Sadiq Khan has called on the government to be “nimble” in the vaccine rollout and offer jabs to younger people in areas of London where the new variant first detected in India is more prevalent.
The London mayor said he had asked both the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, for the “flexibility to give younger people the vaccine in those parts of London concerned about the strain”.
Health chiefs in Greater Manchester have already requested permission from government to vaccinate everyone over the age of 16 in Bolton where armed services personnel have been deployed to aid mass testing.
In some areas of Glasgow, where the Scottish government is in charge of the vaccine rollout, people living in “affected areas” between the ages of 18 and 39 are set to be offered a jab earlier than planned, possibly as soon as next week.
Mr Khan’s remarks come after the number of people who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine passed the 20 million milestone — over 38 per cent of the adult population.
Last week, the NHS begun the process of inviting under 38-year-olds for a jab in the next stage of the rollout, with eligibility expected to be extended further again this week.
However, amid concern over the spread of the new variant first detected in India, the London mayor told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “roughly” 400 cases of the strain had been detected in the capital.
“We’re doing test and trace and we think roughly speaking 100 of them are involved in travel and what I’m saying to the government is there are five boroughs in particular where there are a number of these cases.”
In a separate interview with Sky News, the London mayor urged the government to be “nimble in those pockets where we know there is an issue, let’s use the vaccine sensibly”.