Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with a vial of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine during a visit to a coronavirus vaccination hub at the Health and Well-being Centre in Orpington, southeast London Photograph:( AFP )
If all adults receive a dose by the end of July, UK will be well ahead of a previous target that they would receive a vaccine by autumn
UK PM Boris Johnson said on Saturday that Britain planned to offer first shot of coronavirus vaccine to all adults by end of July. His comments came ahead of a planned announcement on cautious reopening of the economy. Johnson will set out a roadmap to ease England's third national lockdown on Monday, having met a target to vaccinate 15 million Britons from higher-risk categories by mid-February.
Britain aims now to give first dose of the vaccine to all adults aged 50 and above by April 15. The government had previously said that it planned to achieve this by May.
If all adults receive a dose by the end of July, it will be well ahead of a previous target that they would receive a vaccine by autumn.
UK has suffered fifth-highest COVID death toll in the world. Johnson's government has moved faster than much of the West to secure vaccine supplies, giving it a head start.
Johnson advised against complacency.
"We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place," Johnson said in a statement.
"But there should be no doubt - the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us."
So far, he United Kingdom has given the first dose of vaccine to 17.2 million people, over a quarter of its 67 million population and behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates in vaccines per head of population.
Two vaccines - one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and another developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca - are being rolled out, and UK officials have advised that there can be a 12 week gap between doses.
(With Reuters inputs)