The UK’s four chief medical officers have warned ‘vaccine shortage is a reality that cannot be wished away’ (Picture: REX/AP)
Pfizer and AstraZeneca have reportedly hit out at Government claims of a Covid vaccine shortage, insisting ‘millions of doses’ have already been delivered to the NHS.
The UK’s four chief medical officers warned ‘vaccine shortage is a reality that cannot be wished away’ as they defended a move to prioritise first doses for as many people as possible this week.
They were backed by Boris Johnson who told the nation on Wednesday ‘the rate-limiting factor at the moment, as they say, is supply not distribution’.
However, both Pfizer and AstraZeneca have denied allegations of supply issues, according to reports.
A representative for Pfizer told The Telegraph the number of doses it has sent to the UK is ‘in the millions’, with more than one million jabs available to be administered in the next week alone.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca bosses expect to supply two million doses of their vaccine every week by mid-January, The Times reports.
An unnamed member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca team reportedly said: ‘The plan is then to build it up fairly rapidly – by the third week of January we should get to two million a week.’
It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) outlined a new dosing regimen aimed at speeding up the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.
A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital (Picture: REUTERS)
A researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute, working on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University (Picture: PA)
The new plan will see the first dose given to as many at-risk people as possible, followed by a second jab within 12 weeks, rather than providing two doses in 21 days as initially planned.
A letter signed by Professor Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said: ‘We have to ensure that we maximise the number of eligible people who receive the vaccine.
‘Currently, the main barrier to this is vaccine availability, a global issue, and this will remain the case for several months and, importantly, through the critical winter period.’
The move prompted Pfizer/BioNTech to issue a warning, saying ‘two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease’.
A statement added there is no evidence ‘to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained’ beyond three weeks.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that starting the vaccination programme from scratch has limited its distribution to 250,000 jabs a week.
NHS bosses have reportedly said supply is not the issue, arguing that they ‘never said the health service could deliver two million vaccinations a week from the start’.
A Pfizer spokesman said: ‘The deliveries to the UK are on track and progressing according to our agreed schedule.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted AstraZeneca for comment.
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