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England vaccinates on Christmas Day as Omicron cases soar

Agence France-Presse

December 26, 2021 | 8:58am

A health worker (L) administers a coronavirus vaccine to a diner at a pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic operating at the MyLahore British Asian Kitchen in Bradford, West Yorkshire on December 23, 2021. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opted to focus on a campaign to increase vaccine protection through a booster programme. More than 30 million people in the UK have received booster jabs as Johnson has set the ambitious goal of offering one to everyone over 18 by the end of the year

AFP / Lindsey Parnaby

LONDON, United Kingdom — England pressed ahead with its Covid-19 immunisation campaign on Saturday in the race to inoculate as many people possible while the number of cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant soars. 

At Redbridge Town Hall east of London, National Health Service staff wore Santa hats as they welcomed queues of people and administered jabs, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

“Merry Christmas” signs were displayed on the walls of the centre’s vaccine booths and festive pictures, including one of an elf giving a vaccine to another elf.

“We have inspirational people in the NHS and in local government… who were willing to give up their time, even on Christmas Day, to get our community vaccinated,” Mark Santos, a local Redbridge councillor, told AFP.

“Today’s a real community spirit.”

Redbridge resident Saif Kurshid was one of the many in the queue. 

“It was totally unimaginable, unfathomable, by anybody that we could have a Christmas — or even a whole year — like this,” he said.

NHS England thanked the many who had turned up to help out on Christmas Day.

“From vaccinators to volunteers, porters to paramedics, midwives to mental health practitioners, and all other essential workers — thank you to everyone who is working over the festive period!” it tweeted.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged Britons to “make the booster a part of your Christmas this year”.

More than 30 million so-called “booster” or third coronavirus vaccine shots have been administered so far, but Javid said: “We need to go further.”

A record 122,186 daily confirmed Covid-19 cases and 137 deaths were reported on Christmas Eve. 

Vaccination clinics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were closed for Christmas Day.

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: December 25, 2021 – 3:02pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France’s Sanofi in partnership with the UK’s GSK and is subject to a “final contract.”

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

December 25, 2021 – 3:02pm

Chile will offer its citizens a fourth coronavirus vaccine dose from February, starting with high-risk categories, President Sebastian Pinera announces.

“The main concern and priority is to protect the lives and health of our compatriots,” he says at an event to mark a year since Chile launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

First to get the booster shot will be health workers, old people and those with chronic diseases. — AFP

December 23, 2021 – 4:01pm

AstraZeneca says third jab ‘significantly’ boosts antibodies against Omicron.

December 16, 2021 – 7:09pm

The EU’s drug regulator says on Thursday it would decide whether the Novavax coronavirus jab will become the fifth vaccine approved for the bloc at a meeting next Monday.

The US firm’s shot uses a more traditional technology than current vaccines, which experts hope could ease hesitancy and scepticism among the unvaccinated.

“Our human medicines committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 20 Dec to review the application for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax,” the European Medicines Agency says on Twitter on Thursday.

“We will communicate the outcome of this scientific discussion.” — AFP

?? Our human medicines committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 20 Dec to review the application for the #COVID19vaccine developed by #Novavax.

We will communicate the outcome of this scientific discussion.

— EU Medicines Agency (@EMA_News) December 16, 2021

December 15, 2021 – 7:38pm

The European Medicines Agency says Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine can be used as a booster shot two months after the first dose was administered, or after receiving other mRNA shots. 

“EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has concluded that a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine Janssen may be considered at least two months after the first dose in people aged 18 years and above,” the watchdog says in a statement, sing the vaccine’s commercial name. 

This is the third vaccine after Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that the Amsterdam-based agency has approved for a booster for adults. — AFP

December 14, 2021 – 8:13pm

Russia admits that its homegrown Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine had not yet been approved by the World Health Organization because Russian authorities had not provided enough data.

In August last year, Sputnik V became the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine, when Russian authorities gave it the green light for domestic use ahead of large-scale clinical trials.

“We still haven’t provided certain information that needs to be provided for certification because we had a different understanding of what information it had to be and how it should be provided,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters. — AFP

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