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Britain to offer all adults a COVID-19 vaccine by end of July

·2 min read

LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - All adults in Britain will beoffered a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July,Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday ahead of a plannedannouncement on the cautious reopening of the economy fromlockdown.

Johnson will set out a roadmap to ease England's thirdnational lockdown on Monday, having met a target to vaccinate 15million Britons from higher-risk categories by mid-February.

Britain now aims to give a first dose to all over-50s byApril 15, the government said, having previously indicated itwished them to receive the shot by May.

If all adults receive a dose by the end of July, it will bewell ahead of a previous target that they would receive avaccine by autumn.

After suffering the world's fifth-worst official COVID-19death toll and a series of mishaps in its pandemic response,Johnson's government moved faster than much of the West tosecure vaccine supplies, giving it a head start.

Johnson cautioned that there was a need to avoidcomplacency, adding that lockdown would only be lifted slowly.

"We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end ofJuly, helping us the most vulnerable sooner, and take furthersteps to ease some of the restrictions in place," Johnson saidin a statement.

"But there should be no doubt - the route out of lockdownwill be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protectourselves and those around us."

So far, he United Kingdom has given a first dose of vaccineto 17.2 million people, over a quarter of its 67 millionpopulation and behind only Israel and the United Arab Emiratesin vaccines per head of population.

Two vaccines - one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and another developed by the University of Oxford andAstraZeneca - are being rolled out, and UK officialshave advised that there can be a 12 week gap between doses.

(Reporting by Alistair SmoutEditing by Ros Russell)