Every adult in the UK will “probably” receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by August, according to the head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce.
Clive Dix, who runs C4X — the body that buys vaccines on behalf of the UK government — said the entire UK adult population would likely be fully vaccinated within six to seven months.
Speaking to Sky News, Dix said: “We are confident within the vaccine taskforce now that the supply we’re going to get will take us to position where we can vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate.”
“We’re probably talking August time or September time all done, maybe sooner if we need to,” Dix added.
He said the UK would “definitely” receive its vaccine supply at the rate promised over the next three to six months, meaning the jab rollout will likely be slowed by hiccups.
So far, more than 14m people have received their first dose of a Covid jab, including all top four priority groups.
The government now intends to offer a first dose of the vaccine to all over-50s by the end of April, followed by a more modest target of reaching all adults in the UK by the autumn.
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that the NHS has now begun sending letters out to over-65s and those with a clinical condition.
The 7.3m people across the UK with significant clinical conditions include any adults suffering with blood cancer, diabetes, dementia, severe asthma, severe mental illness and a host of other conditions.
Dix said the vaccine taskforce was confident in its jab supply over the coming months because of its diverse portfolio of different drugs.
Britain currently has orders placed for 457m doses of vaccines produced by seven different companies.
That includes an order for 50m doses of a “next generation” vaccine being produced by Curevac that is especially suited to targeting emerging Covid variants.
So far, the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout has leant entirely on both the Astrazeneca/Oxford University and Pfizer/Biontech jabs, which have both received emergency use authorisation.
But further vaccines set to be added to Britain’s roster in the coming months means ministers will soon be able to wind the cogs even faster.
“The ones that are being rolled off the line at the moment, they are doing very well,” Dix told Sky.
“Of course, they could have a manufacturing problem like you do with any manufacturer or anything, but with vaccines being complicated you could have a problem.
“But because we’ve taken a portfolio approach we’ve got other vaccines that are going to be approved in the very near future.”
The UK’s medicines regulatory body last month authorised the Moderna vaccine for emergency use, making it the third jab to be get the green light among the UK’s vaccine portfolio.
The drug, which proved 94 per cent effective in protecting against coronavirus in clinical trials, is set to become available in the UK in as little as two weeks.
Boris Johnson has said the nation’s largest ever vaccination programme will prove “the light at the end of the tunnel” from the pandemic, as he promised 2021 would see the return of the “Great British summer”.
However, he has so far refused to provide firm dates for exiting lockdown restrictions, insisting coronavirus rates need to be “really, really low” before measures can be lifted.
Johnson has vowed to set out a “roadmap” for lifting lockdown measures on 22 February, adding that ministers will provide dates for easing specific measures “if we possibly can”.