More than 17.5 million people, a third of the UK’s adults, have received at least one vaccine since vaccinations began in December.
The UK government has stated that every adult in the country should receive a first coronavirus vaccine by July 31, at least a month earlier than the previous target, as it prepares to adopt a “cautious” plan to facilitate lockdown United Kingdom.
The previous goal was for all adults to have a sting by September. The new goal also calls for everyone over the age of 50 and those with an underlying health condition to get their first of two vaccinations by April 15, rather than the previous May 1 date.
The manufacturers of the two vaccines used by the UK, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have supply problems in Europe. But UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that “we now think we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign.
The early success of the UK vaccination effort is welcome news for a country with more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe. More than 17.5 million people, a third of the UK’s adults, have received at least one vaccine since vaccinations began on December 8th.
The UK is delaying delivery of the second dose of vaccine until 12 weeks after the first [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]The UK is delaying delivery of the second dose of vaccine up to 12 weeks after the first, instead of three to four weeks, in order to provide partial protection to more people quickly. The approach has been criticized in a number of countries – and Pfizer claims they have no data to support the interval – but is backed by the UK government’s scientific advisors.
Despite the success of Europe’s fastest vaccination campaign, the UK government has been accused of failing to protect disabled people, who are most at risk of coronavirus.
The National Statistics Office found that 60 percent of people who died of coronavirus in England in 2020 had a physical or mental disability. But many disabled people, apart from people with “severe or profound” learning disabilities, were not placed in a priority group for vaccination.
The news of the new vaccination targets came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with senior ministers on Sunday to create a “roadmap” out of the national lockdown. He plans to announce details in parliament on Monday.
Faced with a dominant variant of the virus that scientists say is more transmissible than the original virus, the UK has spent much of the winter in severe conditions. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and all non-essential businesses have closed. Grocery stores, pharmacies and takeaways are still open.
The government has stressed that economic and social reopenings will be slow and cautious, with minor shopping or outdoor socializing unlikely before April. Many children will be back to school from March 8th and nursing home residents will be able to have a visitor from the same date.
Johnson’s Conservative government has been accused of reopening the country too quickly after the first lockdown last year. The number of newly confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths fell but remained high in February, and Johnson says his reopening roadmap will follow “data, not data”.
However, he is under pressure from some Conservative MPs who argue that restrictions should be lifted quickly to revitalize an economy that suffered three lockdowns in the past year.