UK vaccine supply: Will second doses be delayed?

Vaccine: Nick Ferrari says EU ‘putting citizens at risk'

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The UK’s vaccine supply has faced a number of threats in recent days, including a possible ban on exports by the European Union (EU) amid a bitter vaccination row between the two sides. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is considering triggering Article 122, part of the EU’s safety and emergency legislation, which would in effect give them the power to seize factories and stock. The EU’s leaders are said to be discussing the issue over the coming days and into next week before making a final decision on the matter.

Will second doses be delayed?

In short, yes, second doses of the vaccine are likely to be delayed as the supply faces issues at its root.

Rather than being delayed, however, there will just be a reduction in the current supply in the country.

This is due to a number of different reasons, one of which is because a shipment produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) is being held up.

Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said not a single country or single factory was behind the supply shortage.

The Department of Health and Social Care insists it is still well on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of June.

NHS England warned that vaccine stocks could decrease next month, in a letter to local health organisations on Wednesday, which has since been leaked.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference this week that there would be a focus on vaccinating the most vulnerable before moving on to the over-40s.

The Government said it would do “everything necessary” to ensure supplies continue.

Mr Hancock said: “Vaccine supply is always lumpy and we regularly send out technical letters to the NHS to explain the ups and downs of the supply of the future weeks and what you are referring to is a standard one of those letters.

“We’re on track to offer a first dose to everyone in priority groups one to nine by April 15.

“While we deliver on that commitment, we also want to ensure that this offer reaches everyone in groups one to nine.

“At the same time as opening up offers of vaccinations to all those who are 50 or above, we are going to do whatever it takes to reach all those in the most vulnerable groups who haven’t come forward yet.”

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What does this mean for easing lockdown?

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading warned the drop in vaccine supplies could have “ripple effects that may last for months”.

Referring to the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, he added: “It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been.

“If full vaccination becomes required for holidays abroad or even more mundane things like going to the cinema, millions of younger people may end up being excluded from participating for the whole summer.”

Despite concerns by some parties, however, Mr Jenrick said “there is no reason to believe” the roadmap to easing lockdown will be delayed by the vaccine situation.

Mr Hancock made his own assurances and said he had “no doubt” that people will be free to travel around the UK in the coming weeks and months.

He said: “We have set out when the English restrictions will be removed and will lift the stay-at-home message as parts of the roadmap out.

“I have no doubt that within a short few weeks everybody will be allowed to travel around the UK so long as we are able to keep this progress going.

“Both the progress in the UK-wide vaccination effort and keeping the number of cases under control.”

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