Vaccine: Half of all adults in the UK now given first dosage
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A vast majority of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines used in the UK are produced in Britain, but supplies for jabs come from the EU and India as well as other places. As the EU threatens a block on vaccine exports, and deliveries of AstraZeneca supplies from India are delayed, ministers have begun to draw up plans to make Britain’s jab manufacturing more self-reliant.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is understood to have held talks with Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, about how to accelerate production.
Whitehall insiders have also said work is ongoing to bring as much production of vaccines onshore as possible to counter issues with overseas supply.
A Number 10 source told The Sunday Telegraph there “is a lot of domestic production already” in the UK, adding: “We are always looking at ways we can increase vaccine production in the UK.
“The Government is looking at ways vaccine supplies can be increased all the time.”
Vaccine news: Ministers have called for more inland vaccine production amid EU jab fears (Image: PA)
Vaccine news: Whitehall insiders said they want ‘improved security of supply’ for both Covid and ‘for the long term future’ (Image: PA)
Another senior Government source told The Sun on Sunday: “We’re of the view that we need an improved security of supply.
“It’s not just for the current vaccination programme but for the long term future.
“Coronavirus is going to be with us for some time and we want to avoid supplies being held up for any reason if booster jabs are required in the years ahead.”
Vaccine news: Ursula von der Leyen revived threats from the EU to block AstraZeneca exports from the bloc (Image: PA)
It comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen revived threats from the EU to block AstraZeneca exports from the bloc if the firm didn’t start meeting its delivery targets.
Since the start of the year, the EU and AstraZeneca have been at odds after the firm cut its expected first quarter deliveries to Europe by 60 percent.
Ms von der Leyen told Germany’s Funke newspaper group on Saturday: “We have the option of banning a planned export.
“That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start supplying to other countries.”
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Yesterday, the Government announced an extra £47.6 million for the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC).
A press release said the funding was to “expand the capacity twenty-fold so that the UK has a highly specialist manufacturing centre that, in a pandemic situation, can make up to 70 million doses within a 6 month period”.
A new VMCI facility is set to open in Oxfordshire in October this year.
Other plants are planned for Livingston in Scotland to produce the Valneva vaccine and in Darlington, where a Centre for Process Innovation will be built.
Vaccine news: The Government announced an extra £47.6 million for the VCMI (Image: PA)
Vaccine news: Around 26,853,407 people have received their first coronavirus jab in the UK (Image: EXPRESS)
Around 26,853,407 people have received their first coronavirus jab in the UK.
Yesterday saw another 5,587 cases and 96 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has seen 4,291,271 cases and 126,122 deaths.