Four things we learnt about the jab campaign from vaccine taskforce boss
Clive Dix says speedy rollout will not slow down due to supply shortages
The head of the vaccine taskforce has bolstered optimism over the UK’s jab campaign by saying that every adult in the country could receive both vaccinations by August.
Speaking to Sky News, Clive Dix, who leads the body that identifies and buys vaccines on behalf of the government, said he was confident in the supply of vaccines due to the “portfolio approach” it took to securing Covid jabs.
The UK has secured access to seven different vaccines, with latest Oxford University tracking showing that it has so far administered 16.12 million doses.
Over by August
Dix told Sky News that every adult in the UK could receive both doses of a Covid vaccine by August “or maybe sooner if we need to”. He said that he is “confident... that the supply we’re going to get will take to us to a position where we can vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate”.
Supply will not slow
Having made such a fast start, the question on everybody’s lips is whether “supply issues will cause a fall in the vaccination rate over the next few weeks”, says Politico’s London Playbook.
But Dix moved to allay these fears, saying: “Of course they could have a manufacturing problem, like you do with any manufacture of anything but with vaccines being more complicated, you could have a problem. But because we’ve taken a portfolio approach we’ve got other vaccines that are going to be approved in the very near future.”
The interview also saw Dix “reveal that new vaccines could be approved in just six to eight weeks in the event new variants are discovered, rather than the year it took to get the first vaccines”, Sky News says.
He said that a tweaked vaccine could take “40 days to have it tested in the clinic and know it works”, adding: “Then manufacture would take another period of time because you wouldn’t manufacture huge amounts before you know it works. So it is a short period of time, it’s not waiting a year like we did this time.”
Early data is promising
The taskforce boss said all the early data suggests the vaccines are as effective as the government hoped.
“It’s looking like these vaccines are doing exactly what we expect,” he said. “Infection rates are going down, hospitalisations are going down and people are remaining - I wouldn’t say virus-free, because we don’t know that - but we know that they’re not getting serious disease. That’s what we were trying to do.”