Why is there a vaccine supply problem?

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The UK faces a month-long “significant reduction” in its weekly vaccine supply from the end of March, NHS England revealed on Wednesday.

A letter to local health leaders in England said there had been “reductions in national inbound vaccines supply” and asked organisations to ensure no further appointments were uploaded to booking systems in April.

The government’s Vaccine Taskforce “currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply”, the letter said.

The letter asked vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led services to close unfilled bookings and “ensure no further appointments are uploaded” to booking systems in April.

Why is there a delay?

The expected reduction in supply is partly due to a delay in the delivery of five million Oxford/AstraZeneca doses from India.

The shipment, produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been held up by four weeks.

A spokesperson for the Serum Institute of India told the BBC: “Five million doses had been delivered a few weeks ago to the UK and we will try to supply more later, based on the current situation and the requirement for the government immunisation programme in India.”

Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said the government had learned of the supply issues “in the last few days” and suggested the problem is not due to reductions from a single nation.

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