Covid vaccine rollout is still on target, ministers pledge

We WILL hit July 31 jabs target: Covid vaccine rollout is still on track even if under-30s are given alternative to Oxford inoculation, ministers pledge… as experts admit blood clot risk is tiny

  • Government ministers remain confident of hitting July 31 vaccination target date
  • There is enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna jabs to inoculate all under-30s 
  • Experts have advised against young people taking Oxford/AstraZeneca shot due to possibility of rare blood clots
  • Boris Johnson vowed there would be no delay to the lockdown-easing plans 

All adults will be vaccinated by the target date of July 31 as the rollout continues ‘full steam ahead’, ministers pledged yesterday.

And officials are confident there are sufficient supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the ten million under-30s who have now been advised not to have the Oxford/AstraZeneca one.

However, some experts suggested that the ‘change of course’ of the programme could still slow down the rollout and may lead to some people having to travel further to get their vaccine.

It is also too early to say whether vaccine hesitancy might increase as a result of the decision to offer the under-30s an alternative jab over fears of very rare blood clots.

And it is not clear whether some of those who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab will be deterred from having their second dose – though officials have made clear that they should still have it.

On a visit to Cornwall yesterday, Boris Johnson vowed there would be no delay to the lockdown-easing plans and that he believed the vaccine rollout would continue on schedule.

On a visit to Cornwall yesterday, Boris Johnson vowed there would be no delay to the lockdown-easing plans and that he believed the vaccine rollout would continue on schedule.

Officials are confident there are sufficient supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the ten million under-30s who have now been advised not to have the Oxford/AstraZeneca one. Pictured: Practice Nurse Gemma Reid gives pensioners a Covid-19 vaccine at Lichfield Cathedral, Staffs

So far 31.7million people in the UK – more than six in ten adults – have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This means around 21million over-18s are still waiting for their first dose

He said: ‘I don’t see any reason at this stage at all to think we need to deviate from the road map and we’re also very secure about our supply.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We’re on track to offer a first jab to all adults by the end of July. When you get the call, get the jab.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government was ‘confident in meeting our programme targets’.

So far 31.7million people in the UK – more than six in ten adults – have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This means around 21million over-18s are still waiting for their first dose.

With 16 weeks to go until July 31, the UK must deliver first doses at a rate of 185,000 a day – or 1.3million a week – over the next four months.

Current Cabinet Office projections suggest ministers are expecting supplies of 2.7million vaccines a week until the end of July.

However, a significant proportion of these will be used for second doses, which must be given to people within 12 weeks of their first.

First-dose vaccinations have been faltering in recent days and yesterday’s data showed just 85,000 first doses were delivered, compared to 187,000 second doses. However, the NHS is confident it will have enough doses of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs to give first doses to 18 to 29-year-olds.

The UK’s vaccination programme has been bolstered by hundreds of thousands of Moderna jabs, which began being rolled out yesterday.

Officials also hope that two more jabs – Janssen and Novavax – could be approved within weeks. Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, suggested the Moderna vaccine could be reserved for younger people.

Deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said of the new advice for under-30s: ‘Because of our supply situation in relation to alternative vaccines, the effect on the timing of our overall programme should be zero or negligible.’

He added: ‘It is full speed ahead with the UK vaccination programme so we can get life back to normal.’

However, Caroline Casey, from data data analytics company Airfinity company Airfinity, said: ‘In terms of hitting the deadline in July, of the vaccines we would expect to be delivered in July, AstraZeneca would make up about 36 per cent of those.

‘So should AstraZeneca have suspended use in certain age groups that could push the deadline… back to potentially the middle of August according to some of our calculations.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘More than 37 million jabs overall have already been administered, and we are on track to offer jabs to all over-50s by April 15 and all adults by the end of July.’

Magnificent eight – vaccines that could give us a shot at freedom

To help hit the July target, ministers have ordered 457 million doses of eight promising vaccines.

Three of them – Oxford-AstraZeneca; Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – have been rolled out after being approved by the medical regulator. The rest are awaiting approval or in clinical trials.

APPROVED:

Oxford-AstraZeneca

  • 100 million doses ordered, enough for 50 million people.
  • 20 million delivered so far. But under-30s will no longer be offered it.
  • Supplies to reduce in April due because of a delay in delivery of doses from India.

Pfizer-BioNTech

  • 40 million doses ordered, enough for 20 million people.
  • 17 million doses delivered so far.
  • Pfizer is on track to meet its delivery schedule, thought to be around eight million doses in the next two months.
  • However jabs are now being prioritised for second doses. The EU has also threatened to impose export controls on jabs produced at Pfizer’s plant in Belgium, potentially disrupting supply.

Moderna

  • 17 million doses ordered, enough for 8.5 million people. It is the third jab to be approved in the UK, and the rollout began yesterday.
  • So far 5,000 doses have been delivered in Wales, and it will be rolled out in England from April 19.
  • About 100,000 Moderna jabs will be offered every week this month, increasing to 150,000 a week in May.

AWAITING APPROVAL:

Janssen

  • 30 million doses ordered.
  • This is likely to be the next in line for approval in the UK. It is the only single-dose vaccine that is available, and has already been approved in Europe and by the World Health Organisation.
  • Clinical trials show the one-shot jab is highly effective. Doses of vaccine, developed by a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson called Janssen, should be delivered to the UK in the second half of the year.

Novovax

  • 60 million ordered, enough for 30 million people.
  • Ministers are hopeful this jab will also gain approval by the summer. The US firm Novovax is manufacturing its vaccine in Stockton-on-Tees.
  • A clinical trial in the UK found it to be 89 per cent effective at preventing patients falling ill with Covid, which officials said was ‘phenomenal’.

Valneva

  • 100 million ordered, enough for 50 million people.
  • French company Valneva is manufacturing its vaccine in Livingston, Scotland. Clinical trials are ongoing and it will not be approved before the end of the year but could be used as a booster jab.

GlaxoSmithKline-Sanofi

  • 60 million doses ordered, enough for 30 million people.
  • This vaccine is still in development and several months off approval. The EU had pinned its hopes on the vaccine, being produced by French company Sanofi, signing a deal for 300 million doses.

CureVac

  • 50 million doses ordered.
  • The Government has a deal with biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants if they are required. It has placed an initial order for 50 million doses to be delivered later this year.

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