The Duke of Cambridge has revealed that the Duke of Edinburgh is doing well and that doctors are “keeping an eye on him”.
The Duke was asked how his grandfather was doing during a visit to the Kings Lynn Corn Exchange Vaccination Centre, his first public engagement since before Christmas.
The Duke, 99, remains under observation at King Edward VII hospital in London, where he was admitted on Tuesday evening.
Asked how his grandfather was getting on, Prince William gave a reassuring wink as he replied: “Yes, he’s OK, they’re keeping an eye on him.”
The Duke broke off from homeschooling to spend around half an hour at the vaccination centre, which is around ten miles from his Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, where the Cambridges have been living during the current lockdown.
The centre, which is run by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and opened on February 1, is vaccinating between 350 - 500 people a day.
The Duke, who contacted the virus himself last April and was “very ill," arrived shortly before 11am and was ushered through the centre, stopping to speak to staff and volunteers at each stage of the process.
He asked v accinator Debbie Rudd, 50, whether the patients were nervous, adding: “I’d be at the front of the queue if I could, just to prove that it’s OK, but I have to wait my turn. ”
The Duke also hailed new research suggesting that the vaccines are reducing hospital admissions by up to 95 per cent: “The studies that have come out today talk about 90 to 95 per cent don’t they?”, he said.
“That’s pretty good isn’t it? We are a little bit sceptical at times but it’s good news.”
As he made his way around the centre, the Duke showed particular interest in the process of drawing up the vaccine, asking nurse Margot Smith, 52, how it was done and noting that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was easier to store than the Pfizer drug.
Ms Smith showed him how she drew 0.5ml of the drug into a vial then transferred it into a syringe.
“How many doses are in a vial?” he asked, adding: “You get through a lot of needles I imagine.”
When told Ms Smith was a school immuniser, he added: “You're probably very used to this work, and on this scale - just getting the job done.”
He asked if schools were now getting behind with their own vaccination programmes, adding: “Will you have to play catch up on that as well?”
“There’s nothing like a challenge. Honestly, you guys have overcome every challenge that’s been thrown at you. Brilliant work.”
The Duke also sat down and chatted to Sandra Lacock, another school immuniser, who was assessing the patients before they moved on to have the jab.
He asked Ms Lacock what kind of questions she had to ask and if there was anything, such as allergies, she had to look out for.
“Is it the Pfizer vaccine or AstraZeneca you’re giving out?" he asked, before being told that it was the AstraZeneca drug.”
As they chatted, he said: “I’ve heard the flu strains have completely died down? It just shows what a bit of social distancing can do.”
On arrival, the Duke made a beeline for patient Geoff Smyth, 66, from Hunstanton, who was waiting his turn for the jab.
“Are you going to go next?” he asked, taking a seat.
“I bet you just want to get it done.”
He asked Mr Smyth how he had been keeping through lockdown and whether he had managed to keep himself busy.
“It’s all a bit weird though, isn’t it?” he admitted. "A bit odd."
Ms Rudd, who normally works in a sexual health centre, told the Duke she had never vaccinated before but that it had been “lovely meeting so many people.”
The Duke said: “I guess in some cases you’re their first port of call. Do you know how many jabs you’ve done yourself? Too many to count!"
He added: “I thought it was half the needle (that is injected) but it’s actually much smaller.
“Well done you guys, you’re amazing. You are motoring through.”
Finally, the Duke met volunteers Fliss and Stewart Davidson, a couple from Downham Market who run an event photography business, now on hold due to the pandemic.
Mrs Davidson, 54, said: “We’ve been volunteering for around a month. We love it. We’re really enjoying doing it and we’re glad to be able to help out.
“The atmosphere is so positive, it’s all smiles and laughter and goodwill.”
The Duke asked how many days they had been working at the centre, adding: “It’s amazing how adaptable we can be when we need to be.
“It’s made us reassess our priorities. When the chips are down..”
He noted that people who had been stuck at home must be “desperate” just to see someone.
Matthew Winn, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said afterwards: “The Duke was intrigued about the whole process, how it had all come about, how we were managing to use the Corn Exchange to do the work.
“He wanted to know what our team were doing, the breadth of work really.
“He was just delighted to have people’s thoughts about what it’s been like in lockdown. He was very engaged with what they were doing.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, in the carpark, supporting people, bringing them through. We need the NHS staff to be doing the actual vaccinations and assessments so it’s a real team effort.
“It’s a real mixture of people coming together for the common good. ”