'We can jab as many vaccines that can come into the system as quickly as possible'

18 January 2021, 12:13

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Vaccine Minister has told LBC that the UK has a vaccine infrastructure in place that can jab "as many vaccines that can come into the system as quickly as possible."

Coronavirus vaccines are now being offered to millions of the most vulnerable people across the country.

On the morning the extended rollout of the jab was announced LBC's Nick Ferrari spoke to the minister responsible.

Nadhim Zahawi, the Vaccine Delivery Minister, told Nick there were plans to pilot 24-hour vaccine delivery to enable more jabs to be given out.

But the Minister said the supply of vaccine could be an issue.

“It is tight. We’ve got a deployment infrastructure that can jab as many vaccines that can come into the system as quickly as possible now, but the limiting factor remains vaccine supply,” the Minister told LBC.

When Nick asked on an average day, how many vaccinations are made within the UK the reply was that the number was constantly rising.

Mr Zahawi said: "My goodness. It depends, it’s rising all the time, so I think we’re beginning to get close this week hopefully to that target of two million vaccinations a week…"

But Nick pointed out he meant how many were being manufactured.

"Are we manufacturing at 500,000, I honestly don’t know and how many plants or clinics are doing it?"

Answering the LBC presenter Mr Zahawi said: "On the manufacturing side, it’s been a bit lumpy. You’ve probably seen the weekend press on Pfizer having to reconfigure production and, of course, Oxford Astra-Zeneca, we were hoping for two million a week by the end of January. "

"It’s now mid-February. But we’ve got millions of doses coming through."

Describing the situation as "tight" he told LBC the UK now has a "deployment infrastructure that can jab as many vaccines that can come into the system as quickly as possible now, but the limiting factor remains vaccine supply. "

"As any manufacturing process or manufacturer would know, it begins lumpy, it stabilizes and then hopefully increases as it we move into February, March and April."

The top four priority groups are now eligible to get their coronavirus vaccine in England, meaning people who work in health and social care, as well as everyone over the age of 70, care home residents and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable could now be contacted for an appointment.

The top priority groups are over-80s, care home residents, and NHS and social care staff, and the Government said it will remain the priority to vaccinate them.

But sites which have enough supply and capacity to vaccinate more people will be allowed to offer jabs to the next cohorts, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to offer vaccinations to the first four priority groups by the middle of next month.