Q: Is there a plan to share AstraZeneca supplies from the Netherlands with the EU?
Johnson says vaccines are produced by international cooperation. The UK will continue to work with international partners on the rollout. The UK does not believe in blockades. It would never engage in them. He is “encouraged” by some of the things he has heard from Europe on this topic.
Whitty says it is essential that scientists collaborate. This should be seen as an international issue.
Johnson ends by saying we need the whole planet immunised.
And that’s it. The press conference is over.
Q: Why has the UK had one of the highest death rates?
Johnson says the pandemic is, alas, not over. So international comparisons are premature, he says.
Whitty says the UK had a “bad outcome”.
Q: Should people buy a home abroad if they want to be allowed to have a foreign holiday, like your dad?
Johnson says he knows there is a lot of interest in this. Things look difficult, he says. But he hopes to be able to say more on the global travel rules soon, and by 5 April.
(That is earlier than had been expected.)
Q: Is the goal to eradicate Covid, or to bring it down to the lowest possible level?
Johnson says the latter. He does not think eradication is realistic in a globalised economy.
Whitty says only one disease has been completed eradicated.
Vallance agrees. The chances of eradicating Covid are close to zero.
Whitty says Covid will be “with us for the foreseeable future”.
He says the impact on the NHS will have some delayed effect.
Some people will have delayed screening.
They should take it up now, he says.
And he says much of what has happened in lockdown has made people poorer. That could have a “massive impact” on health in the long term, he says.
He says people already at risk from deprivation will suffer. We need to take that very seriously, he says.
Q: What are the main challenges for the future? And how long will we be grappling with them?
Johnson says he expects we will be dealing with these issues “for as long as I live”. (He is 56.)
He says children have lost between three and five months of education. Those who needed it most have lost out the most.
The government is addressing this with its catch-up fund, he says.
Q: Should you have locked down earlier?
Johnson says these are hard decisions. There are no good outcomes either way. He says he took decisions with the interests of the British people in his heart.
Doubtless there will be a time to learn lessons in the future, he says.
Q: What have you done to address the housing crisis [from ITV, which has been broadcasting an investigation into sub-standard housing]?
Johnson says as London mayor he built a large amount of social housing.
The government has increased the local housing allowance, he says.
He says the current mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, should be doing more.
Q: What do you wish you had done differently?
Johnson says there are probably many things he wishes he had known, and many things he would have done differently.
The biggest false assumption made was not understanding the reality of asymptomatic transmission. That meant the government had to work to catch up on lost ground.
Vallance says there are lots of things it would have been nice to know at the start, such as the asymptomatic transmission factor.
It would have made a big difference to have had more testing earlier.
Whitty says they did not have sufficient data in the UK until people started arriving in hospital and dying.
And they did not know how much Covid there was in Europe, in countries like Spain. They were not testing either. He says if that had been known, different measures would have been taken.
Q: Antibodies only last a few months. Does that mean vulnerable people will need top-up doses before all adults have had a first dose?
Sir Patrick Vallance says natural antibodies last at least six months. Vaccine antibodies are holding up too. And antibodies are not the only benefit from vaccines, he says.
But he says there may be a need to revaccinate over the winter.
Whitty says that would be especially true if there was a new variant.
Q: How will the government stop the third wave coming to the UK from Europe?
Johnson says we are seeing signs of a third wave on the continent.
We have very tough measures at our borders already, he says.
All measures are being kept under review, he says.
Whitty presents the chart showing deaths.
And he shows this slide, showing excess deaths. The new variant prompted a substantial second spike, he says.
The ONS says, to 12 March, 147,179 people have died from Covid. He says the number for excess deaths is 111,641.
Prof Chris Whitty is showing the slides. He says the testing data goes back to September. Before that, we did not have the testing capacity we do now, he says.
The decline in cases is flattening off, which was to be expected, he says.
Here is the slide for hospital number.
Boris Johnson starts by saying that when he asked the country to stay at home a year ago today, it was extraordinary it was the only way to fight a pandemic.
At the right moment we will build a memorial to those who have died, he says.
He says this has been like “fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy”.
But the vaccine discovery and rollout has been fantastic, he says.
He restates the vaccine rollout programme.
We are “on the path to regaining our freedoms”, he says.
Boris Johnson is about to hold a press conference at No 10. He will be with Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser.