Covid vaccinations will not be cancelled and second doses will go ahead despite an expected supply shortage, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
The Health Secretary told the Commons on Thursday (18 March) that the UK vaccination programme is still on course to hit its targets, despite an NHS letter to health leaders in England warning there would be a “significant reduction in weekly supply” of Covid vaccines in April.
‘I can confirm we are on track to meet both of these targets’
The UK’s coronavirus vaccination supply is set to see a reduction next month due to a delay in the delivery of millions of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses from India.
The delivery had been expected from the Serum Institute of India, but has been held by up to four weeks, reported the BBC.
A spokesperson for the Serum Institute of India told the BBC: “Five million doses had been delivered a few weeks ago to the UK and we will try to supply more later, based on the
However, Matt Hancock said that despite the delay from India, the partnership with the Serum Institute of India is one the UK “can be proud of”.
The letter from Emily Lawson, NHS chief commercial officer, and Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care, said that those “aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccination” unless they are in a higher priority group.
However, Mr Hancock told MPs that “the targets to offer a vaccine to everyone aged 50 or over by April 15 and to all adults by the end of July, I can confirm we are on track to meet both of these targets.”
He also said he wanted “to clear up some rumours that have been circulating and give people reassurance,” adding that “there will be no weeks in April with no first doses.”
‘Appointments that are already made will not be cancelled because of supply issues’
The Health Secretary also said second dose appointments “will not be delayed because of these supply issues, and also appointments that are already made will not be cancelled because of supply issues.”
Mr Hancock added that second doses will still go ahead as they “cannot be delayed as they have to be delivered within 12 weeks of the first dose.”
In regards to the Moderna vaccine - which is expected to begin being rolled out soon - Mr Hancock said: “We do expect supplies from Moderna in the coming weeks and I am very grateful to Moderna for the work that they have done.”
He added: “Of course, we’ve always been cautious about setting out future supply details – and the experience of the last 24 hours makes me even clearer that it is far better for us to set out clear commitments to the public in terms of when people can be vaccinated, which means all over 50s-now can come forward.
“And we are committed to and on target to offer to all over-50s and groups 1-9 by 15th April.”