Boris vows ‘tens of millions’ of Covid vaccine doses will be given by March as he admits ministers must axe ‘absurd’ red tape stopping retired medics from joining effort
- Boris Johnson refused to give exact figures for vaccinating people from Covid
- PM said ‘tens of millions’ of doses should be given over the next three months
- Vowed action on ‘absurd’ red tape stopping retired medics joining the efforts
Boris Johnson today vowed that ‘tens of millions’ of coronavirus vaccine doses will be given by March – as he admitted ministers must get rid of ‘absurd’ red tape stopping retired medics joining the effort.
The PM refused to give exact figures for how many people will be vaccinated, beyond saying the government wants to be deploying two million jabs a week.
But he said: ‘What I can tell you is that… we do hope that we will be able to do tens of millions in the course of the next three months.’
The Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine is due to start being administered from tomorrow, with the UK’s process so far among the fastest in the world.
Experts have warned that the UK’s exit from crippling lockdown depends on inoculating at least 25million vulnerable people by the spring.
The gap between first and second doses of vaccines is being extended in a bid to reach more people.
Meanwhile, there have been concerns that tens of thousands of recently retired GPs, surgeons, and nurses are being put off helping out due to the bureaucracy involved.
Criticism has been mounting of ‘ridiculous’ demands such as a requirement to be certified in fire safety, or trained in preventing radicalisation.
Asked about the complaints, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think it’s absurd and I know that the Health Secretary is taking steps to get rid of that pointless bureaucracy.’
Boris Johnson (pictured leaving BBC studios today) has refused to give exact figures for how many people will be vaccinated, beyond saying the government wants to be deploying two million jabs a week
Mr Johnson told the Andrew Marr show there will be 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (pictrued) at around 540 GP vaccination sites and around 101 hospital sites tomorrow
Mr Johnson told the Andrew Marr show there will be 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at around 540 GP vaccination sites and around 101 hospital sites tomorrow, ‘on top of the million or so that have already been vaccinated’.
‘There are a few millions more Pfizer (vaccines) still to be used,’ he added.
‘We are rolling them out as fast as we can. And the issue is not so much one of distribution, and I saw some of your earlier guests sort of saying ‘well you know we haven’t got enough retired doctors to help administer (them)’.’
Mr Johnson said he expected ‘tens of millions’ of vaccine jabs to be administered over the next three months.
He said: ‘I wish I could give you here and now any sort of elaboration on the figures you have already heard about how we hope to get up to two million a week and so on.
‘I can’t give you that yet.
The scientist leading the UK coronavirus vaccination programme has defended the decision to extend the gap between the two doses, insisting it is ‘the way we save lives’.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says waiting 12 weeks between jabs rather than the original three will protect those most at risk of dying from Covid-19, adding that the focus must be ‘to deliver first vaccine doses to as many people, in the shortest possible timeframe’.
As the first supplies of the Oxford vaccine arrived in the UK yesterday, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer – who has become the trusted face of Downing Street press conferences during the crisis – predicted that ‘tens of millions of doses’ will be available by the end of March.
A senior Government source last night said that the 15 million jabs needed to protect those most at risk could be delivered by mid-March. Vaccinating that vulnerable group is seen as crucial in releasing Britain from the crippling effects of lockdown.
Writing exclusively in The Mail on Sunday, Prof Van-Tam rejects criticism that changing the period between the two doses of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines is confusing and potentially dangerous.
Mr Johnson said Matt Hancock (pictured last week) was looking to get rid of ‘absurd’ red tape stopping retired medics joining the vaccine effort
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has defended the gap between first and second doses of vaccines being extended in a bid to reach more people