Pfizer says Covid-19 vaccine supply will continue into early 2021 after Jeremy Hunt suggested they will run out within weeks
fizer has responded to reports that its Covid-19 vaccine could run out after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested they would run dry by February. The pharmaceutical giant said deliveries were “on track”. In a statement, Pfizer said: “The deliveries are on track and progressing according to our agreed schedule.
“We can confirm, in accordance with the schedule, that there will be continued deliveries into the UK in early 2021, with shipments scheduled to arrive before March.” The statement came after Mr Hunt suggested the UK’s stocks were set to run out within weeks with no more supplies likely to arrive before March. The former health secretary said on Saturday that approval by regulators of the Oxford-AstraZenca vaccine before the end of the year would ensure the roll-out of the vaccination programme can be maintained.
His comments followed reports on Saturday that that the Oxford vaccine could be approved within days of Christmas. The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is thought to be ready to authorise the vaccines on December 28 or 29 after final data is provided to the regulator on Monday. According to the Telegraph, football stadiums and other major sites will be opened from the first week of January to allow mass vaccinations on a scale never seen before in the UK.
More than 130,000 people have been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab the first week of the UK’s vaccination programme, which began on December 8. The UK pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and has taken delivery of 800,000 so far. That is enough for 400,000 people as each recipient has to take two doses 21 days apart.
Britain has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine. The Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall has said it will speed up the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme in care homes if the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by regulators.
“At the moment we are dealing with this Pfizer vaccine, which is difficult,” Mr Hunt told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “On the assumption that we are going to get approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine which is much more familiar because it is much more like the flu vaccination, then I think we will be able to roll out at a much faster pace, but certainly over the next few weeks and next couple of months we expect all care homes to be covered.”
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the Government faces a “very difficult, finely-balanced judgment” on whether to strengthen the coronavirus rules. Mr Hunt, who now chairs the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, said that if ministers did not want to change the law they should consider strengthening the guidance on social-distancing. “It is a very difficult, finely-balanced judgment.
The biggest worry is what happens indoor in family gatherings and that’s where the risks do increase,” he told the BBC Radio 4 programme. “They have to respond to what is happening on the ground. I think they can be clearer about what is and isn’t advisable because it would be an enormous tragedy if we had a spike in deaths at the end of January/February because we took our foot off the pedal this close to having a vaccine.”
Mr Hunt said it was on a “knife-edge” whether a third national lockdown would be needed after Christmas.
“Looking at the numbers it is difficult to judge at the moment because in the North East and the North West although infection levels are going up they are still much lower than they have been, and the second strain of the virus doesn’t seem to have spread as much in the North as it has in the South.
I would say at the moment it is on a knife-edge.”