NHS boss admits UK faces Covid vaccine shortage

Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Health Service in England during a media briefing

Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Health Service in England during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens has warned that the UK faces a coronavirus vaccine shortage.

The NHS England chief executive also said any export restrictions on EU-produced vaccines would be a "worry".

He admitted "of course there is a supply shortage" of coronavirus vaccines.

He told MPs: "If there were unlimited vaccines then you wouldn't see what the European Commission were saying yesterday.

"You wouldn't see Italy attempting to sue one of the manufacturers, you wouldn't see Germany in uproar as it is today."

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This comes after the EU accused Oxford/AstraZeneca of reneging on its promise to provide a certain amount of vaccines to the bloc.

This prompted the EU on Monday evening to threaten a tightening of controls on the export of other vaccines produced in Europe.

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Asked about those restrictions, Sir Simon said: "Were that to happen, then of course that would be a worry.

"We are at the moment pretty much using up each week’s vaccine as we get it, as we receive it through the safety testing, the batch testing, distribution to the NHS then it gets sent out across the country."

He added: "I think (doctors) and hospitals and all of our partners are doing well to get the vaccinations now underway quickly. So we don’t want any of that progress stymied.”

AstraZeneca said last week “production problems” mean it must cut supply to the EU by 60% to 31 million doses until March.

The British-Swedish firm is also cutting supply schedules to other nations including Australia and Thailand.

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