In my editorial in the January issue, published online on Monday, I struck a positive note – despite everything, the fact we are where we are on vaccines is something to celebrate. If the target of 13.9 million of the most vulnerable patients to be vaccinated is met, I genuinely believe it is possible to approach something close to normal by Easter.
For this programme to be a success, we need the vaccines available, the vaccinators in place and all the logistics of delivering the vaccine to the vaccinators in place. But that, unfortunately, depends on this government confounding all previous evidence by acting competently around vaccines.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca say there is no problem with the production of the vaccines. Pfizer say they are not short of vaccines, and AstraZeneca say they will be in a position to produce 2 million a week very shortly – which will be enough for the target.
From all the GPs I’ve spoken to, it seems as though having the vaccinators in place is not an issue. GPs have been heroic – reconfiguring services overnight to carry out the biggest public health programme of all time. I’ve seen this personally – taking my elderly parents to be vaccinated, I was in awe of the operation of their local PCN vaccination centre.
At the same time, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has said pharmacists across the country are ready to help in the vaccination effort – help that would be appreciated by all.
So why is there a sense that this won’t work? Well, it relies on the Government to ensure that the vaccinators receive the vaccine. And previous major programmes – such as track and trace, and PPE – doesn’t augur confidence. We can, of course, forgive some problems. I would suggest that the odd delay is frustrating, but should be expected for what is the biggest public health programme ever carried out in the country, and is being done at breakneck speed.
Already, I fear that the overnight change in the two doses policy is eroding confidence. This was an easy win – let GPs honour the appointments already made, but then book patients in for a single dose only. I still can’t understand why this change wasn’t made. It seems that Covid vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi agrees, which begs the question why it wasn’t implemented originally.
The interview with him on the BBC Today programme was a positive one in general. It is good to know that daily vaccinations data will be published from Monday, and we have more details of the numbers of sites coming onstream.
I do fear that this data will only having the effect of showing up the Government. I sincerely hope I am wrong.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.