Britain will have offered COVID-19 vaccines to those in the top four priority categories - about 15 million people - by the middle of next month as it ramps up rollout of the shots, the minister responsible for the program said on Monday.
Having become the first country to approve vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Britain will open seven large-scale vaccination centers as part of a plan for a mass rollout of COVID-19 shots.
“The vaccinations are really beginning to ramp up, 200,000 a day, we’ve done an incredible job this past week,” minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News, saying they would offer shots to those in the highest risk levels, the eldest and frontline health workers, by the middle of February.
“So the top four categories actually for the UK is 15 million people, in England, it’s about 12 million people, so we would have offered a vaccination to all those people to make sure that we can protect them.”
Speeding up the rollout of the jabs has become increasingly important as Britain battles a surge in cases and deaths which have reached record levels, brought on by a new strain of the virus, and which is threatening to overwhelm the health services in some parts of the country.
To reach its vaccination target, it will need to deliver some two million shots a week in the hope of a return to some degree of normality by spring.
“This is an enormous rollout of the largest vaccination program in the history of this country,” Zahawi said.