Macron leads EU hardliners STILL pushing for vaccine export ban


How badly would the UK’s vaccine drive suffer if the EU blocked exports?

If the European Union blocked all exports of coronavirus vaccines made on its turf, Britain could remain self-sufficient and still get jabs to the entire population.

However, it could come under pressure on second dose supply because it relies on importing Pfizer’s jab from Belgium. 

WHICH VACCINES ARE MADE IN THE EU? 

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is currently the only vaccine used in the UK but manufactured in the EU, at the company’s plant in Puurs, Belgium and BioNTech factories in Germany.

AstraZeneca’s jab is made at home in England and Wales.

Moderna’s – which will become available in about two weeks’ time at the start of April – is produced in Switzerland, which is not an EU member and so not under von der Leyen’s jurisdiction. 

CAN WE RELY ON ASTRAZENECA? 

The good news is that the UK has ordered so many doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab – 100million – that in a worst-case scenario it could immunise the entire adult population (around 50million people) using that one alone. 

And the majority of these can be made in England and Wales, although ministers had hoped to boost it with imports from the Netherlands and India, which are now facing problems. 

WHAT ABOUT PFIZER SECOND DOSES? 

The bad news is that around 11million people have already had at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the majority of them are still waiting for a second jab, which are likely only to come from within the EU.

Even if all the 2.8m second doses given in the UK so far were all Pfizer, the country still needs more than eight million extra doses to hit that target. 

And it also hopes for another 14million so it can immunise the total 20million for whom doses were ordered. 

The UK has already stopped giving out the Pfizer vaccine to first-time patients so it can prioritise all the supplies – which are now in danger of grinding to a halt – for existing patients’ second doses.  

Pfizer and the UK Government have both refused to comment on the supply chain but deliveries were already expected to be smaller in April.

Pfizer declined to comment on its supply chain but said: ‘In the UK, we are continuing to liaise closely with the Government to deliver the 40million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that we have committed to supply before the end of the year and can confirm that overall projected supply remains the same for quarter one (January to March).’

European leaders have threatened to block vaccines bound for Britain with an export ban they claim could derail the rollout of second doses. 

France today escalated the row by suggesting the UK does not have sufficient supplies to give inoculated citizens their next injection – and that the programme is at the mercy of EU shipments. 

Paris’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also accused the UK of ‘blackmailing’ Brussels ahead of crunch talks this weekend. 

Britain is warning the EU against pursuing the Commission-proposed vaccine export ban and ministers have refused to rule out a tit-for-tat retaliation if the bloc imposes an embargo on jabs leaving the Continent. 

Yet a senior government source said this afternoon: ‘We are confident in vaccine targets, offering first dose to all over-50s by April 15 and all adults by July 31, as well as second doses.’

There are understood to be around 12million second doses due to be administered in April.

Britain produces around two million doses a week of AstraZeneca vaccine and imports the Pfizer jab from Belgium. While insiders have said they have enough supplies ‘on stream’ to deliver millions of second doses required over the coming months, it is unclear if these doses are already in the UK.

Complicating the picture is India’s confirmation that it will ban export of vaccines, which could further delay the shipment of five million doses that has already forced the UK to slow the number of injections in April. 

Many mass vaccinations centres will close next month as the UK ‘pauses’ the roll-out of first doses to the under-50s due to the supply shortage.  

The UK has adopted a strategy of waiting 12 weeks between first and second doses to inoculate more people as just one injection still provides significant immunity – 29million have now been jabbed.

But this morning Le Drian took a swipe at the British rollout: ‘The United Kingdom has taken great pride in vaccinating well with the first dose except they have a problem with the second dose.

‘You are vaccinated when you have had both doses. Today there are as many people vaccinated with both in France as the United Kingdom…

‘You can’t be playing like this, a bit of blackmail, just because you hurried to get people vaccinated with a first shot, and now you’re a bit handicapped because you don’t have the second one.’ 

It came after similarly hardline remarks from his boss Emmanuel Macron, who is leading a group of hawkish EU nations who are pushing for the export ban on vaccine.

France, Italy and Spain are continuing to talk tough ahead of the weekend negotiations concerning a disputed 10million doses from a Dutch AstraZeneca plant, some of which are bound for Britain.

Brussels accuses AstraZeneca of reneging on its contract to supply the bloc with 120million doses in the first quarter, having only delivered 30million so far. 

