British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country will have to slow down its COVID-19 vaccination rollout next month due to delay in supply of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s jab from India, as well as the need to test the stability of an additional 1.7 million doses.
According to Reuters, health officials in Britain have warned that supply of the vaccine would be hit from March 29 due to delay in shipment from Serum Institute of India.
“It is true that in the short term we’re receiving fewer vaccines than we had planned for a week ago,” Johnson told reporters.
“As a result, we will receive slightly fewer vaccines in April than in March, but that is still more than we received in February, and the supply we do have will still enable us to hit the targets we have set,” the British prime minister said.
Johnson, however, did not blame the Indian government for blocking the deliveries and said he was open to seeking help from Europe too.
“No, no, there is a delay as there often is, caused for various technical reasons, but we hope to continue to work closely with the Serum Institute, and indeed with partners around the world including on the European continent,” he said answering a question if India has stopped the export of the vaccine to Britain.
Apart from supply hiccups, the vaccination has also been hit due to the retesting of a batch of 1.7 million doses for stability, British health minister Matt Hancock had said earlier. The minister did not specify the name of the vaccine.
The country is using the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Of the latter, India’s Serum Institute will cater to 10 million of Britain’s total order of 100 million doses.
A representative of Serum Institute told Reuters that the pharma giant has dispatched 5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Britain a few weeks back and will send more after meeting the current requirement of India’s own inoculation programme.
Earlier Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that the supply of the vaccine was dependent on the number of doses the Indian government allows to be shipped abroad.
The development comes when the European Union has threatened to impose a ban on the export of vaccines to Britain.