Connect with us

World News

UK speeds up vaccine roll-out with lockdown easing in sight | Coronavirus pandemic News

Published

on

More than 17.5 million people, a third of UK adults, have had at least one vaccine shot since inoculations began in December.

The British government has declared that every adult in the country should get a first coronavirus vaccine shot by July 31, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as it prepared to set out a “cautious” plan to ease the United Kingdom’s lockdown.

The previous aim was for all adults to get a jab by September. The new target also calls for everyone 50 and above and those with an underlying health condition to get their first of two vaccine shots by April 15, rather than the previous date of May 1.

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

The early success of Britain’s vaccination effort is welcome news for a country that has had more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe. More than 17.5 million people, a third of UK adults, have had at least one vaccine shot since inoculations began on December 8.

Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first, rather than three to four weeks, in order to give more people partial protection quickly. The approach has been criticised in some countries – and by Pfizer, which says it does not have any data to support the interval – but it is backed by the UK government’s scientific advisers.

Despite the success of Europe’s fastest vaccination campaign, the UK government has been accused of failing to protect disabled people, who are among the most at-risk from coronavirus.

The Office for National Statistics has found that 60 percent of people who died of coronavirus in England in 2020 had a physical or mental disability. But many disabled people, apart from those with “severe or profound” learning disabilities, have not been put in a priority group for vaccination.

Road map to reopening

News of the new vaccine targets came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson met on Sunday with senior ministers to finalise a “road map” out of the national lockdown. He plans to announce details in Parliament on Monday.

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

The government has stressed that economic and social reopenings will be slow and cautious, with nonessential shopping or outdoor socialising unlikely before April. Many children will go back to schools beginning on March 8 and nursing home residents will be able to have one visitor from the same date.

Johnson’s Conservative government has been accused of reopening the country too quickly after the first lockdown last year. The number of new confirmed cases, hospitalisations and deaths are all declining in February but remain high, and Johnson says his reopening road map will follow “data, not dates”.

But he is under pressure from some Conservative MPs, who argue that restrictions should be lifted quickly to revive an economy that has been hammered by three lockdowns in the last year.



Source link

Continue Reading
Comments

World News

US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

Published

on

But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Top Stories