Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

People sit at tables outside a pub in London's Soho neighbourhood on April 12, 2021, the day some lockdown restrictions were eased by the British government.

Alberto Pezzali/The Associated Press

While Canada and other countries grapple with the third wave of the pandemic, Britain has hit a milestone in its vaccination program earlier than expected, allowing the government to ease more lockdown restrictions.

The government announced Tuesday that all adults over the age of 50 have been offered a vaccine, two days ahead of schedule. So far, the National Health Service has administered more than 32.2 million first doses and almost eight million second doses of vaccine – one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said vaccines will now be offered to people between the ages of 45 and 49 and added that the government was on track to vaccinate everyone over 18 by the end of July.

Story continues below advertisement

The success of the vaccination campaign has given the government confidence to begin easing lockdown measures imposed shortly after Christmas, when the country confronted the third wave of the outbreak.

Canada vaccine tracker: How many COVID-19 doses have been administered so far?

Non-essential stores in England reopened Monday, along with pubs and restaurants – though for outdoor service only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also started lifting restrictions on social movements. More lockdown measures will be removed next month, including a ban on leisure travel, and the government said it plans to remove all remaining restrictions in England by the end of June.

“It’s great that we’ve managed to achieve the target of getting everyone in our [top nine priority groups] vaccinated by the deadline – a little bit ahead actually,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday. “At the moment I can’t see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we’ve set ourselves.”

Britain has seen a major turnaround in the pandemic in the past few weeks since the government ramped up the vaccination program. The number of new daily infections has fallen to fewer than 2,500 from more than 60,000 on some days last January, and hospital admissions have sunk to the lowest level since last fall. The daily death toll dropped to 23 Tuesday from more than 1,500 in January. A weekly tracking of deaths by the Office for National Statistics has hit a six-month low.

But Mr. Johnson and health experts struck a note of caution Tuesday and said Britain could still see another surge in cases. While the number of new daily infections has plummeted, the figures have levelled off in recent days. Studies show the reproduction number, or R, is close to 1 for the whole country, indicating the pandemic is at a standstill – not necessarily on the way out. There are also signs that infections have increased slightly in some regions of England.

There is concern that the R number will rise as lockdown measures ease. Health officials are also closely monitoring an outbreak in London of 44 cases of the variant first detected in South Africa. That mutation is believed to be more contagious than the B.1.1.7 variant, which accounts for most of the cases in the U.K., and studies have shown it is more resistant to vaccines. NHS officials have launched a mass testing effort in parts of London to try to contain its spread.

“It is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalizations and deaths and infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination program,” Mr. Johnson said. “Of course the vaccination program has helped, but the bulk of work in reducing disease has been done by the lockdown. So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection. Sadly, we will see more hospitalization and deaths. And people have just got to understand that.”

Story continues below advertisement

Kevin McConway, an emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, cautioned that the current level of infection in the U.K. was still higher than last July. However, he said, the vaccination drive has reduced the chance of people becoming seriously ill or dying. “Vaccination doesn’t take the risk away completely, though, and anyway not all the population is vaccinated, and those are more reasons for continuing to be careful,” he added.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies