The UK has secured 60 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine as part of a booster vaccination programme to start in the autumn, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told today’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing.
He said: “To keep us safe and free here, while we get this disease under control across the whole world, we have been working on a programme of booster shots for over a year now.
“And we’ve backed some of the only clinical trials in the world looking specifically at booster shots.
“I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we’ve secured a further 60 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be used alongside others as part of our booster shot programme later this year.”
Mr Hancock later added that the doses had not yet been manufactured, as they are part of a ‘forward order’.
As of today (April 28), 33,959,908 people in the UK have received a dose of the vaccine and 13,581,076 have been fully vaccinated.
During the press conference, Mr Hancock praised the “phenomenally” high uptake of the first dose of the vaccine among the over-50s, as 95 per cent of people in the age group have had a dose administered.
The vaccination programme has now moved on to offer a dose of the jab to everyone aged 42 and over, with Mr Hancock himself invited for his own this week.
He said: “If like me, you get the call, join me and get the jab.”
Mr Hancock added that the UK is on track to release further lockdown restrictions, including allowing some indoor mixing between households, next month.
The Health Secretary said: “The data shows that we are essentially precisely on track for where we expected to be at this point and that is obviously good news.
“It means we can follow the road map – and we look at the data all the time.
“The dates we set out are not-before dates because we want to see the impact of each step before the decision to take the next step.
“That’s why the road map has been structured the way it is, so that we can check that we are on track.
“The good news is that as far as the next step is concerned, which is in a few weeks’ time – and we’re going to keep monitoring the data – but as of today, we are on track for step three on May 17 and that is good news.”
It comes as infections in India have soared, causing hospitals to become overwhelmed amid a rising death toll.
Matt Hancock said the worsening coronavirus situation there emphasised the pandemic was not yet over.
He said: “The situation in India is a stark reminder that this isn’t over yet.
“It shows how important it is that we are vigilant here at home.”
He added that more medical supplies from the UK, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators, will be arriving in India.