Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping Britain will be in a position to ditch compulsory face masks and get everyone back into the office by the end of January, it is reported, though low booster vaccine rates may derail his plans
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The prime minister wants to ditch compulsory masks and get everyone back into offices at the end of January, it is reported, but his optimistic plans may be derailed by low booster jab rates.
It comes as statistics show a significant slowdown in the number of booster jabs being administered, with just 141,495 third doses being put in arms on Sunday.
This was in comparison to half a million a day in December.
One in three Brits eligible for a booster has not received the top-up vaccine.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency released last week showed that three months after receiving a third jab, protection against hospitalisation among those aged 65 and over remained at about 90%.
“The data is highly encouraging and emphasises the value of a booster jab,” Wei Shen Lim, chair for Covid-19 immunisation on the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said in a statement.
By comparison, with only two vaccine doses, protection against severe disease for the over-65s dropped to around 70% after three months and to 50% after six months, the UKHSA said.
But despite the encouraging evidence, take-up of the booster was so low in some areas that batches of the Pfizer jab were being wasted, as the vaccine cannot be stored once opened.
Politicians and medics have reportedly warned that waning booster rates could delay a return to normality when the Plan B rules are reviewed on January 26.
Figures released yesterday showed there were 77 deaths across the UK, a rise from 42 a week earlier.
And another 142,224 positive tests were recorded yesterday. While this was down by 10 per cent compared to last Monday, it was higher than Sunday’s figure.
Mr Johnson told the Sun last night that two doses weren’t enough against Omicron.
“You need to get a booster,” he said. “Three jabs will give you the best protection against severe illness which is why it’s so important people continue to come forward.”
Earlier today, health minister Ed Argar said the Government is keen to ditch Plan B restrictions as soon as possible, it is reported.
“We have seen in recent days those cases, particularly in London, starting to plateau and come down and hospitalisations starting to slow,” he told the Sun.
“It’s absolutely vital that as soon as it’s safe to do so, as soon as we’re able to do so, we ease those restrictions – for example working from home or otherwise – and try to get our society back to normal as we learn to live with this virus.”