The relaxing of lockdown could be delayed in England due to a month-long drop in the number of vaccine doses available.
An expert has warned that the relaxing of lockdown could be impacted by the ‘ripple effect’ from vaccine delay as the Government might not meet its target.
It comes just a day after the Government celebrated 25 million people in the UK receiving their first vaccine jab and a number of European countries temporarily suspended the rollout of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine after people suffering with blood clots.
The vaccine delay was discussed in a letter to local health leaders in England from the NHS asking vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led services to close unfilled bookings and “ensure no further appointments are uploaded” to booking systems in April.
The bump in the road for the Government could have a massive impact on the lives of everyone across the country who have been planning and waiting for lockdown to end.
Target dates have a massive impact on the relaxing of lockdown says one expert who said the ‘ripple affect could last for months’.
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Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said while it was not yet known why the delay had occurred, the “ripple effects could last for months”.
“It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been,” he said.
“By pushing back the under-50s first doses, their second doses are also being pushed back.
“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.”
However the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government are on track in meeting the target of offering a first dose to all over 50s by April 15.
Asked about the letter, Mr Hancock said: “Supply is always lumpy and we are on course to deliver the offer that everybody who is aged 50 and above will be able to get vaccinated by the 15th of April. I recommit to that today.
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“And, of course, these supply schedules have moved up and down throughout this whole rollout. It’s absolutely par for the course and that’s a normal operation letter.
“We are committed to all adults being able to get the jab by the end of July and we are on track to deliver on that commitment.”
A Pfizer spokeswoman said deliveries “remain on track” for the first quarter of its 40 million dose agreement with the UK, with a “steady supply of vaccines” delivered to the nation.
Meanwhile, an AstraZeneca spokeswoman said: “Our UK domestic supply chain is not experiencing any disruption and there is no impact on our delivery schedule.”