The visit of the Health Minister to London GP practice shows early issues with vaccine rollout from manufacturers
After it emerged that a practice visited by Matt Hancock to promote the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had not yet obtained any supplies while the health minister was there, issues with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine to GPs were announced.
On Thursday morning, when he visited Bloomsbury Surgery in central London, Hancock said doses of the vaccine were being distributed to GP practices around the country. He admitted, however, that supply from suppliers is the’ limiting factor’ in attempts to vaccinate individuals.
“The health minister, standing outside Dr. Ammara Hughes’ practice, said, “It’s fantastic news this morning that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out across the nation to GP practices right now.
We have been bringing it to hospitals for the first three days with the Oxford vaccine to confirm if it is working well, and it is working well, so we can now ensure that it gets to all the GP practices that can do all the requisite vaccines like this.
“The rate-limiting step is the delivery of the vaccine. We’re working with the companies – both Pfizer and AstraZeneca – to increase supply.”
“The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said Hancock’s visit to the practice was like a scene from the political satire The Thick of It, but added: “Unfortunately, it’s not a ludicrous affair.” It was reported Thursday night that the practice he visited later obtained the vaccine from Oxford/AstraZeneca.
He tweeted, “This should be a clear reminder to ministers to get a move on and reach for the sky (sic) to roll out vaccination widely as soon as possible. We are in a race against time and we urgently need to start 2 million vaccinations a week.”
Dr. Hughes said Hancock was “quite surprised to learn that we don’t know when all of our deliveries are coming, they are very ad hoc.” Since mid-December, the practice has been administering the Pfizer vaccine and so far has received three shipments.
“Dr. Hughes added, “So at the practice, we have continued to vaccinate with Pfizer, and we expect to meet the most clinically at-risk and homebound AstraZeneca vaccine patients when it arrives.
And this is what we are going to do.
“We’re not going to start vaccinating within the practice with our AstraZeneca doses until we get our Pfizer vaccines ready.”
AstraZeneca and Pfizer have also said that, as agreed with the government, they are on track to supply the vaccines.
The government has reported that Covid-19 has now been vaccinated by almost 1.5 million people.
To this article, PA Media contributed