Johnson thinks no need for plan B

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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday expressed hope that the domestically-made vaccines against the coronavirus, such as that by AstraZeneca-Oxford, as well as those imported from abroad, would be effective.

“There’s a pretty overwhelming consensus that they [vaccines], at least some of them, will work very well, and we certainly think that Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca, as far as we can see, will work very well,” Johnson said at a briefing when asked what the plan B was if the vaccines failed to curb the spread of the disease.

The prime minister stressed that there were “six or seven” vaccines the UK has already bought, totalling 360 million doses on order.

PM Boris Johnson

The UK vaccination campaign started on December 8. As of Wednesday, around 7.1 million people have received at least one vaccine dose. The vaccination is currently open to five priority groups, including people over 80 years old, some people over 70, clinically vulnerable persons, personnel of care homes, and medical workers.

There are currently three authorized vaccines in the United Kingdom — the domestically-made AstraZeneca, the US-German Pfizer/BioNTech, and the one developed by US company Moderna.

More than 100,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK, after 1,631 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded in the daily figures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for the government’s actions, saying: “We truly did everything we could.” “I’m deeply sorry for every life lost,” he said. A total of 100,162 deaths have been recorded in the UK, the first European nation to pass the landmark.

Meanwhile, according to a BBC report, Boris Johnson hopes to publish details next month of the criteria he will use to start easing the lockdown in England. The criteria will include death and hospitalisation numbers, progress of vaccinations, virus changes and how lifting rules will affect the epidemic.

Relaxing restrictions will also depend on emerging data about how effectively the vaccine stops virus transmission. A government adviser said the document is likely to be “pretty broad brush”. The paper is also expected to mention specific sectors of the economy.

Meanwhile Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC the government hopes “in the coming days and weeks” to have a “roadmap out of the present lockdown”.

Speaking on the Today programme, he said it was very likely the government will “try to make use of the tiered system” when mapping an exit strategy from the current UK lockdown.

This comes as the UK recorded 100,000 coronavirus deaths, making it the fifth country to get to that figure, coming after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

Speaking on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said he would be “setting out in more detail as soon as we can when and how we want to get things open again but that will depend on us continuing to beat the disease.”