As experts debate on the need and efficacy of a third jab of the COVID-19 vaccine, Britain reportedly plans to offer millions of its citizens a booster shot. Starting next month, Britain will offer the third shot of COVID-19 to 32 millions Britons, The Telegraph reported on Sunday. Nearly 2,000 pharmacies have been roped in to deliver the programme.

The vaccination drive could start as early as September 6. If it goes to plan, the rollout is expected to be completed by early December, the report added.

Also read: Fully-vaccinated Americans do not need a booster dose for now, says FDA

The UK government made the announcement at a time when the Delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the globe. Vaccination rates in several developed countries, including the US, have been steadily dropping in the last couple of months.

In Britain, nearly 90% of adults have received at least one jab of the COVID vaccine. But the rates are relatively lower in the youth. Only 60% of those between the age of 18-30 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

In a bid to encourage younger people to get the vaccine, several schemes have been rolled out by cafes, restauarants and ride-hailing apps.

“The lifesaving vaccines not only protect you, your loved ones and your community, but they are helping to bring us back together by allowing you to get back to doing the things you’ve missed,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Associated Press.

Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had urged continued caution as the daily COVID-19 infections registered a drop. He warned against drawing “premature conclusions” about the course of the pandemic in the country.

Earlier, a senior government adviser and the expert behind the UK’s initial decision to lockdown in March last year told the BBC he was hopeful the worst of the pandemic would be over by October.

“The effect of vaccines is hugely reducing the risk of hospitalisations and death,” said epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson.

“And I’m positive that by late September or October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic. We will have COVID with us, we will still have people dying from COVID, but we’ll have put the bulk of the pandemic behind us,” he said.