By mid-February, Boris Johnson expects to vaccinate more than 13 million individuals.
“We have reached our target,” Minister of Vaccines Nadhim Zahawi tweeted on Monday.
By mid-February, Boris Johnson had directed the NHS to deliver 13.9 million Covid vaccines minutes earlier, which would require around 2 million doses a day to be given. “It’s doable,” said Prof. Nilay Shah, head of chemical engineering at London’s Imperial College, “but everything has to go right every single day.”
Here are some of the main aspects of the UK’s biggest vaccination program. Has undertaken ever.
The newly approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is grown from cells in its advanced laboratories and processed in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, is manufactured by two companies: Oxford Biomedica and Keele University-based Cobra Biologics. Oxford Biomedica, which generates the largest number, runs 24/7 shifts, and its workers were on the job to get deliveries underway over Christmas and New Year.
In compliance with its deal with AstraZeneca, which calls for ‘tens of millions’ of doses, the company said it is on track to deliver.
Filling and checking for safety
The vaccine will be shipped in frozen form to Wockhardt’s “fill and finish” plant in Wrexham, North Wales, based in India. There, to speed up the process, the vaccine is packed in vials, some containing eight doses, others eleven.
Under the emergency license issued by the Regulatory Authority for Medicines and Healthcare Products (MHRA) at the end of December, each batch must be quality-tested by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Controls (NIBSC).
According to the government, this is where the delays lie. Oxford Biomedica said that it conducts the necessary testing and sends the data to the NIBSC as a quality-certified facility. The MHRA said some checks are also performed by NIBSC inspectors, but at the same time to ensure speed. “NIBSC has increased its capacity to ensure that multiple batches can be tested at the same time and that it can be done as quickly as possible without compromising quality and safety,” she said.
DHSC said it would usually take up to 20 days for vaccine testing, but it is aiming to reduce the time to five days. Usually, testing is conducted in two steps, first by the manufacturer, who sends the data to NIBSC inspectors. NIBSC then performs its own analysis, including when the vaccine is inserted in vials. The MHRA has confirmed that these tests are performed concurrently to release the vaccine as soon as possible.
The British Medical Association claims that family doctors are forced to conduct mass vaccinations while still going about their day jobs, which means something has to give.
It wants permission for certain non-urgent work to be suspended, such as regular health controls and regulatory inspections.
The association also says retired GPs who wish to return to assist with immunization campaigns face a range of bureaucratic hurdles. They have to complete 20 to 30 online training courses, for example, to become immunization officers, even though they have a medical background.
Yet she is nonetheless optimistic.
Dr. Michael Mulholland, vice chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says, “We’re all excited about where this is going,” We see people coming to us in their 80s and 90s and actually getting something with which they can leave the building, at least in that direction.
But it’s important to note that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Centers for Immunization
Seven mass vaccination centers will be set up in locations such as sports stadiums and convention centers starting next week to expedite vaccinations when those most at risk are protected. Johnson said that 207 hospitals will have vaccines by the end of this week and 775 sites will be run by primary care doctors working mainly in practices, community centers and small community hospitals. Not all areas are protected, however.
The chief of the North Norfolk District Council, which has one of the oldest populations in the United Kingdom, Sarah Butikofer, criticised the fact that the town still does not have a dedicated vaccination site as’ terrible.’
Homes for Nursing
Residents of nursing homes are one of the priority categories, but it was not easy to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to them because it had to be kept so cold.
Some nursing homes in one of the regions in Kent