Saturday 1/16/21
VACCINATION

British prime minister announces round-the-clock vaccine centres

"We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can," Boris Johnson said.
Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photo: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/dpa.
Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photo: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/dpa.

The British prime minister has announced England will soon start operating 24-hour vaccine centres to boost the number of people receiving jabs for Covid-19.

Boris Johnson told lawmakers on Wednesday Health Secretary Matt Hancock will unveil the plans "in due course," however there was a delay with the roll-out of the centres because of the supply of the vaccines.

"We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can," he said during his weekly Prime Minister's Questions event in the British parliament.

"At the moment the limit is on supply, we have a huge network – 233 hospitals, 1,000 GP [doctors'] surgeries, 200 pharmacies and 50 mass vaccination centres and they are going ... exceptionally fast."

The British government has said it plans to offer each person in its top four vulnerable groups - including care home residents and people aged 80 and over - and health workers a vaccine by February 15.

2 million jabs each week

It has not given a target number of vaccines, but a report from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said 2 million people in England need to be given jabs each week, alongside a nationwide lockdown in January, to prevent intensive care units in hospitals becoming overwhelmed in the future.

According to the latest figures from the government, a total of 2.4 million people have received a jab in Britain so far.

However, it is not clear if the vaccines will protect people against a new strain of coronavirus which has been identified in Brazil.

During a committee hearing on Wednesday, where he was quizzed by lawmakers over the government's handling of the outbreak in Britain, Johnson said that his government was concerned about the new strain.

'Brazilian variant'

"We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant. We already have tough measures ... to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad," he said.

"We are taking steps to do that in respect of the Brazilian variant."

He added that it was not clear whether the new strain is resistant to the coronavirus vaccines - created by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford - that have been approved for emergency use in Britain.

Johnson's comments came as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed tougher measures will enter force for Scotland from Saturday.

They include banning the drinking of alcohol outside in areas with the toughest restrictions, known as level 4, and stopping people from going into restaurants and collecting their takeaway food.

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