United Kingdom

Experts still have NO plans to give AstraZeneca jab to under-40s as NHS is forced to slow down

There are no plans for under-40s to be given the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab despite rising pressure on Pfizer stockpiles.

The NHS has been forced to slow down its vaccination programme in recent weeks because supplies of Pfizer are 'tight' and there are limited doses of the Moderna jab.

Last month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said that adults under 40 should not be offered the Oxford jab due to a very rare link to blood clots.

Department of Health officials say the JCVI has no plans to reverse this advice despite the limited supplies of alternatives as well as the strain to vaccinate adults before July 19th – when restrictions are planned to be lifted.

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination centre for those aged over 18 years old at the Belmont Health Centre in Harrow, London, June 6, 2021

A JCVI source said they would only reconsider that decision if the 'risk benefit balance changes significantly'.

Later this week the NHS is expected to offer vaccine invites to all over-18s which is expected to intensify the demand on Pfizer supplies even further.

Just over 42million adults have now received their first dose – nearly 80 per cent of the population - and 30.4million their second, or 58 per cent.

Meanwhile Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, promised the Government will be able to lift restrictions more easily next month as many more adults would be vaccinated.

She told Sky News: 'We are taking a pragmatic approach. The key is making sure that everybody gets vaccinated... That's what we need to do in order to be able to fully open up the economy.'

A woman in Darwen, Lancashire, receives a Covid-19 vaccine inside a pharmacy in the town, June 11

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccines Group, said the public health crisis would be over if the jabs significantly prevented hospital admissions.

He told MPs on the science and technology committee: 'In the end, we're going to have to come back to focusing on the really important public health issue, which is the hospitalisation and the death.

'That's the key bit that we have to look at with future variants: if that very high protection against hospitalisation continues, despite spread in the community, then the public health crisis is over... And so far, up to Delta, we're in a very good position, as long as we've got people vaccinated.'

Figures show that 420,699 vaccine doses were administered on June 15th, which was marginally up on the previous day but significantly lower than the 590,000-a-day average for the end of May.

Other figures released yesterday also showed that the UK had fallen behind the likes of the Dominican Republic, China and Uruguay in the number of daily vaccinations administered per 100 people.

According to Our World in Data, the UK is currently vaccinating an average of 0.68 per 100 people every day. This is below the Dominican Republic at 1.26 per 100, China at 1.14 per 100 and Uruguay at 1.07 per 100.

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