Millennium Post (Kolkata)

UK expands Covid vaccine programme to over-45s


LONDON: The National Health Service (NHS) in England on Tuesday expanded the COVID-19 vaccinatio­n programme to the next cohort on its age-based priority list to all above 45 years of age, after it announced that the target to cover over-50s had been met ahead of the April 15 deadline.

The government had set a target to offer a COVID-19 jab to all over-50s, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers about 32 million people by this Thursday. The NHS confirmed that nearly 40 million vaccine doses have now been administer­ed across the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed "another hugely significan­t milestone", adding that the focus would now be on completing essential second doses as well as to meet the target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.

"More than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against COVID-19. I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout which has already saved many thousands of lives," he said. Speaking at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, he reiterated his plea for caution as he flagged that the fall in COVID-related hospitalis­ations and deaths was largely the result of lockdown. "The numbers are down of infections and hospitalis­ations and deaths. But it is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers in hospitalis­ations and in deaths and infections has not been achieved by the vaccinatio­n programme," said Johnson.

"People don't, I think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmi­ngly important in delivering this improvemen­t in the pandemic and in the figures that we're seeing.”

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