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Concern over Covid vaccine supply to Britain as latest jab figures revealed

Nicholas Cecil
·4-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Concerns grew today over the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to Britain as official figures showed the number of first doses administered rising by 167,150 a day.

The latest figures showed a total of 4,118,342 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and January 18, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 170,900 on Monday’s figures.

Of this number, 3,687,206 were the first dose of the vaccine, a rise of 167,150 on Monday’s figures, while 431,136 were the second dose, an increase of 3,750.

The NHS England data shows a total of 439,691 jabs were given to people in London between December 8 and January 18, including 388,437 first doses and 51,254 second doses.

This was the lowest of regions, through, the capital has a proportionately smaller elderly population than other parts of the country.

The highest number of vaccinations was in the Midlands with 713,602 first doses and 65,835 second doses, a total of 779,437.

The North East and Yorkshire has had 633,837 first doses and 71,332 second doses, making 705,169 in total, North West 504,941 first doses and 61,498 second doses, making 566,439 in total, the South East 602,440 first doses and 74,656 second doses, making 677,096 in total, the South West 425,672 first doses and 52,905 second doses, making 478,577 in total, and East of England 393,916 first doses and 53,219 second doses, making 447,135 in total.

The 167,150 figure is significantly below daily vaccinations levels being achieved at the end of last week.

Downing Street said earlier that the amount of supply of Covid-19 jabs was behind the number of first doses falling to 225,407 on Sunday.

No10 stressed the Government was not stockpiling vaccines and they were being rushed out to hospitals, GP hubs and mass vaccination centres as quickly as possible.

Asked whether fewer staff, fewer appointments or less supply was behind first dose vaccinations falling from 324,233 on Friday to 225,407 on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said:

“As ministers have said on a number of occasions it is supply that is the limiting factor at present but as you have seen throughout December and through January we have ramped up the vaccination programme and you will have seen yesterday that we hit four million dose mark.”

Pressed whether there was any particular issue about vaccinations slowing down over the weekend, he added: “Again, we have said that supply is the limiting factor, you will have seen the numbers of people vaccinated on Saturday (277,915).

“It’s not our intention to have stockpiles of vaccines. As soon as we receive them, we want to get them out to centres, to GPs, to hospitals to pharmacies to make sure we can get them in people’s arms and provide protection to those at greatest clinical risk.

“We don’t want vaccines sitting on shelves, we don’t want them in warehouses, we want them in people’s arms.”

He stressed more GPs, pharmacists and mass vaccination centres are joining the roll-out programme as it is being ramped up, with extra supplies also being sent to areas, including London, which were vaccinating their priority groups more slowly.

Asked about the disparities in the speed of the roll-out, the No10 spokesman added: “We have ensured that all areas have had equal access to supply.”

Health sources say the capital got off to a slower start than many other regions because it took more time to set up GP vaccination hubs, though it is not clear why given how long the NHS had to prepare before the vaccines were approved.

The Government has set the goal of offering the Covid-19 jab to all people aged 70 and over, care home staff and residents, frontline health and social care workers, and other particularly vulnerable individuals by mid-February.

However, there are concerns that supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines in coming weeks may make the target even more challenging.

The UK, though, is far ahead of nearly all countries including France and Germany in getting its citizens vaccinated.

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