Oxford COVID vaccine approved for rollout as millions face tier four

The much anticipated Oxford vaccine has finally been approved and is expected to roll out from the 4th of January.

Oxford COVID vaccine approved for rollout as millions face tier four
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The UK’s very own Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinehas finally been approved for rollout just hours before millions will be thrust into tier four.

The UK recorded more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus for the very first time yesterday, the highest number ever recorded in the UK within 24 hours. The rapid rollout of the new vaccine now provides hope that the country may just have a way out of this mess.

The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, enough to cover 50 million residents.

The first of the jabs will be rolled out as early as Monday the 4th. But, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that the space between the first and second jabs will be extended from four to twelve weeks to ensure as many people are vaccinated as possible. The same extension has also been applied to the Pfizer vaccine that is already making rounds across the UK.

Hancock confirmed that this move would be what accelerates the - so far slow - vaccine rollout and would ‘bring forward the day when we can get our lives back to normal’. He added:

We can say now with confidence that we can get out of this by spring.

Hancock spoke to Sky News again recently stating that it is critical that everyone follows coronavirus safety rules:

It is going to be a difficult few weeks ahead. We can see the pressures right now on the NHS and it is absolutely critical that people follow the rules and do everything they can to stop the spread, particularly of the new variant of this virus that transmits so much faster.

However, the Health Secretary explained that he has faith that with vaccines there is a way out of the pandemic situation:

But we also know that there is a route out of this. The vaccine provides that route out. We have all just got to hold our nerve over the weeks to come.

The vaccine announcement comes just prior to Boris Johnson’s announcement scheduled later today, where he will send millions more into the restrictions of tier four.

The tier andvaccine announcements come as more and more pressure is being mounted on the government as the new strain of coronavirus discovered in the UK has proven to be much more infectious than the previous strain. This is now increasing the strains of hospitals as COVID-19 patient levels have reached the highest ever levels during the pandemic.

Which areas are at risk of being plunged into tier four?

Boris Johnson is set to announce later today which areas will be plunged into tier four. However, we already have an idea of which areas are at risk with Burnley and Eden currently having the highest rates of infection outside of tier four.

Burnley currently sports a rate of 465.6 cases per 100,000 people while Eden is close behind with 458.2.

The list below shows in cases per 100,000 the areas with the highest rates of infection outside of tier four, all of which are at risk of heading into their four later today.

  • Burnley (Tier 3) 465.6
  • Eden (Tier 2) 458.2
  • Pendle (Tier 3) 390.8
  • Northampton (Tier 3) 366.9
  • Hartlepool (Tier 3) 365.1
  • South Northamptonshire (Tier 3) 354.5
  • Carlisle (Tier 2) 348.7
  • Oadby and Wigston (Tier 3) 347.3
  • Lincoln (Tier 3) 344.4
  • Sandwell (Tier 3) 337.3

What are the rules in tier four?

Those in tier four will face even harsher restrictions than those in tier three. In the new tier, a travel ban will be enforced by law and no Christmas bubbles will be permitted.

Those under the new restriction level will also not be allowed outside of their homes except for education, childcare, exercise or emergencies. International travel will also be out of the cards and all non-essential stores and hairdressers will be closed. Residents in the affected areas will also only be allowed to meet one person outside of their homes.