Vaccine news: Keir Starmer presses Government to establish ’round-the-clock’ vaccination programme

Sir Keir Starmer. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged the Government to use the third national lockdown in England to create a “round-the-clock” vaccination scheme in order to end “this nightmare”.

In a televised response to Boris Johnson’s statement, Sir Keir reiterated that his party supports the new measures being imposed and would back them in a Commons vote.

But he said Labour will continue to scrutinise the prime minister where MPs believe he is failing in his response to Covid-19.

“The British people have sacrificed so much but, thanks to the dedication and brilliance of our scientists, there is hope of a way out of this nightmare,” Sir Keir said, calling on the nation to “recapture the spirit” of the beginning of the pandemic.

“That means using this lockdown to establish a massive, immediate, and round-the-clock vaccination programme to deliver millions of doses a week by the end of the month in every village and town, every high street and every GP surgery,” he continued.

“We need our businesses and public services working hand-in-hand for the common good. We need an army of volunteers and to use every resource at our disposal.

“This is now a race between the virus and the vaccine. And if we pull together as a nation, we can win.”

The UK has vaccinated more than a million people against coronavirus, but a fast-spreading strain of the disease is now "taking off" around the country, according to England's chief medical officer.

Chris Whitty said the new strain is "rising in all parts of the country" and hospital admissions are "going up very rapidly", as are the number of daily deaths.

The new variant is contributing to a huge rise in Covid-19 figures, with more than one million people in England now infected with coronavirus and an estimated 1 in 50 people in England having been infected with Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"If people don't take the 'stay at home' seriously, the risk at this point in time, in the middle of winter, with this new variant, is extraordinarily high," Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference.