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UK vaccinations top nine million as concerns rise over South Africa variant

Surge testing is set to take place in eight areas linked to variant

COVID-19 mask

Close to 9.3 million people in the UK have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as the government steps up its vaccination drive.

On 30 January 2020, the government revealed that a record 598,389 people had received their first vaccine dose – the highest daily figure since the UK began its vaccination drive in December.

In addition, a total of 494,209 people in the UK have also now received the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK has approved three COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine, AstraZeneca(AZ)/Oxford University’s vaccine and most recently Moderna’s vaccine.

While people in the UK have already been receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech and AZ/Oxford vaccines, supplies of Moderna’s vaccine are not expected to be delivered until spring.

The UK government is aiming to vaccinate approximately 15 million people by mid-February, with priority to be given to people over the age of 70 years, healthcare workers and people who are shielding.

The record vaccination numbers come amid growing concerns over the emergence of cases in the UK found to have been caused by the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa.

As of 1 February 2021, Public Health England (PHE) has identified 105 cases of the South Africa COVID-19 variant.

In response, the government has launched additional surge testing and sequencing in a number of areas linked to these cases.

This includes people living within the following postcodes – EN10 in the East of England; W7, N17, CR4 in London; PR9 in the North West of England; ME15 and GU21 in the South East of England; and WS2 in the West Midlands.

All individuals aged over 16 years old who live in these areas have been ‘strongly encouraged’ to take a COVID-19 test this week, whether they have symptoms or not.

“The UK is a global leader in COVID-19 genomics, and because of this, we have been able to identify new strains of the virus and take decisive action,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We continue to closely monitor new variants, here and around the world, and in addition to our already extensive testing service, we are making surge testing capacity available to affected areas,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

2nd February 2021

From: Healthcare

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