The NHS boss, who was appearing on the Andrew Marr show, said that hospitals had seen a huge increase in patients since Christmas and added that there are enough new cases to fill a whole hospital every morning.
He also revealed that a quarter of the admissions are people under the age of 55.
Sir Simon said: ‘The facts are very clear and I’m not going to sugar-coat them, hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure.
‘Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the in-patients in hospitals across England, that’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients.
‘Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.’
In more positive news, he also revealed that a trial for 24-hour Covid vaccines within the next 10 days.
In other coronavirus news in the UK:
- Dominic Raab hints people might not get their second Covid jabs within 12 weeks;
- Another 10 new vaccination centres are to open in England on Monday;
- Heathrow is packed with people fleeing UK before new restrictions begin – as 4am crackdown looms for anyone trying to get into the country
- Hotel quarantines for all UK arrivals and facial-recognition technology to check travellers are properly isolating are proposed in UK border crackdown;
- Family supermarket trips set to be banned as ministers consider tough new anti-Covid rules enforcing ‘shop alone’ policy for supermarket trips;
- The UK recorded another 1,295 coronavirus deaths and 41,346 new cases on Saturday – as fatalities rose by more than 1,000 for the fifth day in a row;
- Tory MPs have demanded the Government publish a ‘clear road map’ for easing lockdown as they called for restrictions to be eased from March 8.
When asked if he would like to see jabs given ‘all day, all night’, Sir Simon said: ‘Absolutely, we will do that at the point that we have enough supply that it makes sense.
‘We will start testing 24/7 in some hospitals over the course of the next 10 days.
‘But we are at the moment vaccinating at about 140 jabs a minute and yesterday (Saturday), a quarter of a million people got their vaccinations on the NHS.
‘I’m pretty confident by the time we get to the end of today, Sunday night, we will have perhaps done 1.5 million vaccinations this past week, that’s up from around a million the week before.’
‘We are vaccinating four times faster than people are catching coronavirus.’
He also insisted that no vaccines were being thrown away by doctors, despite reports.
Sir Simon said: ‘The guidance from the chief medical officer and NHS medical director is crystal clear, that every last drop of vaccine should be used.’
Sir Simon said the NHS is facing the most ‘unique’ situation in its history.
Asked if the nation’s health service has ever been in a more precarious situation, he told the Andrew Marr show: ‘No. This is a unique event in our 72-year history, it’s become glib to talk about this as the worst pandemic in a century, but that is clearly correct.
‘We have got three-quarters more Covid inpatients now then we had in the April peak.
‘Although we are seeing some promising signs of the steadying of the infection rates, the fact is they are still far too high and, among some age groups, still rising.’
He added: ‘It is not going to be the case that on Valentine’s Day, with one bound, we are free.
‘Equally, I don’t think we will have to wait until the autumn, I think somewhere between those two.
Sir Simon Stevens also revealed that a quarter of the admissions are people under the age of 55
‘Subject, of course, to this uncertainty around new variants of coronavirus and it will be very important we don’t see those taking off in a way that undermines the effectiveness of the vaccines we have.’
He also said the army is helping the NHS battle the virus: ‘There around 200 combat medical technicians who are going to be supporting. We have currently around 50,000 NHS staff off for coronavirus related reasons
Tory rebels demand Boris Johnson publish a ‘clear road map’ to begin easing the national lockdown from March 8
Mark Harper, the Tory chairman of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said the Government needs to give people ‘hope’ while ‘businesses need a plan in order to survive’.
The Government is aiming to have vaccinated the 13.9million most vulnerable people in the UK by the middle of February.
Mr Harper, a former chief whip, argued that on the basis it will take those people time to build maximum immunity to coronavirus, ministers should target March 8 for the gradual loosening of restrictions.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Harper said that the PM must publish a draft plan this week setting out how curbs will be lifted.
