London is missing out on its “fair share” of the vaccine, Sadiq Khan has said, as he urged ministers to reassess the formula for distributing doses across the UK.
The mayor of London has written an urgent letter to vaccines tsar Nadhim Zahawi calling on him to scale up vaccine supply to meet different population densities.
Khan said he was “hugely concerned” that Londoners have received only a tenth of the vaccines that have been given across the country, when the capital’s population makes up close to 14 per cent of 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.
According to regional vaccine data released today by the NHS, the Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and the South East have seen the highest numbers of vaccinations over the past month, with each region receiving more than 400,000 doses.
Meanwhile, London has received just over 235,000 doses — the second lowest of any English region.
Under current vaccine rollout plans, doses are distributed equally between primary care networks across the country on a “fair share basis”.
The mayor yesterday wrote a similar letter to Boris Johnson pleading him to “review this formula and urgently scale up vaccine distribution in London”.
He also called for tougher lockdown measures across the capital, including closing places of worship, making face masks compulsory outdoors and providing more financial support to Londoners asked to self-isolate.
It comes after Martin Machray, joint chief nurse and Covid incident director at NHS London, earlier this week said: “Per head of population, we are 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.
Khan last Friday declared a “major incident” in London amid concerns the capital’s hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Khan said in a statement.
A major incident is defined as being “beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security”.
Major incidents have previously been declared during the Grenfell Tower fire, London Bridge terror attack and Croydon tram crash in 2016.
The London Ambulance Service last week said it is now taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, compared to around 5,500 on a typical busy day.
More than 800 patients are being admitted to London’s hospitals with coronavirus every day, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens warned on Tuesday.
“That’s equivalent to a new St Thomas’ hospital full of Covid each day”, he added.