- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

NHS Website Crashes Over Huge Demand for COVID-19 Booster Jabs After 1st Omicron Death Confirmed

© REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY / COVID-19 vaccination centre at St Thomas's Hospital in LondonCOVID-19 vaccination centre at St Thomas's Hospital in London
COVID-19 vaccination centre at St Thomas's Hospital in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
The UK's corona booster jab drive has been a roaring success, with 23 million people — 40 percent of the population over 12 — getting their third dose in just over two months, more than half a million on Sunday alone.
A mad rush to get COVID-19 booster jabs has crashed the National Health Service website — blocking orders for home testing kits too.
More than 100,000 people tried to book their third doses of vaccine on Monday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday evening that over-40s would now be invited to have them as part of the "emergency" response to the new Omicron variant.

"The vaccine booking service is facing extremely high demand and is operating a queuing system to manage numbers", an NHS Digital spokesperson said. "We would advise people currently unable to book to try again later today or tomorrow".

Orders of lateral flow test kits had to be suspended as a result. Meanwhile, long queues were reported at walk-in vaccination centres around England.
A person wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) walks outside St Thomas' Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, December 12, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
Omicron COVID Strain
Johnson Urges Brits to Get COVID Booster Jabs Ahead of Omicron 'Tidal Wave'
The UK's booster shot programme has made rapid progress since its launch on 1 October. More than half a million people had their third jab on Sunday, bringing the total to over 23 million out of a population of 67 million — or 40 per cent of the eligible population over the age of 12.
The original target was all over-50s and others considered at high risk, numbering some 30 million in all.
However, the average number of deaths is still the same, at about 110 per day, as in early October.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, over 95 percent of people in every age range are either vaccinated or have acquired antibodies against COVID-19. That figure rises to 99 percent in over-65s, the most vulnerable section of the population.
On Monday, Johnson said a patient in a British hospital had died "with" the new variant — although he did not clarify whether the virus was the cause of death. That was after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said 10 people in UK hospitals had tested positive for Omicron.
However, South African doctors, who discovered the new variant, insist it only causes a mild illness. South African Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee told LBC news on Sunday there was "no need to hospitalise any of these mild cases".

"These patients recover within about five days", Dr Coetzee said. "Whether you are a child, whether you are 80 years of age, whether you have been vaccinated, whether you have not been vaccinated, whether you suffer from... co-morbidities".

"Our ICUs at this stage is not full", she added.
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