London is currently the lowest-vaccinated region in England, according to the latest official figures, despite having the highest population density.
Data from NHS England showed that just under 440,000 people in London have been vaccinated against coronavirus to date — the lowest figure for any English region.
The figure is almost half the number of people that have been vaccinated in the Midlands, where around 780,000 people have been immunised against Covid.
The capital has also received the lowest number of second doses of any English region, with just over 51,000 Londoners having received their second jab — behind around 53,000 people in the Southwest, and 75,000 in the Southeast.
It means London makes up just over 10 per cent of the 4,118,342 vaccine doses that have been administered in the country so far, despite being home to around 16 per cent of the English population.
London mayor Sadiq Khan last week wrote an urgent letter to both the Prime Minister and vaccines tsar Nadhim Zahawi demanding a reassessment of the formula for distributing vaccines across the country.
“The situation in London is critical with rates of the virus extremely high, which is why it’s so important that vulnerable Londoners are given access to the vaccine as soon as possible,” he added.
Under current vaccine rollout plans, doses are distributed equally between primary care networks across the country on a “fair share basis”.
But Martin Machray, joint chief nurse and Covid incident director at NHS London, said that per head, London is currently “not getting quite as much vaccine as maybe more rural parts of the country”.
The NHS has pledged to offer a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine to more than a million Londoners by 15 February.
Care home residents and staff, NHS frontline workers, over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable will be first in the queue, Machray said. This will likely reduce deaths and disease by 65 per cent in the capital, he told the London Assembly.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps on Friday dismissed claims that London has been overlooked in the vaccine rollout as “absolutely wrong.”
Speaking on Talk Radio, Shapps said: “I don’t blame anyone anywhere for saying let’s give our area more.
“But London has two hundred vaccination centres, it has got that enormous one at the Excel, the Nightingale Hospital has been turned into one of those big vaccination centres.”
The vaccines deployment minister said ministers are currently drawing up plans to trial 24 hour vaccination centres in London, though it is not yet clear which sites have been earmarked for inclusion.
A spokesperson for NHS England told City A.M. that the Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel Centre will not be included in 24 hour vaccination centre plans.
Speaking at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, health secretary Matt Hancock said there were clear regional variations for vaccination numbers among the over-80s.
Hancock said the government was “prioritising the supply of the vaccine into those parts of the country that need to complete the over-80s, but we don’t want to stop the areas that have effectively done that job already”.
Coronavirus vaccines will now be “diverted” to areas in England falling behind on rolling out vaccines to the over 80s to avoid concerns over a “postcode lottery”, according to the Times.