The UK will not require harsher COVID restrictions in the run-up to Christmas because vaccines had put the country into a more resilient position than a year ago, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
“We don’t think Plan B is required,” he told BBC radio. “Why? Because of the success of the vaccine programme. Why? Because the success of the vaccine programme, we’ve got 118 million doses dispensed, over a third of those over 12 years old Have been given a third dose, not just the first or a second but a third dose or a booster.”
Speaking to the house yesterday (Monday December 6) Sajid Javid said that some of the 336 people infected with Omicron in Britain caught it in this country, rather than importing it from abroad. Another 90 cases have been detected, covering nearly all parts of the UK.
None of the 336 Omicron cases has been hospitalised, the minister said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday refused to rule out tightening restrictions over the festive period, merely insisting that Christmas will be ‘better’ than last year, however, scientists expect booster jabs to give high protection against severe illness and death from Omicron, even if the variant makes vaccines much less effective at preventing infection.
The weekend the government urged people get a COVID-19 booster vaccine to top-up their protection this winter as 20 million people in the UK are expected to have had their third jabs today (Sunday 5 December 2021).
Vaccines, the government says, are the best way to protect people against COVID-19 and, in light of the new Omicron variant and following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government is expanding the booster programme to all adults over 18, with all those eligible being offered a top-up jab by the end of January, as well as halving the gap between doses to protect more people more quickly.
To speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country. Extra financial support to GPs, community pharmacies and primary care staff will help boost capacity and encourage more visits to those who are housebound.
On Wednesday 8 December, the UK will celebrate one-year since it became the first country in the world to administer an approved COVID-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan in Coventry.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Christmas is around the corner and it’s absolutely crucial that everybody who is eligible gets their booster jab to top-up their immunity before spending time with loved ones.
“While our brilliant scientists learn more about the new Omicron variant, we need to do everything we can to strengthen our defences and vaccines are the best way to do that.
“This is a national mission and we all have a role to play – so roll up your sleeves and get protected as soon as you can.”