Covid vaccine minister withholds roll-out information as he doesn't want to 'show off'

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi at a commons committee

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi - Credit:

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has withheld information about the government's coronavirus jab roll-out programme saying he did not want to "show off" Britain's programme.

Zahawi refused to say just how many doses the UK was receiving from vaccine manufacturers such a Pfizer and AstraZeneca on a weekly basis because it was a matter of "national security".

Appearing in front of the science and technology committee, the minister said: "We've got clear line of sight [of doses] until the end of February, which is really good news.

"We've got millions in every week in order to move forward and hit the 15 million target by mid-February."

But when asked to clarify those figures, Zahawi deflected.

"In seven days time, the NHS will begin to share data at a local level... so that MPs and local government can begin to see where deliveries are,"  the minister replied.

"But the more time I can give to a primary care network to plan ahead, the better the outcome.

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"The supply team's focus is to give as much time as possible. Difficult in the early days, but [it] gets better as we move through the early phases.

"So, it's not about wanting to withhold information from a committee, although, there is a consideration here because the whole world is looking to acquire vaccines at the moment."

Zahawi was cut off by committee chair Greg Clark who jokingly asked if the government was afraid other countries were "going to zoom into the country to confiscate them". 

"No, no but the more we say or, dare I say show off, about how many batches we're receiving, the more difficult life becomes for the manufacturers as well," Zahawi shot back.

"Clearly they're doing a fantastic job".

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