Live as Matt Hancock gives Covid-19 update from Downing Street

Latest on vaccine priority based on ethnicity

At the Downing Street press conference, a member of the public, Stephen from Weybridge, asked whether black and Asian communities would be prioritized for a coronavirus vaccine, after the elderly, health workers and those with pre-existing conditions, because of those from those backgrounds who are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Health Minister Matt Hancock said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), which advises the government on clinical prioritization for vaccines, has looked at these questions “very carefully.”

He said the JCVI’s assessment so far has been that “the most important determinant of your risk is your age and, of course, the need to protect those who, in turn, care for the most vulnerable, the NHS staff and the staff of the social care “.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said the biggest risk factor for the likelihood of a poor outcome from Covid-19 was age, followed by comorbidities – chronic underlying diseases.

He said, “We know that a very significant portion of the unfortunate but true signal seen in black and minority ethnic groups is driven by the presence of comorbidities that occur at a younger age.”

He said the JCVI’s preliminary priority list will target people based on underlying risk conditions.

Prof Van-Tam said, “What is really important now is that the vaccine is accessible to all communities regardless of their ethnic background, and that people come forward when called and uptake is very high.”