Boris Johnson 'deeply sorry' for 100k deaths vowing 'greater resolve' to defeat Covid
BORIS Johnson tonight said he is "deeply sorry" after the UK passed the tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths from coronavirus and vowed to fight the pandemic with "greater resolve".
The sombre PM addressed the nation flanked by the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Sir Simon Stephens, the NHS chief exec.
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He said the huge death toll "exhausts the thesaurus of misery" and represents "an appalling and tragic loss of life".
The PM announced: "I'm sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has surpassed 100,000.
"It's hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic – the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended, and for so many relatives the missed chance even to say goodbye.
"I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the many grandparents who have been taken.
To all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we come through this crisis we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others."
The PM said over 6.8 million people have now been vaccinated across the UK.
He added: "When those vaccines have finally freed us from this virus and put us on a path to recovery we will make sure we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare."
And Sir Simon gave Brits a reason to hope, saying: "As we stand here this evening one in eight adults across this country have now had their first vaccination, so we're well on our way."
Another 1,631 deaths were reported today, bringing the total to 100,162.
Mr Johnson vowed to take "full responsibility" for the decisions made by the Government throughout the pandemic.
He said: "We did everything we could to minimise suffering and minimise loss of life in this pandemic, I am deeply sorry for every life lost."
It comes as:
- Official stats show the lockdown is working – as new infections have plummeted
- Parents are expected to find out if their kids will go back to school over half-term in the next few days
- Boris Johnson urged the EU to show "common sense" as the bloc threatened to stop the Covid vaccine being sent to Britain
- Priti Patel vowed "not to hesitate" to bring in tougher border measures
Meanwhile Professor Whitty gave a grim warning that there would be more deaths to come.
He said: "I have always been very careful not to make forward projections in terms of numbers.
"But, unfortunately we're going to see quite a lot more deaths as the effects of the vaccine start to be felt."
The UK's medical chief suggested the new variant would make it "very difficult" to release lockdown, saying: "The thing we have which has made things very different in 2021 has been the problems of the new variant."
And he revealed ministers' fears the lockdown would not suppress the super-contagious strain of the virus
"We were worried two weeks ago the measures we had were not enough to hold the new variant down," Professor Whitty said.
The lockdown is keeping the mutant strain under control, but without the vaccine roll out it will be very difficult to relax the rules, he said.
Responding to the shocking death toll, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “My thoughts are with each and every person who has lost a loved one – behind these heart-breaking figures are friends, families and neighbours.
“I know how hard the last year has been, but I also know how strong the British public’s determination is and how much we have all pulled together to get through this."
Mr Hancock stressed people needed to follow the rules to make sure the vaccine programme was effective.
“The vaccine offers is the way out, but we cannot let up now and we sadly still face a tough period ahead. The virus is still spreading and we’re seeing over 3,500 people per day being admitted into hospital," he said.
“The single most important thing we must all do now is stay at home to save lives and protect our NHS.”
Estimates from the Office of National Statistics suggested the number of deaths had already passed 100,000 on January 7.
According to the ONS, there have now been more than 115,000 fatalities in the UK.
Mr Johnson also told Brussels to show "common sense" and drop its threat to block the exports of vaccines to Britain.
The PM insisted he has "total confidence in our supplies" of jabs and called on the EU to "honour all contracts" in a slap down to eurocrats.
"I don't want to see restrictions on the supply of PPE across borders, I don't want to see restrictions on the supply of drugs, and I don't want to see restrictions on vaccines or the ingredients across borders," he said.
It comes as Mr Johnson is expected to sign off a raft of tough new border measures forcing arrivals into the UK to pay for hotel quarantine for 10 days.
It follows fears the mutant variants discovered in South Africa or Brazil could be "vaccine busting" and threaten Britain's goal to vaccinate the 13 million most at-risk by February 15.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said this morning there would be an announcement on quarantine arrangements.
He told Sky News: "There will be an announcement on this issue later on today.
"It is the right thing to do that as we vaccinate more of the adult population, and if more of those variants such as those from South African and Brazil, we need to be very careful and we need to act on those quickly."
Priti Patel is expected to announce tougher measures tomorrow.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, the Home Secretary said the Government "will not hesitate" to toughen up border control to protect the UK from new strains.
The Sun says
OUR Covid death toll will, sadly, far exceed even yesterday’s grim 100,000 milestone.
More than a thousand lose the battle each day — and will do so for another week or two. Even then, daily totals will linger in the hundreds. Our hearts go out to the families of each one.
What went wrong? In hindsight the Government and its top scientists and medics were all too slow to approve more drastic action a year ago. Later we were hit by our more infectious variant.
Other factors made matters far worse.
We are a densely-populated country with a weight problem — plus a major international travel hub.
But while so far we appear to have fared worse than others, it can only be properly judged once our vaccine programme is assessed against those abroad.
The current blame game is absurd. So are politicians’ fatuous demands for an immediate public inquiry, as if all the key figures have ample spare time.
Opposition MPs are gagging for a televised show trial they can profit from.
But the time to learn lessons for future pandemics is once this one is beaten.
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