The Government is due to conduct its first formal review of lockdown on February 15 and Mr Harper said ministers could at that point firm up the proposals ahead of an easing of rules in March.
He said: ‘The top four at-risk groups, which the Government aims to have given a first dose by Feb 15, will have got the maximum immunity from that within three weeks – by March 8.
‘That has got to be the point at which we start to lift restrictions in a way proportionate to the reduction of risk.’
Mr Harper said that ‘nobody is expecting nightclub doors to be flung open on March 8’ because it is ‘obvious that not every restriction can be lifted straight away’.
He pointed to Mr Johnson’s previous suggestion that there will be a ‘gradual unwrapping’ of lockdown and said he agreed that will be the best approach to take.
‘People need hope and businesses need a plan in order to survive, especially those in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors,’ he said.
‘That’s why this week, we need a draft plan for the progressive lifting of restrictions from March 8 so that the public, businesses and scientists can use it as the basis for a sensible debate, as the Prime Minister suggested on Friday.
‘That will allow a definitive plan to be published ahead of Feb 15.’
He added: ‘There cannot be any more excuses and there’s no need to wait until Easter.
‘We need a clear road map to all our freedoms, economy and health prospects being fully restored.’
‘We’ve also got 50,000 more staff working in the health service than we had a year ago.’
The UK recorded another 1,295 coronavirus deaths and 41,346 new cases on Saturday – as fatalities continued to rise by more than 1,000 for the fifth day in a row.
It’s a 25 percent increase on last Saturday’s deaths and takes Britain’s grim toll to 88,590.
But in a sign that the harsh lockdown measures are taking effect, cases declined by nearly a third on last week’s figure.
The Prime Minister on Friday released a video calling on the public to ‘think twice’ before leaving the house this weekend as he moved to cool rising optimism amid the drop in daily infections.
He urged everyone to behave as if they have coronavirus, warning that asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’ are unwittingly fuelling the crisis and the next person infected ‘could be you’.
Meanwhile, Dominic Raab today failed to guarantee that everyone will receive a second dose of a coronavirus vaccine within a 12 week target period as he dampened hopes of all UK adults getting the jab by the end of June.
The Government has chosen to deliver the two required doses of the vaccines 12 weeks apart in order to get more people vaccinated with the first jab as quickly as possible.
However, there are concerns that supply issues could hamper efforts to hit that target.
Mr Raab said this morning the Government ‘should be able to deliver it’ and he is ‘quietly confident’ the UK will get there but he declined to make a firm promise.
Reports overnight suggested that ministers are now privately aiming to have vaccinated every UK adult by the end of June.
But Mr Raab played down the idea of a much faster vaccine roll-out as he insisted the Government’s target is still September for having offered every adult a first dose.
His comments came as ten new vaccine centres are set to open across England on Monday with more than a million over-80s invited to receive their coronavirus jab.
The Government is increasingly bullish about the speed of Britain’s vaccination drive, with more than 3.5million people having received their first dose as of Saturday.
Whitehall sources are confident of accelerating the pace of the rollout to a point where four to five million people are receiving their shots each week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK is ‘nearly on the home straight’ as 324,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered in the space of 24 hours.
More than 3.5 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine, with Boris Johnson having hailed those helping the ‘fantastic national effort’.
The vaccination bid will be further supported by the new centres opening tomorrow, which NHS England says will offer ‘thousands’ of jabs every week.
The ten new centres include a rugby ground, a racecourse, a food court and a cathedral and will mean there is at least one hub in each English region.
They will join seven hubs previously opened to support the mass-immunisation programme, as well as 1,000 GP-led surgeries and more than 250 hospitals.
People over 80 who live a 45 minute drive from one of the centres are being offered a vaccination. Around 641,000 invitations were sent out last week and another 380,000 will arrive at people’s homes this weekend before another 500,000 letters go out this week. Anyone who cannot travel can wait to be contacted by their GP-led service or hospital.
