Britain’s Covid-19 death toll tops 50,000 as officials announce 595 new victims


Britain’s official coronavirus death toll passed the grim milestone of 50,000 today after health chiefs announced another 595 victims in the highest daily count since May.

Officials warned the upward trend in Covid fatalities will continue for ‘several weeks’ because of the time it takes for infected patients to become severely ill. 

But in another glimmer of hope, cases have dropped again, with 22,950 new infections recorded today — down 8.8 per cent on the 25,177 that were registered last Wednesday.

The figures come after a catalogue of data has suggested that lockdown may have been a rash move and that the country’s outbreak appeared to be slowing thanks to the three-tier local lockdown system. 

Department of Health figures show the UK’s official death toll now stands at 50,365, with today’s figure the highest recorded in a single day since May 12.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said: ‘Sadly the upward trend is likely to continue and it will be several weeks before any impact of the current measures – and the sacrifices we are all making – is seen and is reflected in the data.

‘By limiting contact with others, you are helping to stop the spread of the virus. This will lead to fewer infections and help to save lives. Together we can bring the virus under control.’

Boris Johnson today warned that a vaccine will not deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to coronavirus as Tories insisted he must not use the prospect of jabs to keep the country in lockdown longer.

At a bad-tempered PMQs session, Mr Johnson again welcomed the news that Pfizer’s vaccine had been 90 per cent effective in early trials. But he gave a stern message to the public that they should not be expecting an early end to restrictions, despite claims it could start being rolled out by Christmas.

Britain is getting ready to launch the biggest immunisation drive in its history, with the NHS and Army on standby to start deploying millions of doses of any approved coronavirus vaccine by December 1.

On another high-octane day of developments in the coronavirus crisis:

  • England’s deputy chief medical officer has said he would be ‘at the front of the queue’ to take Pfizer’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine if he were eligible in a bid to reassure Brits about its safety;
  • Economists have raised hopes the UK’s economy could return to pre-pandemic levels within six months after the bombshell news about a vaccine;
  • University students will be offered Covid tests after lockdown ends on December 2 before having a six-day window to travel home for Christmas under the government’s evacuation-style plan;
  • Government spending on anti-coronavirus measures has surpassed an eye-watering third of a trillion pounds since the pandemic began, according to analysis by MailOnline.

BORIS JOHNSON WARNS PFIZER JAB WON’T DELIVER KNOCK-OUT BLOW NEEDED TO END LOCKDOWN 

At PMQs today Boris Johnson gave a stern message to the public that they should not be expecting an early end to coronavirus restrictions, despite claims a vaccine could start being rolled out by Christmas

At PMQs today Boris Johnson gave a stern message to the public that they should not be expecting an early end to coronavirus restrictions, despite claims a vaccine could start being rolled out by Christmas

Boris Johnson today warned that a vaccine will not deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to coronavirus as Tories insisted he must not use the prospect of jabs to keep the country in lockdown longer.

At a bad-tempered PMQs session, Mr Johnson again welcomed the news that Pfizer’s vaccine had been 90 per cent effective in early trials.

But he gave a stern message to the public that they should not be expecting an early end to restrictions, despite claims it could start being rolled out by Christmas.

He said the ‘best way to get this country back on its feet’ was to ‘continue on the path that we are, driving the virus down’.

The premier said science had given the country ‘two big boxing gloves’ via a possible vaccine and mass testing, but added: ‘Neither of them is capable of delivering a knock out blow on its own.

‘That’s why this country needs to continue to work hard to keep discipline and to observe the measures we’ve put in.’

It comes as the Prime Minister today said the ‘best way to get this country back on its feet’ was to ‘continue on the path that we are, driving the virus down’.

He said science had given the country ‘two big boxing gloves’ via a possible vaccine and mass testing, but added: ‘Neither of them is capable of delivering a knock out blow on its own. That’s why this country needs to continue to work hard to keep discipline and to observe the measures we’ve put in.’

The pointed comments came amid signs whole regions of England could be kept under brutal restrictions after the blanket lockdown ends on December 2.

The country is due to return to the ‘Tiered’ system next month, with variations depending on the level of outbreaks locally.

But ministers are considering ‘simplifying’ the arrangement so wider areas are covered by the same curbs. That means rather than individual ‘hotspot’ cities or towns being placed in a Tier, entire regions will face the same treatment.

There is also the prospect of a fourth Tier being added, which would be essentially the same as the full lockdown imposed currently.

But the move will fuel alarm that the constantly shifting rules are confusing the public and undermining trust in the government’s response. 

And Boris Johnson is under fresh pressure from angry Tory MPs who are demanding that draconian restrictions are abandoned because they are destroying the economy, risking more deaths from poverty and other diseases that are going untreated.

