Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that the omicron coronavirus strain is causing a “tidal wave” of illnesses in the UK, and pledged a massive increase in booster vaccines to improve defenses against it.
In a televised announcement, Johnson announced that as a result of the omicron “emergency,” everyone over the age of 18 will be administered a third injection of vaccination by the end of the month. The prior deadline had been set for the end of January.
He claims that in the United Kingdom, incidences of the highly transmissible variety are doubling every two to three days, and that “a tidal wave of omicron is approaching.”
“I’m afraid it’s now evident that two vaccine doses are just insufficient to provide the kind of protection we all require,” Johnson said. “However, the good news is that our experts are certain that a third injection — a booster dose – will restore our level of protection.”
He declared a “national mission” to distribute booster immunizations, with pop-up vaccination sites operating seven days a week, with military planners and hundreds of volunteer vaccinators providing further assistance.
England is included in Johnson’s December 31 deadline. Other regions of the United Kingdom, such as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are anticipated to ramp up their vaccination programs as well.
Existing vaccines appear to be less effective in preventing symptomatic infections in people exposed to omicron, according to the UK Health Security Agency, though preliminary data suggests that effectiveness rises to between 70% and 75% after a third vaccine dose.
In the United Kingdom, more than 80% of persons aged 12 and over have got two doses of vaccination, with 40% of adults receiving three doses. Giving the remainder of the population a boost in the following three weeks will be a big undertaking, needing over 1 million doses every day.
To reach the target, Johnson admitted that many common medical treatments would have to be postponed.
Johnson’s remark came only hours after the government upped the country’s official coronavirus threat level, warning that the omicron variant’s fast spread has pushed the United Kingdom into dangerous area.
At a time when COVID-19 is already widespread, the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland warned the highly transmissible new strain “adds extra and quickly growing danger to the public and health care providers.”
On a 5-point scale, they suggested increasing the alert level from 3 to 4. The highest number, 5, signifies that officials believe the health-care system is on the verge of collapse.
Early research suggests that omicron is spreading considerably quicker than the presently prevalent delta form, and that vaccinations are providing less protection. Omicron is expected to overtake delta as the prevalent strain in the United Kingdom within days, according to British officials.
“Data on severity will become clearer in the following weeks,” they stated, “but omicron hospitalizations are already occurring and are expected to grow fast.”