Britain's health minister rebuffs European Union criticism on AstraZeneca vaccine exports

Britain's health minister rebuffs European Union criticism on AstraZeneca vaccine exports”

The announcement of a supply shortfall coincided with a resurgence in tensions with the European Union, which is frustrated by a lack of exports of AstraZeneca's vaccine from Britain.

"We have been informed by the Vaccine Task Force that additional supplies of vaccine, which we were expecting to arrive in the United Kingdom before mid-April will now be delivered up to four weeks later than originally planned".

"We're sourcing vaccines from all over the world and we are experiencing occasionally some issues and that's led to this, this issue with some supply in the coming weeks", he said.

A spokesman for the Welsh government said: "We are able to offer vaccinations to as many people in Wales as supply allows".

But asked about supply from India after a reported delay in the delivery of five million Oxford/AstraZeneca doses from the Serum Institute of India, he said: "I'm not going to get into the specific contracts we have with different manufacturers".

Britain is on track to have given a first shot to half of all adults in the next few days, making it one of the fastest countries to roll out a vaccine. "But putting an embargo on new first-dose bookings for a whole month due to supply constraints will make this an even taller order".

Britain imports Pfizer's vaccine from Europe, but despite the spat, Johnson said people should not be anxious about supplies from the EU. "This will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply".

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Pfizer and AstraZeneca said on Wednesday their delivery schedules had not been affected.

Britain's medicines regulator said there had been five cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain among 11 million people given AstraZeneca's vaccine but said that it found the benefits of the shot far outweighed any possible risks. Jab sites in England have now been ordered to stop vaccinating people under 50 during April.

Meanwhile, an AstraZeneca spokeswoman said: "Our UK domestic supply chain is not experiencing any disruption and there is no impact on our delivery schedule".

Hancock told MPs in the Commons, "In April, supply is tighter than this month and we have a huge number of second doses to deliver".

Earlier, housing minister Robert Jenrick said that supplies would pick up again in May, and Moderna Inc has said it is expecting first deliveries of its vaccine to Britain to start in April.

Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, said: "It is reassuring that the secretary of state has reaffirmed the government's commitment to vaccinate all over 50s by 15 April". He added that a roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England was unaffected.

Hancock said Britain expected doses of Moderna's vaccine to arrive "in the coming weeks".

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