Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK will “beat Covid” in the coming months.
In an address at the Scottish Conservative conference, the prime minister said that “in the not too distant future, we will be able to reopen businesses, see friends in each other’s houses and hold loved ones”.
He said: “In the coming months, we will beat Covid. We will vaccinate everyone in our country and we will be able to remove restrictions.”
This was because of the “kindness and perseverance of the British spirit”, he added.
Mr Johnson said that more than 1.8 million people in Scotland and 22.5 million people across the whole of the UK have now had their first dose of the vaccine.
“We are resolved to keep that pace and accelerate it wherever possible, so that every single adult across the entire UK will have received their first injection by the end of July,” he said.
The address came almost exactly a year after the first lockdown came into effect on 23 March 2020 – and on the same day that Sir Ian Diamond, the UK’s national statistician, said he had “no doubt” that further waves of the coronavirus would strike later in 2021.
The UK has recorded almost 126,000 deaths from Covid-19, the fifth-highest total in the world.
Against the backdrop of calls for another Scottish independence referendum, Mr Johnson was particularly keen to point out how important he felt the union was in the battle against the disease.
He told the conference: “In Scotland I have seen the cutting-edge technology and science which is helping to power the UK’s battle against coronavirus.
“This effort has shown what the UK can do: pulling together such a massive programme, the biggest in our peacetime history, over such a short period of time.”
It “demonstrated, quite simply, the United Kingdom’s collective strength”, said Mr Johnson.
He also stressed it was “work on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom that secured our access to more than 400 million doses of seven vaccines, that are being distributed across our country”.
The PM also praised NHS staff for their work alongside the “organisational might” of the UK’s armed forces.
Mr Johnson said: “I want to use this opportunity to again say a massive thank you to all of the people that have been involved in delivering our vaccination programme.
“It shows that the great British spirit that saw us through so much adversity in the past, lives on in us today.”
Additional reporting by Press Association
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