COVID vaccines won’t be delivered to medics on Sundays, it’s reported – despite Boris Johnson’s vow to get 13million of the most vulnerable Brits inoculated within weeks.
Public Health England (PHE) officials won’t work one day a week, according to leaked documents, amid concerns the new national lockdown could stretch on for months to come.
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Covid vaccines won’t be delivered on Sundays, it’s reported tonightCredit: EPA
It comes as Britain’s hospitals reach breaking point amid a huge swell in the number of people testing positive for coronavirusCredit: EPA
A strict new March-style lockdown was announced in England last nightCredit: Reuters
New guidance issued to NHS Trusts and seen by the Telegraph warn the jabs won’t be issued on Sundays or after agreed ‘cut-off points’ every lunchtime – even if supplies run low.
It came as:
Elsewhere, the paper reports that high street pharmacies are desperate to roll out more than a million doses of the Oxford vaccine every week – but have been snubbed by the Government.
As the country goes into a strict March-style lockdown, the PM revealed that 1.3m have already had a jab.
A quarter of all those over 80 have received their first dose.
And he promised that the Government’s new strategy to give out as many first doses as possible was the right one – and would save lives.
But it’s since emerged that, despite Mr Johnson’s pledge to use “every second” to put an “invisible shield” around the nation’s most vulnerable, the roll-out could be slowed.
Standard operating procedures issued to NHS Trusts for ordering vaccine supplies from PHE warn that next-day deliveries can only be expected between Monday and Friday – as long as orders are placed before 11.55am, the paper reports.
New requests for the vaccine made on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings won’t arrive until Monday.
Meanwhile, orders placed on Saturday afternoons won’t be delivered until Tuesday, it’s claimed.
One in 50 Brits now has coronavirus – more than a million people, Chris Whitty announced tonightCredit: Gov.UK
The nation’s Covid level is at the highest point for the first time – meaning hospitals may soon be overwhelmed Credit: 2021 Mark Thomas / i-Images
Delivery of the coronavirus vaccine across the UK is one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history
And officials have reportedly warned that an emergency delivery schedule isn’t an option, with orders after cut-off not processed until the following day.
Michael Brodie, interim chief executive of PHE, told The Sun: “We run a seven-day-a-week service and have fulfilled 100 per cent of orders from the NHS on time and in full – with routine next-day deliveries six days a week as agreed with the NHS and the capability to send orders on Sundays if required.
“We are working around the clock to distribute millions of doses all over the UK and can deliver as much available vaccine as the NHS needs.”
Ministers have also been urged to consider deploying an army of trained vaccinators at Boots and Lloyds, rather than relying on exhausted NHS GPs and nurses.
Pharmacies claim their attempts to offer support have been spurned.
During a press conference from Downing Street tonight, Mr Johnson said any delays in vaccine supplies are being caused by safety checks.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford jab is currently being rolled out safely across the country, but batches must be checked for safety before they are handed out, he said.
“The rate limiting factor at the moment is making sure that we can get enough vaccine, where we want it fast enough,” he said.
“One of the problems is that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has just come on stream, needs to be properly batch tested, properly approved before it can be put into people’s arms and this is just a process that takes time to do.
“But we will be ratcheting it up over the next days and weeks.”
The Government has promised to deliver two million vaccines a week to lift tight new restrictions on Brits as urgently as possible.
Today’s daily case rate was the highest ever as the virus continues to surge in the UK
Everyone in England is facing a lockdown that will wear on until at least mid-February Credit: London News Pictures
Under the current lockdown, which will go before Parliament tomorrow, household mixing is banned, non-essential shops have been shuttered and international arrivals must test negative for Covid 72 hours before passing through British airports.
The PM and his ministers have pinned their hopes on the approved jabs as a super-infectious mutant strain runs rampant in every region of England.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty today revealed that one in every 50 Brits now has coronavirus, while hospital admissions are 40 per cent higher than at the peak of the first wave in April 2020.
In brighter news, millions more doses will reach vaccine centres around the country in the coming day, the Times reports.
Pfizer has about five million doses available in vials and ready for use in the UK, while AstraZeneca has four million in vials.
However, of that number, 3.5m still need safety approval before use.
Officials say there are 13.4m Brits who fall into the top four priority categories for the jab, and vaccinating them all would prevent around 88 per cent of deaths.
The private sector has mobilised to support the NHS with the vaccination programme.
Hundreds of Best Western hotels could be turned into ‘cottage hospitals’ to ease the strain.
Plans sent to the Cabinet Office this week reveal the sites would handle everything from pre-surgery assessments to IV treatments, such as dialysis, as well as MRI and CTI scans and post-Covid recovery support.
Meanwhile, pub and bar companies including Young’s, Marston’s and cafe-bar chain Loungers say they’ll offer their sites as jab centres amid the Government’s vaccine roll-out.
And Boots will initially open three jab sites in Halifax, Huddersfield and Gloucester to start giving the jabs.
A Tesco subsidiary which normally supplies restaurants has already offered up its network of refrigerated lorries and warehouses to help transport vaccines.
Boris Johnson last night announced a new lockdown, with schools shut, household mixing banned and all non-essential businesses shuttered