All adults in England should be able to book their first Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the week, health leaders have suggested.
Sir Simon Stevens said the NHS would “finish the job” of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to the “greatest extent possible” over the next four weeks during the extension of lockdown.
He said just 1% of hospital beds in England are occupied by patients with Covid-19.
And the average age of people in hospital has “flipped” thanks to the vaccination programme – now there are more younger people seeking care who typically have better outcomes.
Meanwhile the NHS has been given orders to “gear up” for new Covid-19 treatments, which the NHS expects to come online in the next few months, which will also help to prevent severe illness and death.
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These new treatments are expected to be given to people in the community, without the need for hospital treatment, within three days of infection.
Sir Simon told the NHS annual conference: “It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the Covid vaccination programme, which has been a historic signature achievement in terms of the effectiveness of delivering by the NHS – over 60 million doses now administered.
“By July 19 we aim to have offered perhaps two thirds of adults across the country double jabs.
“And we’re making great strides also in extending the offer to all adults, today people aged 23 and 24 are able to vaccinate through the National Booking Service.
“I expect that by the end of this week, we’ll be able to open up the National Booking Service to all adults age 18 and above.
“Of course, vaccine supply continues to be constrained, so we’re pacing ourselves at precisely the rate of which we’re getting that extra vaccine supply between now and July 19.”
Sir Simon added: “At the moment about 1% of hospital beds in England are occupied by patients with a Covid diagnosis and the age distribution has really flipped as a result of vaccination.
“Back in January, it was 60/40 – 60% of beds occupied by people over 65, 40% (occupied by people) under 65.
“Now it’s flipped to 30/70, so it’s about 30% occupied by people aged 65 and over 70% by younger people whose prospects are much greater.”
On new Covid-19 treatments he added: “We expect that we will begin to see further therapies that will actually treat coronavirus and prevent severe illness and death.
“Today I’m asking the health service to gear up for what are likely to be a new category of such treatments, so-called neutralising monoclonal antibodies, which are potentially going to become available to us within the next several months.
“But in order to be able to administer them, we’re going to need community services that are able to deliver through regional networks this type of infusion in patients before they are hospitalised, typically within a three-day window from the date of infection.
“So the logistics and the organisation and applying the full excellence of the sort of networked NHS services locally through integrated care systems, we’re going to need to harness all of that, to be able to benefit from the new monoclonal antibodies.
“We are setting out a set of asks as to how to bring that about in each integrated care system so that as and when the treatments become available to us, they can immediately begin to be deployed.”
It comes after the NHS announced that it would be ploughing significant funds into services for people with long Covid, including 15 new hubs set up to help children and young people affected by ongoing symptoms.