U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the country will accelerate its coronavirus vaccination booster initiative to fight a “tidal wave” of cases resulting from the infectious Omicron variant.
Johnson acknowledged that two doses of vaccine were unlikely sufficient to fight off the recent surge in infections, which hit the second-highest level in the UK since the pandemic began.
In an interview with Sky News, Johnson reported that at least one individual infected with the Omicron variant had died. In the UK, roughly 10 people with the variant have been hospitalized to date.
To date, the country has confirmed 4,713 cases of the Omicron variant, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Javid reported that the Omicron variant is now responsible for about one in five cases in the UK.
The country will offer fully vaccinated individuals a third dose by the end of the year. The UK had initially targeted the end of January.
The UK has also reduced the window between the second and third doses from six months to three for those over 40 and in high-risk groups.
In the U.S., scientists have identified the Omicron variant in at least 30 states.
The Biden Administration has also sought to reduce risk from the variant by lengthening mask mandates in public transit, establishing new vaccination sites and acquiring COVID-19 antivirals.
Researchers have found the Omicron variant in 60 countries.