GP surgery visited by Matt Hancock to hail rollout of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine does not have the jab

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

A visit by the health secretary to a GP surgery which was to be amongst the first to deliver the new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine did not go according to plan when the delivery was delayed by a day.

Hundreds of GP surgeries across England are to begin administering the Covid jab from Thursday.

Matt Hancock was visiting the Bloomsbury Surgery in central London to promote the initiative and celebrate the vaccine's further rollout, but had to watch the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine be administered instead.

The delivery delay exposed problems with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, with the government having set an ambitious target of inoculating around 13 million people by mid-February.

As of January 5, 1.3 million people in the UK had been vaccinated.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the scenes at the surgery were like something from political comedy The Thick of It, but added: "Sadly it's no laughing matter."

He tweeted: "This should be a clear reminder to ministers to move heaven to get vaccination widely rolled out ASAP. We're in a race against time and we need to start with 2 million jabs a week urgently."

Mr Hancock said the "rate limiting" factor in efforts to get people vaccinated was supply from the manufacturers.

But GP Ammara Hughes, a partner at the Bloomsbury Surgery, said it was "frustrating" that her surgery in Camden had not received the expected batch of 400 jabs, because she has capacity to vaccinate many more if deliveries did not come on an "ad hoc" basis.

She said: “It’s just more frustrating than a concern because we’ve got the capacity to vaccinate. And if we had a regular supply – we do have the capacity to vaccinate three to four thousand patients a week.

GP explains her frustration at delayed delivery:

“We have been running since the middle of December and on our busiest days we can vaccinate 500 people easily.

“If we could get the AstraZeneca, then we could easily vaccinate 500 a day, which would ease the pressure on the health service and we could get more and more people vaccinated quickly and hopefully get out of the pandemic.”

Responding to questions about supply issues, the health secretary said: "It's great news this morning that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is from right now being rolled out to GP surgeries across the country.

"For the first three days with the Oxford vaccine we did it in hospitals to check that it was working well and it's working well so now we can make sure that it gets to all those GP surgeries that like this one can do all the vaccinations that are needed.

Hancock explains issues with vaccine delivery:

"The rate-limiting step is the supply of vaccine, we're working with the companies, both Pfizer and AstraZeneca to increase the supply."

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to distribute than the Pfizer/BioNTech jab which was the first to be approved.

The rapid expansion of the vaccination programme is key to the government’s efforts to tackle coronavirus and lift England’s national lockdown.

Boris Johnson said the government will use "every available second" during the lockdown to place an "invisible shield" around elderly and vulnerable people, via the Covid-19 vaccine.

He said the gradual end of lockdown may begin after the February half term, but people "should remain extremely cautious about the timetable ahead".

As of 4:30pm Downing Street reported that Bloomsbury Surgery had received its delivery of the Oxford vaccine.