The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, will confirm on Tuesday the start of the plan to administer a booster dose against COVID-19 to those over 50, after government scientists finally approved vaccines for those under between 12 and 15 years.
The G7 has donated less than 15% of promised COVID vaccines
Johnson has decided to accelerate the vaccination program ahead of what government officials believe will be a difficult second winter to deal with the virus. The prime minister will also voice his opposition to any new lockdowns this year.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Johnson will highlight the need to keep some measures in reserve, which could include a return to mandatory use of masks in some settings, asking people to work from home when possible and reintroducing of social distancing across England.
However, the vaccination program will be at the center of its strategy to try to keep COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths at manageable levels during the colder months, when people are more likely to gather indoors and in the period. before Christmas.
However, plans to offer vaccines to children between 12 and 15 years approved this Monday by the four UK medical chiefs immediately provoked concern from the education unions, who have warned that schools were being put in an “unpleasant” position. They ask the government secretaries to confirm that the program will be supervised by specialists so that teachers are not involved in questions of consent or have to deal with the reaction of anti-vaccine groups.
A body of the National Health Service in England (NHS) has told schools that it expects the first injections to be given in six weeks.
It is essential that the government immediately confirm that the process surrounding vaccines will be directed and monitored in its entirety by the appropriate medical teams, “says Paul Whiteman, secretary general of the National Association of College Heads.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) is thought to have approved boosters to be given to all people over 50 and those clinically vulnerable, fearing that immunity will decline.
The rollout is expected to take the same form as the first phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which began in December 2020, prioritizing older people before offering injections to younger age groups.
Health Minister Sajid Javid will speak in the House of Commons and confirm the measure and Johnson will respond to questions from the media at a press conference in the late afternoon.
“The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our great vaccine program, new treatments, and testing, we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms,” Johnson will say. “Today I will lay out a clear plan for fall and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the progress we have made.”
Although it is expected to relinquish some of the emergency powers for COVID-19, the Government will continue to maintain the ability to impose lockdown and tell people who test positive to self-quarantine.
No to vaccination passports
And despite announcing over the summer that vaccination passports would be required to enter nightclubs and other crowded venues, Johnson is also expected to confirm what Javid said Sunday: the controversial documents will not be implemented on the 1st. October. However, the policy will be kept in reserve, to the frustration of dozens of Tory deputies, who were preparing to vote against that measure to end it.
Many privately thought that the chances of passing legislation to introduce vaccine passports were slim, given the high level of opposition among Johnson’s own MPs, and they have told The Guardian that the government should rule out its implementation entirely. “The very concept of vaccine passports should be discarded forever, as they are fundamentally anti-conservative, discriminatory and would lead to a two-tier society that I’m sure no one wants to see,” says one of them.
Johnson’s “winter plan” will prepare people for what Labor has warned could be “the worst winter on record” for the NHS as the double burden of COVID-19 and flu is expected put even more strain on the healthcare system.
A government source says that to avoid another lockdown the prime minister would announce the possible return of “the kinds of interventions we have seen before.” “You just have to choose in what combination and at what level of cases, deaths and hospitalizations could be triggered.”
The third dose debate
The decision on booster doses has become one of the most lengthy and complex issues that the JCVI has addressed during the pandemic, with significant debate over whether any additional immunity granted by massive third doses brings a net benefit to public health. , taking into account the resources involved and the potential impact in areas such as other vaccination programs.
On Thursday last week, the committee held a meeting on the issue that lasted more than four hours, and its members received strict warnings not to speak to the media.
While the JCVI was deciding, implicit pressure from the Government was mounting to agree to a generalized reinforcement program, ordering the NHS to prepare for immediate deployment once the agreement was reached.
Some politicians and scientists, such as Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, have also stressed that it would be unfair for the UK to roll out booster vaccines while millions of people in the poorest countries still do not have access to even a first vaccine, and They warned that this could lead to the creation of potentially worrisome new variants.
In relation to international travel, no new rules are expected to be announced this Wednesday, but it could happen as of this Thursday. The red, amber and green lists are expected to be replaced by a list of “fit” and “unsuitable” countries, thus giving in to Labor’s long-standing call for a simpler two-tier system.
Sources cited by The Guardian They have said the plan includes a deliberate incentive to encourage people to get vaccinated, eliminating the requirement for quarantine and PCR testing for those returning from “fit” places, but keeping it for those who do not have the full schedule.
There were 30,825 new COVID-19 cases and 61 deaths in the UK on Monday, a lower figure than recent daily data due to delayed notifications over the weekend.
Translated by Lara Lema