British students are returning to school on March 8 as part of a “cautious” reopening plan
The UK government said on Sunday that every adult in the country should get a premiereVaccine shot down by July 31, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as he prepared to put in place a “cautious” plan to facilitate the lockdown of the UK.
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, both had 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’s vaccination effort is welcome good 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 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 some countries – and by Pfizer, who does not provide data in support of the interval – but is supported by the UK government’s scientific advisers.
News about the new vaccine goals came asmet with senior ministers on Sunday to finalize a “roadmap” for the national lockdown. He plans to announce details in parliament on Monday.
Faced with a dominant variant of the virus that scientists say is both transmissible and more deadly than the original virus, Britain has spent much of the winter under tight control. 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 in the spring. Newly confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths fell but remained high in February, and Johnson says his “data, no data” reopening roadmap will follow.
However, he is under pressure from some conservative lawmakers who argue that restrictions should be lifted quickly in order to revive an economy that suffered three lockdowns in the past year.
John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, said UK hospitals are still treating nearly 20,000 coronavirus patients, half of the January high but almost as high as the peak of the first surge last spring.
“If we let up very quickly now, hospital stays would increase again,” and deaths, he told the BBC.
Edmunds said there is additional uncertainty from new virus variants, including one identified in South Africa, that may be more resistant to current vaccines.
Hancock told Sky News that the government would take a “cautious but irreversible approach” to reopening the economy.
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% of the 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.
Jo Whiley, a well-known BBC radio DJ, highlighted the plight of her 53-year-old sister Frances, who has a learning disability, on Sunday. Whiley said her sister contracted the coronavirus in an outbreak at her nursing home whose residents had not been vaccinated.
While she said her sister was finally offered a vaccine – but it was too late.
“She was actually called last night about her vaccine. My mother got the message that she could be vaccinated, but it’s too late, she is fighting for her life,” Whiley told the BBC at the hospital. “It couldn’t be more cruel.”