Over 80% of Britons aged 16 and over have been vaccinated as of Sunday, as government officials and medical advisers prepare to discuss whether the jabs should become available to kids aged between 12 and 15.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a plan for how Britain is going to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in the cold coming months during a Tuesday news conference.
A senior government source told the Daily Telegraph that vaccines, rather than a new lockdown, will be central to this blueprint.
“The vaccines are a wall of defence. The autumn and the winter do offer some uncertainty, but the prime minister is dead set against another lockdown,” the source was quoted as saying.
The government insider added that coronavirus has become “the new normal” and that “we need to learn to live with COVID”.
Since the World Health Organisation named the COVID-19 health crisis a global pandemic in March 2020, the UK has gone into three lockdowns with separate sets of restrictions introduced in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The stay-at-home orders, travel and business restraints have seen some strong criticism in Britain as thousands took part in anti-lockdown protests in London this June.
According to Johnson’s ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings, even the prime minister was not eager to tighten COVID restrictions during a second lockdown last autumn, allegedly claiming that people who were dying from the disease were “essentially all over 80”.
According to the latest statistics, 90% of people aged 16 and over have been administered one COVID jab in the UK, while 81% have been fully vaccinated. Boris Johnson is also expected to give a green light to a third dose of COVID vaccine – a so-called booster jab – but it’s not clear who will be eligible for this additional inoculation.
COVID Passports for Clubs?
The UK prime minister had previously urged the introduction of vaccine passports for those attending crowded venues at the end of this month. However, the proposal was met with anger from businesses and Johnson’s own Conservative party.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the plan had now been ditched.
“I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it,” Javid revealed.
“We’ve looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
In the meantime, the health secretary also revealed on Sky News that the controversial traffic light travel system – that has different rules for Britons returning from red, orange or green countries – could eventually be tossed.
“I’m not going to make that decision right now, but I’ve already asked the officials that the moment we can, let’s get rid of these kinds of intrusions,” Javid said on Trevor Phillips On Sunday.
With a majority of adult Britons now fully vaccinated from COVID, the UK government is soon to hear advice from medical officials on whether children aged 12 to 15 should also receive the jab.