UK aiming for all adults to have at least one COVID shot by July 31

The British government says it aims to give every adult in the country a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by July 31, a month earlier than its previous target.

The new target also aims for everyone over 50 or with an underlying health condition to get a vaccine shot by April 15, rather than the previous target of May 1.

The makers of the two vaccines that Britain is using, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have both experienced supply problems in Europe. But UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced the new targets, says “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a vial of the Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, during a visit to Barnet FC’s ground at the Hive, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre, in London, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)

The early success of Britain’s vaccination campaign is welcome good news for a country that has had more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. More than 17.2 million people, almost a third of the country’s adults, have been given the first of two doses of vaccine since inoculations began on December 8.

Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first in order to give as many people as possible partial protection quickly. The approach has been criticized in some countries — and by Pfizer, which says it does not have any data to support the delay — but is backed by the UK government’s scientific advisers.

A recent Israeli study pointed to the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine alone conveying 75% immunity from the coronavirus.

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