The British government says three-quarters of the UK adult population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine
The Department of Health said 75.2% of people 18 years of age and older in the UK have received one shot, and 49.5% have been fully vaccinated after two doses.
Britain is racing to vaccinate all adults and curb a more contagious delta version of the virus, which was first identified in India and is spreading rapidly in the UK.
Britain has recorded nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the most in Europe. A massive vaccination campaign that began in December has sharply reduced new infections and deaths, but confirmed cases are on the rise once again, although daily deaths remain low.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the 75% milestone a big step forward, but warned that “a worldwide epidemic of misinformation” threatened the vaccination campaign.
“The speed of misinformation is a deadly threat,” Hancock said at an international meeting organized by Britain to encourage a vaccine.
The one-day Vaccine Confidence Summit was virtually attended by diplomats, politicians and academics, including US coronavirus response chief Dr. Anthony Fauci and Director of the Africa Center for Disease Control, Dr. John Nkengasong was involved.
Heidi Larsen, a professor of anthropology who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the pandemic had exacerbated issues of vaccine miscommunication that had been “a little late.”
Larsen said, “Covid has exposed a lot of underlying issues of trust and distrust, at the same time, the digital revolution has spread information and misinformation around the world.
She said that while European countries flip-flopped on administering AstraZeneca shots – which have been withdrawn or limited in some countries because of links to rare blood clots – it “convinced the confidence of many African countries” in the vaccine. shook up”.
“The global knockout effect is another phenomenon that we are looking at in a different light,” said Larsen, who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.
Rich countries have amassed millions of doses, while supply problems and a reluctance by nations, including Britain, to share doses before their populations are fully vaccinated, prompted a UN-backed effort to distribute vaccines to low and middle-income people. has slowed down. country.
The UK government has faced severe criticism for its mishandling of the pandemic, including its hesitation to put the country into lockdown in March 2020 and testing failures to see people with the virus move from hospitals to nursing homes , where thousands of residents died.
But its vaccination campaign has been highly praised. Britain won initial contracts for several vaccines – four of which have been approved for use – and has used medics, soldiers and volunteers to deliver more than 65 million doses across thousands of sites.
Hancock said Britain has boosted vaccine confidence by using “credible voices” – including naturalists David Attenborough and Queen Elizabeth II – to reveal that they had received a shot and to deliver a pro-vaccine message.
He said another important factor was to ensure that the process was fair, first by giving vaccines to the elderly and those most at risk, then moving down the age groups in a systematic manner.
“We Brits love to queue up,” Hancock said. “And there’s nothing more annoying than jumping in a queue.”