Up to 10 million extra vaccine doses could be available to UK in days

Up to 10 million extra vaccine doses could be available to UK in days

March 11, 2021

Up to 10 million extra vaccine doses could be available to UK within days as surge in supply boosts roll-out

  • Data shows 900,000 unused doses are available in Scotland, meaning figures could be 10million across UK
  • Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford told the i that he is ‘confident’ that the vaccine rollout ‘dip’ is now over  
  • Infections are down 7% week-on-week, even though thousands of extra Covid tests have been carried out
  • Fatalities are still falling rapidly, thanks to the combined effect of lockdown and vaccines, scientists say
  • Department of Health figures show daily Covid deaths are down by 40 per cent on last Wednesday’s toll
  • Another 290,000 Covid vaccines were also dished out yesterday, with 22.8million Britons now vaccinated 

Up to 10 million extra vaccine doses could be available to the UK within days following a surge in supply, in another major boost for the country’s vaccine roll-out.

As the number of Britons having had their first Covid jab last night topped 22 million, figures revealed the Scottish Government now has access to around 900,000 unused doses.

Though the Government has so far refused to give data on its vaccine supply, the figure from Scotland, which is given a share of the UK’s total jab stockpile, means the total across Britain could be up to 10 million.

The boost means the UK could increase the rate it gives out second doses, without impacting on the rate it is giving out the first doses. It will also be a boost to hopes that the Government can extend the roll-out to all over 50s later this month. 

It comes as Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford last night alleviated fears of over a ‘dip’ in the vaccination.

He told the i newspaper that the dip was now over, as the UK prepares to enter what he described as a ‘crucial stage’ of its jab rollout.

Mr Drakeford said: ‘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.’

Last month the country’s highly-praised vaccination roll-out began to stall after getting off to a rapid start – which put the UK far ahead of its European neighbours.

Just 192,000 people were vaccinated on Monday, February 23 and 142,000 the day before, in two of the lowest daily tolls since the mammoth operation began to gather steam at the start of the year. 

Ministers have repeatedly blamed the ‘lumpy’ supply of vaccines as being the ‘rate-limiting factor’ of the programme. 

Officials say shrinking deliveries were expected because Pfizer had to improve its key factory in Belgium at the start of the year, and AstraZeneca’s production was slower to get off the ground than planned.

However, both drug giants have insisted that there are no unforeseen issues with the supply chain.

The vaccines boost come as everyone aged 56 and over will be invited for jabs from next Monday, NHS England announced this week.    

The over 60s are the group currently top of the vaccine priority list. Last night, the total number of people in the UK to receive their first dose of a Covid jab reached 22.8million.

The Government has so far prioritised those in older age groups and the clinically vulnerable. 

It comes as last night Britain recorded another 5,926 coronavirus cases and 190 deaths as the second wave continues to shrink and Boris Johnson faced more pressure to ease lockdown sooner.

Infections are down 7 per cent week-on-week — even though hundreds of thousands of extra Covid tests were carried out over the past two days because of children returning to schools. 

Fatalities are still falling rapidly, thanks to the combined effect of lockdown and vaccines. Department of Health figures show daily deaths are down by 40 per cent on last Wednesday’s toll.   

As the number of Britons having had their first Covid jab last night topped 22 million (pictured: Stephen Fry receives his Covid vaccine), figures revealed the Scottish Government has around 900,000 unused doses stockpiled

Though the Government has so far refused to give data on its vaccine supply, the figure from Scotland, which is give a share of the UK’s total jab stockpile, means the total across Britain could be up to 10 million

The EU has conceded the UK did not ban vaccine exports after Boris Johnson slapped down the European Council’s president in a fresh row over Covid jabs.

The Prime Minister spoke out after Charles Michel on Tuesday made the astonishing claim that the UK had ‘imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines.’

‘Let me be clear,’ Mr Johnson said at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, ‘we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine component.’

When asked about the claims later on Wednesday, a European commission spokesman acknowledged there was no such ban, but declined to comment directly on the claims made by Mr Michel, the former prime minister of Belgium.

‘We know that different countries have got different measures in place – that doesn’t concern vaccines, as far as we understand, coming from the UK,’ the spokesman said, according to The Guardian.

However, officials did point to a lack of vaccine exports coming from the UK when compared to the EU, with one saying ‘we need some transparency on that’.

Figures seen by The Guardian newspaper show that of the 34,090,287 doses exported out of the EU, 9,106,162 went to the UK.

The EU’s climb-down comes after after the EU charge d’affairs was summoned to the Foreign Office to ‘clarify’ the situation earlier today, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued a rebuttal in a letter on Tuesday night. 

