All over-50s and high-risk groups in the UK have actually been provided a coronavirus vaccine a couple of days prior to the mid-April due date set by the government– suggesting the second stage of the rollout to younger cohorts can now start.
In spite of fears of a supply slowdown and possible knock in confidence after a change in advice on who could get the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Boris Johnson hailed the passing of “another hugely substantial milestone”.
With more than 32 million people now having had a very first dose and 7.6 million of those having received their second, the prime minister said “numerous thousands of lives” had actually been conserved.
The federal government had actually promised all those in the very first phase of the vaccine rollout in classifications one to 9– which included individuals over 50, care home residents and staff, frontline health workers and the medically susceptible– would be offered a vaccine by 15 April.
On Monday evening, a couple of days early, Johnson revealed that the target had been reached, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation– which encourages which groups should be prioritised for a jab– are to release their final guidance later on today on who need to be next in line.
He hinted that their existing strategy would continue, suggesting those in their late 40s will be used a vaccine next. The JCVI’s interim strategy published at the end of February stated the rollout needs to continue down the age groups– to those over 40 initially, then over-30s and finally over-18s.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS in England, stated: “Vaccinating 19 out of 20 people aged 50 and over is an extraordinary turning point. Thanks to our NHS nurses, doctors, pharmacists, operational supervisors and countless other staff and volunteers, the NHS Covid vaccination programme lacks a doubt the most successful in our history.”
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said the news was “hugely welcome progress”, and paid tribute to the NHS. Nevertheless, he stated he wished to “drill down into the figures” and cautioned “there are pockets where uptake is lower than average, typically in locations of downside”.
He added: “This need to be urgently addressed by ministers so no area is left behind. There will be no ‘levelling up’ if Covid stays stubbornly endemic in parts of the nation.”
There was concern that the federal government’s next target, to offer all grownups a dose by the end of July, could be harder to strike, after the JCVI advised that under-3os be offered an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca where possible, following concerns over blood clots, of which there might be an exceptionally small danger.
Ministers maintained that there would be no downturn to the roadmap out of lockdown– the next step of which would enable six individuals to fulfill inside and 30 to collect outdoors from 17 May at the earliest– and said the next vaccine target would be fulfilled.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, stated the “considerable impact” of vaccines had actually seen pressures on medical facilities decreased, meaning it should be possible to alleviate limitations. He included: “I prompt everybody eligible to come forward for their vaccine as quickly as possible to secure yourself and your loved ones.”
While the variety of day-to-day dosages administered has remained broadly stable, the seven-day rolling average has actually recently dipped back down to levels initially seen at the start of March. Johnson had actually tried to set expectations by telling individuals the variety of first doses would likely dip while the rollout focused on ensuring those who had their very first jab in the winter season were fully inoculated with their 2nd.
NHS England alerted numerous weeks ago that from the end of March there would be a “considerable decrease in weekly supply available from producers … indicating volumes for first dosages will be substantially constrained”.