The UK is set for a Covid vaccine shortage, meaning under 50s will have to wait until at least the start of May before getting their jab.
A batch of five million AstraZeneca doses from the Serum Institute in India has been delayed, while a separate batch of 1.7million doses needs to be retested.
These two separate issues are likely to affect the UK vaccine supply for the next four weeks, so priority will be given to the over 50s, and those due to have their second dose.
Under 50s will not be able to book their vaccine until May.
Many are worried that this will mean a delay to the end of lockdown, and a delay to restrictions being lifted.
Will the end of lockdown be delayed?
Boris Johnson spoke at a Downing Street press conference to reassure the public that this “slight delay in vaccines” will not affect the roadmap out of lockdown.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick also said: “There’s no reason to believe the road map is affected by this temporary shortage in supply. There’s no concern that we are off course on the road map.”
However, the roadmap is not set in stone and is clear that dates could be delayed if the vaccine rollout slows.
Pub gardens and non-essential shops can open on April 12 at the earliest – there is no guarantee that they will definitely be allowed to open from this date.
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading shared his concerns in the potential delay of the vaccine, as “ripple effects could last for months”.
He said: “It will undoubtedly make the meeting of the target dates for lifting restrictions more difficult than they otherwise would have been.
“By pushing back the under-50s first doses, their second doses are also being pushed back.”
The UK is receiving fewer vaccines than planned for a week ago, receiving fewer in April than in March.
However, Mr Johnson has assured the public the current supply will be sufficient to reach the UK targets set.
Every adult in the UK will have their first dose of the vaccine by the end of July and people will still receive their second dose of the vaccine within a 12-week window.
Mr Johnson also encouraged people to have their vaccine when they receive the letter, to prevent any further delays.
He said: “The way to ensure this [lockdown easing] happens is to get that jab when your turn comes, so let’s get the jab done.”
Johnson also reassured people that the AstraZeneca jab is safe saying “this is a safe and effective vaccine.
“The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid – which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.”