By Hallum Cowell | Deputy Editor
COVID-19 has dominated the headlines again this week as events unfolded. From the announcement that a vaccine has been approved by the UK’s medical regulator to the ongoing Tory revolt over the implementation of the tier system following the end of England’s lockdown.
December 2 saw the announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved safe for use in the UK. The vaccine will begin to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The question of who will get the vaccine first has been one many people in the UK have been eager to have answered. The UK government has said that the first recipients of the vaccine will be adult and elderly residents in care homes, followed by those over the age of 80 and frontline health workers. Following this distribution the vaccine will be given to people of decreasing age, starting at 75, then 70, 65, 60 and so on in that incrementation; with some additions of those with underlying health conditions between 16 and 64 further down the list.
Prime Minister Johnson said, “it’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again.”
The vaccine will be free from the NHS and people looking to get the vaccine earlier will not be able to purchase it individually from private healthcare services. The vaccine will also not be compulsory.
The Government is planning on distributing the vaccine through hospitals, repurposed Nightingale hospitals which were established in the early months of the pandemic to assist with large numbers of patients, and through GPs and pharmacists.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is hopeful that life will begin to return to normal by Easter 2021. Until then however the Government is keen to remind people to continue to follow the COVID-19 restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s chief medical advisor said, “we can’t lower our guard yet”.
Despite this news, friction still exists within the government over how the rest of the pandemic will be handled.
Boris Johnson’s government faced a revolt from 55 of their MPs this week as a new, tougher, tier system was pushed through Parliament. This is the largest revolt Johnson has seen since his landslide victory in the December 2019 election however, the bill did pass with 291 votes in support and 78 against. 16 Conservative MPs also abstained from the vote. Most other parties in the Commons abstained with only 15 of Labour’s 199 MPs voting against the bill, along with the DUP’s eight MPs and two independents.
Kier Starmer, leader of the Labour party, said that he whipped Labour MPs to abstain as he recognised that restrictions needed to continue yet was “far from convinced” that this system would work.
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