British Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to book a COVID-19 booster shot on Wednesday as he said there were 22 confirmed cases of the Omicron virus variant in the country.
Javid said the government believed a booster campaign would help protect against severe disease from Omicron, even if it turns out that vaccines are not as effective against the variant as previous strains of the disease.
He said he hoped to know more about Omicron within two weeks, as scientists work to understand what impact the new variant will have on transmissibility and serious disease.
"At this point in time the case numbers are very low," Javid told Sky News. "For the UK we've got 22 confirmed cases at the moment and that will go up, it will certainly go up."
Britain plans to offer all adults a COVID-19 booster shot by the end of January. Government data shows 81% of the population aged over 12 have had two doses of the vaccine while 32% have had a booster shot or third dose.
"Our best form of defence still remains our vaccines," Javid said. "It's possible of course, it's possible that it might be less effective. We just don't know for sure yet. But it's also very likely that it will remain effective against serious disease."