'We want this to be our last lockdown' says Boris Johnson as UK vaccine roll-out reaches crucial point
The prime minister has urged Brits not to relax as the coronavirus vaccine roll-out reaches a crucial point.
Addressing the nation tonight Boris Johnson said that, while the vaccine has been administered to millions of vulnerable adults across the UK, the country still has far to go before it has overcome the threat posed by the virus.
"This is no moment to relax, in fact it is the moment to accelerate," said Mr Johnson at the Downing Street press conference. "We have to keep our foot to the floor."
Despite describing the vaccination programme as an 'unprecedented national achievement', Mr Johnson said levels of the virus still remain high, with more people in UK hospitals now than at the peak of the first wave last spring.
But he added that millions more people will receive letters offering vaccination appointments in the coming days, with priority being given to those over 50 and those aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions.
The Government is now aiming to have given everyone over the age of 50 a first dose of the coronavirus-busting jab by the end of April.
Anyone who has had the first dose of the vaccine can also expect to have their second dose within 12 weeks of the first - a process which Professor Chris Whitty described as 'essential' in the fight against the virus.
"This moment is a huge step forward but it’s only a first step and while it shows what the country can do, we must be both optimistic and patient," said Mr Johnson, adding that he hoped to set out the country's 'route to normality' in the coming weeks.
"Next week I'll be setting out a roadmap saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality, even though some things are very uncertain because we want this lockdown to be the last and we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.
"So please continue to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives."
When asked whether he could guarantee this would be the last lockdown, Mr Johnson said he was unable to.
"I can't give that guarantee, of course not. We are battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing," he said.
"I am increasingly confident about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations.
"I'll be setting out as much as a timetable as we can give on the 22nd."
He added that he could not guarantee that people would be able to travel around the UK by Easter.