4 Million Vaccine Doses From India Are Delayed And 1.7 Million More Need Re-Testing, Matt Hancock Confirms
Matt Hancock confirmed issues with more than 5 million doses are leading to the UK's upcoming vaccine supply issues (Parliamentlive.TV)
The health secretary has told MPs expected vaccine supply issues are down to a delay in four million doses arriving from India while a batch of 1.7 million need to be re-tested.
Matt Hancock sought to reassure MPs the problems would not lead to a delay in the rollout, and the UK is still on track to hit rollout targets.
In a statement to the Commons he played down the issues with the batch that needs further testing, saying it “shows the rigour of our safety checks”.
"In April, supply is tighter than this month and we have a huge number of second doses to deliver," Hancock said.
"During April, around 12 million people, including many colleagues in this House will receive their second dose.
"These second doses cannot be delayed as they have to be delivered within 12 weeks of the first dose.
"In the last week, we've had a batch of 1.7 million doses delayed because of the need to retest its stability.
"Events like this are to be expected in a manufacturing endeavour of this complexity and this shows the rigour of our safety checks."On the other issue facing the rollout, Hancock explained: "We have a delay in the scheduled arrival from the Serum Institute of India.
"Now, I want to put on the record my gratitude to the Serum Institute of India for the incredible work that they're doing producing vaccine not just for us in the UK, but for the whole world.
"Their technology and their capability, which has been approved by the MHRA, is remarkable.
“The Serum Institute of India producing a billion doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine this year, it truly is partnership that we can be proud of.”
The Cabinet minister also reiterated his previous statement that the government still expected to offer a vaccine to everyone aged 50 or over by 15 April, and to all adults by the end of July.
"I also want to clear up some rumours that have been circulating and give people reassurance,” Hancock added.
“There will be no weeks in April with no first doses. There will be no cancelled appointments as a result of supply issues - second doses will go ahead as planned.”
He also used his appearance in the Commons to announce a £7billion funding package, with £6.6billion in additional funding over the next six months for the NHS response to Covid-19, and an extra £341million for adult social care.
“We’ve backed the NHS at every point in this pandemic, so they can treat patients, stay safe and save lives,” Hancock said.
“And I’m delighted to inform the House that we’re backing them again today with a further £6.6billion of funding for the first half of this coming financial year.
“This money is in addition to the £3billion committed at the Spending Review last November to help the NHS meet the additional costs of Covid, while critically starting the work on the elective recovery ahead.”
The department for health said the money will be used to help re-start the recovery of elective services as hospitalisations from coronavirus continue to fall, and brings the total package of additional support to £92billion.