The UK's Covid vaccination rate is slowing down - will the target still be met?

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:34 pm
It is hoped the rate of vaccination will accelerate towards the end of March (Photo: Shutterstock)

The number of Covid vaccines administered in the UK has fallen by over a third in a week, due to issues with supply and stockpiling.

On Monday (22 Feb), it was reported that 192,341 people received their first coronavirus vaccine dose, marking the second lowest daily number since January 17.

The lowest daily number was reported the day prior, with 141,719 jabs marking the lowest number of vaccines administered since the UK began reporting daily totals, on 10 January.

Taking the total vaccines administered on Sunday and Monday, the number is 35 per cent lower than the figures for the same days in the previous week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock remarked on the lower rates in a radio interview, saying that the UK was expecting a "quieter week" for jabs due to pressures on supply, but that the country could expect some "bumper weeks" in March.

Why have vaccination numbers dropped?

The dip in vaccination rates is down to several factors, including a lower availability of supply from vaccine manufacturers, a higher uptake of the vaccine than expected, and stockpiling by the UK to ensure that those who have received their first dose get their second within the 12 week window.

UK ministers have said that the slowing down is temporary, with supplies anticipated to be uneven - especially while vaccine manufacturer Pfizer reduces production at its plant in Belgium during February to increase the amount of jabs made in March.

Modelling documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) appear to show that the dip in supply should not affect the vaccination targets set by the Government, so long as the pace of vaccine rollout is sped up towards the end of March, when supply is expected to bounce back.

Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, told The Guardian that it was currently unclear how the dip in supply would affect overall rollout, saying: “We probably need another week of data to have a clearer picture around whether this is a concerning trend, or indeed part of natural fluctuations."