The UK drugs regulator announced yesterday (Wednesday 7 April) that under-30s should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca jab after rare cases of blood clots.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was still on track to meet its target this summer, with mass supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs ordered.
Every adult in the UK will receive a vaccination by the end of the July, the minister said.
At a press conference about the AstraZeneca guidance, England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the NHS was "all over this.”
While the fresh guidance marked a “course change,” the progress of the vaccine rollout would not be impacted, he said.
“Vaccines continue to be the way out for the UK, they continue to be the way in which we can get our lives back to normal and our economy opened up again the shortest time possible," Van-Tam said.
Individuals who have already received an AstraZeneca dose were encouraged to get their second dose of the jab when the time came.
What's more, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told journalists yesterday there was no indication the country would need to slow down the unlocking process.
Speaking on a visit to Cornwall, the PM said: "I don’t see any reason at this stage at all to think we need to deviate from the roadmap and we’re also very secure about our supply."
Johnson confirmed the country would move to the next step of easing lockdown measures at a press conference on Monday 5 April.
Pub operators received confirmation they would be able to reopen their beer gardens and outdoor spaces from Monday 12 April.
At the briefing, Johnson said: "And I want to stress, that we see nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate from that roadmap."
There had been concerns after local health organisations were warned of a "significant reduction in the weekly supply" of vaccines in England this month (April) in a letter from the NHS.
Progression through the Government’s unlocking roadmap is decided on the success of meeting four tests.
The tests are:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
Pubs will be allowed to reopen indoors from Monday 17 May in the third step of the roadmap while all legal restrictions on social contact are to be lifted from Monday 21 June at the earliest.
The Government is presently consulting on a Covid certification scheme which could see pubs given the option to ask customers to prove their virus immunity to slash social distancing rules.