Covid news - live: Single jab cuts elderly hospital admissions by 80% as Hancock defends UK quarantine policy

Chiara Giordano and Samuel Osborne
·1 min read
Health officials are hunting for one of the first UK cases of a Brazil coronavirus “variant of concern” (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Health officials are hunting for one of the first UK cases of a Brazil coronavirus “variant of concern” (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced the jabs currently being used in the UK have cut hospitalisations in the over 70s by 80 per cent.

He told a Downing Street press conference the data showed that “a single shot of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or of the Pfizer vaccine works against severe infection among the over-70s with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalisations”.

It comes after Boris Johnson defended the rollout of hotel quarantine measures after Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of failing to secure “our borders in the way we should have” over the discovery of the so-called Brazilian variant in the UK.

Asked whether the government was too slow to implement the travel policy, Mr Johnson told reporters earlier: “I don’t think so – we moved as fast as we could to get that going”.

He also stressed that a “massive effort” was under way to prevent the new variant spreading further and said that Public Health England (PHE) “don’t think there is a threat to the wider public”.

PHE on Sunday announced that six cases of the concerning P.1 variant, first detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus, had been confirmed in Britain – three in England and three in Scotland.

Two cases of the variant, which may spread more rapidly and respond less well to existing vaccines, were confirmed in South Gloucestershire – but the third English case has not been located and could be anywhere in the nation.