UK speeding up virus shots: All done by July 31

AP
The British government announced today it aims to give every adult in the country a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by July 31, a month earlier than its previous target.
AP

The British government announced today it aims to give every adult in the country a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by July 31, a month earlier than its previous target.

The new target also aims for everyone over 50 or with an underlying health condition to get a vaccine shot by April 15, rather than the previous target of May 1.

The makers of the two vaccines that Britain is using, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have both experienced supply problems in Europe. But UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced the new targets, said “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign.

The early success of Britain’s vaccination campaign is welcome good news for a country that has had more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. More than 17.2 million people, almost a third of the country’s adults, have been given the first of two doses of vaccine since inoculations began on December 8.

Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first in order to give as many people as possible partial protection quickly. The approach has been criticized in some countries — and by Pfizer, which says it does not have any data to support the delay — but is backed by the UK government’s scientific advisers.

News of the new targets came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson met senior ministers yesterday to finalize a “road map” out of the national lockdown, a plan he is to announce today.

Faced with a dominant UK virus variant that scientists say is both more transmissible and more deadly, Britain has spent much of the winter under a tight lockdown. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and all nonessential shops have been closed while grocery stories, pharmacies and takeout food venues are still open.

The government has stressed that economic and social reopenings will be slow and cautious, with nonessential shopping or outdoor socializing unlikely before April.

From March 8, many children will return to school and nursing home residents will be able to have one visitor.

Johnson’s government has been accused of reopening the country too quickly after the first lockdown in the spring.

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