Boris Johnson insists Northamptonshire's Covid hotspots will not delay his roadmap out of lockdown.
Infection rates in Corby are already FOUR TIMES the UK average and EIGHT TIMES those in Daventry and South Northamptonshire on the other side of the county.
That prompted fears among local public health chiefs that restrictions will not be lifted in the county when non-essential shops are due to reopen next month.
But the Prime Minister appeared to ease those concerns, saying: “As things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our road map to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.”
Mr Johnson acknowledged cases could spiral even more as restrictions are relaxed from today with outdoor meetings allowed across England.
But he told the weekend's Conservatives’ virtual spring forum his "hunch" is that will not lead to more pressure on the NHS thanks to the successful vaccination roll-out.
More than 300,000 people in Northamptonshire received a first dose of vaccine by March 21 — around 52 per cent of everybody due to get one by July, according to the latest NHS England figures.
But around a third of those in the last of the most vulnerable groups, those aged between 50 and 60, had not reveived their initial dose.
Bosses at Northamptonshire's Vaccination Programme say appointments are still available for those in the top priority groups who have yet to receive a first jab and can be booked via the NHS websitE HERE or by calling 119 or your GP.
But they will focus on giving second doses during the next four weeks following NHS warnings that supplies of the vaccine expected to be in shorter supply.
Around seven in ten over-50s in Corby have had a first jab — compared to 97 per cent in neighbouring East Northamptonshire.
Between 77 and 83 per cent of over-50s have been jabbed in Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering, South Northamptonshire and Daventry,
Cases in Corby made up nearly a third of all those in Northamptonshire during the last week even though the borough has less than ten per cent of the population.
The borough saw 90 positive tests in the week up to March 6. That rose to 166 over the last seven days, according to figures published daily on the Government data dashboard.
Mr Johnson admitted Europe is already seeing a 'third wave' of the pandemic parts of Europe and “bitter experience” has taught him the UK could see a similar surge in cases “three weeks later”.
He added: “The question is – is it going to be, this time, as bad it has been in the past? Or have we sufficiently mitigated, muffled, blunted the impact by the vaccine rollout?
“There’s lots of promising evidence that a lot of people who could be vulnerable are now protected against death and serious disease. That’s my hope, my hunch."