Vaccinating all UK adults with both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of August this year could be possible, a government official has claimed.
More than 10 million people have already been given the first dose of the coronavirus jab, with the UK averaging almost 400,000 vaccinations per day.
The country is firmly on track to reach the government target of 15 million first-dose vaccinations by mid-February, and a senior government official has reportedly said that giving both doses to all adults by the summer isn’t ‘wildly overoptimistic’.
‘Capacity is growing’
NHS England has now offered the Covid-19 vaccine to residents at every eligible care home with older residents across England, and jabs are now being administered at more than 250 hospitals, 1,000 GP-led services, 117 high street pharmacies and 47 large-scale vaccination centres across the country.
Data shows that almost nine in 10 people aged over 80, and half of people aged over 70 have now received their first jab.
Those aged over 65 are expected to start receiving their vaccination invitation letters next week, while the next phase, targeting those aged over 50 and young people are high-risk, are due to have their jabs by spring.
While the Prime Minister is yet to set out specific targets for the later stages of the vaccine rollout, a senior government official told The Times: “There’s no secret plan to vaccinate everyone by the end of May, but it’s fair to say that summer isn’t seen internally as wildly overoptimistic.
“The growing use of pharmacies to deliver the jabs will further accelerate the programme.
“As we go down the age groups it’s going to be easier for people to travel a bit to get a jab, or do it in their lunch hour, and each week that passes the capacity is growing.”
However, the pace of the rollout is dependent on supplies being delivered on time and in full.
Oxford jab cuts transmission
The positive outlook for summer comes after scientists at Oxford University revealed that the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines could have already begun to stop the virus from spreading.
A single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine may reduce transmission of the virus by two thirds.
Researchers said that the first dose of the Oxford jab offers protection of 76 per cent up to three months, and may cut transmission by 62 per cent. This efficacy then rises to 82.4 per cent after the second dose is administered 12 weeks later.
The data from the study by the University of Oxford supports the four to 12-week interval between doses that many global regulators, including the UK’s, have recommended.
Before these results, little was known about how effective the coronavirus vaccines were at preventing transmission of the disease.
The findings indicate that those who have been vaccinated are not only protected from infection, but they are not likely to pass the virus on to anyone else.
It also suggests that the vaccine eliminates severe illness, as none of the participants in the study were admitted to hospital with coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a hugely encouraging study and further reinforces our confidence that vaccines are capable of reducing transmission and protecting people from this awful disease.
“This report shows the Oxford vaccine works and works well.”