Rising Covid-19 case rates in Blackburn with Darwen are unlikely to lead to increased deaths and hospital admissions – but the situation will be monitored daily with “close scrutiny”, says the borough’s health chief.

Seven people are currently in hospital in East Lancashire with a coronavirus diagnosis out of a population of 555,000, said Professor Dominic Harrison.

He said that a number of those seven treated within East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust were eligible for a vaccination but had not taken it up, others had one dose, one person had more than one jab and one patient was of school age.

On Monday, surge vaccinations got under way in Blackburn with Darwen as people flocked to get their jabs.

Additional supplies of more than 1,000 Pfizer vaccines per day for the next fortnight have been made available for the borough, which currently has the third highest Covid-19 rate in the UK – behind Bolton and Bedford.

Speaking about the latest hospital admissions, Prof Harrison said: “The numbers on a local level are far too small to draw any conclusions about the likely increased or decreased risk of hospitalisation following vaccination because of the Indian variant. What we need is more numbers, we need that analysis to be done nationally which is being done. So we are going to monitor that daily.

“The advice broadly is the same. We want everybody to get vaccinated, everybody to test regularly and everybody to engage with the existing lockdown lifting regulations and to stick very strictly to the guidance that’s already out there. Those three legs of the programme will continue over the next two weeks.

“We have permission from the Government to increase the vaccination uptake and supply over the next two weeks and we will be reviewing the case rates and hospitalisation rates every day.”

Blackburn with Darwen’s director of public health added: “I think we are in a different situation now to rising case rates than for instance last summer. Rising case rates are unlikely to translate into increased hospitalisations and deaths at this point even with the Indian variant, although of course as I have said we are going to keep that under very close scrutiny day by day.

“Therefore if we do get higher rates the risk across the community versus the risk of lockdown is a very different equation to calculate. Where we think we need to go is to rule out lockdowns unless there is absolute and unequivocal evidence of a risk to the NHS being overwhelmed by increased cases, and to learn how to manage variants because of course we have an Indian variant now but it’s highly likely over the next 12 months the UK will see a number of variants come in.

“We look forward to working with the Government in a range of options for increased control measures that will reduce the risk of transmission but that will not cause economic, social or mental health damage to the population.”

Appointments were filled throughout the day at the Everest Pharmacy in Darwen, with five other similar vaccination centres opening from Tuesday.

Norte Zavvar, 35, from Bolton -, a volunteer Covid marshal at the pharmacy, said: “People really want to have this jab, I have seen so many people coming today and I reckon at the end of the day we will have vaccinated at least 1,000 people.

“It’s obvious that the fear people have from this virus – it really made them move and come out and get the vaccine done.”