Sun. May 9th, 2021

Britain’s health secretary said Sunday that every adult in the country will be offered the vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) by the autumn as the United Kingdom ramps up its mass vaccination program amid a huge surge of infections and hospital admissions.

More than 600,000 people age 80 and over will begin receiving invitations this week to get the coronavirus shot at new large-scale vaccine centers around England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that officials were “on track” to reach its target of inoculating about 15 million people in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.

The vaccination drive comes as the UK sees a steep increase in infections and record numbers of Covid-19 patients being hospitalized, with many experts warning that the situation is more dire than it was when the country went into its first lockdown last spring. The Office of National Statistics estimated that 1 in 50 people in England had the virus in the most recent week.

Daily reported deaths hit a record high Friday, at 1,325, and in total around 81,000 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19. That’s the highest in Europe and comes just behind the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

Hancock said that more than 200,000 people are being vaccinated in England every day, and that by autumn, the entire adult population should have been offered a jab.

“We’ve got over 350 million doses on order — they’re not all here yet. We’re rolling them out as fast as they get delivered,” he said in a television interview. “But we are going to have enough to be able to offer a vaccine to everyone over the age of 18 by the autumn.”

That’s distant hope for doctors, nurses and emergency workers experiencing unprecedented pressure right now. Tracy Nicholls, the chief executive of the College of Paramedics, said members have reported ambulances left lining up outside hospitals waiting for up to nine hours, unable to hand patients over to emergency rooms. SOVEREIGNPH

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