The vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has set a new objective to fully inoculate the Government’s top nine priority groups. He said it was a “race between the vaccine and the virus” amid concerns over the surging Indian variant.
Around 5 million people aged over 50 are currently waiting to receive their second vaccine dose.
Ministers hope that by reaching the target, Boris Johnson will not have to extend restrictions beyond the “unlockdown date”.
From June 21, the Government hopes to remove “all legal limits on social contact” meaning there will be no limits on how many can meet indoors or outdoors.
Analysis by the Times suggests that the new target should be met if NHS England continues to give second doses to 1.5million over 50s each week.
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Mr Zahawi said: “We are in a race between vaccinating at scale and making sure people get their two doses.
“We saw very good data from Public Health England around the protection from two doses, either of Pfizer or of AstraZeneca.
“We hope to be able to protect with two doses – all ‘one to nine’ [first phase priority groups], all the over-50s – before June 21. We will make sure we vaccinate at scale.
“But – and here’s the important thing – we will share the evidence with the country on June 14 to basically explain exactly where we are on infection rates, hospitalisations and of course, sadly, of death.”