The UK is likely to run out of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as early as next month, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned.
A British grandma, 90, became the first patient in the world to receive an approved Covid-19 vaccine on December 8.
However, British stocks of the jab are likely to run out at the end of January, with no new delivery until March, according to Mr Hunt who is chairman of the Health Select Committee.
Speaking on the Today programme on Saturday, he expressed hope that the gap could be bridged by the approval of Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine.
He said: ‘It [the roll-out of the Oxford jab] will make a massive difference because the doses that we have of the Pfizer vaccine will keep us going until the end of January and I think we’re not getting another shipment until March.
‘If we could have the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine ready to go until January then we could keep the roll-out going at the current pace.’
It come amid reports the Oxford vaccine could be approved before the new year.
The Daily Telegraph reports senior Whitehall sources believe the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will authorise it on December 28 or 29.
Almost 138,000 people across the UK have been vaccinated against Covid-19 so far with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The Royal College of GPs chairman Professor Martin Marshall has said the roll-out of the vaccination programme in care homes will be sped up if the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is approved by regulators soon.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘At the moment we are dealing with this Pfizer vaccine, which is difficult.
‘On the assumption that we are going to get approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine which is much more familiar because it is much more like the flu vaccination, then I think we will be able to roll out at a much faster pace, but certainly over the next few weeks and next couple of months we expect all care homes to be covered.’
However, the MHRA has warned its review of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine is still ongoing.
An spokeswoman said: ‘Our rolling review of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is ongoing.
‘Our process for approving vaccines is designed to make sure that any Covid-19 vaccine authorised meets the expected high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
‘Any vaccine must undergo robust clinical trials in line with international standards, with oversight provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and no vaccine would be authorised for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.’
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