LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that Britain was “a race against time” to roll out Kovid-19 vaccines as the deaths reached record highs and hospitals ran out of oxygen, and their top The medical adviser said the worst weeks of the epidemic were imminent.
A new, more infectious change of the disease is now taking place through the population, with one in 20 people now infected in parts of London, threatening the National Health Service (NHS) as hospitals are filled with patients.
The death toll has risen in the United Kingdom and now exceeds 81,000 – the world’s fifth highest official toll – while more than three million people have tested positive.
To get to the top of the epidemic and try to restore some degree of normality by spring, Britain is rolling out its largest vaccination program, with shots to be offered to around 15 million people by the middle of next month.
Johnson said, “This is a race against time because we can all see the danger that our NHS is facing, that is pressure, demand in intensive care units, pressure on ventilated beds, even some There is also a lack of oxygen at places. ” A visit to an immunization center in Bristol in southwest England.
“This is a very dangerous moment. The worst thing for us is to allow success in starting a vaccine program to create any kind of complacency about the state of the epidemic. “
The government’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty previously said the situation is set to deteriorate.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this epidemic in terms of numbers in the NHS,” he told BBC TV.
“Anyone who is not surprised by the number of people in the hospital who are currently seriously ill and who are dying during this epidemic, I think, has not understood it at all. It is a terrible situation, ”he told BBC TV.
Health Minister Matt Hancock said the hospital now had more than 32,000 COVID-19 patients, with about 18,000 hospitalized during the first wave of epidemics in April.
Johnson’s government is raising hopes of a major vaccination program after Britain became the first country to approve vaccines developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer / BioNotech. It also approved Modern’s shot last Friday.
Its plan, announced on Monday, envisages giving two million shots at around 2,700 centers a week in England by the end of January, aimed at vaccinating millions by spring and all adults by autumn. A vaccine is offered.
Data from the first daily vaccination showed that approximately 2.3 million people had received their first dose of a COVID vaccine so far, and about 400,000 had received their second dose.
Johnson said the UK had received the vaccine more than any other European country, but acknowledged that vaccinating 15 million people, including more than 70 and frontline health workers, at the four highest risk levels, 15 February Was “a very big question”. .
“We believe it’s achievable, we’re throwing absolutely everything to get it,” he said.
Opposition Labor leader Care Starr, who accused Johnson of going slow to respond to the epidemic, said the Prime Minister’s indecision ruined lives and worsened economic impact
Ministers and health chiefs have appealed for people to stay home with the UK, amid fears that some people are not strictly following the rules, along with concerns that the virus is spreading in supermarkets.
Hancock said support bubbles, where families can “bubble” with each other if they are single-person or fit other criteria, will be retained, but rules prohibit exercising with anyone else can be done.
“Where we have to tighten them, we will,” Johnson said of the rules.
Additional reporting by Gai Foulkenbridge, Kate Holton, William Schomberg, Paul Sandals, Alistair Smout and James Davey; Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Estelle Shirbon, Guy Foulkbridge, Angus McSwan and Gareth Jones