Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was sent out firefighting this morning, to reassure pundits of the government’s self-professed moonshot vaccination targets and pour cold water on a couple of stories in the papers today. Firstly Zahawi was pulled up on his maths by Sky’s Niall Paterson who pointed out that the two million doses a week Boris said may be possible will not be enough to hit the government’s desired 14 million vaccination target by mid-February. Zahawi “absolutely” accepted this point:
On the outrage-inducing Telegraph splash that Public Health England will not deliver Covid vaccines on Sundays – nor after agreed “cut-off points” every lunchtime, even if supplies are running low – Zahawi promises PHE will vaccinate 7 days per week: “they will work whatever days we need them, PHE will make sure that happens every single day, every vaccine delivery that we request will happen.”
The third vaccine story making waves today, feeding into the general sense the government is not working at the pace required, is the claimed snubbing by ministers of pharmacies’ offers to help roll out one million doses per week – being greeted by a “de facto silence”. On this Nadhim claims this is “not at all” the reality and community pharmacies are “coming online”, though there are dual focuses on optimising the sites already set up to administer the vaccine, as well as opening new sights such as pharmacies.
Zahawi comes across as sounding fairly on the ball – he’s got just over a month to prove it…