FILE PHOTO: A dose of AstraZeneca vaccine is prepared at COVID-19 vaccination centre in the Odeon Luxe Cinema in Maidstone, Britain February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to announce the government’s autumn and winter plan for managing Covid this afternoon.

The plan will set out a renewed focus on vaccines as the first line of defence, backed by testing, public health advice, and a world-leading variant surveillance system.

Johnson said: “The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.

“Today I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”

The number of deaths and hospitalisations has remained relatively stable over the last month in England, mainly because of a successful vaccination drive.

The Public Health England (PHE) analysis revealed that two doses of Covid-19 vaccine prevented 24,702,000 infections and 112,300 deaths, up to August 27.

The prime minister is also expected to approve booster jabs and share details about its rollout.

It will be separate to the third primary dose programme for those who are immunocompromised.

On expectation of the booster jabs announcement, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer at Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said: “Community pharmacies are ready to play a full part in the delivery of Covid booster jabs and must be called upon. With GPs already struggling to cope and busy A&E departments, pharmacies should be used to the maximum this winter because we can help take the pressure off the NHS.

“Community pharmacy teams have also been working at many Covid vaccination sites and the feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive, praising their professionalism. We’re known and trusted by our patients. We’re here to play our part.”

AIMp had campaigned for pharmacies to be included in the initial Covid vaccination programme.

Highlighting the role community pharmacies can play in the booster programme, Hannbeck added, “Last year we smashed flu vaccination records and delivered nearly 3 million flu jabs.”

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