News that the UK has impressively vaccinated 25 million people was overshadowed this week after it was revealed that the NHS faces major shortages of vaccine doses next month, it has been reported by Politics Home.
The news report said that in a letter seen by Sky News, health bosses said that the next stage of the rollout could be delayed in April due to a “significant reduction” in supply from the manufacturers.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has however insisted that the letter in question was “standard” and that the government “regularly sends out technical letters to the NHS to explain the ups and downs of the supply”.
The letter says: “The government’s Vaccines Task Force have now notified us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March, meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained.
“They now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.”
UPDATE: This morning, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have both denied such shortages and delays, according to news reports.
Sources have told Sky News that “the number of doses delivered varying over time is batches requiring further testing to ensure the highest safety standards are met in every case.”
The Sky News report also said that jab sites in England have now been ordered to stop vaccinating people under 50 during April, a move that has prompted Tory MPs to fear it could cause a delay in easing lockdown measures.
EU threatens to block vaccine exports
The news of expected vaccine shortages comes at a time when the EU is threatening to block exports of vaccines to countries including the UK saying Europe must “get its fair share”.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen accused manufacturer AstraZeneca of “underproducing and underdelivering”, despite the fact many countries have currently suspended using that version of the jab.
She warned “we are ready to use whatever tool we need” to ensure member states get a reliable supply of doses as many of them are suffering through a new wave of coronavirus infections.