The Government is “absolutely confident” that the UK will have 800,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses by next week, when the vaccination programme starts, the Business Secretary has said.
Alok Sharma said that some of the Pfizer/BioNTech doses had arrived, with more expected by the end of the year. However he was unable to say how many that will be.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
Asked about whether the 800,000 doses the UK is expecting in the coming days will arrive by next week, Mr Sharma told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We will have – I’m absolutely confident – that we will have 800,000 doses available at the point next week when we start the vaccination programme.
“Of course, by the end of this year we will expect some more doses to come through – I can’t give you a number on that.”
However, NHS Providers said the UK must work on the basis that more doses might not arrive “for some time”.
Its chief executive Chris Hopson tweeted that because of that it was “vital” hospitals sought to vaccinate as many people as possible in the highest priority groups.
The first vaccinations are set to begin from Tuesday, he said.
Mr Hopson added that with “every day that goes past, we become more confident we will get a lot more [doses] and get them soon”.