EU leaders last night stepped back from the brink of imposing a vaccine embargo – which was being pushed by the under-fire Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – after Angela Merkel and Dutch PM Mark Rutte instead called for a diplomatic approach.

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said it would be ‘very damaging if countries started to pull up drawbridges and prevent vaccines, medicines or elements of them from crossing international borders’.

The Communities Secretary this morning refused to be drawn on whether Britain – where critical vaccine components are also manufactured – would respond with a tit-for-tat ban, saying ‘that kind of talk is unhelpful’.

But hardline EU nations justified their support for halting shipments of vaccine by accusing the UK of failing to export any doses to the Continent.

Throwing his weight firmly behind the ban, Macron fumed: ‘Europe is not a selfish continent. Because when I read what the press on the other side of the Channel writes, we’re being accused of being selfish. Wrong! We let our supply chains untouched.

‘But we saw that the United States tend to protect their own vaccine production… that the United Kingdom did not export many doses. Actually, none. So we put in place an export control mechanism.’

At the meeting Von der Leyen briefed leaders that the UK needs the vaccine manufactured in the EU because the AstraZeneca jabs made in the UK are not enough to inoculate citizens with second doses.

She threatened to block AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Britain until the firm ‘catches up’ on its deliveries to the Continent.

The UK's vaccine rollout has surged far ahead of the EU's leaving the bloc under huge pressure to explain why

The UK’s vaccine rollout has surged far ahead of the EU’s leaving the bloc under huge pressure to explain why

UK infection rates have been brought right down while much of the EU is grappling with a third wave of coronavirus

UK infection rates have been brought right down while much of the EU is grappling with a third wave of coronavirus

Matt Hancock running in London today. The government insists it is confident in its vaccine targets of offering a first dose to all over-50s by April 15 and all adults by July 31

Matt Hancock running in London today. The government insists it is confident in its vaccine targets of offering a first dose to all over-50s by April 15 and all adults by July 31

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen maintained the tough stance, telling the news conference that AstraZeneca 'has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines'

Emmanuel Macron speaking after the summit and gesturing to a graph which appears to show the shortfall in doses from AstraZeneca (far right bar on his graph). He struck a defiant as he called the blockade threat 'the end of naivety'

Emmanuel Macron speaking after the summit and gesturing to a graph which appears to show the shortfall in doses from AstraZeneca (far right bar on his graph). He struck a defiant as he called the blockade threat ‘the end of naivety’

Britain’s vaccine rollout continues apace while EU lags behind  

The UK’s vaccine programme continues apace while the EU remains beset with supply difficulties and low take-up rates.

While Britain has jabbed more than half of its adults, the EU lags on about 15 per cent.

Brussels’ problems can be traced to sluggish initial efforts to procure vaccine – which even Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has compared to a ‘tanker’ to the UK’s ‘speedboat’.

After coming in for criticism, Boris Johnson has won plaudits for opting out of the EU’s centralised buying scheme and deciding to go it alone.

The UK’s vaccine taskforce bet big on several manufacturers early in the pandemic, quickly ordering 40million Pfizer/BioNTech doses and 100million Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs before they had even been cleared.

Early approval by the UK medical regulator also meant the UK was quick off the mark to start inoculating citizens last December.

A strategy of prioritising first doses – leaving a 12-week gap until the second – is also helping the country streak ahead in terms of vaccination rates.

In contrast, the EU was flat-footed to procure doses, signing deals months after the UK. Britain points out this is why AstraZeneca is honouring its contract with the UK.

Many EU countries also suspended the AstraZeneca jab briefly this month for fear of blood clotting, before u-turning when the EMA ruled it was safe.

Doubt cast on the jab has fuelled scepticism from citizens and beset the EU with low take-up rates. 

Britain has vaccinated more than half of its adult population, while the EU has only managed to inoculate about 15 per cent. 

The UK has received considerably more doses per capita, and has inoculated 14million people with the Oxford-developed jab from plants in Britain. The UK is also believed to have approximately 10million in storage for second doses. 

Britain points out that it negotiated a tighter ‘exclusivity’ contract with the Anglo-Swedish firm and signed the deal earlier than the EU’s ‘best efforts’ contracts – and that EU vaccine factories rely on supplies from the UK so any trade war could shut down vaccine production completely.

When Pfizer doses are included, the EU says it has exported 21million doses to the UK, while none have been shipped from Britain to the EU.

The export ban was backed by France, Spain and Italy, but failed to pass after countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark stressed the need for smooth global supply chains.

