Government health bosses refuse to give 'specific details' about North West Covid vaccine supply cuts

A Government health department has refused to give specific details when quizzed about the impact of cutting a third of the North West's vaccine supplies next month.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 12:30 pm

The Health Service Journal reported earlier this week that the North West will see delivered doses drop from around 310,000 to 200,000 in the second week of February, in order to target supplies at regions with slower vaccination rates.

Meanwhile, UK-based AstraZeneca warned of a reduction in planned deliveries because of production problems, while US firm Pfizer also said it was working to increase capacity at its Belgian factory.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed that targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts.

Covid vaccine supplies will be cut by a third in the North West in February, to enable other regions to catch up with their vaccination rates. Photo: Daniel Martino, JPI Media

However, when quizzed about where a third of the North West's vaccine supply would be sent to, the spokesman said "we are not getting into specific details."

"Vaccines will continue to be distributed evenly and fairly after February 15 and everyone will get their second dose within 12 weeks," they added.

“From the outset we promised that vaccines would be distributed equitably right across the country, ensuring the most vulnerable people in each area are offered the vaccine first – and that is what’s happening.

“To ensure all of those people in the top priority groups can get vaccinated quickly, targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts

“The vaccine supplies the North West will receive will remain in line with the proportion they’ve been receiving, and will allow them to cover priority groups one to four by February 15.

“We remain in close contact with all of our vaccine suppliers and are on track to offer first doses to the top four priority groups by mid-February in all parts of the country. Our approach so far has ensured we’ve vaccinated more people than any country in Europe.”

The Gazette has since asked for further clarity as to whether Lancashire's vaccination rates would slow down as a result of allowing other regions to "catch up."

By January 17, more than 145,000 people in Lancashire and South Cumbria had been given their first jab, the latest data shows.

According to analysis by Lancashire health chiefs, it means the county has one of the highest rates of vaccination in England.

But concerns were raised about how the planned jabs diversions would impact the county's "phenomenal" vaccine roll-out.

Lancashire Resilience Forum and Lancashire County Council chief executive Angie Ridgwell told fellow leaders and MPs across Lancashire yesterday that the county risked becoming "a victim of its own success", should vaccines be diverted away from the region.

"The roll-out of the vaccine has been phenomenal in Lancashire. Lancashire has the highest proportion of vaccinations in the North and one of the highest in the country. That is all down to the hard work and dedication of our local NHS, supported by other public bodies," Ms Ridgwell said.

"This success cannot be jeopardised. We should not be penalised because other parts of the country have not done as good a job as us."