UK vaccine supplies could be shaken in the coming weeks, threatening to slow rollout

Deputy cost nurse Katie McIntosh administers the first of two Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine jabs, to Vivien McKay Clinical Nurse Manager at the Western General Hospital, on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in the British historical past, in Edinburgh, Scotland Britain December 8, 2020.

Andrew Milligan | Reuters

LONDON — The U.Okay. authorities is dealing with questions over whether or not the nation is about to face a scarcity in the provide of coronavirus vaccines, an element that could dent its so-far profitable immunization program.

“We have less supply than we might have hoped for the coming weeks but we expect it to increase again later,” Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick instructed the BBC on Thursday.

“The vaccine rollout will be slightly slower than we might have hoped but not slower than the target,” he mentioned. “We have every reason to believe that supply will increase in the months of May, June and July.”

Later, Jenrick instructed Sky News that the authorities is “sourcing vaccines from all over the world and we are experiencing occasionally some issues and that’s led to this, this issue with some supply in the coming weeks.”

Jenrick’s feedback come amid a flurry of experiences in the British media that the U.Okay.’s rollout could be about to hit some turbulence. It’s been broadly reported {that a} supply of hundreds of thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot being produced by the Serum Institute of India could be held up by 4 weeks.

Jenrick refused to touch upon particular contracts, nevertheless. CNBC has contacted the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, for touch upon the experiences however is but to obtain a reply.

Ten million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine had been anticipated to come from the SII, Reuters reported in early March. In all, the U.Okay. has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, with the bulk of the provide coming from inside the U.Okay.

However, Britain can also be dealing with potential disruptions to provide if the EU goes via with a proposal to withhold exports of vaccines made in the bloc whereas its personal program lags. Supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that the U.Okay. can also be utilizing in its vaccination program come from Belgium.

Since it started its rollout began in December, Britain’s well being service has overseen the vaccination of over 25 million individuals with a primary dose of the vaccine. Over 1.7 million individuals have now had a second dose of the two-shot vaccines at the moment getting used in the U.Okay., authorities information exhibits.

‘Still on observe’

The National Health Service had reportedly already warned of a discount in provide for England “in April in a letter to local health organizations,” in accordance to the BBC.

But the authorities has mentioned that it’s nonetheless on observe to provide all over-50s a primary dose of the vaccine by April 15, and all U.Okay. adults a primary shot by the finish of July.

“The vaccination programme will continue in the coming weeks and more people will continue to receive first and second doses,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson mentioned in a press release Wednesday evening. 

“As has been the case since the programme began, the number of vaccinations carried out over time will vary due to supply.”

‘Major drawback’

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