UK has 39 days to vaccinate 14 million, top doc says ‘huge acceleration’ needed

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The UK has just 39 days to vaccinate 14 million people in a "race against time" as a top NHS doctor warns a "huge acceleration" is needed.

Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, says the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is growing "very, very rapidly".

In a Downing Street briefing broadcast live on Thursday evening, the Prime Minister gave an update on the UK's coronavirus vaccination programme.

Nearly 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against coronavirus in the UK, Boris Johnson said, including 1.26 million in England.

He said the Government was "throwing everything at it around the clock" and is working with the Army to ensure the vaccines are delivered efficiently around the country.

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He also promised no Brit will need to travel more than 10 miles to reach a vaccination site, and said every elderly care home resident will be offered a vaccine by the end of January.

Johnson spoke soon after the Government released its daily death toll which was 1,162 — over 100 more than the previous day, which itself set a grim new record.

Almost 1.5 million Brits have received a vaccine so far, with GPs currently rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab in addition to the Pfizer-Moderna.

This week Johnson said the almost 15 million people who make up the four top priority groups in the UK will be vaccinated by February 15, according to government targets.

"By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation," he said on Monday.

These groups include care home residents and workers, everyone over 70 and people deemed "extremely clinically vulnerable" to Covid-19.

Stevens said if the top four priority groups are vaccinated, it should prevent the vast majority of Covid-related deaths but the target is challenging with just 39 days to go.

Vaccine supplies must be expanded in order to hit the target, he said.

British hospitals are now seeing 50 percent more coronavirus inpatients than at the peak of the first wave back in April.

There are currently enough vaccines in the UK for all 15 million people to receive a jab, but they are not all yet in a state for the NHS to administer it due to safety check requirements.

Seven "giant" mass vaccination centres are expected to open in the coming week.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at room temperature, is now being rolled out in care homes.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Coronavirus

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