23 February 2021
Health and Social Care Questions

In his role of Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi responds to MPs’ questions to the Department for Health and Social Care.

Covid-19 Vaccine Supply

Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)

What steps he is taking to ensure an adequate supply of covid-19 vaccines. (912273)

Dr Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) (Con)

What steps he is taking to ensure an adequate supply of covid-19 vaccines. (912276)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Nadhim Zahawi)

The Government have secured early access to 457 million vaccine doses through agreements with eight separate vaccine developers. I assure the House that the Government are in constant contact with the vaccine manufacturers, and remain confident that we are on track to offer a vaccine to all priority cohorts by mid-April.

Mike Wood [V] 

People like my constituent, Ken, in Dudley South have seen the European Commission threatening to ban vaccine exports to the UK, and are worried about whether they will be able to get their second dose. What assurances can my hon. Friend give to Ken and others like him that they will be able to get a second dose of the same vaccine within the specified time schedule?

Nadhim Zahawi 

The vaccine taskforce—I pay tribute to Kate Bingham and Clive Dix, and to the brilliant civil servants who do the heavy lifting—has conducted a supply chain risk assessment and continues to monitor requirements across the supply chain, from supplier through to patient. We are in constant contact with the suppliers. The NHS is already reserving second doses. Last week, we began informing the frontline—primary care networks and others—of the second dose schedule. I can reassure my hon. Friend’s constituents that if they have had a Pfizer first dose, they will get a Pfizer second dose within the 12 weeks; and if they have had an Oxford first dose, they will get an Oxford second dose within the 12 weeks.

Dr Wallis [V] 

Will my hon. Friend confirm that Wales has been provided with enough supplies of vaccines to hit the targets set by the UK Government, particularly the 31 July target? Does he agree that, had we joined the EU’s vaccine procurement programme, immunisations in Wales would be much further behind right now?

Nadhim Zahawi 

We are working very closely with the Welsh Government and the other devolved Administrations to ensure that vaccines are allocated as per the Barnett formula. The Secretary of State has quite rightly reassured all the devolved Administrations that they will receive the vaccines to be able to deliver on the targets that we have set. It is great to see that over 860,000 people have received their first dose in Wales. The pace of our vaccination programme means that we have administered more vaccines than any other European country.


Covid-19 Vaccination: Vulnerable Groups

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab)

What estimate he has made of the level of covid-19 vaccination among (a) black and (b) white people in the most vulnerable groups. (912279)

The Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment (Nadhim Zahawi)

Overall, we are encouraged by the vaccine uptake in the most vulnerable groups, with more than 17.7 million people in the UK having now received their first vaccination. To date, black people, who account for around 3% of the population, make up 1.7% of those vaccinated, while white people, who account for 86% of the population, make up 82% of all those vaccinated in England. We appreciate that there is still work to do, and our vaccine uptake plan addresses that.

Ms Abbott [V] 

Will the Minister speak to Public Health England and ensure that local directors of public health make this information and other information in relation to specific cohorts available at a borough level to local MPs? He will be aware that the danger is that we could be hitting our vaccination targets overall, but certain groups are left behind. Many local MPs want to have some transparency about what is happening locally.

Nadhim Zahawi 

I am grateful for the right hon. Lady’s question. She and I visited the Hatzola first responders, who did an incredible job that Saturday night of vaccinating 364 people from not only the Haredi Hasidic Jewish community but the Muslim community as well. Our uptake plan has four key enablers: working in partnership with local government and directors of public health; removing barriers to access—in other words, access being available at the time and place that people need it; data and information, which we share with directors of public health, and we want to share it in more granular ways; and, of course, engagement, engagement, engagement.