a friend, a neighbour, a partner or a colleague. It is an empty chair at the dinner table.’

Sir Keir also accused the Prime Minister of being ‘reluctant to take tough decisions’ throughout the crisis.

He added: ‘There’s a strong sense I think that our Government has been behind the curve at every stage.

‘There has been a reluctance to take tough decisions when they needed to be taken.

‘And here we are today we find ourselves with this awful milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid.’ 

It comes after the EU today vowed to force firms to declare what vaccines are being exported to the UK, amid frustration in Brussels after AstraZeneca said it would not be able to meet orders of its jab – which the bloc is still yet to approve – previously agreed.

The saber-rattling from Brussels, which comes amid growing chaos and protests across the continent, has incensed senior MPs, with warnings that the EU could ‘poison’ relations for a generation if it blocks some of the 40million Pfizer doses the UK has bought ‘legally and fairly’.  

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a 'national tragedy'. He said: 'We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a ‘national tragedy’. He said: ‘We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.’

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NHS England chief Simon Stevens swiped at the ‘uproar’ today, suggesting it underlined the pressure on supplies and how Britain had done ‘very well’.

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock said protectionism was ‘not the right approach’, insisting that the huge push to get the four most vulnerable groups of Britons covered by mid-February will not be derailed.

For its part, Pfizer warned it was ‘critical that governments do not impose export restrictions or other trade barriers’ that would risk creating ‘uncertainty’ and disrupting supplies. 

Meanwhile, the health ministry in Berlin has been forced to issue a denial after two German newspapers claimed the EU’s regulator could refuse to give the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab full approval, with officials anonymously briefing its efficacy for pensioners was just eight percent.

The claim was angrily rejected by the pharmaceutical company – and No10 sources told MailOnline it was ‘rubbish’. It is understood the issue came up at Cabinet this morning, and Boris Johnson said it was ‘not correct’. Science chief Patrick Vallance told the meeting that data showed a good immune response among all older patients.

He suggested the publications could have been confused between the proportion of the trial participants who were over 65, and the effectiveness. One Whitehall source told Playbook it was the kind of tactics ‘you expect from the Russians’.

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The German health ministry today desperately tried to kill off the spat, dismissing the idea there was any data suggest the efficacy of only 8 percent among older people. It said at ‘first glance’ there seemed to have been a mix-up over the 8 percent figure insisting a decision is still due on approving the jab on Friday. 

Official figures today showed a slowdown in the vaccine rollout, as it failed to hit the 500,000 daily jabs target for the second day in a row. 

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted that Britain was ‘on track’ to reach the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February. 

He said that 6.6million people had now received a jab, more than one in nine of the adult population, and in the last week 2.5million got a vaccine, which was equal to a rate of more than 250 people per minute.

And, he said, 78.7 percentof over-80s have received a jab.

Mr. Hancock told the Downing Street press conference: ‘We’re on track to offer everyone in the top four priority groups a jab by February 15’.     

The race to deliver the vaccine comes aftercare home residents have accounted for almost a third of the total number of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales. As of January 15, 2021, a total of 30,851 residents had been killed by the virus. 

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The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago

The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago

EU block could mean UK misses out on millions of Covid vaccine doses 

The UK could miss out on millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine if the European Union suspends deliveries to countries outside the bloc.

Britain is expecting to receive another nine million doses by mid-February from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.

But if Eurocrats blockade jab exports across the channel, American drugs company Pfizer – which manufactures vaccines in Puurs, Belgium – will be unable to ship supplies.

As many as 3.5million doses of their jab are expected to arrive over the next three weeks, reports the Telegraph, a shipment that wouldn’t land on British soil if Brussels chose to redirect supplies.

The move would not, however, cut supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine because the ‘vast, vast majority’ of their jabs are made in the UK.