The hubs will come as welcome news to ministers who have long hailed mass immunisation through jabs as the path to lifting lockdown.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Hancock said: ‘We can see the way out of this pandemic. We are nearly on the home straight. After months of detailed preparations, rigorous scientific scrutiny and an extraordinary amount of patience, we are rolling out two highly effective vaccines, with a third coming in spring and others progressing through clinical trials.
SAGE expert warns lifting lockdown restrictions in February would be a ‘disaster’
Removing coronavirus restrictions at the end of next month would be a ‘disaster’ and put ‘enormous pressure’ on the NHS, a leading epidemiologist has warned.
Professor John Edmunds, who works on the Government’s coronavirus response as part of the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there would be significant consequences to lifting current rules, even despite the success of the Covid vaccine programme so far.
A mass rollout for Britons in their 70s could begin as early as next week, after some 3.5 million jabs have already been administered across the country.
However, Professor Edmunds remains concerned, and said: ‘I think it would be a disaster if we removed restrictions in, say, the end of February when we have gone through this first wave of the vaccination.
‘First of all vaccines aren’t ever 100% protective, and so even those that have been vaccinated would be still at some risk.
‘Secondly, it is only a small fraction of the population who would have been vaccinated and if you look at the hospitalisations at the moment, about half of them are in the under 70s, and they are not in the first wave to be vaccinated.
‘If we relaxed our restrictions we would immediately put the NHS under enormous pressure again.’
‘We’re rolling it out to as many vulnerable people as possible and we expect tens of millions of people to be vaccinated by the spring.’
Ministers are urging the public to ‘play their part’ in supporting the vaccination programme, such as by helping the elderly attend their appointments.
The UK’s virus-fighting power was dealt another boost yesterday after the boss of a new state-of-the-art vaccine production factory said it was on standby to tackle any future variants and produce jabs at breakneck speed.
And in a triple lift for vaccination efforts, the Mail on Sunday revealed French drugs firm Valneva is just ‘days away’ from kick-starting manufacture of its jab on British soil – with the UK set to receive 60million doses.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News this morning, Mr Raab failed to guarantee that everyone will receive a second dose within the target 12 week window.
He said: ‘I think if we follow the road map and the supply chains that we have set out and that I have articulated along with the back-up that we have got because we have got the volume of doses, 360million, we have also got seven suppliers, we ought to be able to deliver on that.
‘But of course look, right the way through this pandemic we have had to adapt to all sorts of different things.
‘So we are just focused on making sure we deliver in the road map that we have got, we have got the distribution, the logistics in place, the NHS backed up by the armed forces have done an incredible job, local authorities have done an incredible job, now we have just got to deliver on that.’
Told that people might be concerned at his failure to guarantee a second dose within 12 weeks, Mr Raab said: ‘We absolutely are aiming for that, we should be able to deliver it and actually if you look at our track record which is what I think people ultimately judge us on, we are well out ahead of any other country in Europe, we are a global leader frankly in rolling out a responsible vaccine and I think we can be quietly confident.’
Mr Raab was asked whether reports of all UK adults being vaccinated by the end of June are realistic and he said: ‘Well look, we have got this three point roadmap to make sure that by February 15 we have got 15million people, the highest risk people, 88 per cent of those most at risk of dying as a result of coronavirus, we want them to get their first dose.
‘We then want to increase that by another 17million by the spring, that would take around 99 per cent of those most at risk would then have had their first dose.
‘Our target is by September to have offered all the adult population a first dose. If we can do it faster than that, great, but that is the road map.’
A Government source had told the Sunday Telegraph that ministers are hoping to have given a first dose to all UK adults by the end of June, telling the newspaper: ‘All over-18s by June – yes.’
However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We do not recognise the ‘internal target’ referenced. Our aim is to offer priority groups 1-4 their first jab by the 15th of February.
‘Through the UK vaccines delivery plan we are making fantastic progress rolling out jabs as quickly as possible to the most vulnerable.’