British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that every adult in the United Kingdom should have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July. The accelerated vaccine rollout would help protect the most vulnerable sooner and also enable the easing of some restrictions, the prime minister said.
Eligible adults should now be able to get their first shot at least a month earlier than the UK government's initial target. The new target also urges anyone aged 50 and over and those with an underlying health condition to get their first of two vaccine shots by April 15, as opposed to the previous date of May 1.
Vaccine manufacturers BioNTech-Pfizer and AstraZeneca have both experienced supply problems in Europe, but UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, We now think that we have the supplies'' to speed up the vaccination drive.
Over 17.5 million people, a third of adults in the UK, have had at least one vaccine shot since the campaign began on December 8.
Meanwhile Israel has begun easing lockdown restrictions after a vaccination drive that has been hailed as the world's fastest. That means shops, libraries and museums can now open, but physical distancing and face masks are still required.
A number of other facilities have been allowed to reopen, such as gyms, hotels and synagogues. However, access to those places is only granted to people who have a so-called green passport” to prove they have been vaccinated.
The passport, which is contained in an app, is valid for six months, one week after the second dose has been administered.