Boris Johnson has used his New Year’s message to claim that the UK is in an “incomparably better” position than this time last year when it comes to coronavirus.
In a message that will be posted on social media on Friday prime minister that is, the country has met its goal of offering all adults the chance to get one COVID-19 booster jab before the end of the year.
Seven out of 10 eligible adults in the UK have now received their boosters, Mr Johnson will confirm, with a further eight million jabs administered since the target was advanced on 12 December.
“Regardless of the challenges that fate continues to pose to us, and whatever concerns we may have for the coming weeks and months, especially regarding Omicron and the growing number of hospitals, we can say one thing for sure, our position on the 31st. December is incomparably better than last year, “said the Prime Minister.
Johnson will also pay tribute to Britain’s economic performance, saying that the “overriding reason” Britain has been able to “maintain the most open economy and society of any major European economy” is due to its vaccine rollout.
“The British people have responded heroically, voluntarily and in almost incredible numbers to the call to be vaccinated,” the Prime Minister will declare.
“And while I’m talking tonight on New Year’s Eve, we have reached our goal, we have doubled the speed of the booster rollout.
“And it’s precisely because of the enormous national effort that we can celebrate tonight at all.”
But with the continued proliferation of the Omicron variant, he urges people to be careful about how they celebrate the dawn of 2022,
Johnson, who has so far refused to impose further restrictions on tackling the variant, will say: “Although, of course, I must urge everyone to be careful and take a test if you are to go out and remember the importance of ventilation.
“Follow the rules if you are in Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland.
“And I want to speak directly to all those who have not yet been fully vaccinated.
“The people who think the disease can not harm them, look at the people who go into the hospital now, it could be you.
“Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, unnecessary suffering for those who did not get their booster, it could be you.
“Then make it your New Year’s resolution, far easier than losing weight or keeping a diary, finding a walk-in center, or making an online appointment.”
‘The best is still ahead’
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has used his New Year’s message to say he will use 2022 to present his vision for building a “new Britain” that “works for everyone”.
Sir Keir said Britain needed leadership to ensure that the victims of the coronavirus pandemic were not in vain.
“I think the best is still ahead of Britain,” said Sir Keir.
“If we make the right choices – together we can seize the future and make it work for every family in every part of the UK.
“It must be the true legacy of all the victims and the pain of the last two years of the pandemic.”
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in his message that he hoped 2022 would be “the year we will finally beat COVID”.
“Through all the ups and downs, what has shone through the most for me is the remarkable courage, resilience and compassion of the British people,” said Sir Ed.
“Everywhere I go, everyone I meet – you make me proud to be British and optimistic about our future.”
Wales’s Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said there would be “better and brighter times ahead”.
He urged people to “get together” and put a booster stick “at the top of the list” of their New Year’s resolutions.