THE COVID-19 vaccination drive has been given a £1.6billion injection in a bid to test new jabs against mutant variants.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak today announced the boost in funding for the jab programme.
So far in the UK over 20.4 million Brits have received a first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine with over 840,000 having had their second.
He said the government would do “whatever it takes” to steer the economy through what he hopes will be the final months of coronavirus restrictions.
These themes are set to include “support, vision, recovery and honesty”.
Among pledges to extend the furlough scheme and a freeze on income tax, Mr Sunak revealed changes to other government priorities which have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the nation.
Also revealed as part of the budget this afternoon:
- Rishi Sunak saves jobs with more furlough & business bailouts but warns Covid black hole MUST be paid back
- Pay cut for MILLIONS of hard-working Brits as Rishi Sunak FREEZES income tax
- Grants of up to £18,000 to help shops, pubs and restaurants reopen in £5billion boost for the high street
- Thousands more people will be brought into the self-employment help schemes
- A fourth self-employed grant of up to £7,500 and a fifth one will come over the summer
- Fuel duty will be frozen in a huge win for The Sun’s Keep It Down campaign
- Universal Credit’s £20 a week boost will continue for another six months
Push for jabs
There are currently two jabs being rolled out across the UK and many other versions on order.
Mr Sunak today to unveiled £1.6 billion of funding and as part of this push to get jabs rolled out to every adult in the UK by the end of July.
NHS chiefs say the jabs programme has been key to the rapid fall in infections, hospital admissions and deaths.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to speed up jabs for over-50s, with a completion target of April 15.
The funding will make sure enough jabs can be purchased and delivered in time.
Research for new variants
New variants mean more research needs to be done as to whether those vaccines already being rolled out are effective.
A further £33 million will be given to improve the ability to respond to new variants.
It comes after cases of both the South African and Brazilian variant were detected in the UK.
Matt Hancock yesterday said that it wasn’t clear how effective vaccines would be against the Brazilian variant as they hadn’t yet been studied against it.
He added that the variant had caused “challenges in the UK” and that experts were doing everything they could to stop the spread.
Plenty of choice
Mr Sunak has also given a £5 million grant given to create a so-called “library” of Covid jabs.
The research will also help establish if a third dose would be effective.
Both the Pfizer and Oxford jabs are already in circulation and a jab from Moderna could be available by next month.
Jabs from US firm Novavax, as well as vaccines from French company Valneva will be made in the UK.