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UK vaccine campaign entering ‘overdrive’ to deliver five million Covid jabs a week

All over-50s to be offered first dose over coming days

The number of Covid-19 vaccines administered in the UK is on track to double to around five million every seven days amid a fresh surge in supply.

A total of around 2.4 million doses were administered each week in England in February. But according to The Times, at the start of this month, local health bosses were told by NHS England “to prepare to vaccinate twice as many people each week from mid-March ‘for several weeks’”.

That rate of jab delivery would put the UK on track to vaccinate 75% of the population with at least one dose by 22 May, research company Airfinity has calculated.

Whitehall sources have urged caution, however, pointing out that the predictions are “based on assumptions that may not pan out in reality” and that “the increased volumes of doses may not be sustained”, the paper reports.

All the same, the signs are good so far. A total of around 800,000 people received coronavirus jabs last weekend, a 33% increase on the previous Saturday and Sunday.

The i news site says that “in recent days, the amount of vaccine supply available has significantly increased” across the country, allowing “the NHS in England and devolved health services to boost the number of first doses they give out while ensuring that those who got a jab in December and early January can now access their second dose”.

The delivery of additional vaccines was expected, with Times Radio’s chief political commentator Tom Newton Dunn reporting in late-February that “bumper delivery weeks” were “coming shortly”.

The government’s next vaccination target is to offer at least one vaccine dose to all over-50s, and those with underlying health conditions, by 15 April. Once all the top nine priority groups have been offered at least one jab, the vaccines will then be rolled out to younger age groups.

Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told BBC Breakfast yesterday that “those first nine priority groups included 99% of all hospitalisations and deaths, certainly in wave one of the pandemic, so we’re feeling very optimistic”.

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