Vaccine manufacturing is lumpy, UK says

Britain's vaccine rollout is limited by a "lumpy" manufacturing process.

That's the latest assessment from the country's Vaccine Deployment Minister.

Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday (Jan 18) that production changes by Pfizer and a delay by AstraZeneca could lead to brief supply disruption.

The UK, which has the world's fifth-worst official COVID-19 death toll, is racing to be among the first major countries to vaccinate its population.

On doses administered per 100 people, it is fourth in the world after Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Zahawi told LBC radio that the country was hoping for 2 million vaccines a week from AstraZeneca.

But that those numbers would not be reached until mid February.

He insisted though that the UK was on course to hit its rollout targets.

Pfizer will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its vaccine while it upgrades its production capacity.

Mass vaccination is seen as the best way to exit the pandemic, which has killed more than 2 million people worldwide.

And wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output.

Britain is vaccinating on average 140 people per minute against the virus, starting with the most vulnerable.

Zahawi said a 24-hour vaccine offering would begin to be piloted in London by the end of the month.

With essential workers such as teachers, the police and shop assistants moving to the top of the list once all those over 50 have been offered a shot.

Video Transcript

- Britain's vaccine rollout is limited by a lumpy manufacturing process. That's the latest assessment from the country's Vaccine Deployment Minister. Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday that production changes by Pfizer and a delay by AstraZeneca could lead to a brief supply disruption. The UK, which has the world's fifth worst official COVID-19 death toll, is racing to be among the first major countries to vaccinate its population. On doses administered per 100 people, its fourth in the world after Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

Zahawi told LBC radio that the country was hoping for 2 million vaccines a week from AstraZeneca. But those numbers would not be reached until mid February. He insisted, though, that the UK was on course to hit its rollout targets. Pfizer will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its vaccine while it upgrades its production capacity. Mass vaccination is seen as the best way to exit the pandemic, which has killed more than two million people worldwide and wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output.

Britain is vaccinating on average 140 people per minute against the virus, starting with the most vulnerable. Zahawi said a 24-hour vaccine offering would begin to be piloted in London by the end of the month. With essential workers such as teachers, the police, and shop assistants moving to the top of the list once all those over 50 have been offered a shot.