Business Secretary Alok Sharma has said that the government is “absolutely confident” the UK will have 800,000 coronavirus vaccine doses by next week.
Sharma said some of the Pfizer/BioNTech doses had arrived, with more expected by the end of the year. However, he was unable to say how many that will be.
NHS Providers said the UK must work on the basis that more doses beyond this might not arrive “for some time”.
Chief executive Chris Hopson tweeted that it was “vital” hospitals sought to vaccinate as many people as possible in the highest priority groups.
He added that with “every day that goes past, we become more confident we will get a lot more [doses] and get them soon”.
The first consignment of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in the UK yesterday (Thursday3 December), though the number of doses has not been confirmed.
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann confirmation nearly 25,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were delivered to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast this morning.
While Wale’s First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that the first vaccination will be administered on Tuesday.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list – which is recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – followed by the over-80s and front-line health and care staff.
Sharma reiterated that the bulk of the vaccination programme would be carried out next year, adding that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was also reviewing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.