OVER-25s could be offered a Covid vaccine as early as next week, it is claimed.
The Government is reportedly ramping up the jab rollout in a battle to save the UK’s June 21 ‘freedom day’.
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Queues outside England’s biggest vaccine centre at Twickenham Stadium in south west LondonCredit: LNP
People wait to receive Covid-19 jabs at a vaccination centre in LondonCredit: EPA
Brits over the age of 40 are to get their second doses within eight weeks of their first, rather than the initially recommended 12, The Telegraph reports.
And millions of people aged 25 to 29 will also be called to make an appointment to receive their first vaccination from next week.
Ministers hope accelerating the programme will help tackle rapidly spreading Covid variants and increase the chances of lockdown being lifted later this month.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said today that the government is doing “everything possible” to make this happen.
“We’ve got a further 10 days until we are going to make that decision on or around June 14, so during that period we’ll see where are we with hospitalisations, with deaths, where are we with the vaccine rollout – we’re doing everything we possibly can to expedite that – and then at that point we’ll make our final decision,” he said.
The gap between doses for over-50s was slashed from 12 weeks to eight last month over Indian variant fears.
Scientists originally declared a three-month gap was optimal for generating more antibodies overall.
It comes as:
A formal decision on whether this comes into force for people in their 40s will be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) shortly.
A government source told The Telegraph that ministers “want to double-dose as soon as possible” by applying the reduction in the time between jabs to more people.
The source confirmed that the gap is set to be shortened for over-40s this month and that first jabs are expected to be offered to over-25s next week.
So far, half of all UK adults have had two Covid jabs, with a whopping 66,749,638 doses being administered since December.
But despite stepping up the vaccine rollout, there is a secret plan to delay the lifting of all lockdown restrictions by two weeks.
Ministers and officials are working on contingency plans to move “Freedom Day” to next month, as well as retaining distancing and limits on football fans in stadiums.
A long queue of people wait outside the Covid-19 mobile testing station in Shiremoor, North TynesideCredit: NNP
Staff and volunteers at work at a coronavirus vaccination centre at Twickenham rugby stadium, south west LondonCredit: PA
Pub giants and football fans have urged PM Boris Johnson to stay firm on his pledge to scrap lockdown on June 21.
Their battle cry came amid fears that any delays could plunge England’s hosting of the Euros into chaos.
World Cup 1966 winner George Cohen, 81, said: “Boris has to stick with June 21. Our boys need those England fans in the pubs and in the stadiums.
“It gave us such a boost in 1966 and it’ll give them a huge boost again. What’s the point of home advantage if our fans can’t roar us to the final?”
And Kate Nicholls, of UK Hospitality, warned that even a two-week delay to ending lockdown would cost the industry £1.5billion.
Those in favour of a delay argue it would allow more Brits to get at least their first jab.
Ministers and medics would also have more time to study data, with infections worryingly back at March levels.
Figures released today reported 11 new deaths and 6,238 cases recorded, compared with ten deaths and 4,182 cases a week ago.
And it was also revealed today that the Indian variant – officially named Delta – is now the UK’s dominant strain and doubles the risk of hospitalisation.
A total of 12,431 cases of the Indian variant have been confirmed in the UK up to June 2, up 79 per cent from the week prior (6,959).
Ministers have also expressed new fears over the “Nepal variant” – a mutation of the Delta variant which could evade vaccines.
The PM is holding firm on the June 21 date, but ministers fear it will be too soon to “definitively” prove the jab has broken the link between cases and hospitalisations.