The number of Covid vaccines given in the UK fell by more than a third last week, with ministers warning of a short-term drop in supply coupled with storage to ensure people get a second dose within the recommended limit of 12 weeks.
The latest data showed 192,341 people received a first stroke on Monday, the second lowest daily total since January 17 – bringing the number of people in Britain who received a first Covid vaccination to 17.9 million.
On Sunday, the number of vaccinations was 141,719, the lowest figure since the UK daily count began on January 10. Taken together, the total for the past two days is 35% lower than the equivalent figures for the past week.
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of Health, said in a radio interview that the country could expect “a quieter week this week” for vaccinations due to supply pressure, but the deployment would rebound next month. “We are going to have some really exceptional weeks in March.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, also said in her daily press briefing that there had been “a temporary drop” but added that there were other factors at play to suggest that vaccine stocks British had been reduced.
Other reasons for the slowdown, said the prime minister, included “the higher than expected consumption so far, as well as the need to reserve stocks so that second doses can be offered to people who have received their first dose. in December”.
British ministers have repeatedly said they expect supplies to be uneven, especially as Pfizer cut output at its European factory in Belgium in February to increase the amount it could earn in March. AstraZeneca has promised to produce an average of 2 million doses per week, but he acknowledges that its production can be lumpy.
Modeling papers released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Monday also appear to suggest the UK may step up its inoculation rate towards the end of March.
A Sage Modeling Subcommittee document produced earlier this month suggests vaccinations could potentially be done at the rate of 4 million per week starting March 22 based on ‘Cabinet Office-ordered’ scenarios – although a second, more conservative forecast suggests 4 million per week could be reached on April 25.
Just over a week ago, with average vaccination rates of over 400,000 per day, the UK hit its goal of providing a vaccine to 15 million people in the first four priority groups. Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘Maybe they used a lot more doses during the first part of February to achieve the goal they had set themselves. imposed and look good.
Dr Michael Head, senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton, said it was too early to say if there were serious problems. “We probably need another week of data to get a clearer picture of whether this is a worrying trend or indeed part of the natural fluctuations,” he said. he declares.
Sturgeon said Scotland will follow an announcement made by England over the weekend to come up with a target to reach all people in the first nine priority groups by April 15 instead of April 30.
That would mean everyone over 50 would be offered a first vaccine soon after Easter, as well as those with underlying health conditions, as well as healthcare and care workers – a total of 32 million. of people across the UK. A program of rolling second hits in large numbers would also have started at this time.