The UK is leading an aggressive booster programme to fight the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
- The UK has become the country with the second highest rate of COVID boosters, reports say.
- 45% of people in the UK are now triple-jabbed, reports say. Still, it lags behind Chile’s 52.7%.
- Prime minister Boris Johnson is pushing an aggressive campaign to get people boosted.
The UK surpassed Israel to become the world’s second-most boosted nation against COVID-19, with 45% of its population having received three vaccine doses, The Telegraph and the Evening Standard reported on Friday.
It now trails behind Chile, where 52.7% of people have been triple-vaccinated.
Israel became the first country to tighten its vaccine passport system in October, requiring people to prove they’ve had a third shot to enter most indoor venues. But its vaccine roll-out has reportedly slowed.
Just under half the country’s population, 44.9%, has been administered a third dose so far. The nation announced this week that it is set to offer a fourth dose to healthcare workers, and people aged 60 and above.
The UK’s milestone follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing an accelerated vaccination drive on December 13 as COVID-19 case counts hit record highs in recent days. The UK recorded a fresh record number of cases on Christmas Eve, with more than 122,000 cases in the country. 137 people died from the disease on the day.
UK COVID case numbers by date since the start of the pandemic.
The country’s vaccine roll-out is set to continue over the holiday season as part of efforts to immunize eligible adults. Around 200,000 appointments for a booster shot have been made available over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, Sky News reports.
More than 30 million people have been administered third doses so far, according to the National Health Service.
“We’re continuing to smash booster and vaccine records — with 30 million total boosters in the UK and more than one million total vaccines on one day being an absolutely fantastic achievement,” Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, said in a statement this week.
“Every top-up jab in someone’s arm means that, as a country, we are strengthening our wall of defence against the Omicron variant,” he added.
“Let me be absolutely clear – this festive season, the single most important thing you can do is come forward for your life-saving booster jab.”
A recent study from Imperial College, London suggests people infected with the Omicron variant may have a milder illness than the previously dominant Delta variant, and have a 15% to 20% lower risk of hospitalization.