Pfizer denies supply issues after Hancock tells LBC it will be 'quieter' week for vaccines

23 February 2021, 20:46

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Pfizer has denied any vaccine supply issues after Matt Hancock told LBC that this week will be "quieter" in terms of inoculation numbers.

The health secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari that there would be fewer jabs dished out this week due to "supply schedules" and the drugs being "difficult" to make.

However, he reassured listeners that the numbers would bounce back in March with a number of "bumper weeks".

On Monday, the UK recorded its lowest number of coronavirus vaccinations since the rollout began, with around 141,000 people receiving their first dose - the total now stands at more than 17.9 million.

But on Tuesday, Pfizer responded to Mr Hancock's comments by insisting to The Sun and the MailOnline that there were "no UK supply challenges" and deliveries were arriving as planned from Belgium.

The pharmaceutical giant added that there had been no changes to its delivery schedule and it was working to the timetable agreed with the UK Government.

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Pfizer hit back after Matt Hancock told LBC there would be fewer vaccines this week due to supply
Pfizer hit back after Matt Hancock told LBC there would be fewer vaccines this week due to supply. Picture: PA / LBC

Speaking with LBC's Nick Ferrari, the health secretary was asked whether there were any issues in delivering vaccinations.

"Well it's all about the supply," he said.

"We have got a quieter week this week and then we're going to have some really bumper weeks in March."

Asked if lower production numbers had impacted the UK's jab figures, Mr Hancock said: "It's about the supply schedules, yes, and this is difficult stuff to make."

He added: "We have seen ups and downs in the delivery schedule. I'd rather see the half-a-million days... but you will have days that are a bit lower yes."

On other days, the UK has recorded more than 600,000 first doses and would need to continue with these figures if hitting the target set by ministers of vaccinating all adults by the end of July.

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Downing Street insisted on Tuesday that it remained confident in vaccine supplies despite the lower numbers recorded on Monday and Tuesday, where more than 192,000 were administered.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "We continue to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people each day receive the vaccines.

"As we said from the start, there will be daily fluctuations in the number of people who receive it day-on-day but you are aware of our target to vaccinate all those within the first phase by mid-April and we are confident in our supply to be able to do that."

That objective would require the UK offering a first jab to 32 million people by 15 April.

The spokesman added that the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out across Britain "in spring" to ensure that all adults can be offered a dose by the end of July

On Monday, AstraZeneca - which makes the other jab currently being used in the UK – acknowledged there were "fluctuations" in supply at plants but that it was still "on track" with orders.

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