United Kingdom under-30s invited to book Covid jab appointments from this week

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Hancock's comments Sunday came as the Delta variant is fast becoming the dominant strain in Britain, where cases are on the rise again after weeks of decline, prompting calls to delay the scheduled lifting of remaining lockdown measures on June 21.

However, Hancock said two vaccine doses appeared to provide "the same protection as the old variant", and that Brits under 30 would be eligible to begin receiving COVID inoculations in the coming days. A mass vaccination campaign that started in December has given two doses of vaccine to more than half the adult population and brought new infections and deaths down sharply.

United Kingdom health secretary Matt Hancock said the next move down the age range will bring the country "a step closer" to seeing all adults offered a jab.

"Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn't as effective on its own".

British health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday it was too early to say whether the government would stick to its plan to fully lift COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England on June 21.

He pointed to a renewed rise in COVID-19 cases but said he had been reassured by a broadly flat rate of hospitalisations and deaths as officials consider plans to end the lockdown. One of the four critical tests set by the government for a reopening is that the assessment of the risk from the deadly virus is not fundamentally changed by new VOC.

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He also suggested social distancing, wearing of face masks and working from home could be extended beyond the final stage of the government's "road map".

Three out of the four tests are now being met, with the risk assessment from the Delta VOC the only unknown factor ahead of June 14 when the government is expected to confirm whether the unlocking roadmap will stay on track for June 21.

"I think since everybody is going to be able to get the vaccination, other than those who for medical reasons can't, I think it really is important that people are encouraged to get vaccinated", he told the Andrew Marr Show.

"And separately we have a piece of work on what the social distancing rules should be after that".

Children aged 10 and over, and teenagers, are responsible for more than a quarter of recent Covid cases - the highest among all age groups, according to Public Health England data released earlier this week.

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