OVER-30s will receive Covid jabs by April as a surge of 10 million extra doses become available from next week.
There is to be a “rapid increase” in the number of people getting vaccinated after a “dip” at the end of February.
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Over-30s look set to get their first jabs in AprilCredit: Rex Features
So far 24,064,182 jabs have been given in the UK, including 1.2 million second doses
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said there will be a “big uplift” in supply in the coming weeks.
His said the ultimate aim is to get 95 per cent of British adults vaccinated – and the offer of a jab was “evergreen” for people who had not yet accepted their invitation.
So far 24,064,182 jabs have been given in the UK, including 1.2 million second doses.
Mr Zahawi told the Women and Equalities House of Commons Committee that until now “supply has been finite” but he was “expecting tens of millions of doses to come through”.
‘TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOSES’
He added: “In the second half of March you will see a big uplift in supply.
“Up until now supply has been finite. We’ve had good volumes but when your supply is finite you have to try and make sure that each region gets enough doses to do the cohort target.
“So when we were focused on (priority groups) one to four by the middle of February, we have to make sure that each region have that vaccine available to them.
“Now obviously as we see more – and I’m expecting tens of millions of doses to come through – that becomes a little bit easier which allows us, for example, to double the number of pharmacies that will come online for delivery (from 200 to 400).
“The whole country will see a rapid increase in the number of people getting their first dose and getting protected whilst obviously we do second dosing at the same time.”
If supply holds up, over-30s should be on track to get jabs next month.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said there will be a “big uplift” in supply in the coming weeksCredit: Alamy Live News
Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford said “the next few weeks are crucial”Credit: Alamy Live News
Although the UK Government does not publish updates on vaccine supply, the Scottish Government says it has access to around 900,000 unused doses.
These are allocated to each nation according to its share of the UK population, indicating that the entire number of jabs available is about 10 million.
This number will mean the NHS doesn’t need to slow the rate of first doses to keep up with administering second doses.
And it will put the UK on course to reach all over-50s and those with underlying health conditions by the end of March.
In turn, all over-40s and 30s could then be vaccinated in April, with those aged 18 to 29 in May.
Three weeks ago the UK was vaccinating three million a week, but this has fallen to just over two million.
However, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the recent slump in supply is now over and reiterated Mr Zahawi’s claims.
The daily Covid death toll has dropped by more than 80 per cent in the last month
Mr Drakeford told the i: “We are confident that we are past the couple of weeks where there was a dip in supply and we will be getting significantly greater volumes during the month of March.”
He added that “the next few weeks are crucial” in ensuring enough people receive their first dose, as well as administering a second dose to those who had their first 12 weeks ago.
NHS England told local trusts that supplies will accelerate significantly, with England set to administer four million vaccines a week.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the supply boost “will allow for a very significant acceleration in the vaccination programme”.
Wales has been able to move more quickly than other parts of the UK by mobilising dentists, optometrists and community pharmacists, Mr Drakeford said.
The number of people to die with Covid in the UK has dropped again as another 190 casualties were recorded.
Fatalities are down 81 per cent on the number recorded this time last month, when 1,001 more deaths were reported.
Meanwhile, a further 5,926 people tested positive overnight – a drop of 54 per cent on February 10, when 13,013 people were newly-diagnosed.
The figures are also lower than this time last week, when 6,385 new infections and 315 deaths were recorded.