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Vaccination programme a success but Matt Hancock warns public "don't blow it now"

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has called the UK's vaccination programme a "national success story" - but warns "we still have a long way to go."

Mr Hancock announced on Monday that more than 20 million people in the UK have now had a COVID-19 vaccine and called it "a magnificent achievement for the country."

"The number of new cases is falling," he said, "but the rate of decline has slowed.

"This shows how we all need to keep sticking to the rules. Let’s not blow it now."

The latest figures show among the age groups vaccinated first, the fall in hospitalisations is faster than in the younger age groups who are still yet to get a jab.

"This is a sign of the vaccine working," said Mr Hancock. "But where you can really see it is in the data on deaths – we can see that the number of deaths each day is thankfully falling much much faster than after the first peak, and is falling faster in the over-80s – who got the jab first – than in the under-80s."

Positive new data also shows that a single shot of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or Pfizer vaccine works against severe infection amongst over-70s, with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalisations.

"For now, tackling this disease rests with every single one of us," he warned.

"It’s important to remember that, no matter what variant it is, COVID spreads in the same way, through social contact between people. The steps we can all take to stop its spread are the same.

"To stay at home, to take vital steps like hands, face, space, and make sure we observe the basics – letting fresh air in – and keeping to the rules on social distancing."

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