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Michael Gove vows to accelerate vaccine programme to two million a week by February

Also on today’s show, Michael Gove spoke to Piers and Susanna where he vowed to “accelerate” the vaccination process and promised to hit the target two millon vaccines per week by the end of this month.

As Susanna pointed out that the vaccine rollout seems “sluggish”, he responded: “So far we have vaccinated just over a million people and we hope to make sure that is over 13 million in the middle of February. The numbers are increasing all the time, but of course you are absolutely right, we need to do everything we can to accelerate that process.”

Asked how many vaccines we have right now, he said: “We have millions of vaccines right now, and we are making sure that they are being distributed to GPs, who are responsible for making sure that the most vulnerable are vaccinated, we are making sure that people in care homes are vaccinated and also front line NHS staff are vaccinated as well. The numbers will be increasing this week, next week and the week after.”

Asked when we will reach two million vaccines a week, he added: “By the end of this month. We are doing everything we can to increase numbers.”

On schools opening on Monday, and then closing the same day, he said: “The chief medical officers across the United Kingdom told us yesterday that we needed to move to level five, the highest level of alert, because of the pressure on the NHS… across the United Kingdom, the last thing we wanted to do is to close schools. We do know that children who are not in the classroom don’t get the same level of teaching and learning.”

On reports that the government will soon make people take a test before they come to the UK, he revealed: “We will be making announcements later today and in the days ahead on how we will make sure that our ports and airports are safe. It is already the case that there are significant restrictions on people coming into this country and we are stressing that nobody should be travelling abroad.”

Challenged as to why the UK hasn’t taken more draconian measures to control our borders during the pandemic, he said: “Well, we have had quarantine measures and we have had people who have been prosecuted for breaking those measures.”

Gove was unable to give precise figures for how many have been prosecuted or for how many people have been tested at our borders, adding: “I don’t believe in guessing. I will come back to you with the precise figures.”

Asked what is going to happen with exam qualifications this summer, he confirmed that exams will be cancelled but there will be “alternative arrangements that will make sure children are assessed… the details of that will be announced at the House of Commons tomorrow.... It is important that we get this right.”

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