Daily publications of the number of Covid vaccinations achieved will begin next week Monday, the Government has announced.
The news comes as 1.3 million people in the UK have now been vaccinated, including 1.1 million in England.
The Government set out a plan on Monday to vaccinate the 13.9 million people in the first four JCVI-determined prioritisation groups by the middle of next month.
In order to achieve the target, 300,000 vaccinations per day would be necessary, which chief medical officer Chris Whitty described in yesterday’s coronavirus briefing as ‘realistic but not easy’.
Speaking in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Covid vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi refused to be drawn on when sufficient daily numbers would be achieved, but added he is ‘confident’ the target will be reached.
He said: ‘What I don’t want to do is band numbers around on the hoof – numbers have to be properly verified and then published – we will publish on a daily basis as of next week…
‘When you see the data for this week, 4 January to 11 January, you will see a massive increase in the numbers. What I don’t want to do is speculate – the target is big enough as it is.’
He added: ‘My absolute focus is to get to 13.9 million – for the first four categories to be offered a vaccine by the middle of February. I am confident the NHS has a plan, and we will meet the target.’
In yesterday evening’s briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that ‘to help us with meeting this target we already have 595 GP-led sites providing vaccines, with a further 180 coming on stream later this week’.
There are also 107 hospital sites ‘with a further 100 later this week’, he added, saying this would amount to ‘almost a thousand’ vaccination sites across the country ‘by the end of this week’.
Further, seven mass vaccination centres, based in sport halls and exhibition centres, are due ‘next week,’ the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, Mr Zahawi told the BBC this morning that the Government would ‘then complement that with the community pharmacy networks’. However, he was unable to say exactly when community pharmacies would be invited to join the effort.
Mr Zahawi was also asked whether GPs were wrong to honour appointments for second dose Covid vaccinations, to which he said it was ‘right’ for GPs to have discretion on the matter.
It comes as GPs in some areas have been asked to ‘stand down’ non-essential work in a bid to free up time to deliver Covid vaccinations. NHS England has said more guidance on how to prioritise vaccinations is forthcoming.