The Covid Delta variant will 'hunt down' people who remain unvaccinated, Downing Street has been warned by its scientific advisers.
No 10 has been told that 'such is the nature' of the more transmissible variant that it is 'almost inevitable' it will eventually infect anyone who has not received both jabs.
The development comes as former Health Secretary Matt Hancock today makes his first intervention in the media since resigning from the Cabinet earlier this year.
Writing in today's Mail on Sunday, Mr Hancock hails the fact that more than four out of five over-16s have now had both doses of a vaccine but fiercely criticises anti-vax campaigners.
'Unbelievably, there is still a persistent yet thankfully small and shrinking group of people determined to try to stop this progress,' he writes. 'In all my time in public life, I have never come across a group so blinkered and dangerous as the anti-vaxxers.'
As it was revealed last night that two of the professional dancers on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing have refused to be vaccinated, he writes: 'I applaud those who have come forward to get their jab in a very public way. Whether Sir Elton John, David Walliams or Gareth Southgate, so many celebrities have stood up to help in our national effort… For every hesitant person who has been taken in by the lies of the anti-vaxxers, far more have been persuaded by the clear, objective facts published by the medics.'
Officials at the Department of Health yesterday said they expected that the proportion of over-16s to have at least one dose of a vaccine to pass 90 per cent by the end of the week. It stands at 89.3 per cent (48.5 million) with 81.6 per cent (44.4 million) fully jabbed.
In other developments:
Speaking about the risk of the Delta – or Indian – variant to the unvaccinated, a Government source said: 'The nature of this virus is such that if it carries on evolving and adapting in this way, it is almost inevitable that someone who has not had the jabs will eventually be infected.'
The rollout of inoculations for children aged 12 to 15 is due to begin on Wednesday despite the reservations of some scientists.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said scientists did not have the 'luxury' of time to research the possible risks.