UK gets up to 10 million extra COVID jabs ahead of surge in vaccination

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People queue to enter an NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London on February 15, 2021 as Britain's largest ever vaccination programme continues. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Britain hitting a target of inoculating 15 million of the most vulnerable people with a first coronavirus jab
People queue to enter an NHS COVID-19 vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London. (Getty)

An increase in vaccine supplies across the UK is set to lead to a surge in vaccinations.

So far, more than 24 million people have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with 1.2 million getting their second jab.

However, vaccine numbers have dropped recently, from three million a week to two million being given out.

But Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has said that the issues with supply are now over and the UK has an extra 10 million doses available, according to The i.

LICHFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Members of the public receive their Covid-19 vaccinations at Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire on February 26, 2021 in Lichfield, England. Lichfield Cathedral is one of many unusual venues that have been adapted for administering vaccines during the Covid-19, coronavirus pandemic. Over 19 million people in the United Kingdom have had their first Covid-19 vaccination, including 90 percent of over-70s.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Members of the public receive their COVID-19 vaccinations at Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire. (Getty)

As a result of the boost in supply, it is predicted that the rollout can go at a more rapid rate.

Drakeford told the paper: "We are confident that we are past the couple of weeks where there was a dip in supply and we will be getting significantly greater volumes during the month of March.”

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It is thought that the NHS will be able to offer four million jabs a week in England, enabling second doses to be administered without having any effect on the rollout of first doses.

The i also reports that the increased rollout would mean the UK would be on track to offer the jab to all over-50s and those with underlying health conditions by the end of March, with the over-40s beginning vaccinations at the start of April. If supplies hold up, the 30-39 age group could start being given vaccinations towards the end of April, while 18-29-year-olds could be covered in May.

The Department for Health and Social Care would not comment on the reports of a quicker rollout but a spokesperson said in a statement: “Our health services across the UK are working tirelessly to vaccinate those most at risk and more than 22 million people have already received their first jab.

“The vaccination programme will rapidly expand in the coming weeks as we expect supply to increase substantially and more people will begin receiving their second doses.

“We are confident in our vaccine supplies and remain on track to offer a first vaccine to all adults by 31 July.”

On Wednesday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said there would be a “rapid increase” in the number of people who will receive their first COVID jab before the end of March.

He said there was to be a “big uplift” in supply in the coming weeks which will see a surge in people receiving their first dose and many of the highest risk getting their second jab.

Zahawi said that the ultimate aim was to get 95% of British adults vaccinated and the offer of a jab was “evergreen” for people who had not yet accepted their invitation.

He told the House of Commons women and equalities committee that until now “supply has been finite” but he was “expecting tens of millions of doses to come through”.

Britain's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Nadhim Zahawi, who has responsibility for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, reacts as he waks along a street in Westminster in London  on December 2, 2020 as England emerges from a month-long lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. - Britain on Wednesday became the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, announcing a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech's jab from next week in a major advance for humanity's fightback against the coronavirus. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said there will be a 'big uplift' in vaccine supplies in the coming weeks. (Getty)

He added: “In the second half of March you will see a big uplift in supply.

“Up until now supply has been finite. We’ve had good volumes but when your supply is finite you have to try and make sure that each region gets enough doses to do the cohort target. So when we were focused on (priority groups) one to four by the middle of February, we have to make sure that each region have that vaccine available to them.

“Now obviously as we see more – and I’m expecting tens of millions of doses to come through – that becomes a little bit easier which allows us, for example, to double the number of pharmacies that will come online for delivery (from 200 to 400).

“The whole country will see a rapid increase in the number of people getting their first dose and getting protected whilst obviously we do second dosing at the same time.”

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