British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said that the country is in a "race against time" to vaccinate as many people as possible before the virus reaches them. This comes as the hospitals and National Health Service (NHS) staff in the United Kingdom are under massive pressure because of a rapid surge in new COVID-19 cases, which has resulted in more hospitalisation than ever before. According to Johnson's chief medical adviser, more than 30,000 people have been hospitalised across the UK since the beginning of the second wave, as compared to 18,000 at the peak of the first wave.
"It's a race against time because we can all see the threat that our NHS faces, the pressure it's under, the demand in intensive care units, the pressure on ventilated beds, even the shortage of oxygen in some places. This is a very perilous moment. The worst thing now for us is to allow success in rolling out a vaccine programme to breed any kind of complacency about the state of the pandemic," Johnson said during his visit to a mass vaccination centre in Bristol.
So far, the UK government has vaccinated more than 2.5 million people and is aiming to massively ramp up the inoculation drive to take that number up to 15 million by the middle of February. Johnson said that as the government gets the jabs into people, it is important to not lose focus on the pandemic that is still surging in so many parts of the country and filling hospitals with COVID-19 patients, putting pressure on NHS staff.
As we get jabs into arms, we must not lose sight of the state of the pandemic - which is putting huge pressure on our NHS.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 11, 2021
So, please follow the rules and stay home to protect the NHS, and save lives. pic.twitter.com/Uyu3BHcFU5
The UK reported a new, more dangerous strain of COVID-19 virus last month, which scientists say is contributing to the higher infection rate in the country. Public health officials have said the new variant of the virus is more transmissible than all other previous strains of the virus detected since the start of the pandemic. Britain has registered more than 3 million cases to date and over 80,000 deaths, which is the fifth-highest in the world.