It has been the center of the pandemic in Europe since January, and a large number of deaths and hospitalizations have overwhelmed a healthcare system that was already too strong by the first wave last year. But the country now appears to be emerging from the pandemic, with places like France, Germany and Italy facing a third wave of infections.
There is growing concern that new variants will soon spread in Britain, in addition to the first discovered in the country late last year – a rise that has led to strict lock-in measures and travel restrictions around the world.
Neil Ferguson, a former adviser to Mr. Johnson on the pandemic, said on Friday that he was concerned about the distribution in Europe of the variant that was first discovered in South Africa.
Early research suggests that the variant, which accounts for a significant proportion of new cases in countries such as France, may impair the efficacy of some vaccines. These include the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is central to Britain’s vaccination.
The head of the English National Health Service, Simon Stevens (54), also received his first injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, as well as Prime Minister Jean Castex of France (55), who flashed an inch up to television cameras after being shot. at a military hospital southeast of Paris.
The almost simultaneous public vaccinations of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Castex highlighted how public officials in Europe were trying to restore public confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine after several countries in the European Union, including France, stopped using it this week.
But Britain and France found themselves in very different situations: Britain, which left the European Union last year, vaccinated its population at a faster rate than France and other countries of the bloc. And British officials were strong defenders of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford.