Britain’s Covid vaccine drives hits record daily high of 660,000 doses

Britain’s Covid vaccine drive hit a record high today after 660,000 doses were dished out in 24 hours, official figures revealed today.

Some 26.2million Britons have now received their first dose, or half the adult population of 52million. And 2million have got their second dose as the drive continues at pace.

Department of Health figures showed 528,260 first doses and 132,016 second doses were administered on Thursday, the latest available. It follows a bumper week after 581,855 jabs were given on Wednesday, and 529,119 on Tuesday.

Senior Government sources had suggested over-40s would receive their jabs as early as April, amid promising roll-out figures. But ministers are now facing a vaccine shortage after a shipment of 4million AstraZeneca shots from India was delayed – with No10 holding secret talks with New Delhi to get the roll-out back on track.

It comes after NHS figures revealed how vaccine uptake rates differed across the country, with only 60 per cent of adults in parts of London receiving their shots compared to close to 90 per cent in parts of Worcestershire. 

MailOnline analysis showed in total 21 parts of the country have yet to hit 70 per cent of over-55s — and 17 of them are in London. 

For comparison, the Isles of Scilly has vaccinated 822 of its 876 over-55s — giving it an uptake of 93.8 per cent — and Stafford, Mid Suffolk and the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire have all vaccinated more than 89 per cent of the cohort. 

Uptake figures are based on the latest population estimates by Public Health England’s National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS).

Figures also revealed one in four care home staff still haven’t been vaccinated. The rate is just 62.4 per cent in London.

Officials insist vaccines are divvied out evenly across the country, suggesting poor uptake is to blame. Health chiefs are concerned about high levels of vaccine hesitancy among black and ethnic minorities, fuelled by anti-vaxx messages on social media. 

England’s vaccine roll-out was officially widened to over-50s yesterday but a shortfall in the vaccine supply next month is expected to mean millions of over-40s won’t be inoculated until May.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week revealed supplies would be used to mop up the over-50s who haven’t already been jabbed, while ensuring Britons don’t miss out on crucial top-ups. Diverting supplies to inner-city neighbourhoods with low uptake rates will stop areas leading the way from moving down the priority list. 

NHS England figures show 79 per cent of over-55s in the country had at least one dose of the vaccine by March 14, but London is significantly lagging behind in uptake

No10\'s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi got his first dose of a coronavirus vaccination this morning in Lewisham. He was jabbed by NHS England\'s director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani

No10\'s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi got his first dose of a coronavirus vaccination this morning in Lewisham. He was jabbed by NHS England\'s director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani

No10’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi got his first dose of a coronavirus vaccination this morning in Lewisham. He was jabbed by NHS England’s director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani

MailOnline’s analysis of the latest vaccine statistics shows most parts of the country are well on their way to achieving the target of offering first doses to all over-50s by April 15.

But most of the capital is seriously lagging behind in the roll-out to over-55s, with more than half a million in the age group yet to receive a jab in London.

Uptake was worst in Hackney (59.2 per cent), Newham (60.2 per cent), Kensington and Chelsea (61.1 per cent), Southwark (61.3 per cent) and Westminster (61.4 per cent). Nearly 90,000 over-55s still have to come forward for a jab in those boroughs alone.

On the other end of the spectrum, 35 areas of the country have vaccinated more than 85 per cent of people in that age group.

Following the Isles of Scilly, Stafford, Mid Suffolk and Wyre Forest were the Isle of Wight (88.7 per cent), Wyre (88.3 per cent), Babergh (87.9 per cent), Malvern Hills (87.4 per cent) and Harborough (87.2 per cent).  

East Suffolk has vaccinated 88.5 per cent of its over-55s despite being one of the very few local authorities in the country to have more than 100,000 people in the age group. 

TOP 10 AREAS FOR VACCINE UPTAKE AMONG OVER-55s 

Isles of Scilly

Stafford

Mid Suffolk

Wyre Forest

Isle of Wight

East Suffolk

Wyre

Babergh

Malvern Hills

Harborough

93.8 per cent

89.4 per cent

89.2 per cent

89.1 per cent

88.7 per cent

88.5 per cent

88.3 per cent

87.9 per cent

87.4 per cent

87.2 per cent

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BOTTOM 10 AREAS FOR VACCINE UPTAKE AMONG OVER-55s 

Hackney

Newham

Kensington and Chelsea

Southwark

Westminster

Lambeth

Hammersmith and Fulham

Islington

Lewisham

Tower Hamlets

59.2 per cent

60.2 per cent

61.1 per cent

61.3 per cent

61.4 per cent

62.0 per cent

63.7 per cent

64.7 per cent

64.8 per cent

65.3 per cent

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The data also showed just 64 per cent of carers working in people’s homes have taken up the offer of the vaccine.

Uptake among the group — who work with the most vulnerable people in society — is lowest in Barnet in north London (28.5 per cent), Barnsley in south Yorkshire (29.3 per cent) and Bath and North East Somerset (29.3 per cent). 

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS England’s primary care director, said: ‘The number of vaccines available to the NHS will continue to go up and down week by week and month by month in line with manufacturers’ ability to supply us.  

Ministers scramble to defuse standoff with India by insisting it ISN’T blocking shipment of 5million doses 

Ministers were today scrambling to defuse the standoff with India over 5million missing doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, with No10 holding secret talks with New Delhi to get the roll-out back on track.

Matt Hancock yesterday admitted a delayed shipment from the Serum Institute of India was a key factor in shortages that will slow the campaign down next month, meaning millions of over-40s will have to wait until May to get their first dose.

But in front of the entire nation last night, Boris Johnson – who is due to travel to India in the coming months to secure a lucrative post-Brexit trade deal – claimed Narenda Modi’s government had ‘not stopped any exports’.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden today waded into the confusion and repeated the claims of the Prime Minister, saying India was not ‘withholding vaccines’ and that the SII had ‘some supply issues’.

Asked if Mr Modi’s administration was blocking exports, Mr Dowden told LBC: ‘No. India is not withholding vaccines, and I pay tribute to the work of the Serum Institute. They have had some supply issues with 5million doses.’

It comes as one of the Government’s top scientific advisers insisted today that Britain’s vaccine in shortage in April won’t hamper the UK’s inoculation drive.

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, an Imperial College London epidemiologist whose grim modelling spooked ministers into the first blanket shutdown last March, dismissed fears that the hold-up could threaten plans to ease lockdown.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the delay was ‘slightly disappointing’ but insisted it shouldn’t have an ‘enormous effect’. And he added that No10 still has ‘enough’ supply to continue with the programme – which has already vaccinated almost 26million Britons.

Another Imperial scientist today said it was ‘unrealistic to imagine the first dose roll-out will be as fast’. Professor Robin Shattock, who is involved in vaccine research, said the delay was ‘manageable’, however.

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‘But this week and next we have larger supplies, so we want anyone in the top priority groups – people aged 50 and older as well as those working in health and care and anyone with an underlying health condition – to come forward soon to protect themselves and their loved ones.

‘The success of the NHS vaccination roll-out is testament to the work of NHS staff, and as new groups of people are invited to come forward it’s exciting that we are now inviting people aged 50 and over to get their jab.

‘The vaccines are both safe and effective, so if anybody who is eligible hasn’t been vaccinated yet, I’d urge them to go online or call 119 and get themselves booked in.’

It comes as ministers scramble to defuse the standoff with India over 5million missing doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, with No10 holding secret talks with New Delhi to get the roll-out back on track.

Matt Hancock yesterday admitted a delayed shipment from the Serum Institute of India was a key factor in shortages that will slow the campaign down next month, meaning millions of over-40s will have to wait until May to get their first dose.

The Health Secretary said the UK will now focus its vaccine supply on ensuring all over-50s are vaccinated by the Government’s April 15 target.

Speaking at Thursday night’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock said: ‘We’re on track to offer a first dose to everyone in priority groups one to nine by April 15.

‘While we deliver on that commitment, we also want to ensure that this offer reaches everyone in groups one to nine.

‘At the same time as opening up offers of vaccinations to all those who are 50 or above, we are going to do whatever it takes to reach all those in the most vulnerable groups who haven’t come forward yet before we move onto the next cohort, which is people in their 40s.

‘Before we forge ahead I want us to be confident that we’ve done everything we can to protect those most in need of protection and we will do all we can and do everything necessary to deliver the supplies that are contractually committed to protecting people in this country.’ 

In front of the entire nation last night, Boris Johnson – who is due to travel to India in the coming months to secure a lucrative post-Brexit trade deal – claimed Narenda Modi’s government had ‘not stopped any exports’.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden today waded into the confusion and repeated the claims of the Prime Minister, saying India was not ‘withholding vaccines’ and that the SII had ‘some supply issues’.

Asked if Mr Modi’s administration was blocking exports, Mr Dowden told LBC: ‘No. India is not withholding vaccines, and I pay tribute to the work of the Serum Institute. They have had some supply issues with 5million doses.’

But the boss of the SII yesterday said no further doses would be sent to Britain until the Indian Government gave the go ahead. He also said there was no shortage and claimed it had never made a deal to supply the full 10million doses within any given time frame.

Whitehall sources said there was a ‘constructive dialogue under way to work through issues’ with counterparts in New Delhi.

But the roll-out isn’t just being hampered by supply issues from India – which ministers seemingly hoped would allow for the vaccine drive to carry on while dishing out millions of second doses. Another 1.7million doses have been delayed because of the need to re-test a large batch already in the UK.

Despite concerns that the roll-out could be held up in the face of shortages with Tory MPs accusing No10 of ‘over-promising’, Government insiders haven’t ruled out moving onto people in their forties in the coming weeks.  

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