LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is set to immunize its most vulnerable people against COVID-19 by mid-February and offer a shot to every adult by the fall, with about 2 million people already receiving the first dose, its health secretary said. Sunday.
Britain is battling rising infections, but is pinning its hopes on a swift immunization so that life can begin to return to some degree of normalcy by spring.
Hancock said about 2 million people have already received their first shot from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We have now vaccinated about a third of everyone over 80, so we are (making) very, very good progress,” he said.
In order for the government to meet its goal of vaccinating more than 14 million people by mid-February, including those in their 70s, the clinically vulnerable – the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions – and health and social workers, it must provide 2 million photos of week.
The current rate is about 200,000 a day, Hancock said.
Seven mass vaccination centers will open this week, complementing nearly 1,000 doctors and hospitals offering photos. Hancock said every adult would be offered a vaccine by the fall.
Queen Elizabeth and her husband Philip, both ninety years old, have been vaccinated, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday.
A highly transmissible new variant of the virus is growing around Britain, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a third national blockade in England to try to stop the pandemic before the most vulnerable are immunized. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures.
More than 80,000 people in the UK died within 28 days of receiving a positive test for COVID-19, the fifth highest official death toll worldwide, and more than 3 million people tested positive.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said on Sunday that the national health service in some parts of the country was facing “the most difficult situation anyone can remember”.
Hancock did not rule out a stricter blockade, saying he would “not speculate” on further restrictions, although he added that the “vast majority” of people were following the rules.
Edited by Mark Heinrich and Francis Carey