Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday that the pace of Britain’s rollout of Kovid-19 vaccines is being limited to the supply of shots and that the government is working with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
To meet an ambitious goal of more than 13 million people who are elderly, vulnerable, or frontline workers by mid-February, the government should rapidly increase the vaccination rate.
Hank told the broadcaster, “The phase-limiting rate is the supply of the vaccine, and we are working with companies to have both Pfizer and AstraZeneca increase the supply.”
“The producers are doing a fantastic job, and they are delivering the program that is agreed, but this schedule is the amount of vaccine we have … We expect the vaccine volume to be increasing.”
Hancock underwent doctors’ surgery on Thursday after the Kovid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
More than 1.3 million people in the United Kingdom have received a shot from the AstraZeneca or Pfizer Kovid-19 vaccine, but the government needs to administer around 2 million doses a week to hit its February target.
In a sign of supply constraints, a doctor visited Hancock on Thursday and said he had not received the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine that he had expected.
Birmingham City Council leaders and local MPs also wrote to Hancock, saying that no AstraZeneca vaccine was available in the central English city and that Pfizer Shot’s stock would run out on Friday.
The UK is prioritizing the administration of the initial shot to more people, delaying the second dose a month after the first.
Just 20,000 people received their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine before changing guidance. Pfizer has stated that there is no data for the efficacy of the first shot before 21 days.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that if a vaccine rollout is planned, new lockdown measures introduced this week could be reduced in February.
Johnson, who will deliver a news conference later on Thursday, has already cited the time it takes for the regulator to approve batches of AstraZeneca’s vaccines as a limiting factor.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was first deployed to hospitals on Monday. It does not have the ultra-low temperature requirements that Pfizer does, making it easy to roll out.
Initial boxes of the Pfizer vaccine contain about 1,000 doses, but the NHS said smaller boxes were also approved for use, which could be used in care home settings, without wasting a dose.
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