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China Daily Global / 2021-01 / 14 / Page006

UK aims to jab 15m within a month

By ANGUS MCNEICE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-01-14 00:00

The United Kingdom has announced plans to vaccinate "tens of millions of people by spring" as part of the largest immunization program in British history.

The government published details for its COVID-19 vaccination plan this week, announcing that the UK will expand capacity to 2 million jabs per week over the course of this month.

The UK aims to have vaccinated around 15 million people by Feb 15, including all those over aged 70 and over, National Health Service and care workers, and the clinically vulnerable.

No person will have to travel further than 16 kilometers to a vaccine site, the government pledged. Mobile teams of health workers will be dispatched to reach those living in remote areas.

Seven vaccination centers opened in the UK this week. The government intends to open an additional 50 before the end of the month, along with 1,200 local vaccine sites that will support over 200 active hospital sites.

"Our UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks," said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against COVID-19."

The three COVID-19 inoculations authorized for use in the UK-which include the Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford vaccines-require two doses.

As of Sunday, 1.96 million first doses and 375,000 second doses had been administered across England, according to the NHS.

Hancock told Sky News that supply is the main limiting factor in ramping up vaccine coverage, which at present is running at a rate of around 200,000 treatments per day.

The UK was the first European nation to approve the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, and has become a front-runner in the region in terms of vaccine coverage.

The UK's vaccination plan comes during a nationwide lockdown, after a new, more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus contributed to a severe spike in infections.

As Europe is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in other countries in the region with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Since Dec 27 when France launched its vaccination campaign, nearly 190,000 people have gotten their first dose, with more than 51,000 inoculated on Tuesday. That represents 0.28 percent of the country's population, far below the rate of 60 percent that experts say is needed to reach collective immunity.

In Switzerland, the government approved the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, making it the second shot after Pfizer and BioNTech's to be approved in the country and clearing the way to get up to 1.5 million doses from the firms through February.

The country, which has been vaccinating with Pfizer-BioNTech shots since before Christmas, this week canceled the famed Lauberhorn World Cup ski race due to COVID-19 fears.

About 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide with 63 of them in clinical trials, said information released by WHO on Tuesday.

Xinhua and agencies contributed to this story.




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