By Michael Jarvis
The British government is considering further intensifying its COVID-19 vaccination campaign by offering a third jab to people over 50 years old by September.
The National Health Service(NHS) is leading the drive looking at two options for administering the third dose.
The plan is to bolster immunity with new variants emerging and to significantly reduce the threat of further infections by the end of this year.
Ongoing research being led by the NHS is also looking into whether to administer the same vaccine given in the first two doses or if a different type would offer further immunity.
The UK’s vaccination programme is currently using three drugs; Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.
To date, close to 35 million people in the UK have received a first of COVID-19 shot out of a population estimated at 66.5 million. Within that 15.6 million second doses have also been administered.
The British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: "The vaccine is helping us to bring back our freedom and we must protect this progress."
He also disclosed that work on developing booster shots has been going on for the past year in light of the risk posed by variants.
"The biggest risk to that progress is the risk posed by a new variant, so we are working on our plans for booster shots to keep us safe and free here, while we get this disease under control across the whole world. We have been working on a programme of booster shots, for over a year now."
The country is now working through a schedule of relaxing current restrictions on outdoor activities, business openings and border controls.
Much discussion also revolves around holiday plans against a backdrop of caution with several countries being designated safe for overseas summer vacations using a traffic light system.
There is an equally strong campaign for ‘staycations’ within the UK.