There are fears that any cut in deliveries could leave the Government unable to meet its target of vaccinating 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

But it is not clear how many doses are already sitting in warehouses in the UK, which ministers say they won’t reveal because of ‘security concerns’.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at a conference last night that supply remained the ‘limiting factor’ in Britain’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The UK has already vaccinated more than six million of the most vulnerable against the virus, as it steams towards its mid-February target.

Separate damning ONS figures show weekly fatalities among care home residents in England alone have almost tripled in the last fortnight, as the virus makes a deadly resurgence in the sector. 

The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago.   

For the first time the ONS has released data bringing together the deaths of care home residents in care homes and other settings since March 2020 up to the present. 

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care home residents has been rising in recent weeks. A total of 1,719 deaths were registered in the week to January 15 – the highest figure since the week ending May 21, 2020.   

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the figures make ‘grim reading’ and demonstrate the need to avoid complacency.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: ‘Yes, we now have vaccines, and the Government is to be congratulated on the speed at which it is protecting the vulnerable.

‘But Covid-19 is not beaten yet and we must remain cautious and, on our guard, observing all the guidance and keeping everyone in care settings – care and nursing homes and those receiving care in their own homes – as safe as we can, alongside those who are caring for them.

‘The news that carers are going to be supplied with lateral flow tests they can do at home is another positive step and will hopefully have an impact and help protect carers who are selflessly looking after others.’ 

Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research Sarah Scobie said that care homes are ‘feeling the strain’ and said it will take time for the vaccine rollout to affect figures. 

She said: ‘The number of registered deaths from Covid of care home residents has increased by 25 percent since last week. 

‘The sector is again feeling the strain, and while the vaccine roll-out for the most vulnerable is continuing at impressive speed it will be a while until the benefits feed through to the figures.’  

The ONS report today also found coronavirus accounted for four in 10 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 15 – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.

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There were 7,245 deaths registered where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales, a 20 percent rise from the previous week, when 6,057 deaths were registered.

It is also the third-highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and at 40.2 percent, the week with the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 recorded so far.

There have also been concerns the drive could be held up by the supply of the vaccine, which has been described as ‘lumpy’ and could yet threaten to derail the plans. 

Ministers have refused to reveal how much is already in the country, citing a security risk, but there have been reports of deliveries to centers being scaled down.

Confusion has also been sparked over whether supplies are being diverted to areas lagging behind in the rollout, with the vaccines minister denying this after Mr. Hancock said the Government would be redirecting stocks last week.  

And both Pfizer and AstraZeneca – suppliers of the only two vaccines being used in the UK – have faced disruption to their shipments as they have scaled up manufacturing.

It comes after EU leaders arranged an urgent meeting with AstraZeneca executives after the company unexpectedly slashed its supply of vaccines to the bloc.

The jab-makers have blamed the EU’s supply chain for their failure to deliver the promised 80million vaccines by the end of March as part of a £300million deal.

AstraZeneca, which developed its shot with Oxford University, said on Friday they could only offer 31million vaccines in the first quarter, a cut of 60 percent.

Furious EU officials said they will investigate their claims and have questioned why Britain is not suffering from similar delays in the rollout.

Peter Liese, an EU lawmaker from the same party as Angela Merkel, said: ‘The flimsy justification that there are difficulties in the EU supply chain but not elsewhere does not hold water, as it is, of course, no problem to get the vaccine from the UK to the continent.

‘AstraZeneca has been contractually obligated to produce since as early as October and they are apparently delivering to other parts of the world, including the UK without delay.’

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker had received an up-front payment of 336 million euros (£298million) from the EU when they struck a deal in August, an EU official told Reuters. 

TOP TEN JOBS WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS DEATHS, ACCORDING TO THE ONS

Taxi drivers, home carers, security guards, and lorry drivers were among the professions suffering the highest number of deaths from coronavirus, official data shows.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal there were 8,000 deaths in people aged between 20 and 64 in England and Wales last year, one-twelfth of the total.

And of the more than 5,000 for which a profession was registered, the ONS compiled the statistics to show which were recording the highest number of deaths after an individual tested positive for the virus.

