UK: Doubts over Johnson pledge to complete booster jabs by January
By Hamed Chapman and Ahmed J Versi
London (The Muslim News): Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pledged Tuesday that all adults in the UK will be able to book their Covid-19 booster jabs within two months despite concern that the country may not have the infrastructure nor enough vaccine supplies.
“The target we have set out ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January. And as with the first jabs, we’ll be working through people by age group, going down in five-year age bands, because it’s vital that the older and more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first, Johnson said.
“There’ll be temporary vaccination centres popping up like Christmas trees and we will deploy at least 400 military personnel to assist the efforts of our NHS, alongside volunteers,” he insisted.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, he also specified that sites will increase their capacity, extra hospital hubs set up on top of exiting ones and be more than 1,500 community pharmacy sites vaccinating people in England alone.
Hopes are to reach the height of the rollout last spring, when the number of jabs administered reached 3.5 million a week that have since been scaled back, but according to Emily Morgan from ITV, even with that number it would take until mid-February to get through all of those eligible.
When challenged at the press conference about whether the NHS would be able to cope with delivering the expanded booster programme, the Chief Executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, said she has “absolutely no doubt” the service will continue to do an “incredible job”.
“Thanks to our outstanding vaccination taskforce that I am reassured we absolutely do have the vaccinations we need,” Pritchard also said when questioned about whether there were enough supplies.
At an earlier lobby briefing, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson was also asked how can the Government be able to fulfil its promise to give booster vaccinations when many of the vaccination hubs The Muslim News contacted said there was shortage of vaccination and they have not been able to get new supply.
“I can categorically assure you there are no shortages of vaccinations. The UK has a diverse range of vaccinations available. We have sufficient supply,” the Spokesman replied.
When further challenged that there was shortage of Pfizer vaccinations and the new stock will arrive in January, he again repeated, “There is no shortages of any sort of vaccinations.”
Johnson is currently using concern the Government is raising about the new Omicron variant identified in South Africa to put the vaccine programme back at the forefront of its policy.
Meanwhile, Dutch authorities said on Tuesday that they found Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country ten days ago.
“We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on November 19 and 23,” the health ministry said.
“It is not yet clear whether the people concerned [in the earlier cases] have also been to southern Africa,” the RIVM Health Institute said.
[Photo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs Covid-19 press conference at No9 Downing Street on the Omicron coronavirus variant with the Health Secretary Sajid Javid on 30 November. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street]
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