The approval of several Covid-19 vaccines has given the nation some hope of getting back to normal. However, while a substantial proportion over the 80s has now received at least one vaccine dose, there is still a long way to go. The UK government has set ambitious targets to vaccinate Britain's adult population. Are officials lining up supply issues as the excuse to cover their backs should they miss them?
Government officials including Health Secretary Matt Hancock have proudly announced that most older people aged 80 and over have now received their first dose of the vaccination. They have said they aim to have everyone vaccinated by the autumn and have even suggested they could achieve this by the summer.
However, many have noticed that whenever officials talk about the vaccine rollout, they often mention supply. To some, it appears that they may be lining up excuses just in case they miss their targets, as they can then blame the issue solely on supply problems.
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Third vaccine won’t arrive until the spring
According to figures, more than six million people have now had their first dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines. However, the third vaccine, from Moderna, will not arrive in the UK until the spring. While 17 million doses have been ordered, the fact that the UK has to wait another couple of months for its arrival could cause delays.
In addition, the government does have a history of missing targets throughout the pandemic. This has resulted in people taking ambitious vaccination targets with a pinch of salt. Some believe that as soon as the government looks like missing a target, they will blame it on delays with vaccine supplies.
Vaccine secretary speaks about ‘tight’ supplies
The Vaccine Secretary Nadhim Zahawi spoke earlier today about how supplies of the Covid-19 vaccines are ‘tight’. While he claimed the government is still on track to meet its autumn target for all adults to be vaccinated, he also mentioned production delays, which could then mean supply issues from manufacturers.
Speaking to the BBC, he said, "Supplies are tight, they continue to be, these are new manufacturing processes. It's lumpy and bumpy, it gets better and stabilises and improves going forward."
He went on to say that he was confident the government would meet the February target for vaccinations and that targets would continue to be achieved moving forward. At the same time, he did not make any guarantees concerning how many vaccine doses had already been received in the UK and how many were expected from manufacturers.
With many ministers mentioning supplies whenever they talk about the vaccination rollout in public, suspicions have been raised that this could be the convenient excuse they need if targets are missed.