GP surgeries in England are set to begin administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as the UK faces a race to protect the population.
The mass vaccinate drive will take a considerable step forward as the NHS in England said the jab would be rolled out from GP surgeries from Thursday.
The development comes after the UK reported a further 1,041 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday – the highest daily reported total since April 21.
Record numbers are also currently in hospital with coronavirus, with a further 3,500 admitted in England on Monday January 4.
Boris Johnson, who was given the overwhelming backing of MPs for the latest lockdown, warned that there was now a race between the spread of the virus and the delivery of vaccines to the most vulnerable.
The House of Commons, recalled from its Christmas break to vote on the lockdown restrictions on Wednesday, voted with a 508 majority for the measures, which could be in place until the end of March.
“After the marathon of last year we are indeed now in a sprint, a race to vaccinate the vulnerable faster than the virus can reach them,” the Prime Minister told MPs.
“Every needle in every arm makes a difference.”
It is hoped that more than 700 sites will be delivering vaccines by the end of the week, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine easier to administer given it can be stored at fridge temperatures, unlike the Pfizer jab which requires storage at minus 70C.
Seven mass vaccination centres will open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi admitted the target of vaccinating around 14 million people in the highest priority groups – including the elderly, those with clinical needs, care home residents and staff as well as frontline NHS workers – by February 15 was “stretching”.
Some 1.3 million people have already received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the bid to increase the speed of inoculations will see the approval period needed for Covid vaccine batches slashed from 20 days to just four. Read from source….