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Silence on Covid vaccine numbers suggests another ‘world-beating’ balls-up is on the way from BoJo

The UK has approved two vaccines for a mass coronavirus immunisation programme. But, with no update for over a week on jabs administered and inoculation schedules slipping, it’s hard to be confident the roll-out is going well.

The year of pandemic has been one of figures. Across the world, bewildered populations have been inundated with grim tallies of deaths, new cases, recoveries, infection rates, testing targets and now, vaccinations.

And as the figures never lie, the graphs and tables that enhance our understanding expose the complete shambles in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak across the western world.

British PM Boris Johnson last night announced a third national lockdown for the UK as deaths spiral out of control thanks to mutant variants of this bloody virus. At least his antennae were working, and he picked up that most of us are sick of ‘government guidance,’ though we do understand that a vaccine has been found and is being rolled out.

And this is where I start to wonder. Because several weeks ago, I checked the vaccine queue calculator for the UK on behalf of my vulnerable daughter to learn that she should receive the jab sometime this month. Fine.

Checking now, however, that promise has slipped and she could now be looking at mid-March before her inoculation.

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FILE PHOTO: A family in Knutsford, Cheshire, watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a televised address to the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, setting out new emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus in England.
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That’s despite two of the seven potential vaccines we are looking at now approved for use in the UK and a total of 357 million doses ordered, enough to vaccinate the entire British population twice over.

So if this roll-out is “accelerating at pace” as the PM claimed last night, then why is the only figure for the total number to have received the jab more than a week old and still stuck on 940,000. Surely, they have counted numbers in the last week? Who’s in charge of the spreadsheet?

“So far we in the UK have vaccinated more people than in the rest of Europe combined,” BoJo told us. Well, that is hardly encouraging, as the centrally-driven European Union approval and rollout meant they were already a few weeks behind us anyway. Brussels has made such a balls-up of the immunisation delivery that France, a country of 67 million people, has administered just 516 vaccines. That truly is a French farce.

Europe’s not alone, of course. In the US, the haphazard decentralised approach to combating Covid-19 continues, with federal, state and local authorities arguing over logistics and funding for the vaccine, as public health officials face nearly 21 million cases of the virus.

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Brian Pinker, 82, receives the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, Britain January 4, 2021 © Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS
UK starts rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid jab in world first but health sec warns supply problems are slowing vax programme

But back to Boris. While last night he avoided holding back on the numbers of dead or new cases – 80,000 on December 29 alone – why was he so shy on vaccinations? It cannot be that hard to count up how many of those little glass bottles are empty at the end of the day in a vaccination centre. 

Maybe it is supply. Just tell us, we’d like to know. But it might not be the only issue. Because the government also seems to be slipping on its immunisation timetable with the full details of the GP surgeries, hospitals, sports stadia and convention centres expected to host mass vaccinations still taking shape almost a whole month after the first person in the UK, 91-year-old Margaret Keenan, rolled up her sleeve as part of the roll-out.

Maybe it is, dare we say it, incompetence.

Since then, the programme seems to have become stuck in a bog, with no-one ready to explain the full reasons behind the slowdown. Which is only making things worse.

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FILE PHOTO: A teacher wearing a face shield works on the first day of school at Holne Chase Primary School, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Milton Keynes, Britain, September 3, 2020
Teachers should be at the front of the queue for Covid vaccine… if UK schools shut again it will be a national disgrace

Because if the public health officials leading the coronavirus fightback really want the gen pop on-side and ready to behave themselves, then delivering good news and the promise of more is the best way to secure that. If there are one million people already immunised, then tell us. 

We understand we have 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 100 million of the Oxford/AstraZeneca version on order. Where are they? Who’s getting them?

If the UK government can manage to deliver on just one boast, turn a baseless brag into something more than an embarrassing climbdown later on, then there might be a chance the public will oblige the requests to Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

Just update the vaccination figures and get a shift on with the roll-out. It could be an easy win. For once.

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