More than one million people have now received their first coronavirus vaccination in the UK, however health chief warn that a “very difficult new year” is to come.
England’s chief medical officer (CMO) Chris Whitty said vaccine shortages would be a problem for months, as GPs expressed concern at the Government’s new at approach to mass inoculation.
Professor Whitty and his counterparts from across the devolved nations said struggles to get hold of supplies would pose challenges in getting more people vaccinated, as he defended a shift towards prioritising first doses.
In a joint statement, he and the CMOs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the public would “understand” and “thank” them for a plan to give first jabs as a priority, delaying the follow up vaccination for others.
NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said pressure on hospitals was “intensifying” and warned: “We are in for a very difficult new year.”
A total of 44 million people, or 78 per cent of the population of England, are now living under the toughest Tier 4 measures and it emerged on Thursday that scientists advising the Government said in a meeting on December 22 it was “highly unlikely” measures comparable to the November circuit break lockdown would bring the R rate below 1.
Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) blamed the new, more virulent strain of the virus, adding: “R would be lower with schools closed, with closure of secondary schools likely to have a greater effect than closure of primary schools.”