UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK is in an “incomparably better” position than this time last year due to the British public’s “heroic” response to the mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
In a New Year video message posted on Twitter, Johnson said: “Whatever the challenges that fate continues to throw in our way and whatever the anxieties we may have about the weeks and months ahead, particularly about Omicron and the growing numbers in hospitals, we can say one thing with certainty: our position this Dec. 31 is incomparably better than last year.”
He said the UK has been able to “maintain the most open economy and society of any major European economy” because the British people have “responded heroically, voluntarily, and in almost incredible numbers to the call to get vaccinated.”
Johnson said his government has met the target and has “doubled the speed of the booster roll-out,” and “it’s precisely because of that huge national effort that we can celebrate tonight at all.”
The Conservative UK government, which is in charge of public health in England, decided against adopting further CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions before the New Year.
The Scottish National Party administration in Scotland and the Labour government in Wales have adopted more stringent measures, closing nightclubs and imposing limits on events, resulting in the cancellation of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
In reaction to reports that partygoers will cross the borders from Scotland and Wales to celebrate the New Year in England, UK work and pensions minister Chloe Smith said on Thursday that people are “more than free to move around” the UK.
Dr. Claire Steves, a King’s College London scientist who works for the ZOE COVID Study, said on Dec. 30 that while the number of daily new symptomatic cases was more than double what it was this time last year, exponential growth appeared to have stopped.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said last week that the symptoms of the Omicron variant “feel much more like the common cold.”
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said on Dec. 28 that COVID-19 will become “just another cause of the common cold.”
PA contributed to this report.