Mr Jenrick this morning agreed, telling Sky News: ‘Vaccines are based on complex international supply chains.

‘There are elements of the vaccines being produced in the UK, there are elements being produced in parts of the European Union and indeed all over the world – we are working with the Serum Institute, for example, in India.

‘So it is critical for all countries that there is the free flow of medical products, including vaccines, across international borders and it would be very damaging if countries started to pull up drawbridges and prevent vaccines, medicines or elements of them from crossing international borders and the UK strongly opposes that.’  

But Von der Leyen maintained the tough stance, telling a news conference that AstraZeneca ‘has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines.’

‘We could have been much faster if all pharmaceutical companies had fulfilled their contracts,’ she added. ‘AstraZenaca has committed to a lower number of doses than was contracted.’   

This chart shows how the AstraZeneca supply chain looks across Europe

This chart shows how the AstraZeneca supply chain looks across Europe 

AstraZeneca lost £21 BILLION in profits from selling Covid vaccine cheaply 

By Matt Oliver for the Daily Mail 

Astrazeneca sacrificed over £21billion of revenues by selling its Covid vaccine at no profit, it emerged last night.

The British company has pledged to produce 3billion doses of the life-saving jab it developed with Oxford University for an average price of just $5 (£3.60) globally – the minimum needed to recover costs.

Its decision to forego huge profits is an unprecedented move by a multinational business, prompting the World Health Organisation to hail the jab as a ‘vaccine for the world’.

But critics in the EU have tried to round on the company over supply chain problems and blame it for the bloc’s vaccine rollout. Some have even accused the firm of ‘dishonesty’ and of secretly hoarding jabs.

The attacks are said to have left bosses at Astra dismayed. More than one senior figure is said to have suggested that they wouldn’t make the same decision again.

If profit had been its main goal, Astra could have boosted its bottom line significantly.

The Mail understands that had the firm doubled the price per jab to £7.30, it could have made an extra £11billion in revenues. Tripling it would have netted over £21billion.  

The European Commission, asked about the progress of negotiations with the UK on sharing coronavirus vaccines, today said discussions were ‘ongoing’.

Chief spokesman Eric Mamer told a press briefing in Brussels: ‘All I can tell you is that discussions with the UK are ongoing.

‘We don’t have any comments to make at the moment on the gist and content of those discussions.

‘Our common aim is to ensure we have good co-operation in terms of supply chains and producing the vaccine.’

Asked whether the commission was worried the issue with vaccine supply from India into the UK could hinder a Brussels-London sharing agreement, Mr Mamer added: ‘We have noted the India decision.

‘I have no comment to make on the link between the Indian decision and any possible discussions under way with the United Kingdom.’ 

It comes despite an apparent effort to ease tensions on Wednesday night when the EU agreed to put out a joint statement with the UK ‘to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens.’

US vaccine-maker Pfizer, which ships jabs from Europe to Britain, echoed Boris Johnson’s sentiments as it warned the bloc that export controls risked creating a ‘lose-lose’ situation for everyone.   

Macron and Merkel are feeling the heat domestically as they battle soaring infection rates amid a third wave of the virus which has brought yet more scrutiny on their woeful vaccine roll-outs.  

Newly-Brexited Britain has managed 46 doses per 100 people in the population, this compares to just 14 doses per 100 in Germany and 13 per 100 in France, which prides itself on its well-endowed public healthcare system. 

Merkel said after the summit: ‘We are on the one hand inclined to respect global supply chains and want to fight protectionism, but of course we also want to protect our own people because we know this is the way out of the crisis. In relation to Britain, we want a win-win situation, we want to act sensibly politically.’ 

Europe’s intransigence comes after an extraordinary rebuke from the former Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who called Europe’s vaccine war with Britain ‘stupid.’ 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also warned that a failure to resolve grievances between member states over how many doses each would receive risked ‘damage to the EU like we haven’t seen in a long time.’ 

The EU summit is taking place via video link after the council admitted that the pandemic prevented them meeting in person

The EU summit is taking place via video link after the council admitted that the pandemic prevented them meeting in person

Germany open to using Russia’s Sputnik vaccine despite EU doubts 

The German government said Friday that it would be open to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it had been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

‘EMA approval – which Sputnik does not yet have – would provide the opportunity to use the vaccine in inoculation campaigns in Europe, and it would then also be worth considering for Germany,’ said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

He refused to be drawn over France’s accusation against Moscow of using the jabs as a ‘propaganda’ tool.

