More than 100,000 people tried to book their third doses of vaccine on Monday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday evening that over-40s would now be invited to have them as part of the “emergency” response to the new Omicron variant.
“The vaccine booking service is facing extremely high demand and is operating a queuing system to manage numbers”, an NHS Digital spokesperson said. “We would advise people currently unable to book to try again later today or tomorrow”.
Orders of lateral flow test kits had to be suspended as a result. Meanwhile, long queues were reported at walk-in vaccination centres around England.
The UK’s booster shot programme has made rapid progress since its launch on 1 October. More than half a million people had their third jab on Sunday, bringing the total to over 23 million out of a population of 67 million — or 40 per cent of the eligible population over the age of 12.
The original target was all over-50s and others considered at high risk, numbering some 30 million in all. However, the average number of deaths is still the same, at about 110 per day, as in early October.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, over 95 percent of people in every age range are either vaccinated or have acquired antibodies against COVID-19. That figure rises to 99 percent in over-65s, the most vulnerable section of the population.
On Monday, Johnson said a patient in a British hospital had died “with” the new variant — although he did not clarify whether the virus was the cause of death. That was after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said 10 people in UK hospitals had tested positive for Omicron.
“Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron”, Johnson revealed during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington. “So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population”.
However, South African doctors, who discovered the new variant, insist it only causes a mild illness. South African Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee told LBC news on Sunday there was “no need to hospitalise any of these mild cases”.
“These patients recover within about five days”, Dr Coetzee said. “Whether you are a child, whether you are 80 years of age, whether you have been vaccinated, whether you have not been vaccinated, whether you suffer from… co-morbidities”.
by James Tweedie
Originally published by Sputnik International
Note: all links to Gospa News articles has been added by Gospa News editorial staff