24/7 Covid vaccine clinics to be piloted within weeks, minister tells LBC

18 January 2021, 08:27 | Updated: 18 January 2021, 09:32

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The 24/7 rollout of coronavirus vaccines will be piloted in London by the end of January, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has told LBC.

Mr Zahawi confirmed the news to Nick Ferrari on Monday morning.

"We’re piloting 24 hour seven days in hospital, that will be end of this month,” he said.

READ MORE: Over 70s and clinically vulnerable to be invited for Covid jabs

READ MORE: Travel corridors closed in effort to curb Covid-19 case numbers

He said the NHS is still looking at which hospital in the capital the pilot will take place.

Mr Zahawi added the Government's focus is currently getting the top four priority groups, which represent 88 per cent of mortality from Covid-19, vaccinated as quickly as possible.

It comes as the over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable people will begin receiving invitations for coronavirus jabs from Monday, with the health service now vaccinating at a rate of "140 jabs a minute".

He said: “The challenge Nick, when you have limited supply of vaccine and you need to target very forensically those top four cohorts... it’s not just about volume, if I had limitless supply of vaccine I can do 24/7 and go hell for leather for volume but then you’re targeting of the top four cohorts will go out of the window.

“It’s a balance between forensic targeting and getting to those in care homes, over-80s, now over-70s and those who are clinically vulnerable as quickly as possible and I think the best way to do it is what we’re doing – hospitals, GPs and of course national vaccination centres and pharmacies as well.”

Amid concerns over supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Mr Zahawi added that everyone who has received their first dose would receive their second within 12 weeks.

He said: "Everyone who has had a Pfizer/BioNTech first dose will get a Pfizer/BioNTech second dose within 12 weeks so we’ll start second vaccinations by March for those people who have had it in December and early January and we’ll keep going."

It was revealed over the weekend that the UK faces short-term delays in delivery of the Pfizer vaccine as the company upgrades its production capacity.

The pharmaceutical giant is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, in efforts to produce more doses than originally planned for 2021, temporarily reducing deliveries to all European countries.

Meanwhile, ten further mass vaccination centres will open in England this week.

Blackburn Cathedral, St Helens rugby ground, Norwich Food Court and a park-and-ride outside York are among the new locations where large-scale vaccination will take place from Monday.

NHS England said they will join the seven existing mass vaccination sites across the country, alongside a thousand GP-led surgeries and more than 250 hospitals already providing jabs.