Last week, Merkel herself directly referred to Sputnik jabs and said Germany ‘should use any vaccine that has been approved’ by the EMA.

A spokesman for the health ministry echoed the same sentiment on Friday, saying that ‘all vaccines are welcome if they have been approved by the EMA’.

The EMA this month launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, a key step towards it being approved as the first non-Western coronavirus jab to be used across the 27-nation bloc.

Yet Sputnik has faced criticism in Western countries, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Drian accused Russia and China on Friday of using their jabs to gain influence abroad.

‘In terms of how it is managed, it (the Sputnik V vaccine) is more a means of propaganda and aggressive diplomacy than a means of solidarity and health aid,’ Le Drian told France Info radio.

His comments were swiftly dismissed by Moscow.

‘We absolutely disagree with the fact that Russia and China are using the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines as tools of influence,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia registered Sputnik V in August, ahead of large-scale clinical trials, prompting worries among many experts over the fast-track process.

Later reviews have been largely positive, with leading medical journal The Lancet publishing results showing it is safe and more than 90 percent effective.

Von der Leyen referenced the third wave that is gripping much of Europe and which has caused ratcheting tensions between nations over how many vaccine doses they will be allocated. 

Merkel, under pressure in Germany after making a U-turn on plans for an extended Easter holiday to stop the spread, defended the EU’s decision to procure vaccines jointly for all member states.

‘Now that we see that even small differences in the distribution of vaccines cause big discussions, I would not like to imagine if some member states had vaccines and others did not,’ she told German lawmakers ahead of the summit. ‘That would shake the internal market to its core.’ 

The EU’s executive unveiled the plans on Wednesday to tighten oversight of vaccine exports that would allow greater scope to block shipments to countries with higher inoculation rates. 

A draft of the summit conclusions seen by Reuters said on vaccines that leaders would stress ‘the importance of … export authorisations’, and reaffirm that vaccine producers must be respect contractual delivery deadlines.

However, diplomats said countries with misgivings about a tougher stand on exports would not put up strong resistance.

‘Their message is … please act very cautiously, in a very balanced way,’ said one EU diplomat. ‘But there is nobody who says don’t do it.’ 

The two-day summit will conclude on Friday.  

Ex-Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker scolded his successor for proposing the vaccine export ban. 

Mr Juncker told the BBC: ‘I’m not a fan of this idea. This could create major reputational damage to the EU, who used to be the world free trade champion.

‘I don’t think this is the right way to do it. We have to pull back from a vaccine war.

‘Nobody understands why we’re witnessing such a stupid vaccine war. This cannot be dealt with in a war atmosphere.

‘We are not in war and we are not enemies, we are allies. We have special relations with Britain, there’s room for dialogue.’

The former commission chief lashed out at the EU for ‘major mistakes’ in being ‘too cautious’ and ‘too budget conscious’ when approving and procuring vaccines. 

A further threat to the UK rollout emerged last night as India was reported to have blocked all major exports of the AZ vaccine because infections there are soaring.

Two weeks after five million doses for the UK were stopped, sources said Narendra Modi’s government has now implemented a complete ban on exports by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer.

The move will also affect supplies to the Covax vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 poorer countries are expected to get doses, one of the sources said. Covax would also be hit by any EU ban. Its co-chairman Jane Halton said any threats from Brussels to hold vaccine exports hostage would be ‘extremely regrettable’.

The great vaccine divide: London boroughs lag behind and parts of the country have only inoculated a THIRD of 50-55-year-olds – with at least 4MILLION target patients still to be jabbed before mid-April goal amid supply shortage 

By Joe Davies for MailOnline 

England’s Covid vaccine postcode lottery was laid bare again today as data revealed just a third of people aged between 50 and 54 have been inoculated in parts of the country.

And three boroughs — all of which are in London — have still yet to even reach 60 per cent of everyone over the age of 50, with at least 4million vulnerable people still yet to get jabbed across the nation.

Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly and suburban commuter towns in Suffolk are among the best-performing parts of the country, reaching upwards of 90 per cent of over-50s.  

The government is aiming to offer all over-50s one dose of vaccine by mid-April before lockdown is lifted. But the roll-out will be ‘paused’ in April because of supply issues, with GPs attempting to mop up eligible adults who have yet to accept their invite. 

