UK – The British government has lifted pandemic restrictions on daily life in England, scrapping all social distancing as it also prepares to launch a ‘comprehensive’ flu vaccination programme in the UK for winter 2021.
As part of the plans, healthcare providers will offer the flu vaccine to over 35 million people from September 2021, including all secondary school students up to year 11 for the first time ever.
The government, working with the NHS, is preparing to deliver the expanded flu vaccine programme alongside any booster programme for COVID-19 vaccine as part of its ‘wider autumn and winter planning’.
This directive was implemented by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after coming into contact with his health minister who contracted the COVID-19 virus.
He defended the reopening despite scientists’ grave misgivings after daily infection rates in Britain topped 50,000, behind only Indonesia and Brazil.
“If we don’t do it now, then we’ll be opening up in the autumn, the winter months, when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather,” the prime minister said
This comes after the government rolled out a successful vaccination program that saw at least a dose given to every adult in the UK, which the government believe is sufficient to manage an infection.
To date, 87.9% of U.K. adults have received a first dose of a vaccine and 68.3% of U.K. adults have received both doses. Having both doses of a vaccine greatly reduces the risk of infection and hospitalization caused by the coronavirus.
The government is also confident that the lifting of the curbs is well backed by their roll-out flu vaccination programme that would see booster doses administered.
This booster programme will be informed by the JCVI’s final advice, which is expected later this summer based ‘on the very latest scientific data’.
Cases remain high across the U.K. with 316,691 cases reported over the last seven days, up around 43% from the previous seven-day period.
Hospitalizations are low but are creeping higher, with 4,313 people admitted to hospital in the last seven days, government data shows. In the last seven days, 283 people have died.
Analysts from around the globe are watching the U.K with interest as they wait to see how the lift will fare on.