In men, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in taxi and cab drivers, 209, followed by security guards, 140, and lorry drivers, 118. And in women, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in care workers, 240, sales assistants, 111, and nurses, 110.

Men, Profession

Taxi and cab drivers

Security guards

Large goods vehicle drivers

Storage workers

Care workers/Home carers

Processing plant workers

Van drivers

Builders

Bus and coach drivers

Chefs 

Number of Covid-19 deaths

209

140

118

111

107

100

97

85

83

82

Women, profession

Care workers/Home carers

Sales assistants

Nurses

Cleaners

Other administrative jobs

Nursing assistants

Teaching assistants

Kitchen/catering assistants

Personal assistants

Payroll managers/clerks&

Government administrators 

Number of Covid-19 deaths

240

111

110

95

58

54

37

36

30

26

26 

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UK coronavirus cases drop to a THIRD of figure three weeks ago

By Luke Andrews For Mailonline and Sam Blanchard Deputy Health Editor For Mailonline

Published: 16:50 GMT, 26 January 2021 | Updated: 19:59 GMT, 26 January 2021

A sombre Boris Johnson tonight appeared at Downing Street to say he was ‘deeply sorry’ as the UK’s Covid-19 death toll officially rose above 100,000 for the first time.

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The Prime Minister appeared alongside Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens, to say it was ‘hard to compute the sorrow’ that Britain has been through in the past year. 

This Sunday will mark one year since the first two people were taken to a hospital in Newcastle after being found with coronavirus in York.

Since then, 375,000 people have been admitted to hospital with the Covid-19 and at least 100,162 have died. The Department of Health today announced the deaths of 1,631 more people. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a ‘national tragedy’.

Speaking at a sombre Downing Street press conference today, Mr Johnson said: ‘On this day, I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done. 

‘What I can tell you is that we truly did everything that we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that.’

But in a glimmer of hope on what Professor Whitty branded a ‘very sad day’, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has dropped again to just a third of the level it was at three weeks ago, with 20,089 more infections.  

The infection number was well below the 45,533 announced two weeks ago and a steep drop from 60,916 the Tuesday before that. 

Although the peak of infections now appears to have passed, the number of people in hospital is still ‘incredibly high’, Professor Whitty said as both he and the PM spoke to quash hopes that lockdown will be lifted soon. On loosening restrictions Mr Johnson said the infection rate was ‘still pretty forbiddingly high’.

Deaths lag about three weeks behind cases because it takes this long for someone who has caught the virus to suffer symptoms severe enough to be admitted to hospital and die from the disease, and Professor Whitty said the daily counts would remain high for weeks to come. 

It comes as it’s revealed Britain has missed its vaccination target for a second day running after 279,757 received a first dose which is more than 100,000 below the 400,000 the Government must get jabs to every day to hit its target of inoculating 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

The Prime Minister has promised to get jabs to those most at risk from the virus – the over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and the vulnerable – by this time. 

Boris Johnson tonight lamented the UK's huge Covid death toll and offered his 'deepest condolences' to everyone that had lost a relative to coronavirus

Boris Johnson tonight lamented the UK’s huge Covid death toll and offered his ‘deepest condolences’ to everyone that had lost a relative to coronavirus

UK RANKS AMONG TOP 5 WORST-HIT COUNTRIES FOR COVID DEATHS

The UK has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll per million people, damning data shows.

Britain’s current fatality rate is 1,454 per million and rising.

It is behind only Slovenia (1,625) and Belgium (1,795).

San Marino is technically number one in the world for Covid death rates, at 1,915 per million, but the country has a tiny population of just 34,000.

Rounding out the top five is the Czech Republic (1,442) and Italy (1,420).

Bosnia, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia and Bulgaria fill out the top 10.

The fact all 10 countries are in Europe highlights how the burden of the pandemic has fallen on the continent. 

Overall, Britain has the fifth highest death toll in the world.

Only the US (421,129), Brazil (217,664), India (153,587) and Mexico (150,273), which have far larger populations, have suffered higher numbers of victims.