Another 290,000 Covid vaccines were also dished out yesterday, with 22.8million Britons now vaccinated. And 1.2million vulnerable adults have now had both doses. 

With Covid metrics dramatically decreasing and the jab rollout steaming ahead, there is mounting pressure from anti-lockdown Tory MPs for an earlier easing of restrictions. The PM faced fresh anger over ‘moving the goalposts’ today.

He admitted he was under pressure to ramp up the pace of his roadmap as infections and deaths tumble, after Nicola Sturgeon revealed that she is stepping up the loosening in Scotland.

But Mr Johnson warned it is not yet possible to ‘get back to normal’ with the levels still ‘much higher than last summer’. 

He also delivered a stark warning that Covid is starting to ‘surge’ again in Europe, with infections rising quickly in Italy. France is also seeing the virus bounce back.

No10’s top scientists have urged ministers to abide by the cautious roadmap back to normality, which won’t see virus-controlling measures completely dropped until June 21 at the earliest. One SAGE expert today warned Britain faced ‘very many deaths’ if restrictions were relaxed ‘too quickly’.  

The promising figures — which will inevitably be used to pile more pressure on No10 to relax restrictions sooner — come after a study today claimed the Kent coronavirus variant was deadlier than original strains of the virus.

Researchers analysed the lethality of the highly transmissible strain — the dominant type circulating in the UK which has rapidly spread across the world.

Data from around 55,000 Britons revealed the B117 variant was 64 per cent deadlier than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But scientists admitted the risk of dying may actually be twice as high for people infected with the Kent strain.

Academics calculated this equated to the disease killing 0.41 per cent of everyone it infected in the study group — or one in 250 people.

For comparison, the original Covid strain had a lethality rate of around 0.25 per cent – one in 400 people — in a separate cohort matched by age and other factors which affect the risk of dying. 

Britain has now vaccinated 34.37 people per 100, while the EU nations have managed just 9.11 per 100

The PM today also delivered a stark warning that coronavirus is starting to ‘surge’ again in Europe, as he snuffed out Tory hopes of an early end to lockdown. The graph shows how infection rates have been increasing in a number of European countries recently

The research, carried out by academics at the universities of Exeter, Bristol, Warwick and Lancaster, was published in the British Medical Journal.

Boris Johnson says UK ‘has not blocked the export of a single vaccine or vaccine component’

Boris Johnson has slapped down EU president Charles Michel in a row over Covid jab exports, saying Britain has not blocked a single vaccine or component from going overseas

Boris Johnson has slapped down the EU’s president in a fresh row over Covid jabs, saying the UK ‘has not blocked export of a single vaccine or vaccine component’.

The Prime Minister spoke out after Charles Michel made the astonishing claim that the UK had ‘imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines.’

‘Let me be clear,’ Mr Johnson said at Prime Minister’s Questions today, ‘we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine component.’

It comes after after the EU charge d’affairs was summoned to the Foreign Office to ‘clarify’ the situation earlier today, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued a rebuttal on Tuesday night.

It is just the latest in a series of increasingly bitter spats between the UK and EU over vaccines, as Britain powers ahead with one of the world’s fastest jabs programmes and Europe presides over one of the world’s slowest.

Despite the finding being worrying for the UK, scientists are adamant the current vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer will work just as intended against the strain and other troublesome variants. 

The Prime Minister today slapped down the EU’s president in a fresh row over Covid jabs, saying the UK ‘has not blocked export of a single vaccine or vaccine component’.

Mr Johnson spoke out after Charles Michel made the astonishing claim that the UK had ‘imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines.’ At Prime Minister’s Questions today, he said: ‘Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine component.’

It comes after after the EU charge d’affairs was summoned to the Foreign Office to ‘clarify’ the situation earlier today, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued a rebuttal last night.

It is just the latest in a series of increasingly bitter spats between the UK and EU over vaccines, as Britain powers ahead with one of the world’s fastest jabs programmes and Europe presides over one of the world’s slowest.

The PM today also delivered a stark warning that coronavirus is starting to ‘surge’ again in Europe, as he snuffed out Tory hopes of an early end to lockdown.

Under pressure to ramp up the pace of his roadmap as infections and deaths tumble, Mr Johnson warned it is not yet possible to ‘get back to normal’ with the levels still ‘much higher than last summer’.

‘We can see the signs of a surge of Covid among some of our European friends, and we remember how we in the UK have tended to follow that upwards curve, if a few weeks later,’ he wrote in an article for the Telegraph.

‘We know how fast this disease can take off, and that Monday’s successful return to school will inevitably add to the budget of risk.

‘The overwhelming majority of people — and businesses — would prefer us to take steps that are cautious but irreversible, rather than go backwards again. They would rather trade haste for certainty.’

However, the Covid Recovery Group of lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs renewed its calls for Mr Johnson to move earlier, complaining that ministers are ‘moving the goalposts’.

CRG head and former chief whip Mark Harper pointed to the way Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stressed the importance of second vaccine doses in interviews this morning.

He claimed ministers were now ‘casting doubt on the efficacy of the vaccine’ despite the UK’s four chief medical officers saying the first dose brings ‘substantial protection’. 

But Mr Johnson’s tough line echoes that from medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance when they appeared before MPs yesterday.

Amir Khan, 34, is quizzed by fans as he gets Covid vaccine, despite being a professional athlete

Amir Khan, 34, has been questioned after receiving his coronavirus vaccination early

Amir Khan is facing questions about how he managed to jump the queue to get his coronavirus vaccination.

The former world champion boxer, 34, revealed on Wednesday that he has received his Covid jab by posting a picture on social media.

‘Finally got my Covid vaccine. Feel fantastic #Staysafe #nhs #nhsstaff #thankyou,’ he wrote alongside a photo of him about to get his jab from a nurse.

Khan’s post led to immediate questions from fans about how he got his coronavirus vaccination early when the UK’s rollout only expanded to the over 60s at the end of February and he is a professional athlete.

MailOnline was told by Khan’s father Shah, that he was able to get the vaccine after approaching his doctor and explaining that he is visiting his mother, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

In other developments today, it was claimed that sunny Spanish holidays could be back on for Brits within weeks after the country’s tourism minister revealed a vaccine passport system was planned for the middle of May.

It comes after Greece yesterday announced plans to reopen to holidaymakers from mid-May and Cyprus said it would welcome fully-vaccinated Britons from May 1.

But those hoping to jet off for the Early May bank holiday are set to be barred by UK authorities because No10 has said overseas leisure travel won’t be allowed until at least May 17.

Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto told a radio station: ‘We could be in a position to start implementing the digital passport (when the tourism fair FITUR starts on May 19).’

Under the Government’s roadmap for England, this would mean holidaymakers could fly freely to Spain, providing they had their jabs and the country hadn’t be added to the dreaded ‘red list’ from which entry to the UK is banned over Covid variant fears.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps did sound a note of caution today, saying that there was no cast iron guarantee that holidays abroad may be allowed from May 17.

One of the Government’s top scientific advisers today also warned that coronavirus will kill tens of thousands of Britons every year, just like flu.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a University College London epidemiologist and SAGE member, said vaccines would stop the UK from suffering another surge of 100,000 deaths when the virus inevitably bounces back.

But he claimed Covid — which experts fear will strike every winter — would continue to claim thousands of lives each year.

Daily Covid fatalities have plummeted since the start of 2021, with fewer than 200 new victims being recorded each day, on average. It has not been that low since the end of October, before the second wave took off.

Meanwhile, Amir Khan today questions about how he managed to jump the queue to get his coronavirus vaccination.

The former world champion boxer, 34, revealed on Wednesday that he has received his Covid jab by posting a picture on social media.

‘Finally got my Covid vaccine. Feel fantastic #Staysafe #nhs #nhsstaff #thankyou,’ he wrote alongside a photo of him about to get his jab from a nurse.

Khan’s post led to immediate questions from fans about how he got his coronavirus vaccination early when the UK’s rollout only expanded to the over 60s at the end of February and he is a professional athlete.

MailOnline was told by Khan’s father Shah, that he was able to get the vaccine after approaching his doctor and explaining that he is visiting his mother, who has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

Are holidays back on? Spain to launch vaccine passports

Sunny Spanish holidays could be back on for Britons within weeks as the tourism minister revealed a vaccine passport system was planned for the middle of May.

It comes after Greece announced plans to reopen to holidaymakers from mid-May and Cyprus said it would welcome fully-vaccinated Britons from May 1.

But those hoping to jet off for the Early May bank holiday are set to be barred by UK authorities because Boris Johnson has said he won’t allow overseas leisure travel until at least May 17.

Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto told a radio station on Wednesday: ‘We could be in a position to start implementing the digital passport (when the tourism fair FITUR starts on May 19).’

Under the Government’s roadmap for England, this would mean that holidaymakers could fly freely to Spain – providing they had their jabs and the country hadn’t be added to the dreaded ‘red list’ from which entry to the UK is banned over Covid variant fears.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps did sound a note of caution on Wednesday, saying there was no cast iron guarantee that holidays abroad may be allowed from May 17.

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