LONDON – The UK government plans to deliver a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September as the country’s healthcare system faces the worst crisis in its 72-year history.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday that the government would soon begin a round-the-clock injection trial in some locations as it continues to add new vaccination sites to increase the pace of deliveries. The National Health Service opened a mass vaccination center in historic Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday, where injections were accompanied by organ music.
“Our goal by September is to have offered the entire adult population a first dose,” he told Sky News. “If we can do it faster than that, great, but that’s the roadmap.”
Britain has over 51 million adults in its population of 67.5 million.
The ambitious immunization program comes amid overwhelming pressure on the National Health Service. Already under siege hospitals are admitting another COVID-19 patient every 30 seconds, putting the department in its most precarious situation ever, said Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England.
“The facts are very clear and I am not going to water them down, the hospitals are under extreme pressure and the staff are under extreme pressure,” he told the BBC. “Since Christmas Day we have seen a further increase of 15,000 inpatients in hospitals across England. That’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals with coronavirus patients. “
Britain’s healthcare system is astounding as doctors and nurses battle a more contagious variant of the coronavirus associated with a cold, wet winter that pushes people indoors, where infections spread more easily.
The surge in infections has pushed the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 to a record 37,475, more than 73% more than during the pandemic’s first peak in April. Britain has reported 88,747 coronavirus-related deaths, more than any other country in Europe and the fifth highest number in the world.
On January 2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England to proceed with its third nationwide lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, which Stevens says now has some 50,000 employees on hiatus work due to COVID-19 infections and exposure quarantines.
The government says it will not revise the lockdown measures until mid-February, when it plans to offer at least one dose of the vaccine to anyone over 70, as well as health workers in the area. frontline and other people particularly vulnerable to COVID. -19.
Once this is achieved, the UK will offer the vaccine to everyone over 50 before finally switching to everyone over 18.
Unlike other countries, Britain has chosen to lengthen the time between vaccine doses from 21 days to 12 weeks – a move that means more people will receive at least one dose sooner.
Britain has approved three vaccines – those from Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna. The first two are already in use, while Moderna doses are not expected until spring.
Meanwhile, vaccination centers are open in England at some of the country’s major cathedrals. Salisbury Cathedral, which also houses a copy of the Magna Carta, has opened its grand nave to the public. Others will follow as the deployment progresses.
Organ music was played while the jabs were delivered to Salisbury. The requests were taken.
“I doubt anyone will have a shot in a more beautiful environment than this, so I hope it relieves people when they enter the building,” said The Right Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury.