Coronavirus: ‘All these anti-vaxxers’ are ‘nuts’, Boris Johnson says, as he warns of ‘tough times ahead’
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The prime minister has described opponents of vaccines as “nuts”, as he predicted Britain will be “well on the way past” coronavirus by the “middle of next year”.
“There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts,” Boris Johnson told nurses at a GP surgery in London.
The PM was speaking as the government announced an expansion of its winter flu vaccination programme, with the aim of doubling the number of people who have the jab.
As the nation continues to battle the coronavirus, Mr Johnson said he believes that by the “middle of next year” Britain will be “well on the way past” COVID-19.
Speaking on the first anniversary of becoming PM, Mr Johnson added: “But I must be clear with people, I do still think that we have tough times ahead in keeping this virus under control.
“We have tough times ahead in coming through economically.
“But I’ve absolutely no doubt that we are going to and this country is going to bounce back stronger than ever before.”
The coronavirus pandemic has dominated politics for months, with the outbreak killing more than 40,000 people across the UK.
Mr Johnson recently expressed hope of a “more significant return to normality” by Christmas.
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Last month, the PM told the nation he believes the UK has “turned the tide” in the fight against the virus.
A feature of life with coronavirus is the social distancing restrictions, which currently encourage people to remain at least one metre apart from others not in their household.
Mr Johnson said the length of time these measures remain in place will depend on how well the UK manages to control the spread of the virus.
“I’m not going to make a prediction about when these various social distancing measures will come off.
“Obviously we have been able to reduce some of them.
“We no longer ask people to stay at home, we’re trying to get back much closer to normal but our ability to dispense with the social distancing measures will depend on our continued ability to drive down the virus.”
From today, people are required by law to wear face coverings in shops, shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets.
Police can hand out £100 fines to people who break the new rules, but the College of Policing has said officers “should only be required as a last resort”.
And some high street chains have said they will not penalise customers for failing to wear a face covering.
Asked if he thinks it is a good idea for members of the public to be “shaming” people who do not comply, the PM said: “I think we should rely on the massive common sense of the British people that have so far delivered the results that we’ve seen, and that’s going to work.”
Mr Johnson was speaking as the government announced it wants to double the number of people who get the flu jab this winter, with free vaccinations for those aged over 50 and 11-year-olds.
The PM said getting the jab is something that can help to “protect the NHS”, adding he wants “everybody” to get the jab.
“We want everybody to get a flu jab in the run-up to this winter and that’s why we’re rolling out the biggest-ever programme of flu immunisation,” he said.
“And we’re aiming first of all for schoolchildren up to year 7, for pregnant women, for people over 65, for people who are shielded, but then we will be extending it to people who are 50 to 65.
“Now the reason for doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months because obviously we have still got COVID, we have still got the threat of a second spike of COVID, and it’s vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab and I really hope everybody will.”
According to reports, the government is preparing to launch a major anti-obesity strategy next week.
Asked about suggestions that junk food adverts could be banned before the 9pm watershed, Mr Johnson said: “I’m not normally a believer in nannying… type of politics.
“Losing weight is, frankly, one of the ways that you can reduce your own risks from COVID.”
The PM said he had lost more than a stone in weight since spending three nights in intensive care with COVID-19, “primarily by eating less, but also by a lot of exercise”.
Mr Johnson also spoke of his plans to tackle what he called “backlog Britain” – by speeding up the operations of government.
He said he wants people to “stop thinking of coronavirus as something that makes it impossible to do things” and outlined an ambition to deliver services more quickly to the public.