UK ramps up booster programme to combat Omicron

UK ramps up booster programme to combat Omicron
© PAUL GROVER Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vaccination centres would be ‘popping up like Christmas trees’

Britain on Tuesday set a two-month target to give booster jabs to all adults over 18, as it seeks to minimise the impact from the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vaccination centres would be “popping up like Christmas trees” to ensure third doses of vaccine go into arms before the end of January.

At least 400 military personnel would be drafted in to help the state-run National Health Service deliver the shots, he added.

The 57-year-old Johnson, who was last year treated in intensive care after contracting Covid, told a news conference he would get his booster on Thursday.

“What we’re doing is taking some proportionate precautionary measures while our scientists crack the Omicron code,” he added.

“We’ve done it before and we’re going to do it again. Let’s not give this virus a second chance.”

Britain has been one of the worst affected by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with some 145,000 deaths since last year.

Daily infection rates remain high although more than 80 percent of those aged 12 and over have been double jabbed, and nearly a third have so far had a booster.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said 13 cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in England with nine confirmed cases in Scotland.

“We expect to see these numbers rising over the next few days,” he told reporters.

Johnson, criticised for an initially lax response when the pandemic began in 2020, has moved to reintroduce compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport in England.

Testing has also been ramped up for all travellers, and a flight ban introduced for 10 southern African countries, including South Africa where the strain was first detected.

Similar measures have been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Johnson accepted public frustration at the emergence of the new, potentially more transmissible variant, after three national lockdowns stretched public patience and compliance.

But he said Britain, with its vaccination programme and the expected arrival of new anti-virals to treat the disease, was in a better place than last year.


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