At least 50 backbenchers have signed up to a new group headed by former chief whip Mark Harper, who has warned that Mr Johnson must not use the prospect of a vaccine arriving early next year to delay decisions on loosening lockdown.

Currently, Tier 1 restrictions are described as ‘medium risk’ with Tier 2 ‘high’ and Tier 3 ‘very high’.

Under Tier 3 rules restaurants can open, but only until 10pm and pubs and bars must close unless they also operate as a restaurant.

This definition extends to pubs which sell ‘substantial’ meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.

Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors.

The Y-axis shows the three phases of the Government's plans to distribute the vaccine, with age being one of the driving factors behind who gets priority. The X-axis is the number of Britons that could be immunised by next summer

The Y-axis shows the three phases of the Government’s plans to distribute the vaccine, with age being one of the driving factors behind who gets priority. The X-axis is the number of Britons that could be immunised by next summer

ENGLAND’S DEPUTY CMO CLAIMS HE WOULD BE AT THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE TO TAKE VACCINE IF HE COULD

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he would be 'at the front of the queue' if it was up to him to take a coronavirus vaccine

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he would be ‘at the front of the queue’ if it was up to him to take a coronavirus vaccine

England’s deputy chief medical officer today claimed he would be ‘at the front of the queue’ to take Pfizer’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine if he were eligible in a bid to reassure Brits about its safety.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam held a press conference today outlining the steps that have to be taken before the jab is dished out en masse around the country. But when pressed, he could not guarantee the vaccine would get Britain back to normal by Easter because of the colossal logistical challenge ahead.

Full data on Pfizer’s vaccine will be published this month and it’ll need to get the green light from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before it is deemed safe enough to administer to millions of Brits.

This process is expected to be wrapped up within weeks and the NHS is on standby to start deploying the shot by December 1. The vaccine needs to be stored at -70C and can spoil easy with even slight changes in temperature, which makes transporting and storing the vaccine a logistical headache.

To demonstrate his full confidence in the vaccine, the deputy CMO said he had also encouraged his 78-year-old mother to be ready to take the jab as soon as she’s offered it. It came after a Daily Mail poll today suggested four in 10 Brits want politicians and Government advisers to take the vaccine first to prove it’s safe.

Under the Government’s vaccine distribution plans, Professor Van-Tam’s mother would fall under into third priority group, with care home residents and staff first in line, followed by over-80s and frontline NHS workers. At 56 years old, Professor Van-Tam himself would not be eligible to receive the vaccine until sometime next year after.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has said that regions would not necessarily emerge from the current lockdown into the same tier they were in last month.

And one source told the Telegraph: ‘We will return to a regionalised approach after the lockdown, and the Government has not said explicitly at this point that the tiers will be exactly the same.

It comes after England’s deputy chief medical officer today claimed he would be ‘at the front of the queue’ to take Pfizer’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine if he were eligible in a bid to reassure Brits about its safety.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam held a press conference today outlining the steps that have to be taken before the jab is dished out en masse around the country. 

But when pressed, he could not guarantee the vaccine would get Britain back to normal by Easter because of the colossal logistical challenge ahead.

Full data on Pfizer’s vaccine will be published this month and it’ll need to get the green light from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before it is deemed safe enough to administer to millions of Brits.

This process is expected to be wrapped up within weeks and the NHS is on standby to start deploying the shot by December 1. 

The vaccine needs to be stored at -70C and can spoil easy with even slight changes in temperature, which makes transporting and storing the vaccine a logistical headache.

To demonstrate his full confidence in the vaccine, the deputy CMO said he had also encouraged his 78-year-old mother to be ready to take the jab as soon as she’s offered it. 

It came after a Daily Mail poll today suggested four in 10 Brits want politicians and Government advisers to take the vaccine first to prove it’s safe.

Under the Government’s vaccine distribution plans, Professor Van-Tam’s mother would fall under into third priority group, with care home residents and staff first in line, followed by over-80s and frontline NHS workers. 

At 56 years old, Professor Van-Tam himself would not be eligible to receive the vaccine until sometime next year after.

Britain is getting ready to launch the biggest immunisation drive in British history after preliminary data from Pfizer – the American drugs giant which makes Viagra – showed its vaccine was 90 per cent effective at blocking Covid-19. 

Hopes were raised further yesterday when prominent Government scientists claimed life would return to normal by Easter without the need for draconian lockdown rules.

Retired doctors and medical students will be drafted in to help dispense vaccines from a thousand GP surgeries around the country amid fears there are not enough staff to carry out the mammoth operation. 

The army will also be used to help transport the vaccines between labs and clinics.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk