UK pins hope on vaccines to save medical system

Britain is rushing to vaccinate its citizens against the coronavirus, as its medical system faces the risk of being overwhelmed.

Infections are surging due to a new variant of the virus that is said to be more contagious. Daily caseloads have surpassed 60,000 on some days.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has topped 30,000 in England. The figure has risen by more than 40 percent since the start of the year.

England's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, warned in a BBC interview on Monday that the next few weeks will be "the worst" of the pandemic for the National Health Service.

Whitty urged everyone to follow the lockdown measures now in place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to a vaccination center on Monday that the country was "in a race against time" to roll out vaccines.

Britain is planning to inoculate 15 million people by February 15, with those aged 70 or older to be given priority.

About 2.3 million people have received their first shots. Nearly 390,000 have also received the second dose.