More Than One-Third of U.K. Vaccinated as Virus Deaths Fall

More than one-third of the U.K. population have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as deaths from the disease continue to fall.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the milestone at a news conference on Monday, the same day the government took its first major step in easing lockdown restrictions by re-opening schools. “Today we’ve been able to take that crucial first step on what we hope is our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom,” he said. “The overwhelming feeling is one of relief.”

Britain is leading Europe with its vaccination program and aims to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July. Shops and some pubs can re-open on April 12.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said the effect of the vaccine roll-out is causing deaths to decline more rapidly than other indicators like cases and hospitalizations, yet warned about the risk of another wave.

Harries said that the testing of children for the virus will take time to settle down, and that she is “optimistic”’ schools won’t have to close again.

“There may be a very short period at the start of this program where everybody gets used to it, and a larger number of children come out of school,” she said. “It’s really important that when observing this, people think through the next three to four weeks, not the first one to two.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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