The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the Government to deliver an ambitious and extensive nationwide plan to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, after the UK’s independent regulator approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The newly approved vaccine will be a gamechanger in the fight against the virus and deliver a route out of the current restrictions, and the Mayor is clear that the Government must set an ambitious strategy with targets to get the vaccine supplies urgently to those who need it most, and to ensure that the country can beat the new strain of this virus and begin to recover from the pandemic.
Early modelling of the impact of the new variant of the virus by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) shows that two million vaccinations a week would substantially reduce the burden of Covid-19. Sadiq believes this should be a minimum target for the Government to help protect the lives and livelihoods of people across the country – and that the most vulnerable should continue to be the priority.
With the approval of another vaccine, of which the UK has secured a significant supply, Sadiq is calling on Ministers to ensure key workers also get the vaccine as soon as possible, and that there is more transparency in the reporting of numbers to ensure the vaccine roll-out is on track and no group misses out. The Mayor has also written to the Prime Minister urging him to use the full extent of his powers, with support from City Hall, to ensure the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is rolled out swiftly and systematically nationwide.
The recent study by the LSHTM concluded that it would be necessary to accelerate greatly the vaccine roll-out to levels in the region of two million doses per week in order to suppress the more transmissible, mutated virus. To deliver this huge national effort, the Government should consider every option to accelerate the vaccine rollout, including utilising the skills and expertise of the military, territorial army and trained volunteers.
With more than 100 million doses already secured for the UK and more straightforward requirements for transportation and storage, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will provide a crucial boost to the deployment of vaccines to save lives and protect the NHS, with the new jab becoming available in hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and large scale vaccination centres across the entire country.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “I’m delighted that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for widespread use in the UK. This will be a gamechanger in our fight against this awful and deadly virus.
“Vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel and our route out of this crisis. The swift roll-out of this new vaccine will enable us to get back to seeing the people, and doing the things, we miss and love.
“But with the spread of the new, more infectious variant and large areas of our country under Tier 4 restrictions, it’s vital that the Government acts swiftly and decisively, and considers every option on the table to accelerate the vaccine roll-out, including utilising the skills and expertise of the military.
“We need Ministers to set an ambitious strategy and a target to vaccinate at least two million people a week in order to protect rapidly those most vulnerable to the virus, to lift the burden on our NHS and to ensure the country can begin to recover from this crisis.
“I know I can speak for Londoners when I say we are in awe of the huge achievements and the tireless work of our scientists and NHS staff this year, and we stand ready to support the Herculean national effort required to deliver the vaccine to those who need it most.
“I urge all those who are offered the vaccine to have it, so that they become protected and can help protect other Londoners and our NHS. I can assure you that, when it’s our turn, my family and I will all be getting vaccinated.
“While we all pull together to deliver the largest vaccination deployment the country has ever seen, I want to remind Londoners that now is not the time to take our foot off the gas – we must continue to follow the Tier 4 measures so that we can help save as many lives as possible, support our NHS and care system, and protect our economy and livelihoods.”