NHS England statistics show just 60 per cent of adults in the 50-54 age group had at least one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by March 21 — the most recent day local data is available for.

It comes after the NHS’s most senior doctor yesterday urged every eligible adult who has yet to be jabbed to book an appointment by Monday or risk having to wait weeks because of a supply shortage that will delay the roll-out in April. 

MailOnline’s analysis of the figures shows parts of the country have vaccinated more than twice the proportion of 50- to 55-year-olds than others. 

Eden in Cumbria, Burnley in Lancashire and Rutland in the East Midlands have all seen fewer than 40 per cent of people in the age group. For comparison, five areas of the country have vaccinated more than 80 per cent of the cohort.

They were: the Isles of Scilly (88 per cent), Mid Suffolk (82 per cent), East Cambridgeshire (81 per cent), Babergh in Suffolk (81 per cent) and Malvern Hills in Worcestershire (80 per cent).

Meanwhile, London is significantly lagging behind in the mammoth NHS drive, with nearly a quarter of over-80s still yet to have a first dose in Hackney — four months since the rollout began four the age group. 

First doses are expected to be restricted from next week due to severe shortages in the vaccine supply, meaning millions of over-40s will likely have to wait until the end of April to be jabbed. 

Vaccine centres in Devon, Cornwall and Kent are among those to have confirmed they will ‘have to pause’ during the month-long slowdown, which has been triggered by a shortfall of 5million AstraZeneca jabs from India. No10 is currently negotiating with Narenda Modi’s government to get the batch shipped over immediately.

Ministers are concerned anti-vaxx messages spread online are preventing people from taking up the offer of a jab, meaning millions of vulnerable Brits could still be at risk from the disease when it is allowed to spread when restrictions are eased. Ministers also have to account for jabs not being 100 per cent effective. 

And the shortage in available doses from next week will further threaten the likelihood of a successful roll-out to the remaining 21million adults in Britain.  

Just a third of people aged 50 to 55 had a jab in parts of England by March 21 despite the rollout being extended to the cohort last week, NHS figures have revealed

More than four million adults over 50 are yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine, amid warnings that supply shortages mean people seeking a jab should do so before the end of the week or risk missing out

More than four million adults over 50 are yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine, amid warnings that supply shortages mean people seeking a jab should do so before the end of the week or risk missing out

Top 10 areas for the vaccine roll-out to people aged 50 to 55 

Eden, Cumbria

Burnley, Lancashire

Rutland, East Midlands

Corby, Northamptonshire

Newham, London

Kensington and Chelsea, London

35.2 per cent

39.5 per cent

39.9 per cent

40.3 per cent

40.5 per cent

42.5 per cent

Northumberland, Cumbria

Pendle, Lancashire

North Tyneside

Redcar and Cleveland, North East 

43.0 per cent 

43.0 per cent

43.1 per cent

43.5 per cent 

Bottom 10 areas for the vaccine roll-out to people aged 50 to 55 

Isles of Scilly

Mid Suffolk

East Cambridgeshire

Babergh, Suffolk

Malvern Hills, Worcestershire 

88.0 per cent

82.3 per cent

81.5 per cent

81.0 per cent

 80.2 per cent

Warwick

Stafford

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Surrey Heath

Selby, North Yorkshire

79.9 per cent

79.8 per cent

79.8 per cent

79.3 per cent

79.3 per cent

  

MailOnline’s analysis shows some 47 of areas of the country have yet to vaccinate half of adults between 50 and 55, with the proportion low in both remote areas of the North and inner city urban areas. 

The lowest rate after Eden, Burnley, and Rutland was in Corby, Northamptonshire, where just 2,225 adults in the cohort have been vaccinated — an uptake rate of just 40.3 per cent.

It was followed by Newham (40.5 per cent) and Kensington and Chelsea (42.5 per cent), both in London, Northumberland in Cumbria (43 per cent), Pendle in Lancashire (43.1 per cent) and North Tyneside (43.1 per cent). 

But looking at the figures for all over-50s presents a much different picture, where the lack of uptake among older cohorts sees London lagging behind the rest of the country.

Most people over 50 have now been invited for jabs, with NHS bosses now trying to mop up people who are hesitant. Over-80s were invited for a vaccination back in December.

All of the top 16 worst-performing areas for rollout among over-50s were in the capital , with Newham (59.3 per cent) and Kensington and Chelsea (59.4 per cent) being the worst and third worst respectively.

