Coronavirus: target reached in UK, more than 15 million people vaccinated

Phil Noble / Reuters

Boris Johnson visiting a coronavirus vaccination center in Derby on February 8, 2021.

INTERNATIONAL – The UK has passed the 15 million coronavirus-vaccinated mark, meeting the government’s target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable categories of people by mid-February, Boris Johnson and his colleagues said. ministers Sunday.

“Today we have reached a milestone in the UK’s national immunization program,” the UK Prime Minister tweeted. “FANTASTIC NEWS: more than 15 MILLION people have now received their first vaccine against Covid”, greeted on Twitter his Minister of Health Matt Hancock.

Criticized many times for his slowness and hesitation, Boris Johnson thus manages to meet the ambitious objective of offering a vaccine to the four priority categories by this date. They bring together people over 70, front-line caregivers, nursing home employees and residents and the most vulnerable patients, i.e. around 15 million people out of a total population of 66 million.

For comparison, France (whose vaccination strategy differs and which began its campaign later) had carried out 2.88 million vaccinations as of February 13, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.

Towards an exit from confinement

This good news comes one week before the announcement, expected on February 22, of his government’s “roadmap” to gradually consider the release of confinement – the third in the United Kingdom – introduced since the beginning of the year facing a more contagious variant, which led to an explosion of the epidemic.

The government hopes to be able to reopen schools from March 8 and relax some of the restrictions, to allow meetings between two people from different homes outdoors.

The hardest hit country in Europe with 117,000 dead, the United Kingdom is starting on Monday a new stage of its vaccination campaign, which will extend to people aged 65 to 69.

The government intends to have vaccinated the entire adult population by September, but Boris Johnson has already warned that a new campaign could be necessary in the fall, especially in the face of new variants.

Against the importation of these new variants, from this Monday, February 15, the mandatory hotel quarantine system will enter into force for British or Irish residents arriving from 33 countries at risk, from which arrivals for non- residents are prohibited.

Responsiveness and mobilization

To achieve such a result, the United Kingdom was initially very responsive. From the beginning of January 2020, when the new coronavirus had only just been identified in China from where it began to spread, the team of researcher Sarah Gilbert at the University of Oxford thus conceived in a few days a first vaccine, which will become the one produced by the AstraZeneca laboratory, now at the heart of the British vaccination campaign.

The next steps kick in very quickly. In the spring, a partnership was signed with AstraZeneca and clinical trials were launched. Quickly, Boris Johnson’s government released tens of millions of pounds to support research. The executive also set up a working group in May to secure the country’s supplies. At the head of this “taskforce”, Kate Bingham, a biochemist who specializes in venture capital and investments in the health sector, and therefore in financial and scientific betting.

The United Kingdom is also the first Western country to have approved a vaccine, Pfizer / BioNTech, as of December 2, 2020, thanks to an ongoing review of the data provided by the laboratory over the trials, as part of a authorization for emergency use. He proceeds in the same way when he becomes the first in the world to give the green light, at the end of December, to the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, deployed from the beginning of January.

Very quickly, once the vaccines were approved, more than a thousand vaccination centers were set up, in hospitals in particular. Important centers, in stadiums, museums, even cathedrals, were set up with the support of the army: it was the largest logistical operation since the Second World War. And to support the caregivers, an army of volunteers was mobilized to administer the vaccine.

See also on The HuffPost: This deputy wants a “health passport” to boost tourism


Source: Le Huffington Post by www.huffingtonpost.fr.

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