Lockdowns through the winter will be an “absolutely last resort”, the vaccines minister has told Sky News.
Nadhim Zahawi said the government will instead rely on vaccines to shift COVID-19 from pandemic to endemic status.
He told Sky News: “Lockdowns will be an absolutely last resort.
“What we’re trying to do at the moment is to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic through a massive vaccination programme.”
Mr Zahawi’s comments came ahead of Boris Johnson announcing a winter plan later today to fight COVID-19, including booster jabs and flu vaccinations. He is expected to announce the “traffic light” system for overseas travel will be axed, as will post-holiday PCR tests for the double jabbed, and fewer “red list” high-risk countries.
And last night, the vaccines minister announced the government has approved a recommendation by UK medical officers to offer a single Pfizer vaccine to 12-15 year olds.
Mr Zahawi added: “Lockdowns were our only tool, that is no longer true.
“We have the vaccines, we have the test and trace system, we have the variant surveillance system, we have the public health advice that people of all ages have followed really really diligently, which has allowed us to take steps forward, to reopen our economy.
“And the booster campaign, with flu, will help us protect the most vulnerable as we transition.”
The booster scheme will mean a third vaccine dose for millions of older people to slow winter infections, with over-80s and vulnerable groups first in line, followed by all over-50s.
Read More: Lockdowns an ‘absolutely last resort’ to combat COVID this winter, says jabs minister