Friday, July 19

Vaccines backlog could be at risk to put over 50s target


A likely slowdown in new Covid-19 vaccinations due to a growing backlog of booster shots underscores the fragility of the Government’s target of jabs for all over-50s by early May, Telegraph analysis shows.

If second doses ramp up in mid-March roughly two weeks before the 12 week deadline for revaccination sets in then the daily pace of first doses could grind to a halt before all over-50s receive theirs, projections based on the UK’s current roll-out suggests.

Getting through the accumulated backlog of second dose recipients at a 10-week delay from their first without an increase in daily capacity would slow first doses down for two months meaning initial jabs for the 32 million in the nine priority groups by May could go down to the wire.

Nonetheless current rates suggest that even with the coming vaccine crunch based on a 10-week delay, all over-50s could receive their first dose by the end of May and their second by July, while the rest of the adult population could get their first by July and second by September.

The findings follow a tempering of expectations on the speed of the roll-out by one of the Government’s top scientific advisers this week as doses passed the 10 million mark.

At the coronavirus briefing at Downing Street on Wednesday Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said he did not think first doses for all adults by May and second doses by August was realistic, pointing to the “inevitable” slowing effect of second doses.

Remember, also, it’s very important that we’ve got to revaccinate all the people in the first tiers as they go through, he said. Assuming that rate stays the same would mean that by mid-March around 26 million will have received a first dose while around 2.7 million will have a second.

If second dose giving increases significantly at this point 10 weeks after mass vaccination began on January 4 in the UK then hitting the crucial 32 million doses for the top nine vaccination priority groups, including over-50s, would be delayed for another two months, as capacity moves away to revaccinate a 23 million backlog.