Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi hinted venues that will need to mass test visitors won’t be allowed to reopen until almost all the population is vaccinated.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi[/caption]
The PM has earmarked fast lateral flow tests as a key way of getting larger venues open to the public again once lockdown is lifted.
But Mr Zahawi suggested today that they will only be deployed once nine in 10 adults have already had the Covid jab.
He said: “We want to make sure we reopen the economy as quickly as possible but make sure it’s sustainable.
“The combination of the national vaccination programme really delivering the protection for the whole of the adult population and then rapid testing should help us reopen our economy.”
Mr Zahawi said mass testing will be deployed to reopen venues in “a world where we have the adult population vaccinated to those high levels”.
And he said when that is done it will combine with testing technology, which is “getting better and better”, to help unlock all the economy.
Thousands of clubs and theatres across Britain have been unable to reopen since last March, and many are facing financial ruin.
Mr Zahawi said that means the UK’s take up is “probably the highest in the world”.
In contrast 73% of Australians, 71% of Americans, 68% of Germans, and just 57% of French say they will take the shot.
He said the UK will be “doubling our deployment” over the next 10-11 weeks so everyone who has already been vaccinated can receive their second dose.
Mr Zahawi added: “Supplies are coming online. I see much greater volume in March and April, tens of millions of doses coming through, and I’m confident we’ll hit our target.”
The PM slapped down calls to use vaccine passports after he lifts the lockdown, but said quick-results tests may help instead.
He said while Brits may be able to use a vaccine certificate to travel abroad, it was unlikely they would be used in the UK to help unlock the nation.
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He added: “I think inevitably there will be great interest in ideas like can you show that you had a vaccination against Covid in the way that you sometimes have to show you have had a vaccination against yellow fever or other diseases in order to travel somewhere.
“I think that is going to be very much in the mix down the road, I think that is going to happen.
“What I don’t think we will have in this country is – as it were – vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.”