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UK's Johnson warns of Omicron 'tidal wave', says two doses not enough

WorldDec 13, 2021 01:22PM ET
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© Reuters. An ambulance drives past St Thomas' Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, December 12, 2021. REUTERS/May James

By Andy Bruce and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain faces a "tidal wave" of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and two vaccine doses will not be enough to contain it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday, as he accelerated the booster rollout programme.

Speaking hours after government scientists lifted the COVID alert level to 4 on a 5-point scale, Johnson said the booster programme must go faster because scientists did not yet know if Omicron was less severe than other variants.

"A tidal wave of Omicron is coming," Johnson said in a televised statement on Sunday evening. "And I'm afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need."

Johnson added that with Omicron known to be much more transmissible than other variants, the National Health Service would struggle to cope with hospitalisations if the variant were to tear through an un-boosted population.

"Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their booster before the New Year," Johnson said.

Data released on Friday showed that vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection was substantially reduced against Omicron with just two doses, but a third dose boosted protection up to over 70%.

In order to hit the accelerated rollout target, military planning teams will be brought in and new vaccine sites opened.

PLAN B

Johnson has responded to the emergence of Omicron by introducing a "Plan B" in England, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the rate of infections.

However many of Johnson's own Conservative Party lawmakers are set to vote against these measures in parliament on Tuesday, and Johnson said there were no plans for further restrictions as cases soar.

The seven-day average of COVID cases by date reported has risen in recent days above 50,000 - the highest since the January peak during the last wave of the pandemic.

With 146,439 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test as of Sunday, Britain has Europe's highest death toll from the virus.

While that damaged the government's reputation in the depths of the pandemic, officials have been praised for rolling out one of the fastest vaccine programmes, which helped to contain daily death figures.

In recent weeks however questions have once again emerged over Johnson's future after a series of scandals, the most damaging being reports that parties were held at Downing Street during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned.

A Survation poll for the Daily Mirror newspaper published on Sunday found that 77% of Britons said they were less likely to follow COVID rules if government officials had broken them.

UK's Johnson warns of Omicron 'tidal wave', says two doses not enough
 

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Comments (5)
Mike Blade
Mike Blade Dec 13, 2021 6:45AM ET
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This just shows they can always do whatever they want. They can always twist the narrative to favor their agendas. They dont even fully disclosed all studies regarding these variants yet they force people to these unwarranted shots.
hd tv
hd tv Dec 13, 2021 6:45AM ET
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let's face it most knew there would be a need for boosters, other vaccines also need boosters after different periods of time.
jason xx
jason xx Dec 13, 2021 6:45AM ET
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I have not been forced to get it. The virus is real though and could potentially get out of hand. You are only seeing it through the perspective of a single person.
Mike Blade
Mike Blade Dec 13, 2021 6:44AM ET
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The lies are just mesmerizing. This is getting unbelievable.
John Falcone
John Falcone Dec 13, 2021 6:44AM ET
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It’s amazing what the creatures will BELIEVE the stage world is now run by billionaire’s, it looks like the plantation owners ( the rich ) have lost control, both groups sicken me
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Dec 12, 2021 5:53PM ET
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all I see around be are stroke and heart attack victims. does the jab cure that?
Cheryl Burnett
Cheryl Burnett Dec 12, 2021 5:53PM ET
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nope it increases the odds of getting it....
Nelgybtc Dnyjec
Nelgybtc Dnyjec Dec 12, 2021 5:53PM ET
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less fast food and soda is the cure for that.
Ludovic Raymond
Ludovic Raymond Dec 12, 2021 5:05PM ET
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I would rather question BJ’s credibility on any Covid-related assessment, giving his track record, unfortunately
Arub Baji
Arub Baji Dec 12, 2021 3:41PM ET
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it's no more than a cold.  Stop the silly fear mongering already.  Shakes head.  You've poked the sheep enough already, let them live to a healthy 60 at least.
Franco Dominguez
Franco Dominguez Dec 12, 2021 3:41PM ET
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its more than cold, its hot
 
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