Westminster (59.3 per cent) was the second worst and Kensington and Chelsea was followed by Hackney (61 per cent), Lambeth (62.9 per cent), Hammersmith and Fulham (63 per cent) 

Mass coronavirus vaccination sites across the UK have announced they will close temporarily next month due to looming supply issues. Vaccine centres in Devon, Cornwall and Kent are among those to have confirmed they will 'have to pause' during the month-long slowdown. If the rest of the country follows suit, it could mean all 150 mass sites will shut

Mass coronavirus vaccination sites across the UK have announced they will close temporarily next month due to looming supply issues. Vaccine centres in Devon, Cornwall and Kent are among those to have confirmed they will ‘have to pause’ during the month-long slowdown. If the rest of the country follows suit, it could mean all 150 mass sites will shut

The unusually optimistic projections from No10's experts will pile more pressure on the PM to speed up his lockdown-loosening plan

The unusually optimistic projections from No10’s experts will pile more pressure on the PM to speed up his lockdown-loosening plan 

QUARTER of care home staff have still not accepted a first Covid jab, data shows 

Nearly a quarter of staff at older adult care homes in England have not been given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, new figures show.

The latest data from NHS England, published on Thursday, shows that 76.6 per cent of eligible staff at older adult care homes had been given a first jab by March 21.

It is the fifth consecutive week that the proportion of staff given a first dose has been around 75 per cent, going back to 71.5 per cent by February 21.

This compares to 93.7 per cent of eligible older adult care home residents receiving a first dose of vaccine by March 21.

Residents and staff are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.

The latest figures come just days after the Government confirmed it is considering the possibility of making vaccination a legal requirement for healthcare staff.

The Telegraph reported details of a leaked paper submitted to the ‘Covid O’ sub-committee of Cabinet, which said the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary had agreed to the proposal.

But Matt Hancock has insisted ‘no final decision’ has yet been taken.

Mr Hancock had previously told LBC that ‘many’ care homes had asked for this to happen, adding: ‘There’s a legal change that’s required and, as you can see, I’m open to that, but no final decision has been taken.’ 

In total, more than 100,000 over-50s in those 16 boroughs alone are still yet to have a jab, with the Government’s May deadline fast approaching. 

Meanwhile, the data also showed just 76 per cent of care home workers have taken up the offer of the vaccine. Just 64.5 per cent of carers in London have been jabbed. 

Uptake among the group — who work with the most vulnerable people in society — is lowest in Barnet in north London (45 per cent), Barnsley in south Yorkshire (55.8 per cent) and Bath and North East Somerset (57.6 per cent).

A spokesperson for the Adam Smith Institute thinktank said: ‘Every person who misses their jab, or their opportunity for a jab as imports are restricted, represents a possibility for an infection. 

‘Every person in the vulnerable groups unvaccinated represents a risk to their life personally and possibly unnecessary risk to the lives of others through uncontrolled transmission. 

‘The claim is often made that you need to make many multiples of people vaccinated at the lower age ranges to save the life of one vaccinated in the highest risk group is true in strict probability of risk to life of the individuals involved, we’re now at a point approaching antibody build up in a percentage near herd immunity across the whole population via vaccines and those that sadly caught the virus already. 

‘Any and all extra doses in arms now will help to slow and stop the spread of the vaccine and force it into retreat even as we unlock.’

It comes as mass coronavirus vaccination sites across the UK have announced they will close temporarily next month due to looming supply issues. 

If the rest of the country follows centres in Devon, Cornwall and Kent’s suit, it could see all 150 mass vaccination sites shut because of shortage in supply.

The focus of the rollout will turn to ensuring there are sufficient vaccine stocks to dish out crucial second doses, with staff at mass hubs around the country expected to be redeployed. 

Local vaccination centres have also been told to close unfilled bookings from March 31, with the supply constraint expected to last throughout April. The NHS has called on over-50s to book their first vaccine appointment while they still can before Monday, or risk facing delays.

GPs will continue contacting eligible patients on their lists, but some vaccination sites including Westpoint, near Exeter, have revealed they will shut between April 1 and 11. All of Kent’s five mass vaccination centres, for example, are set to close ‘for a number of weeks’ from next month.

The pause in Britain’s vaccine drive will mean that fewer Britons are vaccinated when No10 starts to reopen the economy on April 12 – but ministers have insisted the timetable will not be affected despite predictions of an ‘exit wave’ of Covid cases as society opens up.



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