Covid: Vaccine minister praises public's 'Dunkirk spirit' as he reveals vaccines have prevented 44,500 hospitalisations

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

The vaccination programme has saved 14,000 lives and prevented 44,500 hospitalisations, the vaccines minister has said as he praised the "Dunkirk spirit" of the public.

Speaking on Wednesday at a news conference in Downing Street, Nadhim Zahawi celebrated the impact of the vaccine saying that only 1 in 10 in hospital with the Delta variant had received two doses of the vaccine.

He said: “Our mission is now to get as many people protected as we can, and protect them as quickly as we can.”

He added: "It’s that Dunkirk spirit, the country coming together to get protected so we can get our lives back."

Mr Zahawi also praised the young people who had come forward for their vaccines since the programme was rolled out to those over the age of 18 last week. 

In the two days after the programme was opened to all adults, six appointments were booked every second, he said. 

“To all of the young people who have stepped up, I want to say a huge thank you, you’ve protected yourself, you’ve protected your families and you’ve protected your communities,” the minister added.

Asked by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan whether there was a point at which the government would accept that some people may not want the vaccine, Mr Zahawi said: "We have to strain every sinew to make sure we reach every community."

He added "all the evidence I have seen is that it is about access to the vaccine."

Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care NHS England, said they were mounting a push this weekend with vaccine walk-ins to get the jab to more people.

She said more people were coming forward from ethnic communities to get the jab with take-up increasing faster in black African and Pakistani communities than in white backgrounds.

"Between mid-March and mid-June uptake in black and Asian communities has continued increasing from 75% to 86% in Asian communities and jumping from 55% to 68% in black communities," she said.

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It comes as a Public Health England official said Hospital admissions with coronavirus are rising but at a much slower rate than the increase in infections.

PHE head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay told the Downing Street news conference that new infections were running at 10,000 to 11,000 a day.

She said: "This is showing us the evidence that the vaccine is working and it's breaking the link between cases and infection and hospitalisation."

Watch the full press conference here: