Only 50% of appointments for Covid jabs at mass centre in Manchester are being taken up

Only half of appointments for Covid vaccines are being taken up at Manchester’s mass vaccination centre, it was revealed today as Andy Burnham urged ministers to expand the roll-out to younger age groups so precious doses don’t go to waste. 

The mayor of Greater Manchester warned jabs are just ‘sitting in fridges’ at the Etihad Stadium’s hub, and said that he fears the situation was similar at some of the other 89 mass jabbing locations across the country.

Mr Burnham claimed too many elderly residents – who are in the top priority groups because their age makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus – were opting to wait for appointments at local clinics, rather than booking at the major centres. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Strictly proceeding by age as the Government is doing at the moment is leading to a massive underuse of resources. 

‘When people are getting the letter, as people in the 65-70 age group have got recently, saying ‘do you want to go to the regional centre at Etihad or do you want to wait to go local?’, most people are going local. That is leading to a situation where we’ve got plenty of slots that are just going unfilled. 

‘So our message to the Government is why not open up the mass vaccination centre to a younger, more mobile cohort who then can go and use that and free up then more slots at the primary care level for people who might struggle to get to the regional centre.’

Wales has already began inviting over-50s, while some parts of England have began jabbing people in their early sixties. Despite a handful of areas storming ahead, parts of London have yet to dish out first doses to two thirds of over-70s. Health chiefs fear vaccine hesitancy among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups is behind the poorer uptake in the capital’s culturally diverse boroughs.

Britain is in a race against time to dish out as many first doses to as many over-50s as possible before the end of March, when millions of second jabs must be administered en masse. Ministers are unlikely to ease draconian restrictions drastically until the majority are inoculated.

So long as the mammoth operation stays at the current speed, the UK could offer jabs to all 32million vulnerable Britons before the end of March. But not everyone will get vaccinated, meaning No10 may be able to expand the roll-out even sooner. 

The Mail today revealed that Britons as young as 40 could be offered a jab when phase two of the roll-out is finished. Government advisers are set to recommend the next phase of the operation continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers.  

It was also revealed today that that the Oxford and Pfizer jabs cut two thirds of infections and transmissions. The findings come from the first real-word data of the UK’s massive vaccine drive, seen by The Telegraph and handed to Boris Johnson before he unveils his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday.

Top scientists – including ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson – hailed the promising data, which will pile further pressure on the Prime Minister from anti-lockdown Tory MPs to commit to easing restrictions even sooner.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) which decided the jabs priority list, today said the shots were ‘doing the job’ of cutting infections among the over-70s.  

It was revealed today that half of appointments at the Etihad mass vaccination centre (pictured) in Greater Manchester are not been used

Etihad mass vaccination centre

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham today called on the Government to further expand the rollout so that 'younger, more mobile' priority groups could get jabs

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham today called on the Government to further expand the rollout so that ‘younger, more mobile’ priority groups could get jabs. (Left: Etihad centre)

Professor Adam Finn, on the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) which made the priority list, said they were seeing the first sign of jabs 'doing the job' and infections falling in the over-70s

Professor Neil Ferguson, a Sage adviser, today warned ministers not to loosen restrictions too quickly

Professor Adam Finn, on the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) which made the priority list, said they were seeing the first sign of jabs ‘doing the job’ and infections falling in the over-70s. Professor Neil Ferguson, a Sage adviser, today warned ministers not to loosen restrictions too quickly

In other coronavirus developments today:

SADIQ KHAN, 50, GETS FIRST COVID VACCINE AFTER BEING INVITED BY GP DUE TO SEVERE ASTHMA 

Mr Khan receives his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the church in Streatham this morning

Mr Khan receives his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the church in Streatham this morning

London Mayor Sadiq Khan received his first coronavirus jab today as he urged fellow Londoners to follow suit as the capital lags behind the rest of Britain in the rollout.

The 50-year-old Labour politician was given his first dose this morning in Streatham, South West London, after being invited by his GP because he has severe asthma.

Mr Khan, who takes steroid tablets to manage his condition, had the jab at a vaccine centre at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church where his daughter used to perform ballet.

He was given the Pfizer jab by Reverend Dr Sue Clarke, a retired hospital consultant he knows who got her licence back to volunteer to give the jab to him and others.

Asked whether he was wearing an ‘I’ve had my Covid jab’ badge, a beaming Mr Khan told Sky News: ‘Absolutely, and I’m wearing it really, really proudly – and just for the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t wince when I had the jab, I was a real brave boy.’

People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions are among those being given their jabs at the moment in the second phase of the vaccine delivery scheme.

 These conditions can include any kind of chronic respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.

 Mr Khan said today: ‘I’m relieved and very grateful to have received the first dose of my COVID-19 vaccine today.

‘I was asked by my GP to take the vaccine as I have severe asthma, and I urge everyone who is offered it to take it as soon as possible.

‘These vaccines are a testament to the hard work of scientists around the world and we owe them, and the NHS staff and volunteers who are helping to deliver the jabs, a great deal of thanks.

‘The widespread rollout of these vaccines will protect us from serious illness, will help us all to get back to the things we have missed and let us see the people we love.’

 He added that more than 1.5million Londoners had already received their first dose, saying: ‘I again urge all Londoners to have the vaccine as soon as you are offered it. It is safe and it will save lives.’

  • Ministers are ‘increasingly positive’ that foreign summer holidays will be possible this year amid hopes vaccine passports will soon make international travel ‘straightforward’;
  • A group of 75 cross-party politicians said as many as 100,000 people could miss out on cancer treatment due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with many dying unnecessarily; 
  • Tony Blair published his own exit strategy as he called for the Government to adopt a traffic light system for easing rules, localised crackdowns on outbreaks and a full Treasury analysis of the costs of the roadmap;
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan, 50, got his first dose of the Covid vaccine due to his severe asthma;
  • Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is 85 per cent effective after first dose and blocks 75 per cent of transmission of the disease, Israeli study finds; 
  • NHS hospitals are now treating fewer coronavirus patients than they were during the darkest days of the first wave – and the total number of infected patients in hospital has halved since January; 
  • Boris Johnson is set to announce that Britain will donate millions of surplus vaccine doses to poorer countries, which could see developing nations benefit before the end of the year if the UK vaccination programme goes to plan.

Mr Burnham warned ministers that rolling out jabs by age groups is leaving thousands of vital doses just ‘sitting in the fridge’ at mass jabbing centres.

‘I don’t think the picture we have is unique’, he said. ‘I think other mass vaccination centres around the country are reporting something of the same.

He added: ‘What I’m saying to the Government is in the spirit of wanting to see the vaccination programme continue to succeed and recognising the good job that they’ve done it makes sense now to use these mass vaccination centres to the full so that we can make more inroads getting more people vaccinated, and then that will build more confidence about reopening the economy.’

The Labour mayor told a press conference earlier this week that only 50 per cent of appointments available at the Etihad centre were actually being used, local media reports.

This means vital jabs at the major hubs are left sitting in fridges, because people aren’t booking appointments for them.

Some will also be transferred from the centre to other sites, a spokesman for the operation in the North West said, to ensure they are available where there is the most demand.

The senior officer responsible for the vaccination programme in the North West, Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu said: ‘Most importantly for the people of Greater Manchester we are making excellent progress in vaccinating people most at-risk of Covid-19.

‘Our sites work as a network, which means people are offered a range of convenient places to get their dose, with any spare doses offered to at-risk groups, all of which means more than nine in 10 people in the top priority groups across the North West have now had their first dose’.

Professor Finn, a member of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that decided the jabs priority list, said today the vaccination programme was beginning to drive down infections with the virus.

‘We’ve now got to the point with the study we’re doing in Bristol where we can say with certainty that there is definitely an effect,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘It’s just hard to put an exact number on it at this point because… the numbers of cases coming through are still building up, the number of people who’ve been vaccinated are still going up, but it’s becoming clearer for the Pfizer vaccine, which we’ve been using for a month longer, since early December, and it’ll take slightly longer for us to get a firm handle on just how well the AstraZeneca vaccine is preventing hospitalisations too, but they’re definitely doing the job.’

Professor Ferguson, a Sage adviser,  echoed his upbeat tone, but added the trade off ministers now face is between how quickly they can relax restrictions against how quickly they can protect the population.

‘There’s still risks at the moment in relaxing too quickly when we don’t have enough immunity in the population bearing in mind that no vaccine is a panacea, no vaccine will offer perfect protection,’ he said.

‘I am encouraged by the cautious approach being taken, an incremental approach which I think will be adopted, namely relax one thing and see what the impact is, relax again. And it still may well be that by the end of May, we’re in a very different country than we are today.’

He said some rules – likely to include wearing face masks – will still be in place by the summer, but that society on the whole would be ‘a lot more normal’ providing the vaccination drive continues to steam ahead.  

‘There are threats out there, we don’t know for instance quite how effective the vaccines are, how long immunity will last, there is the threat of variants. So we have to be driven by the data and the trends we see.’ 

It comes after the head of the Francis Crick Institute in London said last week that only 10 per cent of appointments at their centre were being used.

He urged ministers to provide clarity and ensure that more appointments were used, pointing out that Britain needs to get doses to as many people as possible.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, administered by Dr Sue Clarke, at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London this morning

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, administered by Dr Sue Clarke, at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London this morning

Mr Khan joked that he was a 'real brave boy' after receiving his first dose of the vaccine today

Mr Khan joked that he was a ‘real brave boy’ after receiving his first dose of the vaccine today

PFIZER’S COVID VACCINE IS 85 PER CENT EFFECTIVE AFTER ONE DOSE AND BLOCKS 75 PER CENT OF SPREAD, SAY SCIENTISTS 

Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine is 85 per cent effective after the first dose, according to an Israeli study that bolsters Britain’s decision to delay the second injection.

The UK drew criticism in January when it pushed back the second dose from three weeks to three months because the jabs were never trialled using that dosing regimen.

But the latest research on 9,000 healthcare workers, published in The Lancet, found that a single shot reduced the number of people developing symptomatic Covid by 85 per cent after three weeks.

The study by the Sheba Medical Centre, one of Israel’s top research hospitals, reported a 75 per cent drop in the number of people testing positive for the infection, suggesting the single shot will have a significant impact on blocking asymptomatic infection and transmission.

A positive PCR swab would signal that even someone who is vaccinated is carrying fragments of the virus in their nose or throat which they could pass on. Reducing Covid’s spread is critical for country’s to achieve ‘herd immunity’, when so many people are immune that a disease peters out.

Lead researcher Professor Arnon Afek, deputy director-general at Sheba, said: ‘This groundbreaking research supports the British government’s decision to begin inoculating its citizens with a single dose of the vaccine.’

The UK has also been spacing out Oxford University’s vaccine doses in a bid to get better coverage quicker, with the nation in a race against time to vaccinate as many vulnerable Britons as possible before the end of March.

An Oxford study earlier this month found a single shot of that jab was 76 per cent effective for 12 weeks at stopping symptomatic disease and blocks seven in 10 people from spreading it.

The rollout was expanded to the over-65s last week, and in some areas where they are steaming ahead the over-60s have now being added to the list.

But it has been accused of failing to pick up the pace and dish out more doses as the UK remains in lockdown.  

The latest figures from the Department of Health show an average of 423,000 doses were being got into Britons arms every day by Wednesday this week.

While a very high number, this is below the average from the same time last week, when 434,000 were being administered, and two weeks ago, when 434,000 were also been administered.

It comes as the Daily Mail today revealed over-40s could get their first shot of the vaccine within weeks as Government advisers are set to recommend the next phase continues on the basis of age rather than prioritising key workers.

But the age brackets will be wider than before – meaning 40 to 49-year-olds are likely to be invited to have a jab once the 32million people in the top nine groups have had their first dose.

Earlier this week it emerged this target could be hit as soon as March 24, if the daily average is maintained.

This would mean the over-40s being invited for a jab in less than five weeks.

It would be a huge boost for Britain’s vaccine programme and could add to the pressure on ministers to ease the lockdown sooner.

It comes as the head of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said age should be the dominant factor in deciding the next phase of the jab rollout.

Professor Wei Shen Lim told an online audience of doctors age ‘dominates by a long way’ while underlying health conditions contribute ‘some increased risk’. 

It comes as England’s Covid vaccine postcode lottery was laid bare today after it emerged parts of London have jabbed just 60 per cent of over-70s – while almost every elderly person has had their first dose in one district in Hampshire.

Over-40s could get Covid jabs by end of MARCH 

Britons as young as 40 could be offered a jab within a few weeks, the Mail can reveal.

Government advisers are set to recommend the next phase of the vaccine rollout continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers.

But the age brackets will be wider than before – meaning 40 to 49-year-olds are likely to be invited to have a jab once the 32million people in the top nine groups have had their first dose.

Earlier this week it emerged this target could be hit as soon as March 24, if the daily average is maintained.

This would mean the over-40s being invited for a jab in less than five weeks.

It would be a huge boost for Britain’s vaccine programme and could add to the pressure on ministers to ease the lockdown sooner.

It comes as the head of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said age should be the dominant factor in deciding the next phase of the jab rollout.

Professor Wei Shen Lim told an online audience of doctors age ‘dominates by a long way’ while underlying health conditions contribute ‘some increased risk’.

The NHS England statistics, which go up to February 14, also show that some parts of the country have dished out nearly 300 times as many second vaccine doses as others.

The area with the poorest uptake of the first dose was Westminster, in central London, where only 60.9 per cent of residents over 70 have had their first injection. The figure was almost as low in West London, where just 67.5 per cent of people in the age group have been jabbed. The worst 10 areas for uptake were all in the capital.

Health chiefs fear vaccine hesitancy among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups is behind the poorer uptake in London’s culturally diverse boroughs. 

It follows reports of GP surgeries in London having to close early because not enough people have been turning up to get their injection.

North East Hampshire and Farnham, on the other hand, has given out the most first doses to over-70s in the country, with 99.8 per cent uptake. East Leicestershire and Rutland was second, at 99.3 per cent. 

Somerset and Sunderland have both also jabbed more than 99 per cent of over-70s with either Pfizer‘s or Oxford University’s vaccine.   

While London is being hit hardest by the postcode lottery, overall, uptake across the country appears even. The figures show 114 out of 135 NHS areas in England have vaccinated more than nine in 10 over-70s. 

But uptake of the second dose is far more inconsistent, with some areas jabbing up to 300 times as many patients as others. Portsmouth, for example, has seen 14.7 per cent coverage compared to 0.05 per cent in Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire.

Number 10 decided last month to delay the second dose for up to 12 weeks in an attempt to get the first injection to as many Brits as possible, which may partially explain the disparity. 

The figures do not take into account health and social care staff or extremely clinically vulnerable younger people, such as those with terminal illnesses, who are both also at the top of the vaccine priority list. Instead, they look solely at over-70s, who are most at risk of dying from the illness.   

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