Lockdown exit faces DELAY: Vaccine shortage sparks warning restrictions could be extended

EU has '40% of their vaccines in storage' says Stubb

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The UK has already admitted there will be shortages of supply of jabs in April due to global manufacturing problems. It means very few people will receive a first Covid jab in April with supply largely focusing on giving second doses.

People under the age of 50 are likely to have to wait until May before getting an appointment for an injection.

While ministers insist there is enough leeway in the vaccine timetable for the four week drop in supply, there are fears if the EU follows through with its threat to block the export of jabs to the UK the roadmap out of lockdown could be thrown into disarray.

The continued successfully deployment of the UK vaccine programme is one of the four tests set out by ministers for the continued easing of lockdown restrictions.

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been.

“By pushing back the under-50s first doses, their second doses are also being pushed back.

“If full vaccination becomes required for holidays abroad or even more mundane things like going to the cinema, millions of younger people may end up being excluded from participating for the whole summer.”

Ministers had been expecting a bumper supply of jabs this month and next but a letter was sent round to local NHS leaders in England last night telling them to “ensure no further appointments are uploaded” to booking systems in April.

It is understood ministers only became aware of a shortage of supply next month earlier this week.

More to follow…

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