On another day of grim coronavirus news:

Speaking at the conference today, the Prime Minister offered his ‘deepest condolences’ to everyone that had lost loved ones during the pandemic.

‘I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who have been taken,’ he said.

‘And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.

‘We will remember the courage of countless working people – not just our amazing NHS and care workers, but shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces emergency services and many others – who kept our country going during our biggest crisis since the Second World War.

‘We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid.

‘In that moment of commemoration, we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered the vaccines and the immense national effort – never seen before in our history – which is now underway to distribute them, one that has now seen us immunise over 6.8 million people across the United Kingdom.’

Virus cases in Europe have remained stubbornly high throughout winter despite tougher restrictions being introduced, with many countries now considering new national shutdowns - if they have not been imposed already

Virus cases in Europe have remained stubbornly high throughout winter despite tougher restrictions being introduced, with many countries now considering new national shutdowns – if they have not been imposed already

Although there were signs of optimism as infection rates are coming down across the UK, Professor Whitty said deaths would remain stubbornly high for the weeks to come.

BORIS JOHNSON’S SPEECH IN FULL

Speaking from a podium in Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight: ‘I am sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has surpassed 100,000, and it is hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic.

‘The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye.

‘I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who have been taken.

‘And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.

‘We will remember the courage of countless working people – not just our amazing NHS and care workers, but shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces emergency services and many others – who kept our country going during our biggest crisis since the Second World War.

‘We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid.

‘In that moment of commemoration, we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered the vaccines and the immense national effort – never seen before in our history – which is now underway to distribute them, one that has now seen us immunise over 6.8 million people across the United Kingdom.

‘And when those vaccines have finally freed us from this virus and put us on a path to recovery, we will make sure that we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare.

‘And, until that time, the best and most important thing we can all do to honour the memory of those who have died is to work together with ever greater resolve to defeat this disease.

‘And that is what we will do.’ 

He said there would be ‘a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt’ and that the number of positive tests was ‘still at a very high number, but it has been coming down’.

Professor Whitty also cautioned against relaxing restrictions ‘too early’ as he said Office for National Statistics data demonstrates a slower decrease. 

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘This is not a year that anybody is going to want to remember nor is it a year that across the health service any of us will ever forget.’

He also told the briefing that there will eventually be an end to the ‘incessant’ new Covid-19 admissions to hospitals.

‘What people probably want right now is three things – first of all to be able to look forward to some sort of respite from what has been an incredibly demanding and continuous year of pressure.

‘Secondly, to know that there are reinforcements on the way, that the staffing pressures in the health service will be taken seriously in the years to come.

‘And thirdly, to tackle the pressures in the here and now which fundamentally are about reducing the number of new patients who turn up in A&E severely ill with coronavirus day in day out.

‘So it’s that combination I think. The sense there will be some respite, the sense the health service will get resilient, staffing support it needs in the years to come, but right now we actually collectively turn off the incessant new admissions that are arriving with very severely ill coronavirus patients.’ 

Today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the figures a ‘national tragedy’. He said: ‘We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.

‘Every death is a loved one, a friend, a neighbour, a partner or a colleague. It is an empty chair at the dinner table.’

Sir Keir also accused the Prime Minister of being ‘reluctant to take tough decisions’ throughout the crisis.

He added: ‘There’s a strong sense I think that our Government has been behind the curve at every stage.

‘There has been a reluctance to take tough decisions when they needed to be taken.

‘And here we are today we find ourselves with this awful milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid.’ 

It comes after the EU today vowed to force firms to declare what vaccines are being exported to the UK, amid frustration in Brussels after AstraZeneca said it would not be able to meet orders of its jab – which the bloc is still yet to approve – previously agreed.

The saber-rattling from Brussels, which comes amid growing chaos and protests across the continent, has incensed senior MPs, with warnings that the EU could ‘poison’ relations for a generation if it blocks some of the 40million Pfizer doses the UK has bought ‘legally and fairly’.  

