Priti Patel: There will be 'inconsistencies' in vaccine rollout as demand is 'beyond comprehension’

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
An NHS COVID-19 sign is pictured outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Wembley, northwest London, on January 19, 2021. - Britain on January 18 extended its coronavirus vaccination campaign to people over the age of 70, as new, tougher restrictions for all arrivals to the country came into force. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A COVID-19 vaccination centre in Wembley, north-west London. (Getty)

After a drop in the amount of first dose COVID vaccinations given out in the UK, concerns have been raised about the supply of the jab.

More than 4.2 million Britons have now had their first jab, but recent figures showed the number given the shot falling from 324,233 on Friday to 225,407 on Sunday.

Questioned about the issue on Wednesday morning, home secretary Priti Patel said the UK would see “inconsistencies” in vaccine supply due to changes at supply plants.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think it was inevitable that the likes of Pfizer, AZ (AstraZeneca) are reconfiguring their supply chains and their ability to process and manufacture the vaccine – demand is just enormous and beyond comprehension.

Watch: Coronavirus vaccines in numbers

“I think it is fair to say that this will make it challenging in terms of having a streamlined approach to the delivery of the vaccine.

“There are going to be inconsistencies in terms of vaccine rollout and we are seeing that.”

Patel said the reconfiguration of manufacturing plants was “no bad thing” and the supply issues did not mean the target of vaccinating the 13.5 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February would be missed.

She added: “We will see inconsistencies, we are seeing that around the country right now.

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks to the media, whilst on patrol with Metropolitan Police officers in central London, to hear about about Covid enforcement. Picture date: Monday January 18, 2021. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Home secretary Priti Patel said the UK would see 'inconsistencies' in vaccine supply due to changes at supply plants. (Getty)

“Reconfiguration of supply chains will have an impact, as you’ve highlighted in the level of numbers of vaccinations that have taken place this week.

“But it does not mean automatically that we will not be able to meet our objective of getting to the vulnerable by mid-February.”

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On Tuesday, the prime minister’s official spokesman was asked whether fewer staff, fewer appointments or less supply was behind the fall in first dose vaccinations.

He said: “As ministers have said on a number of occasions it is supply that is the limiting factor at present but as you have seen throughout December and through January we have ramped up the vaccination programme and you will have seen yesterday that we hit four million dose mark.”

The vaccine figures came on the same day that saw the UK recording a further 1,610 coronavirus deaths – the highest number reported on a single day since the outbreak began, bringing the UK total to 91,470.

First doses of COVID-19 vaccinations in the UK. (PA)
First doses of COVID-19 vaccinations in the UK. (PA)

Patel called the UK death toll “catastrophic” but argued that it could not have been known how deadly coronavirus would be when the outbreak struck last year.

Asked about the figure creeping towards the 100,000 mark, Patel told BBC Breakfast: “I would put it on the scale of tragedy that every single life lost, every single death, is a personal and human tragedy…

“We have a long way to go. The vaccine rollout is a positive step forward but we’ve obviously got to vaccinate a very significant number of the population, and that work is taking place.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown