'All over-50s' could receive Covid vaccine by end of March

All over-50s could be vaccinated against coronavirus in the UK by the end of March, the Government has claimed.

It comes as the mass rollout is expected to be doubled in pace next week and figures show more than three million people have already received the jab.

A senior Whitehall source told the Times Number 10 is ‘increasingly confident’ all 32 million over-50s could receive their first vaccine dose by mid to late March.

Ministers vow they will hit Boris Johnson’s target of immunising the 15 million most vulnerable people in the country by mid-February.

A document published by the Scottish government, but then removed, suggests as many as 3.8 million people could be vaccinated next week in the UK, indicating a doubling of the current rate.

But the Government is attempting to keep the plans under wraps amid fears other countries will demand more doses and put further pressure on vaccine manufacturers.

‘It’s insane,’ a Government source said, ‘The figures were given to the Scottish government in strictest confidence. It could undermine the entire programme.’ 

NHS England said last night that 248,177 vaccinations had been given on January 13 – taking the total to 2,910,027 for England alone.

Of these, 2,494,371 were the first dose of the vaccine, while 415,656 were the second dose.

But the accidentally published document suggests this will be dramatically exceeded next week, when Scotland is due to receive 309,382 doses.

If deliveries are evenly spread across the country as they have been so far, this would equate to 3.8 million, which is more than 500,000 per day.

Scotland is set to receive 443,531 doses a week by the end of February, suggesting 5.4 million will be delivered to the whole of the UK.

But data suggests there will be two weeks when there is no Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine available, reportedly due to supply issues.

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