Boris Johnson's winter Covid plan to focus on vaccines with lockdown powers repealed

Boris Johnson is set to come forward with the government’s plan to fight the coronavirus in the coming months, refusing to issue further bans and focus on vaccination.

The prime minister will hold a press conference next week as a decision is expected to launch a booster jab program.

Mr Johnson is expected to say vaccines will continue to be the first line of defense in the fall and winter, a high risk time for the coronavirus as other respiratory diseases circulate.

And in a move away from the lockdown, a number of powers that allow the government to shut down parts of England’s economy are to be lifted.

Mr Johnson said, “Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS and our phenomenal immunization program, we have reached Step 4 on our roadmap and life has returned to a sense of normal.

“These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I am determined to get rid of any powers that we no longer need because of our immunization protection.

“I will shortly set out the next phase of our Covid response.”

Powers likely to be lifted under Coronavirus Act include those to shut down the economy, impose restrictions on events and gatherings, temporarily close or limit access to schools, and detain infectious people enable.

The government also expects the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to recommend details of a vaccination booster program next week.

There are plans to give booster jabs to the weakest this month.

However, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, whose team developed the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Friday that he believed that vaccines should be donated as a priority to countries where people are still waiting for an initial dose.

His views were shared by his Oxford colleague Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who helped develop the vaccine, and said that booster vaccinations may not be needed by everyone.

The Medicines and Health Products Regulator (MHRA) said Thursday that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are safe to use as boosters, but the JCVI has yet to give advice to ministers.

The JCVI has previously said that people with severely compromised immune systems should be offered a third dose.

Several other countries, including the US, Israel, Hungary, Germany, and France, have announced or started third-dose programs for at least some of their citizens.

The UK’s chief medical officers are also providing advice to the government on whether to vaccinate children ages 12-15 after the JCVI said the profit margin of vaccinating healthy children was too low to say they should vaccinate should receive.

The focus on vaccinations is on reports that ministers are considering a so-called fire lock in October.

The newspaper i reported from an unnamed member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that a “preventive break” could be part of “emergency plans”.

But Health Minister Sajid Javid said, “I don’t think we need to consider that.”

He said no decisions were “risk free” but insisted that the “best defense” against another wave of the virus was the vaccine program.

A spokesman for No. 10 previously said it was not true that the government was planning a lockdown or fire break around the mid-October but added that they have “maintained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a number of scenarios” .

They said, “These types of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.”


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