BORIS Johnson has vowed to take “whatever action” is necessary either “regionally or nationally” to squash the Indian Covid variant.
So could the latest battle over a mutant strain cause the next steps out of national lockdown to falter? The PM addressed the nation with the latest information this evening.
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Boris Johnson addressed the nation over the roadmap to freedomCredit: AP
What time was Boris Johnson’s announcement tonight?
The press conference was originally expected at 5pm, but was delayed – likely due to a meeting the PM had at Chequers this afternoon.
On May 13, the PM admitted to being “anxious” about the coronavirus mutation.
What did Boris Johnson announce?
The PM announced that millions of Brits would get their second jabs sooner in light of the Indian coronavirus strain hitting some areas.
Mr Johnson was joined at the podium by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
The PM said the gap between first and second jabs would be cut to eight weeks but insisted his roadmap is still on track.
He said tonight: “We will accelerate remaining second doses, especially for the clinically vulnerable, right across the country, to just eight weeks after the first date.
“And if you are in this group the NHS, will be in touch with you. We will also prioritise first jabs for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward.”
Mr Johnson assured people in England that the unlocking on Monday would happen as planned, meaning holidays and indoor mixing is finally allowed again.
Above – there are concerns about the rising cases
However, he warned the nation to continue to be cautious, and for anyone worried to get tested as soon as possible.
He also urged locals in Indian coronavirus variant hotspots to “think twice” about indoor mixing and travelling outside their area.
He added: “This new variant could make it more difficult to move to step 4 in June.
“I urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution.”
On May 13, the PM refused to rule out the possibility that the final stage of the roadmap on June 21 may have to be delayed.
But scientists have said they’re confident the current crop of vaccines is effective against the variant.
Epidemiologist Professor Paul Hunter said Brits now face a nail-biting wait for data on exactly how serious the current outbreaks are and how many people end up dead or in hospital.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The big question is how many people who are getting the Indian variant will end up requiring hospitalisation.”
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