Once all the over 50s have been vaccinated with their first dose, can lockdown be eased, Ministers and scientists have suggested.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to provide a roadmap as to when the UK can exit the current lockdown.
Johnson has previously stated that the hope for schools to reopen on 8 March, and the top four priority groups should hopefully have received their first vaccine does by then.
However, the Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Radio 4’s Today Programme that it could now be the top nine categories that will have to be vaccinated before there can be any easing of the lockdown.
He was unable to provide a date for when the nine category groups will receive their first dose of the vaccine.
He told BBC Breakfast, “We will set out our target (for vaccinating groups five to nine) after we have hit our February 15 target.
“But you can do the maths. We did 600,000 in a single day the deployment infrastructure that we’ve built can do as much vaccines as we get supply, so the limiting factor will be vaccine supply.
“You can see that in the next 10 or so days, we’ve got to do another almost touching five million and so if we keep that rate up we will very quickly go down the list of the top nine.”
SAGE member Professor Andrew Hayward also said there would be a “significant return to normality” once all over-50s had been vaccinated.
Professor Hayward said on Thursday, “Once the most vulnerable people, particularly those over 50 and those with chronic illnesses, are vaccinated then yes I think we can see a significant return to normality.”