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Vaccine Supply Will Be Increased In Areas Of The UK Falling Behind On Priority Groups

3 min read

Areas of the country that have not inoculated as many people in the top priority groups compared to regions like the North East and Yorkshire will receive a boost to vaccine supplies.

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson said the government is putting more vaccines into areas that have not made as much progress.

However, serious questions remain whether in practice this means vaccine supplies already in high performing areas will be diverted to another region.

While vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC that no vaccine is being removed from Yorkshire to other parts of the country, today Dr Nikki Kanani, Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England, told the Radio 4 Today programme that it was the case vaccines were being moved. 

Asked if vaccine supply was being diverted away from Yorkshire and the North East, Dr Kanani said: "Yes, I really understand my colleagues' frustration, particularly in this case it happens to be in northern areas. 

"They've done an incredible job getting through their cohort priorities one and two, so their care home staff and residents, their over 80s and their health and social care staff.

"And so while we have a supply that is contsrained, we need to make sure that goes to the areas where people are not vaccinated."

When asked if the vaccines would be taken away from regions that have quickly delivered the vaccine to the vulnerable groups, the prime minister's spokesperson said: "We will ensure that our first four priority groups receive their vaccines by mid-February."

He said the government would not comment on vaccine supply or delivery schedules. 

It comes after the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that the number of doses sent to doctors in the North East and Yorkshire could be halved next week.

The HSJ said primary care providers in the regions could receive 100,000 doses next week, compared with the previous supply of 200,000.

The prime minister's spokesperson did not directly address the claim. "The Health Secretary has said he wants to make sure the vaccine is fair across the UK and that some parts of the country,  including parts of the North East, have gone fast early on," he said. 

"That's why we are putting more vaccines into areas that haven't made as much progress so everybody in the top four groups receives the offer of a vaccine by 15 February."

The Yorkshire Post also reported that vaccines heading for the region may be diverted to the south. Labour MP and mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis, said the region should not be "punished" for its success in a rapid roll-out of the jabs so far. 

This report led to a row breaking out on Twitter between the editor of the newspaper James Mitchinson, Conservative MPs who said the report was wrong, and the vaccines minister Zahawi.

Zahawi tweeted that the story was wrong, and added: "Yorkshire’s allocation this week is 13% next week it’s 13%." 

He said the region will get its allocation so they can meet the target of offering the most vulnerable groups a vaccine by mid February.

The prime minister's official spokesperson was asked to give more detail this lunchtime on what the "13 percent" referred to but he said the government did not comment on supply figures. 

However a number of Conservative MPs representing Yorkshire appeared to have access to figures that are not thought to be in the public domain. 

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, Tweeted that figures for Yorkshire and North East are expected to be: "This week: 364,000 Next week: 300,000 Week after: 350,000." 

The MP for Harrogate, Andrew Jones, had the same numbers and had "checked this with the NHS". 

It has been suggested the MPs were given this information in a government call for Tory MPs held last night.

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