Covid vaccine: PM to have AstraZeneca jab as he urges public to do the same

FT Politics


When johnson talks about the uk's world-beating response to covid nineteen vaccine pogrom passes muster. It's been an unqualified success or one of the reasons. His conservative party are so far ahead in the polls over twenty five million brits have received their job so fall but the government unexpectedly announced show fall in the number of vaccines delivered in april juice. Supply issues and the debate has a geopolitical angle. To given the you struggling with its own vaccine rollout slovan the line. The european commission president on the block might even consider export controls. All options are on the table. We are in the crisis of the century. And i'm not ruling out any anything for now because we have to make sure that europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible so sarah. Let's begin with the overall state of the uk's vaccine pogrom based on what was set out in december. It's pretty much all going to plan fairly high levels of takeover ninety four percent i believe and the government is insisting that all over fifty will have had their first job by the middle of april. So what's the problem. Well a week ago we would have said. This was indeed the most Astonishingly amyloid success and a sign of vessel. Buoyant moved around it. Was that the with some very clear briefing to a couple of the saturday newspapers suggesting that we were actually going to move to the over forty's much sooner than expected so it was a bit of a jolt to find out on wednesday that in fact. Nhs people involved in the program had been told that they must hold booking any new appointments throughout april because the been a sudden very significant reduction in the supplies available so that really has put the first serious dent in the narrative which right from december the eight. I think it was the day. That william shakespeare became one of the first two vaccine as now suddenly. The government is in the unaccustomed position of having to explain what's happening and explain why some of the public expectations that they'd raised so hard may not be met to be fair to the government. They still absolutely insisting they're on track with the two big dates that they've set for this program that all over fifty should be vaccinated by the middle of april. And all adult britons. Who wants a job will have had it at the end of july. But there's no question that it's been a difficult political management problem for them this week and very much not the position that they'd hoped to be in the club. Let's have a look at why this might be happening and seven. I spent a lot of this week speaking to people. Whitehall trying to figure out exactly what was going on behind the scenes with matt. Hancock gave us a of clarity in the house of commons and the government is pinning own production issues. The first one is this batch of one point seven million jobs that we sent back for testing and the second thing is the supply from the soham institute of india which again the governor's put down to supply issues but others are saying that actions being blocked by modi's government from shipping out to the uk. Exactly it is pretty opaque what's happening. There are two elements. Here that can hold up. Supplies one is the genuinely technical difficulties in producing a complex biological process. I mean it's not straightforward zanu vaccine and a lot of the manufacturing sites haven't made this sort of marin a vaccine before it scale factor. You could say none of them have because this is the first one. That's the fiso won. The astra zeneca at novartis vaccine is also level to a complicated process. So there are technical supply issues and then there at the political ones. You alluded to and i don't know whether the serum institute of india supply has been blocked for political reasons because india was having rather a good downturn in covert cases. But that's turning up again. Unfortunately and there are feelings. That indian government wanted to have it at home. This is so. I think if we look at the context of this a lot of it is actually not that much of a serious problem that we were crunching the numbers this week and april is a significant moment in the vaccine program for the uk. Because yes they were vaccinated all over fifty which according to people like christie chief medical officer of england which uses ninety nine percents of deaths on messages the pressure on the nhc s. But eneko you have to install the second jobs. Really the po- gum began to scale up towards the end of january and eleven week window. The nhl is set between the first and second doses. That really kicks in april and but hancock said this week that really still going to be delivering about fourteen million jobs throughout april which is low though. It's been in march but it's still a pretty high number so it's probably good to keep it in context with feels really what's gone wrong. Here is expectations that the rogue briefing about forty s really feels like delivers come off the bush tourism bush. Johnson's tried to restrain for much of twenty twenty. One yes and i think some. Nhs officials were less than delighted about that huge raising expectations last weekend. In a way. I think this was always going to be a difficult point for the program. It was absolutely predictable that at the point at which second doses to scale up there was going to be a deep in first doses. So it's perhaps unfortunate that there wasn't more subtle public preparation. You're absolutely right international standards even in april. We're still going to be doing more. Vaccinations than many of our counterparts. So it's particularly unfortunate wasn't better preparation. Because i think in the minds of a lot of britain's the will now be a sense of this program isn't doing well it's stumbled. It didn't have to be this way that it could have been very differently presented. And after all as i said the government is still on track to meet those two deadlines that it says now clive. We need to put this in the context of europe as well and we heard from s. the von d'alene at the top. That and you still really struggling with its vaccine vo loud but the most baffling things. She's seen this week. Is the story about the astra zeneca job and how effective or side effects. That may have in this concern. Over blood clots we heard from the ama from the nhra in the uk from the world health organization. All saying there are no concerns about blood. Clots and ashes annika vaccine yet at didn't stop lawson countries from halting giving out the doses. It's a very complicated picture on side effects. At least the spotlight turned away from efficacy. Before countries in continental europe were worrying that the astrazeneca vaccine wouldn't work well enough to older people. I think the efficacy questions have more or less be answered now. The spotlight is on whether they're adverse side effects and a few of those have been discovered there. These two different sorts of blood disorders do with abnormal clotting thrombosis that have been detected in people who just been vaccinated in norway in germany elsewhere on continental europe. The numbers are tiny. I would say fewer than twenty around the continent. Investigation is still continuing. There's no proven link with the vaccine. But a lot of vaccine knowledge ists the might be a link. But that is no reason to stop the vaccination program when it's saving tens of thousands of lives probably and people have said that just by halting for a few days the astrazeneca vaccination and continental europe. This week until the european medicines agency said it was okay that would have cost lives. It loves cost lives directly because people weren't getting vaccinated and it also probably unfortunately of cost lives indirectly because all the publicity about ad side effects will just undermined confidence in the vaccine

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