Journalist Antonello Guerrera has taken to Twitter to applaud the UK’s vaccination efforts. The UK correspondent for the Italian publication Reppublica called the jab rollout “the most glorious thing about Britain”. Meanwhile, he called figures in the US “depressing”.
He wrote: “The most glorious thing about Britain is that so many people are getting vaccinated, coming forward to take their 3rd doses against Covid without being compelled by vaccine mandates or passports. Proud of living in this country.”
His comment comes at a moment of celebration after the UK surpassed one million vaccinations in total — including first, second, third and booster doses — last month and Government officials reflected on the nation’s approach in preparation for another year with the pandemic on the centre stage.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges our health service has ever faced and our historic vaccination programme has been vital in helping us step up to meet this challenge.”
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Mr Javid continued: “132 million vaccinations in a single year is astounding and a true reflection of the fantastic work of our NHS and its volunteers – I want to thank each and every one of them.
“But we need to make sure people continue to come forward for their life-saving jab. As we go into the new year, make sure you Get Boosted Now to kick off 2022 with the best possible protection from Omicron.”
Vaccines continue to be at the core of the UK’s strategy to fight the coronavirus and ensure hospital staff and capacity are not pushed past their limits.
With medical staff absences due to the Omicron variant reaching concerning numbers and leading to disruption in patient treatment, the NHS on Friday issued a statement emphasising the importance of boosters.
The service’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “You can help us to help you by ensuring you are vaccinated against covid.”
He added: “Omicron means more patients to treat and fewer staff to treat them. In fact, around 10,000 more colleagues across the NHS were absent each day last week compared with the previous seven days and almost half of all absences are now down to Covid.
“While we don’t know the full scale of the potential impact this new strain will have it’s clear it spreads more easily and, as a result, Covid cases in hospitals are the highest they’ve been since February last year – piling even more pressure on hard-working staff.
“Those staff are stepping up as they always do; answering a quarter more 111 calls last week than the week before, dealing with an increasing number of ambulance call-outs, and working closely with colleagues in social care to get people out of hospital safely.”
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The NHS’s message came in response to data showing hospital bed occupancy remains high, with an increase of two percentage points on the previous week, which accounts for an average of over 1,500 more patients per day.
Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 critical care and general acute beds have been closed due to Covid or norovirus over the last week.
At such a critical stage, more than 80,000 staff were on average absent each day – 36,000 of those were down to coronavirus.
As the virus continues to spread, businesses and the public are on alert over the possibility of new COVID-19 rules. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as confirmed by a Government spokesman, “doesn’t see any data to suggest that further restrictions would be the right approach” in England.
Though there is “no doubt” it is currently a tough time for the NHS, hesaid there were mitigations in place to help hospitals through this “challenging winter”.
Nearly 70 percent of people in the UK are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of January 9.
This compares to 62.5 percent in the US; close to 70 percent across the European Union, and nearly 78 percent in Canada.