All UK adults to be offered first Covid vaccine dose by end of July

Announcement comes as UK’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 120,000

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he will speed up the UK’s vaccine campaign. Reuters
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he will speed up the UK’s vaccine campaign. Reuters

All adults in Britain will be offered a first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.

An announcement of a gradual reopening of the economy from lockdown is expected this week.

Mr Johnson will set out a plan to ease Englands third national lockdown on Monday, having met a target to vaccinate 15 million people in higher-risk categories in Britain by mid-February.

The UK now aims to give a first dose to all over-50s by April 15, the government said. It previously indicated it wished them to receive the shot by May.

If all adults receive a dose by the end of July, it will be well ahead of a previous target of autumn.

On Saturday, the UK reported its Covid-19 death toll – the fifth highest in the world – had reached 120,365 after another 465 people died within 28 days of a positive test.

A further 10,406 confirmed infections were reported, taking the UK total to 4,105,675.

As the chart below shows, daily infections have declined since the start of 2021.

The fall is gradual, though, and with both infection and death rates still uncomfortably high, Mr Johnson warned the public against complacency.

“We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us reach the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place,” he said.

“But there should be no doubt the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us.”

So far the UK has given a first dose of vaccine to 17.2 million people, more than a quarter of its 67 million population, behind only Israel and the UAE in vaccines per head of population.

Two vaccines – one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and another developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca – are being distributed and UK officials recommended a 12-week gap between doses.

This extended gap has been a bone of contention. On Monday, The National reported that concerns over the unsanctioned delay have led to a lower than expected take-up among healthcare professionals.

Their qualms may have been partially eased on Saturday by the results of a trial published in The Lancet which found that lengthening the delay between doses strengthened participants immune system responses.

Updated: February 21, 2021 04:36 PM


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