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Covid vaccine programme to get £1.65bn funding boost


BAME over-70s far less likely to have jab than white peers


The chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce £1.65bn of new funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme in his budget this week.

The Treasury said this was to ‘boost’ the successful rollout of the vaccination programme and to continue to work towards all adults being offered a dose of the vaccine by 31 July.

In the budget on Wednesday 3 March, the chancellor will also announce that £33m of funding from the Vaccine Taskforce’s existing budget will be used for vaccine testing and development.

This is to protect against future variants and outbreaks and will include £28m spent on UK life science excellence, which will expand the UK’s vaccine testing capability and the ability to acquire samples of new variants. It will also see a £5m fund for the creation of a ‘library’ of Covid vaccines to work against different variants of the virus.

The chancellor will also pledge £22m of the Taskforce’s budget to a study to test the effectiveness of combinations of different vaccines, and if a third dose could be effective.

So far, the Government has spent around £12bn on its vaccination campaign, according to figures from the National Audit Office.

Mr Sunak said: ‘The UK’s vaccination programme has been a great success and is protecting lives and livelihoods, with over 19 million people already receiving their first dose.

‘But it is essential we maintain this momentum. Protecting ourselves against the virus means we will be able to lift restrictions, reopen our economy and focus our attention on creating jobs and stimulating growth.’

It comes after Pulse revealed that Covid booster jabs could become part of core GP contractual work in the future.

The Government is currently planning for a Covid revaccination campaign to run later this year in autumn or winter.

It also comes as the BMA and RCGP have called on the chancellor to include urgent Covid funding for general practice in Wednesday’s Budget.