Around 15 million people in Britain will have been offered Covid-19 vaccines by the middle of February, minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday, urging citizens to behave as if they already have the virus to stop the spread.
Zahawi, who is responsible for the vaccination programme, said vaccinations in the country “are really beginning to ramp up”, with 200,000 jabs a day currently being offered. “In the top four categories in the UK, there are 15 million people. In England [alone], it’s about 12 million people, so we would have offered a vaccination to all those people [by mid-February] to make sure we can protect them,” Zahawi told Sky News.
The government still hopes a return to some degree of normality by spring is possible, but to reach the vaccination target, it needs to deliver some two million inoculations a week. Zahawi acknowledged that “this is an enormous rollout of the largest vaccination programme in the history of this country.”
Seven mass vaccination centres will be opened in England on Monday, with every adult being able to receive a vaccine within a 10-mile radius, according to the minister.
Zahawi is also concerned about the spread of coronavirus in supermarkets, with many people breaching the rules by not wearing masks.
“This virus loves social interaction, and the worst thing we can do is to socialise,” he said, after reports claimed ministers were considering tougher lockdown rules.
We don’t want to go any tougher, because this is [already] a pretty tough lockdown. What we need is people to behave as if they have got the virus.
Coronavirus cases surpassed 90 million worldwide on Monday, a Reuters tally shows, and the UK, which crossed the line with three million cases last Friday, remains the worst-affected European country.