The government reported the vaccination of 478,248 people in 24 hours yesterday, the highest to date, bringing the total number to 5.86 million people. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to “vaccinate 15 million people” by mid-February. The British Medical Association have expressed fears, that the prioritisation of first doses, with delayed provision of the second, risks reducing the overall effectiveness of the vaccine once fully administered.
So far, the vast majority of those vaccinated have only had the first of two doses. It currently seems likely they could be waiting up to three months to receive the required second dose, far longer than the initial 21-day guidance from Pfizer.
The UK is the only country administering the vaccine with such a delay and on such a large scale, but Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has assured the public that prolonging the second jab is a “public health decision” and he stands by it.
Data this morning does suggest UK infection rates are slowly decreasing and Johnson is reportedly taking infections from abroad a bit more seriously. Reports suggest that the government will crack down on travellers arriving from countries with high infection rates, such as Brazil and South Africa. Anyone arriving will reportedly soon have to quarantine Australia-style for 10 days and be escorted to a hotel straight off the plane, regardless of a negative test or not. This is seemingly good timing as pictures are circulating online today of Heathrow Airport being jam-packed with minimal social distancing and patchy mask-wearing this weekend.
The Telegraph reported yesterday that the government has quietly extended lockdown regulations until at least July 17 in England, which is suspiciously close to when schools break up for summer. Although these are not official lockdown measures it does give councils the right to continue imposing closures on bars, gyms, and restaurants. The regulation was due to expire this week, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock and his team discreetly extended it as part of a review.
As Johnson worked from home yesterday, he had his first phone call with new US President Joe Biden, complete with a candid photo shoot of course. According to Johnson’s Twitter, the chat went well: “Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening. I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from Covid-19.”
This relationship starting off on a good foot is obviously important considering the UK’s slightly delicate trade deals with Europe and Johnson’s soft spot for Biden’s predecessor (not to mention Biden once calling Johnson a “physical and emotional clone of Trump”).
This was Biden’s first call to a leader across the Atlantic which bodes well for future cooperation between the two. After all, they both have around 4 years left of their terms. The White House added that Biden expressed his intention to “strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of NATO to our collective defence and shared values,”.
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