Covid vaccine roll out 'would have been finished' in North East if supplies had been in place, say health chiefs

A health worker prepares a dose of covid vaccine.A health worker prepares a dose of covid vaccine.
A health worker prepares a dose of covid vaccine.
The coronavirus vaccine roll out in the North East could ‘have been finished by now’ if supplies had been more consistent, NHS bosses have said.

More than 700,000 people across the region have so far received at least one jab since the programme started during December 2020.

And while health chiefs are confident they have delivered doses as fast as they could, they are confident they could have managed many more, had they been available.

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“The vaccination programme, by any stretch, has been a success for the NHS, but particularly up here,” said Sir James Mackey, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“There’s much more primary care involvement in the vaccination programme [in the North East], compared to other parts of the country and I think there’s been a real strength, augmented by the mass vaccination centres.

“I think if we had had a steady flow of supply we would have been finished by now.

“There was a time in January when GP colleagues told me they could work at four or five times the pace.”

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Sir James was speaking at a meeting of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the North East and North Cumbria ICS (Integrated Care System) and North and Central ICPs (Integrated Care Partnerships), which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Earlier this year it was claimed vaccine supplies had been diverted away from the North East to help doctors elsewhere in England catch up and hit targets.

Issues around covid vaccines have seldom been far from headlines, particularly in recent days.

Matt Hancock confirmed late last week there will be a significant dip in vaccine supply in April, with the Government stating supplies have been hit by a need to retest 1.7million doses, and a delay in arrival of imports from India.

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There has been an escalating war of words between the UK and the EU over vaccine exports.

AstraZeneca has defended its use of vaccine data after US authorities suggested some results may not be the most up to date.

The firm said figures released on Monday showing the jab was 79% effective against coronavirus and 100% effective against severe disease was backed up by all data it has examined.

The BBC has also reported Covid-19 vaccines, vaccine passports and faked negative test papers are being sold on the darknet.