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  • Mikuláš Vochozka

The UK is Winning the Vaccination Race in Europe. The Rest of the Continent can only be Jealous.

After Israel and the UAE, the UK has vaccinated the third most amount of people in the world. Campaigning around vaccination has proven to be successful and PM Boris Johnson is winning back the trust of the people of Britain after a year with Brexit.

Boris Johnson with AstraZeneca (Photo: AlJazeera)

The UK’s success lies in the team of Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK Government's Vaccine Taskforce, steering procurement of vaccines and the strategy for their deployment. Thanks to her and her team 26,8% of the British population is now vaccinated.

The British vaccination campaign is going at full speed. The government announced on Sunday that everybody over the age of 50 should get the shot by mid-April. The numbers of people infected, hospitalized and deaths have also decreased in recent days. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom promised the opening of schools at the beginning of March. Boris Johnson has also announced a roadmap for loosening restrictive measures. Schools are expected to open on March 8, and people can go to the fitness center or barbershop in mid-April. At the end of May, up to ten thousand fans could go to football stadiums.

In the past, Johnson and the government were criticized for late lockdowns and lack of medical devices (The lack of medical devices was an issue in most European countries in the beginning of the pandemic.). The economy of the UK decreased by 9,9%, the biggest decline of the British economy since 1709. Besides the COVID-19 crisis the economy was also hit hard by Brexit.

A great advantage turned out to be the well-organized NHS (National Health Service) system, of which the British are extremely proud. The vaccination provided by the NHS is available throughout nearly the entire country. The British society as a whole has not hesitated to “roll up their sleeves” and get to work. In recent weeks, football stadiums, cathedrals, and mosques, as well as other places, have turned into vaccination centers, which are visited by around four hundred thousand people every day.

Although the future seems optimistic, the UK has not yet won. A new mutation may reappear and could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. Returning students to schools can bring new infections. It is also necessary to increase the number of immunizations in ethnic minorities who do not perceive vaccination positively.

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