Britain says delay in Serum Institute vaccines contributing to supply squeeze

Jenrick says vaccine deliveries slower than hoped, will pick up in May

Mr Jenrick said: "We are experiencing some supply issues so it does mean the vaccine rollout will be slightly slower than we may have hoped, but not slower than the target we set ourselves".

Supply constraints are the biggest threat to Britain's vaccine rollout - now the swiftest among the world's major economies - and health officials warned that the programme would face a significant reduction in supplies from March 29.

Earlier, Prof Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said news of constraints in supply was "disappointing" and "a bit of a setback".

Asked about reports that delays to the delivery of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from India's Serum Institute are behind the expected reduction in supply, Mr Jenrick said he would not comment on "the specific contracts we have with different manufacturers".

He said: "The impact of this shortage of supplies will happen on the group that we were hoping to start on in April, which is the people under the age of 50 without any pre-existing conditions, who are now going to have to wait until May".

"During April, around 12m people, including many colleagues in this House will receive their second dose".

Another review of five United Kingdom cases involving a rare type of clot in the brain is under way.

Britain's medicines regulator said there had been five cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain among 11 million people given AstraZeneca's vaccine but said that it found the benefits of the shot far outweighed any possible risks.

At least 138 protesters killed in Myanmar since coup
Security forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds against protesters in near-daily crackdowns across the country. Sunday's violence in Yangon - virtually all committed by police - led to the greatest single-day death toll since the coup.

Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt questioned Mr Hancock over suggestions that vaccine exports could be blocked by the European Union, following comments by the head of the bloc's executive, Ursula von der Leyen.

"Let's get the jab done!" he said.

The Health Secretary said supplies would be "tighter" in April, adding the NHS still had a "huge amount" of second doses of the vaccine to administer.

It added that "volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained", with healthcare providers told those aged 49 and under should only be offered a vaccine in "exceptional circumstances" - such as if they are clinically vulnerable or a frontline care worker.

"And we will try to supply more later, based on the current situation and requirement for the government immunisation programme in India", he said. COVID-19 is linked to more than 159,000 deaths in India, the world's fourth-highest death toll.

Johnson has announced plans to slowly lift a national lockdown in England, though some measures are expected to remain in place until late June. With the lockdown expected to last past Easter, Britons have been looking at summer holidays as a way to make up for months of living under heavy restrictions.

The Housing Secretary told BBC Breakfast the final goal of vaccinating all adults with one dose by the end of July was still on track. "If full vaccination becomes required for holidays overseas or even more mundane things like going to the cinema, millions of younger people may end up being excluded from participating for the whole summer".

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