Britain’s rollout of the vaccine has been successful to date – half of all UK adults are expected to have had their first jab by the end of the week. An NHS letter suggests, however, that a setback could be approaching in the form of a “significant reduction in the weekly supply” of Covid vaccines next month. The BBC has the story.
The NHS has warned of a “significant reduction in the weekly supply” of coronavirus vaccines next month in a letter to local health organisations.
The letter says there has been a “reduction in national inbound vaccines supply” and asks organisations to “ensure no further appointments are uploaded” to booking systems in April.
The Health Secretary said the letter, seen by the BBC, was “standard”.
The BBC understands no-one who has booked a vaccine should lose a slot.
Asked about it during a Downing Street coronavirus briefing, Matt Hancock said the NHS regularly sent out “technical letters” that explained the “ups and downs” of supply.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been told that fewer AstraZeneca vaccines are available than expected.
The letter says that “over this next period it is vital” that health organisations focus on vaccinating those in the priority groups one to nine, who are most vulnerable to coronavirus.
It advises vaccination services to work with local authorities, voluntary community and faith organisations “to put in place reserve lists” of people eligible for the vaccine – as well as targeting areas of lower uptake.
Nick Triggle suggests that the increased risk of a vaccine shortage could be a result of the EU’s threat to restrict vaccine exports.
It is unclear what has caused this drop in supply. Government sources are suggesting the amount produced by manufacturers is below the expected yields. But this has been denied by those firms.
Given that we do rely on supply from Europe for some of our vaccine, the fact it comes on the day the EU warned it may restrict exports has raised questions whether this might be part of the cause.
The number of doses available may drop to under two million a week in April. That is a little below what has been available in the past couple of weeks and will be half the level the NHS has been told it will have for the next two “bumper” weeks.
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