London: Britain is facing the worst weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief medical officer said, with the health service entering a “dangerous time” as deaths and cases hit record highs while a mass vaccination program picks up steam.
Deaths from the virus have now exceeded 81,000 in the United Kingdom – the world’s fifth-highest toll – with more than 3 million people testing positive. A new, more transmissible variant of the disease is surging through the population, with one in 20 people in parts of London now infected.
In a bid to get on top of the pandemic and to try to restore some degree of normality by the spring, Britain is rushing out its largest ever vaccination program, with shots to be offered to all those in its top four priority categories – about 15 million people – by the middle of next month.
But the government’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty warned the situation would deteriorate in the meantime.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS (National Health Service),” he said.