Storm Darcy CHAOS: Eight coronavirus vaccine centres forced to shut due to heavy snow

BBC Weather issues amber warning as 30cm of snow hits UK

Temperatures across the UK plunged as Storm Darcy arrived from the East. East Anglia and Essex were particularly badly hit by snow with at least eight Covid vaccine stations having to close.

A number of coronavirus rapid testing services were also hit by the extreme weather today.

Despite the disruption, Britain remains well on track to vaccinate its 15 million most vulnerable residents by the middle of February and is some way ahead of other European countries.

The Daily Mirror reports Clacton Hospital in Essex closed its vaccination facility and urged those who had appointments to rebook.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust also closed its vaccine hub at the Gainsborough Sports Centre due to the terrible conditions.

Suffolk GP Federation shut five vaccination sites at midday on Sunday due to Storm Darcy.

They included Debenham Community Centre and The Mix in Stowmarket and Trinity Park in Ipswich.

At 4pm the EpiCentre in Haverhill joined them and advised those affected to rebook on Monday.

A number of lateral flow testing centres were also closed after the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for snow.

Sites affected were St Aidan’s Church in Leigh-on-Sea, University Square in Southend-on-Sea and Shoebury Youth Centre in Shoeburyness.

Councillor Travor Harp, cabinet member for health on Southend Borough Council, explained these decisions were made pre-emptively following the snow warning.

On Saturday the Government announced another 549,078 people had received their first Covid vaccine over the past 24 hours, the second highest one day figure.

In total more than 12 million Britons have now been given at least one coronavirus jab.

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Globally only Israel and the United Arab Emirates have vaccinated a higher proportion of their population.

However, a recent study suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only offers “minimal protection” against mild forms of the South African coronavirus variant.

The variant has already been detected in a number of towns including London, Woking and Liverpool.

Door-to-door testing has been conducted in affected areas in a bid to stop it spreading widely.

BBC Weather: ‘Heavy snow’ and ‘blizzards’ to hit UK

In total more than 100 cases of the South African variant, also called B.1.351, have been detected in the UK.

However, Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead Oxford University vaccine development, insisted the vaccine will still provide protection against severe coronavirus.

None of the 2,000 people involved in the trial died from the disease.

Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show Professor Gilbert warned approved vaccines “have a reduction in efficacy against some of the variant viruses”.

She added: “What that is looking like is that we may not be reducing the total number of cases but there’s still protection in that case against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease.

“That’s really important for healthcare systems, even if we are having mild and asymptomatic infections, to prevent people going into hospital with Covid would have a major effect.”

Appearing on the same show vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi ruled out providing “vaccine passports” to those who have received a jab.

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