Will my right hon. Friend advise us about the demographics of those he believes are likely to be hospitalised? Today, Public Health England said that both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines can cope as well with the India variant as the Kent variant. The Pfizer vaccine is 94% effective against hospital admission after one dose and 96% effective after two, while the AstraZeneca vaccine is 71% effective against hospitalisation with one dose and 92% effective after two. Who would be hospitalised to the extent that the NHS would be swamped? Will he promise us that our country will not be locked down because some individuals who could be immunised choose not to be?
Yes. Thankfully, the take-up rates are very high, so only a very small proportion of people have chosen not to come forward to get the jab when offered. My right hon. Friend makes an important point, which is that the state’s obligation to get the country out of this situation falls more heavily on ensuring that vaccinations are offered than that they are taken up. Our goal is to ensure that take-up is as high as possible but, given that we are not going for mandatory vaccination across the board, the commitment that we make is to offer, and there is an important distinction between the two, as my right hon. Friend draws out.
On the make-up of those hospitalised, the average age has fallen considerably since the vaccination programme started, which is probably in large part due to the fact that, of course, the older cohorts were vaccinated first. That also, on average, reduces the acuity of those in hospital and therefore helps to break the link between hospitalisations and deaths yet further. I hope that answers my right hon. Friend’s first point.