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a 'national tragedy'. He said: 'We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called the figures a ‘national tragedy’. He said: ‘We must never become numb to these numbers or treat them as just statistics.’

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NHS England chief Simon Stevens swiped at the ‘uproar’ today, suggesting it underlined the pressure on supplies and how Britain had done ‘very well’.

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock said protectionism was ‘not the right approach’, insisting that the huge push to get the four most vulnerable groups of Britons covered by mid-February will not be derailed.

For its part, Pfizer warned it was ‘critical that governments do not impose export restrictions or other trade barriers’ that would risk creating ‘uncertainty’ and disrupting supplies. 

Meanwhile, the health ministry in Berlin has been forced to issue a denial after two German newspapers claimed the EU’s regulator could refuse to give the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab full approval, with officials anonymously briefing its efficacy for pensioners was just eight percent.

The claim was angrily rejected by the pharmaceutical company – and No10 sources told MailOnline it was ‘rubbish’. It is understood the issue came up at Cabinet this morning, and Boris Johnson said it was ‘not correct’. Science chief Patrick Vallance told the meeting that data showed a good immune response among all older patients.

He suggested the publications could have been confused between the proportion of the trial participants who were over 65, and the effectiveness. One Whitehall source told Playbook it was the kind of tactics ‘you expect from the Russians’.

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The German health ministry today desperately tried to kill off the spat, dismissing the idea there was any data suggest the efficacy of only 8 percent among older people. It said at ‘first glance’ there seemed to have been a mix-up over the 8 percent figure insisting a decision is still due on approving the jab on Friday. 

Official figures today showed a slowdown in the vaccine rollout, as it failed to hit the 500,000 daily jabs target for the second day in a row. 

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted that Britain was ‘on track’ to reach the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February. 

He said that 6.6million people had now received a jab, more than one in nine of the adult population, and in the last week 2.5million got a vaccine, which was equal to a rate of more than 250 people per minute.

And, he said, 78.7 percentof over-80s have received a jab.

Mr. Hancock told the Downing Street press conference: ‘We’re on track to offer everyone in the top four priority groups a jab by February 15’.     

The race to deliver the vaccine comes aftercare home residents have accounted for almost a third of the total number of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales. As of January 15, 2021, a total of 30,851 residents had been killed by the virus. 

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The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago

The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago

EU block could mean UK misses out on millions of Covid vaccine doses 

The UK could miss out on millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine if the European Union suspends deliveries to countries outside the bloc.

Britain is expecting to receive another nine million doses by mid-February from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.

But if Eurocrats blockade jab exports across the channel, American drugs company Pfizer – which manufactures vaccines in Puurs, Belgium – will be unable to ship supplies.

As many as 3.5million doses of their jab are expected to arrive over the next three weeks, reports the Telegraph, a shipment that wouldn’t land on British soil if Brussels chose to redirect supplies.

The move would not, however, cut supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine because the ‘vast, vast majority’ of their jabs are made in the UK.

There are fears that any cut in deliveries could leave the Government unable to meet its target of vaccinating 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

But it is not clear how many doses are already sitting in warehouses in the UK, which ministers say they won’t reveal because of ‘security concerns’.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at a conference last night that supply remained the ‘limiting factor’ in Britain’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The UK has already vaccinated more than six million of the most vulnerable against the virus, as it steams towards its mid-February target.

Separate damning ONS figures show weekly fatalities among care home residents in England alone have almost tripled in the last fortnight, as the virus makes a deadly resurgence in the sector. 

The number-crunching body said there were 1,705 deaths in English care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission in the seven days to January 2, up from 661 a fortnight ago.   

For the first time the ONS has released data bringing together the deaths of care home residents in care homes and other settings since March 2020 up to the present. 

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care home residents has been rising in recent weeks. A total of 1,719 deaths were registered in the week to January 15 – the highest figure since the week ending May 21, 2020.   

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the figures make ‘grim reading’ and demonstrate the need to avoid complacency.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: ‘Yes, we now have vaccines, and the Government is to be congratulated on the speed at which it is protecting the vulnerable.

