No10 told to ensure Covid vaccine uptake stays high seven-days-a-week

No10 told to ‘throw as much money as possible’ at the NHS to ensure Covid vaccine uptake stays high seven days a week after a 30% drop in the number of people receiving jabs last weekend

  • Blip over weekend saw third fewer Britons vaccinated than on week days 
  • Think-tanks said today staffing issues were likely to blame for lower uptake
  • Urged No10 to ‘throw as much money as possible’ at the NHS as incentive

No10 was told today it must ‘throw as much money as possible’ at the NHS to ensure coronavirus vaccine uptake stays high seven-days-a-week after an apparent drop in the number of people receiving jabs at the weekend.  

Data shows there was up to 30 per cent drop in the number of people who received the first dose of the Oxford or Pfizer vaccine last weekend. 

Almost 280,000 vulnerable Britons received their first dose on Saturday, followed by approximately 225,000 on Sunday. For comparison, the figure for both Thursday and Friday stood at around 320,000. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock brushed off questions about the blip in uptake at a a Downing Street press conference last night, where he urged people to look at the weekly averages rather than data from an individual day.   

But think-tanks told MailOnline today that the weekend blip was ‘both worrying and unwarranted in the face of the pandemic’, and called on ministers to ‘put money into it’ if it turned out that staffing issues was behind the dip in performance. 

Matt Hancock tonight revealed more than 4million Britons have now had a coronavirus vaccine, amid mounting claims that a ‘postcode lottery’ has left vulnerable people in certain areas unprotected

The Adam Smith Institute think-tank told MailOnline today there seemed to be a ‘lackadaisical approach to Saturdays and Sundays’.

Deputy director Matt Kilcoyne said the blip in figures was ‘both worrying and unwarranted in the face of the pandemic’.

‘Knowing as we do that every hour counts, every day counts… there is no reason why the UK could not have the same vaccination rollout rate as Israel,’ he added.  

SAGE has blamed ‘structural and institutional racism and discrimination’ for vaccine scepticism among BAME communities as a recent survey found 72 per cent of black people were unlikely to have the Covid jab.

A report from the Government’s scientific advisory committee said historical issues of unethical healthcare research and systemic racism are key factors for lower levels of trust in Britain’s mass vaccination programme.

The experts were responding to a shock new poll conducted by the UK Household Longitudinal Study which found that vaccine scepticism among black, Asian and ethnic minority groups in the UK is high.

Though the study, conducted in November with 12,000 respondents, found overall high levels of willingness to be vaccinated – at 82 per cent – 72 per cent of black people said they were unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated.

Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Eastern European groups also said they were unwilling to take the Covid jab, while women, younger people and those with lower levels of education were also more hesitant than others.

The SAGE report concluded: ‘Trust is particularly important for black communities that have low trust in healthcare organisations and research findings due to historical issues of unethical healthcare research.

‘Trust is also undermined by structural and institutional racism and discrimination. Minority ethnic groups have historically been underrepresented within health research, including vaccines trials, which can influence trust in a particular vaccine being perceived as appropriate and safe, and concerns that immunisation research is not ethnically heterogenous.’ 

The findings have sparked concern among GPs who are now calling on No10 to begin a public health campaign that encourages black people in particular to receive a coronavirus vaccine. 

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We are concerned that recent reports show that people within BAME communities are not only more likely to be adversely affected by the virus but also less likely to accept the Covid vaccine, when offered it. 

Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the IEA, said NHS staff needed to be congratulated on the ‘great job’ they’ve done with the vaccine roll out so far. 

But he added: ‘The NHS is bit of a five day week service in many ways and if it comes down to staffing then we need to put more money into it. If you give people strong financial incentives it makes people want to work seven days a week.’ 

Ministers are piloting 24/7 vaccinations after Boris Johnson came under immense scrutiny for claiming there was ‘no clamour’ for appointments beyond 8pm. But the inconsistencies at the weekend will raise concerns about whether No10 can deliver.

Mr Snowdon told MailOnline ‘money should be no object’ when it comes to the vaccine rollout because the benefits of immunising the entire country and ending the economically-crippling lockdowns would outweigh any cost.

He said: ‘At the moment they’re only paying GPs commission on jabs given to care home residents, but they [the Government] should pay commission for every patient. 

‘It seems that we need more staff, and the staff we’ve got need to work longer hours, so they have to throw as much money as possible at it.’ 

Public Health England last night blamed the lower weekend figures on reporting delays and the Health Secretary insisted the roll-out was a ‘full seven-day service’ with the Government ‘prepared to go 24/7’.

When asked about the drop in figures at the press briefing, Mr Hancock said: ‘The vaccine delivery is absolutely delivering a full seven-day service and we are prepared to go 24/7.

‘I wouldn’t read too much into an individual day’s data, I think the best thing to do is look at weekly averages and, as you say, you can see that going up, and up fast.’

Mr Hancock said vaccine supply was the ‘rate-limiting factor’. ‘If you listen to voices on the ground in the NHS, you hear people saying ‘give us more supply and we will jab it into more arms’,’ he added. ‘We are shoveling it out as fast as we can.’  

Mr Hancock revealed that 4million Britons have now had a coronavirus vaccine, amid mounting claims that a ‘postcode lottery’ has left vulnerable people in certain areas unprotected.

With the successful roll-out of a Covid vaccine the only hope ministers have of being able to ease the lockdown restrictions this spring, the Health Secretary told the nation: ‘Don’t blow it now, we’re on the route out.’

The Health Secretary also admitted supplies of the only two approved jabs, made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca, are being prioritised to areas lagging behind in the roll-out.

It comes after another 7million Britons were sent invite letters to receive their coronavirus jabs from yesterday — but only in areas where the ‘majority’ of over-80s have had it already.

Discussing Britain’s growing Covid vaccine postcode lottery, Mr Hancock praised Slough for ensuring all of their care home residents have had their first dose. Newcastle-upon-Tyne has also achieved the feat.

But he said: ‘What we’re doing now is making sure that whilst they, of course, will be able to move onto the next group, we’re prioritising the supply of the vaccine into those parts of the country that need to complete the over-80s.

‘But we don’t want to stop the areas that have effectively done that job already, we want them to carry on, but the priority of the vaccine is according to the JCVI prioritisation list. The critical thing is to make sure that everybody can get it, that we’re putting more supply into the areas that have got more to do.’

Whitehall insiders believe the UK’s vaccine rollout is going so well that the wider adult population may be covered by June rather than September, with around 280,000 doses currently being administered each day. Ten new mass vaccination centres opened today, to speed up the programme even further. 

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