British vaccine minister says confident in supply from manufacturers

© Reuters. British Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi speaks at the House of Commons in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has confidence in its supply of COVID-19 vaccines and has good visibility on future supplies thanks to regular contacts with manufacturers over timetables for deliveries, the minister responsible for rolling out shots said on Wednesday.

The country has accelerated its vaccine rollout plans with a view to easing lockdown, although Monday saw the lowest number of first doses given since daily figures were first reported.

“We have real confidence in our supply and our visibility of supply,” Nadhim Zahawi told lawmakers.

“We… talk to the vaccine manufacturers, almost on a daily basis, and we are confident.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a plan to ease England’s lockdown, predicated on the success of the vaccine rollout, one of the fastest in the world.

As part of that roadmap, Johnson said that Britain planned to offer a vaccine to all over-50s by mid-April, with all adults offered a shot by the end of July.

On Tuesday, health minister Matt Hancock said this week would be quieter for vaccinations due to uneven supply schedules, but he expected supplies to increase next month.

Zahawi declined to give a breakdown on how many vaccines were expected to be delivered each week or month, but said that the prime minister’s target would be met.

“We’re very confident that we can meet those targets, because we’ve got enough line of sight of our deliveries that we’ll be able to deliver on those… targets set by the Prime Minister,” Zahawi said.

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