Astrazeneca as well as the U.K. COVID minister declines to give out numbers on the vaccines that the country, but said it would hit "imminently" hit 2 million per week.
Nadhim Zahawi, U.K. COVID vaccine minister, and the heads of the pharmaceutical company cited national security for their refusal to give outputs, which ultimately annoyed MPs on Parliament's Science and Technology Committee who grilled Zahawi and Astrazeneca leaders on Jan. 13 as the government plans to ramp up its COVID immunization program.
Astrazeneca Declines to Disclose Quantity of COVID-19 Vaccines in UK
AstraZeneca UK President Tom Keith-Roach revealed that Government's Vaccines Taskforce told the vaccine maker not to reveal any number in public while Zahawi also refused to do it on government's behalf. Concealing the actual production speed of vaccine doses means it would no longer be possible to know if Britain is able to administer shots as it vowed to do so quickly. It is also impossible to confirm if supply issues cause the slow start to the NHS vaccination drive.
Without giving any specific information, the AstraZeneca president said the company had already delivered 1.1 million doses to the National Health Services and it would eventually "imminently" reach 2 million per week. Keith-Roach added that he was confident to bring more than a million doses next week.
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca chief vowed to hit the weekly target by mid-February when Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to review the lockdown rules while providing vaccines to England's 13 million most vulnerable individuals.
Keith-Roach told the members of the Commons Science and Technology Committee that AstraZeneca is "scaling up very rapidly" until they reach the target of delivering 2 million doses per week, which will imminently happen.
"We're absolutely on track to do that and therefore deliver tens of millions of doses in the first quarter of the year," said Keith-Roach as reported by Daily Mail. He added that if the company was able to deliver 2 million a week in average throughout 2021, they could reach 100 million doses by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, reaching the target by mid-February was indeed a conservative assumption since the UK Vaccines Taskforce asked them not to divulge daily delivery locations and schedules in public forum for security reasons.
COVID vaccination tracker: What slows down the process?
Ministers repeatedly explained that quality-testing and manufacturing process takes about three months per batch, which is slowing down the process.
Based on the past figures, more than 150,000 people are getting vaccinated every day, after the number rose by 165,000 from 2.3 million on Jan. 11 to 2.4 million on Jan 12.
Meanwhile, from Jan. 3 to Jan. 11, the total number of people who received vaccines in the UK was doubled from 1,296,432 to 2,431,648. This further suggested that an average rate of 162,174 people receives the vaccine daily.
After science committee members asked Zahawi to give out the number of AstraZeneca vaccine doses being delivered in the U.K., the vaccine czar deflected the question then cited national security as he avoided the question.
Meanwhile, vaccine doses will be regularly delivered at 2,700 sites across the UK, which includes hundreds of local pharmacies and 50 mass centers.
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Written by CJ Robles