Race to double vaccinate 10m in four weeks ahead of delayed lockdown reopening


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oris Johnson will step up the daily vaccination rate during a month-long delay in the roadmap out of lockdown to get over 10 million more people a critical second dose, it emerged on Monday.

The daily number of jabs will be increased and ministers are “open” to shortening the gap between doses from 12 to eight weeks for people in their forties, as well as the over-fifties.

Health Minister Edward Argar said a delay of “four weeks or so” could ensure more people get the extra protection afforded by two doses of vaccine. He said the Government sees getting people double-vaccinated as “the key to being able to safely ease restrictions”.

The Prime Minister will announce at a press conference on Monday that he is postponing the full reopening of the economy from the planned “Freedom Day” of June 21 until a new date of around July 19.

In London, the gap between those who have had one jab and those who are double-jabbed stands at more than 1.7 million. However, the capital also needs more than that to catch up because its rate of first doses is lower than in every other regions of the country.

  • A big hint that the 30-guest limit on wedding parties will be scrapped or eased as originally planned on June 21 was given by the Health Minister. Mr Argar said the emotional toll on couples planning summer weddings “will be very much in his [Boris Johnson’s] mind” as he prepares Monday night’s announcements.
  • A Commons rebellion was threatened by Conservative right wingers. Peter Bone, a member of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said the “goalposts” appeared to have shifted and that he would vote against the delay unless the Prime Minister convinces him it is necessary. “I can’t see why we should be postponing our freedom,” he said. Government sources confirmed there will be a vote in Parliament.
  • Britain is “in the grip” of a third wave of the virus, said a leading scientist who sits on Sage, which advises the Government. Sir Mark Walport backed the delay to the road map, telling Today: “The more people we get vaccinated, the better chance we are of not having serious hospitalisations and deaths.”
  • Furloughing and other help for people and firms could be extended because of the delay. Mr Argar said the PM was “very mindful of the need for businesses and others to get the support they need if they continue to be locked down”.

Setting out the Government’s latest thinking, Mr Argar said Covid-19 is likely to be “endemic for many years” and at some point, probably when vaccination levels are high enough, Britons will “have to live with it” and get on with their lives.



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