LONDON (Reuters)-London announced a major event on Friday, as its hospitals may be overwhelmed by a “highly out of control” highly spreading variant of the coronavirus across the UK.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan from the opposition Labour Party said that due to the spread of the virus “out of control”, the capital’s hospital beds will be used up in the next few weeks:
“We are announcing a major event because the threat that the virus poses to our city is at a moment of crisis.”
London competed with Paris to become the richest city in Europe, with a population of over 9 million.
“Major incidents” usually refer to attacks or serious accidents, especially those that may involve “serious injury, destruction, damage to human life or well-being, basic services, environmental or national security risks.”
The last “significant incident” in London was the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in a high-rise residential area, where 72 people died.
Khan said that in certain areas of London, 1 in 20 people are infected with the virus. Currently, the ambulance service, which handles as many as 9,000 emergency calls every day, is under tremendous pressure, which means that firefighters are being recruited to drive vehicles, and the police will follow suit.
The National Bureau of Statistics estimates that as of the week of January 2, 1.1 million people in England had the coronavirus, which is equivalent to 1 in 50 people.
The United Kingdom is the first country to approve vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. It approved Moderna’s vaccine on Friday and hopes to start its administration this spring. It also agreed to purchase an additional 10 million doses.
However, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said there are concerns that certain vaccines may not work properly against the highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that have emerged in South Africa.
He told LBC Radio: “This is a big problem for scientists.”
A laboratory study by the US drugmaker Pfizer has not yet been peer-reviewed. The study shows that the vaccine developed by the German company BioNTech is resistant to a key mutation in the new variant found in the UK and South Africa.
Reporting by Michael Holden, Alistair Smout, Andy Bruce and Kate Holton; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey