19 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Wrangle over vaccination doses – inevitable?
Adrian Leopard 495

Wrangle over vaccination doses – inevitable?

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There is probably little that could have been done to increase supply. Such a massive rollout for the entire world is unlikely to pass without problems!

There is a always a potential problem when demand for a commodity exceeds supply and never has that been seen to be truer than now with covid-19 vaccines.

It has come as something of a disappointment to those under 50 in England who now find that they will have to wait a bit longer before they get their first dose of the covid-19 vaccination. But surely this is no real surprise? When the vaccination programme originally started, second doses were going to follow first doses after three weeks. Then the government changed its strategy, somewhat controversially at the time, and said that they had decided to defer the second doses by up to another nine weeks so that they could start vaccinating the remaining high risk groups sooner and thereby increase a measure of protection around the country very quickly.

The fuss over this seems largely to have dissipated and as a result the number of first doses given has been extremely high. Now, however, the NHS has got to ensure that there are adequate supplies to provide the second doses which are going to be due in April – they must of course come first or the whole programme may get into default. No one should be in the least surprised that the emphasis is to be given to completing outstanding second doses.

What is disappointing is that this particular facet coincides with an apparent upcoming shortage of vaccine around the world. A major shortage of supply from India seems to be a significant factor; the manufacturers in India say that the demands on their output are huge. Mind you it does seem a strange situation that a British vaccine is being made in India and exported back to Britain!

In the meanwhile, a row has started with the European Union who have accused the UK of failing to meet its obligations in supplying AstraZeneca doses to Europe. The UK denies that it has done any such thing. The argument is also rather disingenuous when there has been such a fuss in the EU over the AstraZenca vaccine that it has been withdrawn from use for older people. Where is that allocation of vaccine now? Sitting in a warehouse perhaps?

The real issue is that the UK on this occasion at least was far-sighted and got on with ordering vaccine according to its needs and is ahead of the rest of the world in treating its subjects – something it quite rightly asserts that it should do. Recent suggestions that we should slow down delivery in the UK to allow other countries to have some are all very fine but it is important to the UK that it gets itself back together so that it can fully open the economy and a fit country is what is going to enable that to happen.

But everyone wants priority and there are those who jumped in rather late who want to queue-barge. It is no wonder that relative chaos is looming all as a result of demand out-stripping supply. Everyone is entitled to have the vaccine and it can be seen that great effort is being made to make that possible. One can only hope that supply can be ramped up so that the delays in getting this product into people’s arms are minimised.

The only crumb of comfort one can offer to the under 50s is that at least the country is probably a much safer place than it was.

Adrian Leopard 18-03-21

Photo Srikanth D

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