Boris Johnson warns it will take months to vaccinate all in need

Britain will face months more under coronavirus restrictions despite promising steps towards a vaccine, Boris Johnson has warned, as he told people that Christmas will be the season to be “jolly careful”.

The Prime Minister said the country was “not out of the woods yet” and stressed that it would take a while before people can be inoculated, as the Oxford-AstraZeneca team said its jab had proved 70% effective.

It follows positive results from Pfizer and Moderna but none of the jabs have yet been approved for use and getting people vaccinated will be a major undertaking.

Mr Johnson, who is self-isolating, made the comments via video-link at a Downing Street press conference with chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and Oxford Vaccine Group director Professor Andrew Pollard.

The Prime Minister said: “We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill but they are not here yet.

“Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.”

Mr Johnson warned that “this is not the moment to let the virus rip for the sake of Christmas parties”.

“Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”

He said that “things will look and feel very different” after Easter with a vaccine and mass testing.

But he stressed the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure”.

That meant the need for new tiers from Wednesday December 2, replacing England’s lockdown, with more areas facing tougher restrictions than the previous regional regime.

Under the new system:

– In Tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.

– In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

The 10pm curfew will be relaxed, with last orders now closed at that time and premises ordered to shut at 11pm.

Details of which areas will be in which tiers will be set out on Thursday.