‘But Covid-19 is not beaten yet and we must remain cautious and, on our guard, observing all the guidance and keeping everyone in care settings – care and nursing homes and those receiving care in their own homes – as safe as we can, alongside those who are caring for them.

‘The news that carers are going to be supplied with lateral flow tests they can do at home is another positive step and will hopefully have an impact and help protect carers who are selflessly looking after others.’ 

Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research Sarah Scobie said that care homes are ‘feeling the strain’ and said it will take time for the vaccine rollout to affect figures. 

She said: ‘The number of registered deaths from Covid of care home residents has increased by 25 percent since last week. 

‘The sector is again feeling the strain, and while the vaccine roll-out for the most vulnerable is continuing at impressive speed it will be a while until the benefits feed through to the figures.’  

The ONS report today also found coronavirus accounted for four in 10 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 15 – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.

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There were 7,245 deaths registered where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales, a 20 percent rise from the previous week, when 6,057 deaths were registered.

It is also the third-highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and at 40.2 percent, the week with the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 recorded so far.

There have also been concerns the drive could be held up by the supply of the vaccine, which has been described as ‘lumpy’ and could yet threaten to derail the plans. 

Ministers have refused to reveal how much is already in the country, citing a security risk, but there have been reports of deliveries to centers being scaled down.

Confusion has also been sparked over whether supplies are being diverted to areas lagging behind in the rollout, with the vaccines minister denying this after Mr. Hancock said the Government would be redirecting stocks last week.  

And both Pfizer and AstraZeneca – suppliers of the only two vaccines being used in the UK – have faced disruption to their shipments as they have scaled up manufacturing.

It comes after EU leaders arranged an urgent meeting with AstraZeneca executives after the company unexpectedly slashed its supply of vaccines to the bloc.

The jab-makers have blamed the EU’s supply chain for their failure to deliver the promised 80million vaccines by the end of March as part of a £300million deal.

AstraZeneca, which developed its shot with Oxford University, said on Friday they could only offer 31million vaccines in the first quarter, a cut of 60 percent.

Furious EU officials said they will investigate their claims and have questioned why Britain is not suffering from similar delays in the rollout.

Peter Liese, an EU lawmaker from the same party as Angela Merkel, said: ‘The flimsy justification that there are difficulties in the EU supply chain but not elsewhere does not hold water, as it is, of course, no problem to get the vaccine from the UK to the continent.

‘AstraZeneca has been contractually obligated to produce since as early as October and they are apparently delivering to other parts of the world, including the UK without delay.’

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker had received an up-front payment of 336 million euros (£298million) from the EU when they struck a deal in August, an EU official told Reuters. 

TOP TEN JOBS WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS DEATHS, ACCORDING TO THE ONS

Taxi drivers, home carers, security guards, and lorry drivers were among the professions suffering the highest number of deaths from coronavirus, official data shows.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal there were 8,000 deaths in people aged between 20 and 64 in England and Wales last year, one-twelfth of the total.

And of the more than 5,000 for which a profession was registered, the ONS compiled the statistics to show which were recording the highest number of deaths after an individual tested positive for the virus.

In men, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in taxi and cab drivers, 209, followed by security guards, 140, and lorry drivers, 118. And in women, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths was in care workers, 240, sales assistants, 111, and nurses, 110.

Men, Profession

Taxi and cab drivers

Security guards

Large goods vehicle drivers

Storage workers

Care workers/Home carers

Processing plant workers

Van drivers

Builders

Bus and coach drivers

Chefs 

Number of Covid-19 deaths

209

140

118

111

107

100

97

85

83

82

Women, profession

Care workers/Home carers

Sales assistants

Nurses

Cleaners

Other administrative jobs

Nursing assistants

Teaching assistants

Kitchen/catering assistants

Personal assistants

Payroll managers/clerks&

Government administrators 

Number of Covid-19 deaths

240

111

110

95

58

54

37

36

30

26

26