All UK adults could be fully vaccinated against Covid by August - according to head of taskforce

By Rhona Shennan
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 9:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 9:47 am
The head of the UK vaccine taskforce has said that all adults in the UK could receive both Covid-19 vaccine doses by August (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
The head of the UK vaccine taskforce has said that all adults in the UK could receive both Covid-19 vaccine doses by August (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The head of the UK vaccine taskforce has said that every adult in the UK could receive both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by August or September - or “maybe sooner”.

Clive Dix, who runs the unit that identifies and buys vaccines on behalf of the UK government, told Sky News that he was sure there would be no supply problems with the vaccines.

He said: “We are confident within the vaccine taskforce now that the supply we’re going to get will take us to a position where we can vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate.”

When asked if this meant that the vaccine taskforce felt confident that every adult would receive two jabs, Dix said: “We’re probably talking August time or September time all done, maybe sooner if we need to.”

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    ‘Vaccine supply won’t slow down’

    So far in the UK, more than 15 million people have been vaccinated with a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

    There had been concerns about vaccine supplies slowing down, but Dix said that the taskforce felt confident that the UK will have enough jabs to meet demand.

    He said: “The ones that are being rolled off the line at the moment, they are doing very well.

    “Of course they could have a manufacturing problem, like you do with any manufacture of anything but with vaccines being more complicated, you could have a problem. But because we’ve taken a portfolio approach, we’ve got other vaccines that are going to be approved in the very near future.

    “And once they’re approved, we’ve got those as back up. It’s a very low risk we wouldn’t have vaccine.”

    ‘We shouldn’t push too hard’

    Dix warned against setting overly ambitious targets in terms of vaccination, saying that “if you keep pushing the system too hard, something might break and then you’ve got a problem”.

    Dix said: “I think the rate we’re doing at the moment is getting us to the right place and I don’t think we should push it too hard.

    “We should push it as hard as we can, along with supply. If we say to the manufacturers ‘double your output to us next week’ - they might push their system and it might break.

    “So we’ve got to do it sensibly. What we’ve done here is built something like we’ve built a Formula One car that can go 300mph.

    “I wouldn’t like to be the person just sat in it with my foot to the floor, because if it’s never been tested before it may not work.”

    What vaccines has the UK ordered?

    The UK government has placed an order for 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is enough for 20 million people to have the requisite two doses.

    100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been ordered, which is enough for 50 million people to receive both doses of the vaccine.

    An additional 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine has been ordered as well, which is enough for 8.5 million people to be given the two doses.

    The UK has also secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, some 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, 60 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine and 50 million doses of CureVac.

    Pending approval, the UK also has its original order for 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, and now the option for a second batch of 40 million doses has been triggered.