UK to receive extra 10m vaccine doses as rollout accelerates
Up to 10m extra vaccine doses are set to be made available to the UK within the following days, as ministers look to accelerate the nation’s largest ever vaccination programme.
More than 22.8m people have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine so far, including all top four priority groups.
Overall vaccine numbers have fallen recently from their peak of 3m a week to just over 2m a week over the last seven days.
However, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford last night allayed fears over a recent “dip” in the vaccine programme, as he predicted a large increase in the number of doses being administered in the next few weeks.
Drakeford told the i newspaper that the UK is now preparing to enter a “crucial stage” of its jab rollout, with the country set to receive “significantly greater volumes during the month of March”.
Ministers have repeatedly blamed the “lumpy” supply of vaccines as the “rate-limiting factor” of Britain’s vaccine programme.
In January, Pfizer announced deliveries to Europe and the UK may be temporarily slowed as the biotech firm upgraded its manufacturing capacity in Belgium, while Astrazeneca’s production was slower to get off the ground than planned.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said yesterday that the government “remains confident” of its vaccine supplies and that “we’ll use the Moderna vaccine from spring”, despite an escalating row over vaccine supplies with Brussels.
It comes as the NHS prepares to send out letters to over-55s from Monday, as the vaccine rollout picks up pace.
The government has set a fresh target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to all over-50s by 15 April, and all adults in the UK by 31 July.
Coronavirus cases have continued to plummet in recent months from a peak of more than 70,000 on 30 December to just shy of 6,000 yesterday.
Hospitalisations have also fallen dramatically to the lowest levels since last October. The number of patients admitted to hospital yesterday was six times lower than the record 4,577 reported on 12 January.